Film Superman II Discussion

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08:32:54 AM Nov 13th 2013
I was listening to a podcast called "Trentuss Magnuss Punches Reality" and he said something that pretty much sums up how I feel: the first two films—especially the second one—got away with things that people would be up-in-arms over if they were in a newer version, like "Smallville," "Man of Steel," the "New 52" (I hate that name) or even some animated series or video game.

I don't know if the spoiler tag works, but in case it doesn't... SPOILER!!!

[[spoiler: The memory kiss: Superman had hypnotism in the Silver Age and Bronze Age comics, but I don't think a kiss ever actually triggered it. Regardless, it's just an unsatisfying way to end the film. Instead of dealing with their little problem, and considering that he'd gotten into her pants, it is kind-of wrong that you can eliminate someone's memory of a sexual encounter. Now, of course, most people never thought of that until a truly horrible quasi-sequel—Superman Returns—was released.

Getting back at the bully in the diner: Actually, Superman has a history of petty revenge on the bullies. There are plenty of examples of Clark subtly using his powers to get the one-up on office bully Steve Lombard. The same people who say, "you can't relate to him because he's morally perfect," then turn around and say "he's a dick." Whatever. In Man of Steel, Superman wrecks a guy's truck who had picked on Clark and played grab-ass with a waitress. Predictably, the Man of Steel as moral sewer" crowd acted like this was an atrocity, but in Superman II'', Clark actually goes back to the diner and assaults him, ruining the diner, but at-least he paid for it.

The killing of Zod n' co.: This is the big clincher for people who choose to see Man of Steel as this big, unfaithful, overly dark, overly violent sick, sad sign of the times. And yet, he kills Zod in this film. He takes his powers away, crushes his hand (that alone is something they'd flip out over if it was in a newer story) and tosses him down into a chasm. Then, Non attempts to fly at him and falls down there too, and finally, Lois punches Ursa and she falls down too. And don't give me that crap about a deleted scene with the arctic police; it's just that—a deleted scene. If you want to believe that's part of your fanon, go ahead, but as far as anyone could see for the 25 years between the American release of Superman II and the release of the DVD that had the deleted scene (the Donner cut, btw), go ahead, but by all indications, Zod was dead.

Now, you can argue that the death of Zod was ambiguous because we never saw the body anyway. Okay, but by the same token, Superman doesn't seem to care, and that's really the bigger issue: in this narrative of Man of Steel as dark, horrible sign of the times, and Superman I & II as the joyous, happy-peppy Way Things Ought To Be, you'd think that the fact that he doesn't kill would be a major part of the films, and yet, even if you can argue he didn't kill Zod, it's never addressed.

Finally, the WHOLE POINT of the killing scene of Man of Steel is that taking Zod's is something that makes him mad at himself, JUST LIKE IN THE COMICS!!! So while they think they've struck gold on this, they've just been showing what hypocrites they are.

Superman flying back to the Fortress: Obviously, this was a huge gambit on his part, therefore at-least kind-of reckless, although we can say, "okay, it's strategy, and thank goodness it worked"; but if this was "Man of Steel," they'd accuse him of trying to fly away like a coward.

One wonders, btw, how he managed to get the molecule chamber to work throughout the Fortress and keep him insulated within it. One indignant fan said, "he rewired it! They so much as say so in the movie!" Well, no they don't. AFTER the fact, Lex says, "he switched it," which... yeah... we could see that.

The fight in Metropolis which is supposed to be NYC: Since 2001, anything that has a lot of violence and fighting in NYC is accused of trying to "evoke 9/11." This movie came out in the U.S. 20 years before that horrible event, so it can't be accused of it, but if it's such an influential film, isn't it natural for superhero films to do the same thing? I think it's the critics who are trying to "evoke 9/11."

Come to think of it, at the beginning of the movie, they refer to the bad guys as "terrorists." A pretty standard action film thing, but imagine if they'd done that "in a post-9/11 world."

The entire subplot of Superman giving up his powers and getting them back: Before we begin, prepare to see the word SOMEHOW an awful lot.

Okay, so Superman and Lois are on the lamest assignment ever (a hotel scandal), and in this foofy fireplace thingy in the hotel, Clark burns his hand and, from that, Lois learns that he's really Superman. Now, imagine if he'd have used his super-hypnotism at this point. Just think about it.

Instead, he and Lois get all cooey-eyed, because there's nothing more dashing than a man who's been actively lying to you, especially after proclaiming, "I never lie." I know people like to condemn Man of Steel for being "cynical," but I expect the characters to behave like adults.

So he takes her to the Fortress of Solitude, where they have dinner and talk about the "confusing" nature of him being both Clark and Superman. Ugh, could they have written dialogue that doesn't make them sound like airheads? Anyway, as they've been "together" now for about an hour, he consults a hologram of his mother (his father in the Donner cut) who tells him he ought not "put one above the rest," and that if he wishes to be with Lois, he must give up his powers... FOREVER!!!

Yeah... there's a reason some fans never saw these films as the be-all-end-all.

The idea that he has to give up his powers to be with Lois is ridiculous. So what if he's "putting one above the rest?" Didn't they expect him to be raised by SOMEONE on Earth whom he would also "put above the rest?" It's ridiculous!

And don't think that the people saying, "he had to respect their wishes," when he's clearly making the choice they DIDN'T want him to make, so he's being just slightly more disrespectful than if he'd said, "no, I'm gonna keep my powers and continue dating her."

Now, I said that in a casual way for comedic effect, but the way in which he makes his decision is no less casual: *hunches shoulder* "I love her." Yup. That's all the thought it required. Bear in mind, Lara said he could NEVER get them back once he hopped in the molecule chamber. Again: can you imagine if that happened in Mo S? And let's not forget the disgusting montage they used to illustrate his losing his powers.

So then, Lois and Clark do the wild thing while the movie cuts between Zod's invasion and their little romance. With a convenient truck (possibly Pa Kent's old truck, which I guess Clark could have flown up there for just such an occasion), Lois & Clark find themselves in a diner in—I don't know—I can't think of a habitable area within driving distance of the North Pole.

After some stereotypical bully named Rocky beats up Clark, and we discover that our hero would be a loudmouthed pansy without his powers (agaIn: justify it all you want, if this scene were in a Zack Snyder film, they'd think it was heresy) Clark learns about Zod's conquest, so he...

... walks back to the Fortress of Solitude (again, where on Earth WAS this diner) and we never get a solid explanation for how he got his powers back.


Now, before someone says, "it had something to do with the crystal he found lying on the floor," yeah, I got that. But that only takes us from Point A to Point B, I want to know how we clear the entire alphabet. This is just the beginning. What was the point of taking his powers away in the first place? Just to establish a romantic subplot that actually goes nowhere, and to artificially ratchet up tension?

The... ugh.

People love throwing around the word "plot hole," to explain things that they just kinda find a little hard to believe, but this film fails to explain something incredibly crucial to the plot, and on top of how ridiculous it is to begin with, if it had happened in Man of Steel, it would have well-earned the critical drubbing it received.

And yes, in the Donner cut, they have this thing about how he's fulfilled some sort of prophecy, so they're going for poetry rather than a solid plot. Yay. It graduated from Plot Hole to Cop-Out. You know what they could have done? Find some loophole in what Lara (or Jor-El in that version) said and/or had him somehow earn his powers back.


That's it for now. There's way more, but at this point, I just gotta say the hate toward Man of Steel from pompous blowhards who want to make it out to be some "cynical, depressing, joyless" sign of the times are so shallow that it's... well... depressing and makes me cynical and robs me of my joy.
12:18:46 AM May 7th 2014
edited by
THANK YOU. I've been dealing with this bizarre manifestation of Fan Dumb from several friends since Man of Steel premiered. And anyone who calls the film or Cavill's portrayal of Clark "joyless" didn't watch the "first flight" scene or the fact that the film closes on Clark's big, doofy smile.
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