These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (No – Not This Guy)

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It’s been 9 days since I last posted anything to this site and frankly I’m getting sick of spying Andrew Jackson’s mug every time I boot up the browser (leading me to download a pic of the Croatian Man of Steel). In a bid to blow these summer doldrums away, I have come up with a gimmick. I’m going to begin running a series of columns – titled “My Favorite Things” (you know, like whiskers on kittens and leather on vixens). Each column will provide a top 5 listing of my favorite things. I encourage all of you to use the Comments section to post your own.

Having seen Superman Returns over the past weekend, I decided to lead off with my Top 5 Favorite Comic Book Movies. I’ll cover that in a separate post. Before I get into that, I wanted to touch upon my reaction to Supes.

I initially thought I liked the film. Not loved (hence – it won’t make the list) but generally liked it. Of course, with two young children at home, I don’t get out to the movies as often as I once did so I tend to find something to enjoy about every precious movie-going experience. (Hell – I’m a huge fan of The Twenty. Bring on twenty additional minutes of Sublymonal advertisements, I say.)

Over the past few days, as I’ve revisited the various plot points in my head, my impressions on the film have begun to sour.

Before I get into that critique, I’ll touch upon what worked. All in all, I enjoyed the throwback references to the original Chris Reeve flicks, with John Wlliams’ buoyant fanfare resurrected with much bombast by Singer’s house musician John Ottman – the perfect score for that retro X-Ray chic credit sequence. I also thought Brandon Routh did a good job as Superman. Director Bryan Singer understands the intrinsic value in placing an unknown in these iconic steps. When I look at Ghost Rider I see Nick Cage and a bad hairpiece. When I look at Routh, I see Superman.

Where things go south (in a hurry) is the plotting and the script. The main nitpick I have (and it’s a huge one) is Lex Luthor’s plan – which has to be the most asinine scheme a genius criminal mastermind has ever concocted.

Early in the flick, Luthor pays a visit to Supes’ Arctic crib and absconds with his prized crystals. Luthor decides that he is going to use these crystals as seeds for a new Kryptonite-laced continent, which will grow to such mammoth proportions it will flood much of North America – leaving people to clamber to his new seaside digs and pay top dollar to live on an uninhabitable rock. The problem is – his plan will kill millions (nay, BILLIONS!!!) – of people living in the United States.

So, if he creates this massive land mass that essentially swamps North America overnight – who is going to pony up the cash to buy his land? He’s already killed billions of people on one of the wealthiest continents in the world – effectively destroying or crippling the world’s economic markets (meaning traditional money may not be any good anymore, anyway.) So who is his target demographic? Chechneyan rebels? Billionaire Sherpas? Who?

Not only is his scheme insanely moronic – he doesn’t even time it right. He procures a yacht and a crystal and suddenly it’s “Let’s go out to sea and drop this in the water and see what happens.” Wouldn’t it be more prudent to actually build the advanced weapon systems he suggests prior to creating New Krypton so he could defend against the inevitable military response. Speaking of which – where was the military and intelligence community? Here’s an entity that can tell the exact moment a person of interest slips into the country via Niagara but doesn’t notice a new continent rising from the sea.

Adding to this problem is Kitty Kowalski’s change of heart. Her answer to Lex’s cruel plan to murder billions – is to toss his remaining crystals down on the crumbling continent. The odds of those crystals dropping in the drink is pretty high – meaning now Supes has 5 rogue continents to contend with rather than the one he bench presses to space. Bad Kitty!!!

To paraphrase the great superhero Curt Schilling, “Stupid idiotic thing to do.” Oh well – I can only hope they stayed rooted on the rock when Supes tossed it out of the stratosphere. That way General Zod can scoop them up in time for the sequel.

In the comics world, I suspend a great deal of disbelief. It’s a pre-requisite. I can buy the fact that people don’t notice that Clark and Supes look alike, that both disappeared (day and date) for five years and then reappeared on the same day. This is the same universe of oblivious blokes who are easily duped by a pair of horned-rims. Hell, if Clarke threw on a Groucho stash he’d really have something. But this land grab scheme is the worst laid plan ever.

Singer seems to be aware of this as he spends more time focusing on Supes return and his feelings of isolation and alienation (a word which shows up on a Scrabble board early in the flick). I like the notion that Superman travels the galaxy searching for a familial bond, when all along, it was waiting for him back home. But the pacing and plotting do little service to the grand aspirations Singer has for his subject. Singer himself, is adopted and openly gay – so one can sense the personal stake he had in depicting the plight of the ultimate outsider. But this knowledge only makes it more curious. Singer is obviously passionate for the subject, yet his approach comes off a bit cold. His film looks great but I can’t shake that strong feeling of detachment.

To be honest, Superman has never been in my top ten list of heroes. He’s too powerful and wears red Underoos over blue Lycra. I can’t really identify with him. I think that’s what edges me closer to Batman. I like my superheroes with failings. I like my superheroes in black. It lends them gravitas.

Ah well – that Spiderman 3 teaser looks aces (black costume BTW) – so I’ve got next summer to look forward to.

One comment [now closed]

  • I think I am more excited about the flick because I have read a fair share of Superman comics over the past few years. I started reading them because I was enjoying Smallville so much on TV. I used to be in your camp in thinking he was too powerful without a good enough weakness. He’s also too wholesome for these days, right? I mean, that played well in the 40’s and 50’s, but these days, it is so out of place alongside all the anti-heroes, like Wolverine, getting the attention.

    That said, I actually like the character for those things. He’s now the minority in the comics universe where the flawed anti-hero is king. Hey, maybe is flaw is he is too good to a fault.

    Anyway, I immediately thought of Scott Evil giving Dr. Evil the business about just shooting Austin Powers in the head and being done with the whole thing when you reference Luthor and Supes from this flick. Luthor has him on the ropes and yet, he doesn’t finish him off. That and Luthor’s big scheme are parallels to what often happens in Bond flicks, which of course the Austin Powers flicks parody. The ridiculous scheme is exactly what I would expect out of the movie version of Lex. After all, in the first flick he was trying to sink Cali into the Pacific so he could sell beach front property in Nevada! I guess he’s got a bad real estate fixation, but the rush he’s in to get his latest plot to fruition is the flaw of many evil geniuses, is it not? It’s all about instant gratification.