Mark Waid Addresses His Negative Reaction to ‘Man of Steel’ (SPOILERS)

Posted Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 01:00 pm GMT -4 by

Man of Steel

Weeks ago, comic book writer Marc Waid made headlines with his impassioned and negative reaction to the controversial hit movie Man of Steel.  (Check out his blog at Thrillbent.)  Granted, it’s the norm for the internet to blow things out of proportion, but it’s hard to misinterpret calling the climactic battle “Disaster Porn” and his reaction to Superman’s final move as:

“Some crazy guy in front of us was muttering ‘Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…’ and then Superman snapped Zod’s neck and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, ‘THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,’ and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out and that crazy guy was me. That crazy guy was me, and I barely even remember doing that, I had to be told afterward that I’d done that, that’s how caught up in betrayal I felt. And after the neck-snapping, even though I stuck it out, I didn’t give a damn about the rest of the movie.”

Waid has since sat down with Voices From Krypton, the Superman-devoted website, to elaborate on his thoughts and to react to fans’ responses.

To start with, in regard to the online reaction to his review, he stated:

“I guess the reaction to my review was disappointing to me a little, because while most people seemed to get it, there’s been a reductive aspersion cast on it by a lot of people. More and more I’ve seen, “Read here why Mark Waid hates Man of Steel.” Well, that’s not what I said…  I was broken hearted, I was disappointed, I was gutted by that one scene as much as anything else or certainly the last third of the movie, but I also liked a lot of things about it. I even kind of understand why they went that way, so this isn’t, “It’s not my Superman,” or “Why can’t it be like the ’50s when I was growing up?” It’s not that at all. It’s more the idea of, man, there’s just no heart or charm, especially in that last third of the movie. It’s just destruction porn.”

As for Henry Cavill’s fledgling hero, he remarked:
Amy Adams Henry Cavill Superman Lois Lane Man of Steel“I think that seems to be the overall feeling from a lot of people, that this is the first step. But nobody knew it was going to be a trilogy going in!… If I wanted to see Boy of Steel I would have seen Boy of Steel… I understand that you want growth and development and stuff, but I just want a little more pay off to that. It reminds me very much of the thing you loathe hearing from freelancers and writers when you’re a publisher or editor, because I get this a lot – every publisher and every editor gets it – you get someone turning in a first issue and… nothing big has happened or there’s something missing, and the answer is always, “Wait till you get to issue three.” Oh, shut up! “We have to set the stage!” Stop setting the stage and get on with the play. That’s my kneejerk reaction to the point of, well he’s just learning. But that’s not what it was sold as, that’s not what we thought we were getting. We thought we were getting a Superman movie, and we got a Superman in training movie.”
When asked about the character’s sometimes affectionate, often not, nickname the “Big Blue Boyscout,” Waid expressed,
Zod“I’ve talked over and over to the people at DC over the last ten years, and I know what WB’s feeling is about Superman, which is that he’s stupid, he’s corny and why can’t he be more like Batman? Well, because he’s not Batman, but there’s nothing Hollywood loves more than safe bets. So that certainly always informs the tone and direction that this movie was going to have. We always knew once they got serious about it that it was going to be a darker, more brooding take, but I kind of thought there would be a little wiggle room there.”
About the very nature of the character, he stated “Don’t lose sight of the fact that Superman is not supposed to be like us. We’re supposed to want to be like Superman. Don’t give me an hour and a half of ghost dad preaching to him over and over again how he will inspire us, he will lift us, he will show us the light, he will lead us into the sun, he will do all this, and then not deliver on it. In any way – Superman didn’t do anything in the movie that someone didn’t tell him to do.”
He delves into a lot more, of course, including Superman’s “no killing” ethic, the other Superman films and reactions from fans on social media.  For the full interview visit Voices From Krypton.
Do you agree with Waid or do you prefer this darker take on the Man of Steel?  What was your overall reaction to the movie?
  • Andrew Filipe

    I could not agree with Waid more. He’s dead on.

  • Blakeney

    Absolutely. I’ve had it with gritty. And dark and joyless can go out the window, too. Not every story has to be bleak and grim. Not every hero has to be an antihero. Superman is one character whose story can legitimately be told from a more optimistic point of view. There were small parts I liked but mostly it was cheerless, relentless destruction (is there a new academy award for “most property damage in a movie?”). I’m not particularly planning on seeing the next two installments. Good for Mark Waid for telling it straight.

    • JasonMBowles

      More and more, it seems this is the opinion viewers are having to this movie. Hmmm, not good!

    • allansm

      I disagree 100%

      The earth was being invaded. Sorry if Superman didn’t smile enough. Perhaps it would have been better if all of the aliens missed shooting/running into all of the big buildings like in the Avengers?

      Or perhaps it’s better to kill countless aliens off their flying ATV’s than for Supes to kill ONE super-powered being?

      Moreover, I’m personally tired of campy joke after campy joke the Marvel movies employ.

      Funny how this movie is being nitpicked, but a comedy-with-terrible-action-and-twists-parading-as-a-hero-flick like Iron Man 3 gets rave reviews.

      • JasonMBowles

        This movie is divisive, that’s for sure. I liked it overall, but a lot of people didn’t. It takes all kinds, I guess and regardless, it made bank!

      • carol

        To Allansm,
        I agree with you. From where I come from I know alot of people have enjoyed MoS and will watch the sequel when it comes out. My friends who have been to this movie include a CFO, two families professionals, a CEO and his family, my hairdresser and his family and relatives w their family, all with children aged between 13 to 25. Apart from one teenage girl who prefers Monster University, they have all enjoyed it. And none of these friends are comic fans and even their children do not read comic books. They may have watched some of the earlier version of Superman movies but not the 2006 version as they are just not interested in Supe. It is precisely because this movie has a more serious tone that has won these group of people over. So demographically speaking, MoS has successfully reached to a larger group of people. I wont say that it gain more fans just that more people from a more diverse background have become interested in the movie and like what one of my friends said when we left the cinema, ‘I will watch the sequel.’ This will accout for why MoS is making the money……the general audience.

  • carol

    Watching a movie is a very subjective experience. I understand how you would feel if you had gone in the theatre with certain expectations. You mentioned that you did not know this was going to be a trilogy of sorts. I thought that they have emphasized many times this was going to be an origin story. That should have already prepared us for it to be different. Personally I enjoyed this movie as did all my friends, both male and female. This movie is not perfect but I don’t think we need to be watching a perfect movie to enjoy it.

    • JasonMBowles

      These are not my opinions. They are those of comic writer Mark Waid. I’m just reporting them.

      • carol

        Thanks for clarifying Jason.

        • McGiffin

          I think what he did was repeat, rather than “clarify”, what the heading stated. Additional hints in the piece itself were the judicious use of quote marks, which generally indicate that the opinions expressed belong to someone other than the writer. Your response to Jason would therefore be more accurate as, “Sorry I didn’t bother to properly read what I was commenting on.”

          • carol

            I had properly read what I commented on. I had in this instance used a wrong choice of word which I should thank you for pointing out to me. As to the question …. yes I prefer and like this version of supe very much as do all the friends I went to the movie with. In fact I have enjoyed most of the superman movies and tv serials like smallville. And love this version.

          • JasonMBowles

            No offense intended! I thank you for the feedback. We (all us writers) do tend to get a lot of comments directed at us as though we are the ones in control of these properties, so the “you” sounded like another of those misunderstandings. I’m glad you liked it. I, for the most part, enjoyed it as well. Once again, thank you for commenting! Hope to hear more from you in the future!

  • Davon Hall

    I loved this movie. I like the not-corny vibe of it. And his decision at the end didn’t destroy my perception of Superman at all. Instead, it made it a heck of a lot more interesting. I don’t see what the big deal is. But hey, in the end, it doesn’t matter. The film brought back relevance to Superman, specifically in movies.

  • KilliK

    that’s what this “superman” was.

    • MJ

      Why? You give an opinion, but not why it is your opinion. Elaborate.

  • Xander Lewis

    If your want the campy joke that was quest for peace or superman returns then go watch those me personally I think if your gunna make an alien invasion action movie with superman there to stop them guess what some buildings n shots getting distoryed .i lost interest in superman until earth one new52 and man of steel it gives him more depth more life you chould see in his eyes he didint wana kill him even after he slaughterd countless humans buy blowing the shit out of the city but he did it to save the people and place he called home hell he doesn’t know what kryptonight is yet so he did his best n personally it’s the best superman I have seen on screen in years so much better then superman returns

  • Byron

    I think this hardcore superman fans have missed the point. Superman doesn’t kill and he truly doesn’t, Just because he killed Zod doesn’t mean he kills. He saved people, that is what he did. The fact that he had to kill Zod to do it highlights the fact superman doesn’t kill more so, the remorse he shows after is brilliant. It wasn’t even a matter of Zod being out of control, there was simply NO OTHER CHOICE, the choice was taken, we can all agree killing him was justified. I can’t stress Superman not wanting to kill Zod but wanting to save people was brilliant and it makes the Superman doesn’t kill thing more brilliant, it makes the Hero stand stronger than ever.

  • Clark Ars

    Man of Steel doesn’t have the Superman we know and I don’t think this is bad. Clark Kent grown up trying to hide and deal his super powers, so he couldn’t have a regular life. Later, as man, he had some jobs that not corresponded with his potentials, he was really an outcast. All those things has the following reasons: his superpowers, his alien origin and consequentely its heritage. And then, after all that confusion and the threats of General Zod, it would not be easy to the US government and the US armed forces to accept that super powerful alien as their friend and defender. So Man of Steel has one point, a premise: commitment to reality. Look, I am not trying to justify the murder of Zod, besides I guess the movie could have a better ending, a better solution even on that extreme situation; but, as many people said he had no choice. So, in this arguement of commitment to reality, I think it would take some months, or even years for Superman to build the reputation of defender and a beloved superhero as we know. There was not a plane falling in the center of Metropolis and a crowded stadium as eyewitnesses to acclaim him because he saved the city and people celebrate his return after his self-exile. The good and impeccable reputation of Superman would take a long time to be built… Man of Steel is just the beginning.

  • Clem

    Mark Waid, and everyone else whining about Superman killing Zod (which I found to be a great moment and very well acted – you can see Superman’s heart break at what he is forced to do to save humans), needs to read Superman #22 (1988) where Superman deliberately executes Zod, Quex-Ul and Zaora with Kryptonite because he doesn’t want to let them starve to death on the “pocket universe” Earth they destroyed, and he can’t let them destroy his own Earth if they return to power, which they vow to do. This decision – which is much worse than what the film presented in my opinion – later haunted him, which I am sure is where the new movies are going. Seriously, “fans” and “writers” need to actually look into the precious continuity they hold so dear before they lash out. Superman is much more than the one note these people want him to be. Sometimes we have to make very hard choices, that’s what makes for real drama.

    • Clem

      Forgot to mention, Waid also has to dismiss the incidents where Superman clearly killed or let people die by inaction in the original Golden Age comics. Guess he doesn’t include Golden Age in his approved continuity.

  • Clem

    I just read over the full interview. Waid does know about issue 22 and hated John Byrne’s choice. This makes it even worse IMO as he is dismissing comics continuity and forcing into a conversation about the faithfulness of the film his own view of what Superman “should be.” It is no longer about what Superman “is” in his comics history and whether the film is faithful to it, but about what Waid wants it to be. God forbid Superman ever be put into such a position and have to live with his choices! Maybe we should get a list of approved Superman comics. They could have the “Waid Code of Superman Ethics Seal of Approval” on them.

    John Byrne
    John Byrne

    • Clem

      Dismiss the double John Byrnes at the end. Just a copy-paste error.

      • JasonMBowles

        Yeah, I read that too and agree with you. I pretend certain stories never happened because I don’t like them too, but if another writer references it, I have to just let it go.

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  • MJ

    Superman has never been one of my favorite comic book series. However, this movie was fresh and exciting and action packed. I hope they do five more.

  • After mulling this over for some time now, I’ve had time to digest ‘Man of Steel’ properly and I can say this: I won’t be rushing to see the sequels anytime soon. Like ‘Superman Returns’, there are bits of ‘Man of Steel’ that were bordering on greatness. It’s those moments that make the movie’s flaws so grand in comparison.

    The biggest flaw, and I agree with Waid on this one, is that Superman does NOT kill. Despite John Byrne and the much-touted continuity, comic characters evolve over time. Heck! Look at Batman through the years. Batman started out wearing purple gloves, carrying a gun, and tossing villains to their deaths. Would the Batman of today do that? No way! Such is the way with Superman. Different writers have handled him in different ways for good or ill and some totally missed their mark.

    The core of Superman is in his wholesomeness and his unwavering moral code. The trailers for ‘Man of Steel’ featured that great speech about Earth joining Kal-El in the sun… only to have him turn around and murder the villain. How is that something to aspire to?

    Zack Snyder and crew missed the heart of Superman with ‘Man of Steel’ and I’m more upset that they’re letting Snyder back in the director’s seat for ‘Man of Steel 2′ than I am about the casting of Affleck as Batman. Let’s get someone in the director’s chair that understands the real Superman.

    • MJ

      Scott, writers actually decide what goes into the story, not the Director….

    • JasonMBowles

      Sorry, Scott I didn’t see this reply! I appreciate you taking the time to write such an in-depth reaction. I think I need to see it again. I can see the idea that “Superman doesn’t kill” but you mentioned evolution and this is beginner Superman. Maybe he’ll be tormented by his actions and vow never to kill again? I appreciate people’s negative reactions, so hopefully Snyder and Goyer will take that into account on the next movie.

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  • In defense of Man of Steel: 1st, it was never established what Clark Kent’s level of education was in Man of Steel, or what his job qualifications were. Perhaps Perry White was in need of a “Super” fast typist. 2nd, Do you really think that Superman fighting a being equally as powerful as him (General Zod), wouldn’t cause massive destruction in a city?! Particularly in a fight that he’s not able to fully dominate and control. They’re NOT two human dudes fighting. LOL
    3rd, It was never established that the destroyed buildings and streets, were fully rebuilt by the end of the movie. Perhaps the Daily Planet got relocated to another building.

    And finally, Man of Steel was about seeing Superman’s evolution as a hero, from the very beginning. Christopher Reeves’ Superman apparently spent 10 years in the Fortress, preparing to be Earth’s superhero, in the first movie. But by the second movie, he was ready to throw it all away, just so he could be a mortal man and be with Lois Lane. Now THAT’S a disappointing representation of Superman. Think about it.