Screenwriter Max Landis has some opinions on Superman. Just check out his Youtube video, The Death and Return of Superman, in which he summarizes the best-selling comic book storyline, while poking holes at its flaws… and there are many! This time, however, he’s turning his attention to Man of Steel. Though the latest Superman film scored a huge opening weekend, raking in $116 million and scoring the honor of the highest grossing June release in history, the film plummeted to $41 million its second weekend, falling behind Monsters University and World War Z. It doesn’t help that Man of Steel is generating mediocre reviews (56% on Rotten Tomatoes) and wildly mixed reactions from the fan community. (We here at Sciencefiction.com really enjoyed it! Check out our official review as well as my geek-centric take on the film.)
Last week, Superman comic-writer Mark Waid sounded off regarding his hatred of the new Super movie, calling it “disaster porn” and exclaiming that the movie broke his heart.
Now in a passionate video critique, Max Landis, screenwriter of sort-of super hero film Chronicle, takes issue with this depiction of Superman, most notably the violent climax of the movie, which to be honest, I also had issues with. Check out his video here, but be warned, there are spoilers galore:
Landis certainly seems passionate, but he also seems to have real insight into the Man of Steel, even at the expense of over-simplifying Batman and Spider-Man. His most resounding attack is of course in regard to the Transformers-esque final battle:
“I go into a movie like 2012 to see a city be destroyed. You know where a city shouldn’t be being destroyed? In the f***ing Superman movie. And I kind of loved the way it looked when it was getting destroyed, but Superman shouldn’t be allowing that to happen. People get mad because he kills Zod at the end…he snaps his neck because Lord knows those four people in the train station needed to be saved after hundreds of thousands of people have died on camera in such direct 9/11 corollaries that [I was jaw-dropped shocked]…What it comes down to is I don’t mind if Superman kills people because he has no reason to not kill people. I know that one of the tenants of the character is that he doesn’t, but the reason that he doesn’t is because having that much power makes you responsible for weaker people…Superman when he goes after someone is essentially not trying to beat them, he is trying to save them from themselves…You’re looking at a God who walks amongst men!”
Besides the destruction of Metropolis (and to a lesser extent Smallville), the other factor that’s dividing fans is Superman’s killing of Zod. Most live under the assumption that Superman never kills… except he does and has. In 1998’s Superman volume 2, issue #22, in a tale written and illustrated by comic great John Byrne, Superman used Kryptonite to kill Zod and his followers after they ruthlessly murdered everyone on a parallel Earth. It was controversial at the time… and apparently it still is. But it happened, so when Superman was forced to make that call in the movie, it wasn’t unheard of for me.
Landis summarized his feelings regarding the super hero movie formula as a whole this way:
“I guess what I’m saying isn’t so much an opinion on the ‘Man of Steel’. It’s more about the way superhero movies have become… at the end of all of these movies, all I’m seeing is fire and death. And that confuses the living s**t out of me, because everybody’s going to these movies and they’re all making so much money. And at the end, a hero stands tall as all of society crumbles behind him. That isn’t a superhero to me, a guy who stands there when everyone else is dead. That’s like a rock star. I don’t want to see movies about rock stars. Put the hero back in the super hero movies, because I think ‘super’ might have taken over.”
What do you think? Have super hero movies gotten too violent and destructive? Should Superman have spent more time saving people rather than fighting Zod? Sound off below in the comments!