The latest reboot of the Superman story, Man of Steel recently hit box offices with all the power of a speeding locomotive. Drawing in $120 million in it’s opening weekend, the special effects-filled film has no doubt pleased money seeking producers, and CGI enthusiasts alike. However, despite the monetary success of Man of Steel, one must slow down the hype train long enough to look at the bigger picture. In this case, what liberties did producer Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer take with the Superman/Clark Kent character in attempts to make him more crowd pleasing? The answer is many, most of which contribute to the schism between the film and traditional comic book canon.
The elephant in the room revolves around the fact that throughout Man of Steel, Superman did not appear to have any concern for human life as he battled adversaries in the middle of a crowded Metropolis, causing what were almost assuredly hundreds, if not thousands of casualties. However, less protruding, yet somewhat more bothersome modifications occur to the extent that the overall plot is plagued by entirely new inconsistencies.
The first unfortunate alteration that bares itself to audiences across globe is the fact that actor Henry the Cavill, has a body that would make Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson blush. Wait, stop right there. Superman, according to just about every prior comic book and film in existence, receives his strength from the yellow sun within our solar system, and most certainly not from lifting weights. Given that key plot point, Superman does not need to look like a Greek god, in fact, he can look just like anybody else. After all, isn’t that why he is able to blend in as a timid and nerdy newspaper reporter? There is no way a 6 foot 4 inch, 240 pound heart throb could not create a spectacle as he attempts to figure out what is causing the copy machine to jam at the office. This is why Christopher Reeves was a far superior Superman, as he was not a physical specimen breaking buttons on his business suit, but was a nerdy and clumsy civilian when he needed to be.
Speaking of Clark Kent, the newspaper reporter, the film seemed to convey that after his Smallville High graduation, the Kryptonian roamed the wilderness as he worked on oil rigs, crab ships, truck stops, and just about anywhere else that would warrant a beard and flannel. So, given his work history, what did Superman’s resume look like when he applied to the Daily Planet? Goyer and Snyder have chosen to abandon the nerdy Clark Kent portrayal, but in turn this new vision fails to connect the dots on how Clark Kent went from bussing tables at a dive bar to working opposite a Pulitzer Prize winning Lois Lane for the biggest news outlet in America’s biggest city. It would have been much more consistent with the film’s rugged individual plot point had Superman walked into the Daily Planet office at the end of the film, only to start washing windows or dusting off lamp shades.
Reasons such as these are evidence that Superman’s past writers knew the direction that they were going with the character. An awkward bookworm Clark Kent made much more sense to the story of Superman, and how he kept his identity safe. Kent should literally be the last person people would expect to be the Man of Steel, but in the newest interpretation, this is not the case. Therefore, in an attempt to make a much more gritty, realistic, and appealing Superman film, the creators of Man of Steel have trampled over key characteristics that make Superman the likeable and identifiable symbol that he is, and in doing so they miss the point entirely.