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All I ask is Thematic Consistency

Had a date night with the hubby Friday night and we went to see the new Superman movie "Man of Steel". I really liked it. I really liked it for a lot of reasons, not the least of which it has given me lots of meta to think about. I love meta. I’ve written two sessions of meta on it so far, and I haven’t even gotten to the meta I really what to write! But I'll start with a more academic view on what I liked about this movie.

Keep in mind that I've never been a real big fan of the previous Superman movies. In fact, given a choice of all the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, I would chose to watch the 3rd one with Richard Pryor. Why? Because it's the one that I can totally throw reality out the window and enjoy for the complete ridiculousness of it. With the other two, I always end up annoyed that they break the universal themes that make Superman so very interesting to me.

Take the first movie: If Superman spins the world backwards and goes back to save Lois, doesn't he spin all the people in the world back and by saving Lois, allows all the other people he saved the first time die? I mean, how can he spin the world back and only effect what happened to Lois?

Now I can usually let stuff like that slide. I can, on average, accept some really questionable plot points. Except when those questionable plot points completely undermine the themes of the rest of the movie. In the first movie, Clark’s inability to save his Dad was the defining point of his life. It established that Superman, despite his powers, had to live by the some rules we all did: you can’t save everyone and there are unavoidable consequences for each decision we make. Just as Superman’s original decision to stop Luther had a consequence, saving Lois should have had a consequence. It should have been very costly. Instead we are left with this idea that Superman can, at any time, rewind the world and save whoever he wants! Now that's a hell of a superpower. But even more than that, it completely removes Superman from the consequences of being human, which completely destroys who Superman is.

They do the same type of thing in the second movie! I could dislike the movie because of the stupidity of how Superman kisses Lois and she forgets everything. Well not every everything, just everything about Clark being Superman. I mean, what the hell, people? But even before that, the movie lost me. I mean, I have a problem with the whole damn concept of the second movie: that Clark/Superman has to chose between living as a human -- Clark Kent -- and living as a superhero -- Superman. The whole movie basically said that Clark couldn't be both human and meta-human. Which is, of course, the complete antithesis of what Superman is. Superman is both alien and human. He can't chose to be one of them, he has to learn how to live life as both.

So yeah, I'll take the third movie. It doesn't try to be serious. It doesn't claim any big hold on the mythos. It's campy and silly and fun. It never sets down a theme, so no matter how out there it gets, it never violates it's own theme. So I'm good with that.

What I'm really good with, however, is this latest movie. Man of Steel gives me the mythos I love and doesn’t ever violate that mythos. It never waivers from the concept that Clark Kent is Superman and that Superman is Clark Kent – meta-human and human, all in one. In fact, that’s the whole point, the whole thematic arc of the movie.

Which, in my book, makes it awesome.

Comments

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imbri6
Jun. 17th, 2013 04:48 am (UTC)
Of all of the people that I personally have seen give an opinion about this movie you are the only person who explained why you hold your opinion. Not only that, you explained it in a way that I completely and totally understand without giving away anything significant about the movie! I LOVE THIS! I love reading your movie reviews. Heck, I love reading most things that you write. (caveat: I almost never read fanfic due to an overdose of WhoaHORRIBLE far too early in my fanish life (which is probably why I don't have much of a fanish life anymore, btw) But I do read some of yours and what I've read I've liked)

I'd been on the fence about this new Superman but I think I am gonna go see it.

Thanks!
partly
Jun. 17th, 2013 02:18 pm (UTC)
Aww... thanks!

I do find a lot of people can't explain what they liked -- or more likely, didn't like -- about the movie. Or if they can point to a specific plot point they can't exactly say *why* is wasn't good.

Glad you enjoy reading! Hope you enjoy the movie.
(Deleted comment)
partly
Jun. 19th, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
There's a huge drive in fandom to be "shocking" and to rely on "twists" to keep the audience watching. That drive pretty much throws thematic consistency out the window. Then there's the tendency for shows to provide "fanservice" to the audience. Instead of following the story and characters to their logical conclusion, they change things around to give the audience something they want -- be it a pushing a relationship or modifying a character to make that character more like the audience wants. Usually they make these changes regardless of whether the story can handle them or not.

One of the benefits of watching small fandom shows is that they are more immune to these types of pressures.

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