Sunday, September 28, 2014

Zod is not the villain of Man of Steel

Yeah, this is a movie from 2013. Yeah, I should be writing other stuff, but the movie is on and the future of the JLA in movies has been on my mind of late, so....

For the most part, I enjoyed the Man of Steel when I first saw it, in the theater. But, there were of course some problems with the film. And let's not pretend that I think all movies should be perfect--enjoy a great many films on a relative spectrum of quality that can be described as "terrible-to-middling-and-beyond".

Still, there are issues that are difficult for me to reconcile. Here's a few. Oh, and--SPOILERS:

Early in the film, on the about-to-be-toast planet Krypton, General Zod attempts a coup d'etat of the Kryptonian government, while Jor-El is trying to convince the ruling council that the entire planet is at a crossroads. Jor-El escapes capture at the hands of Zod and his militia in order to steal a codex, which apparently contains some sort of database of Krypton's history, genetics, or space magic something. 

Anyway, it's the most important artifact on the dying planet because they can restart the entire population using it. It's worth noting at this point that Jor-El's theft activates an alarm. Probably a really loud one that would tell the council their entire history and future are in danger. He's spotted and fired upon by one of Zod's ships, but does escape.

Zod chases down Jor-El at his doorstep, but fails to prevent him from programming his newborn son Kal-El with the codex (with beams of super science/sorcery!) with the intention of blasting him into space. A fight ensues in Jor-El's living room, the ship with newborn Kal-El, is launched by his mother Lara amid Zod's protests.
Stealing your planet's entire genetic history is only a misdemeanor on Krypton.
Zod is captured, tried, and sentenced to be shipped away to sleep on a spaceship with his minions. This is the punishment for his revolt. Well technically for "murder" (of Jor-El?) and "high treason". 

Because the planet is about to die, the trial/sentencing is quite expedient. Zod gets in his digs at the remaining council. Lara's there too. All dressed up and standing with the other council members. Zod gets a scream or two at Lara, who he claims damned them all.


Thanks for letting me and my pals be the only adult survivors of our people!
  1. WTF isn't Lara being sent into space sleep for her crime? She helped her husband steal the entire genetic history of their civilization at the moment it's about to DIE FOREVER. 
  2. WTF are they bothering to send Zod into space at all? Why doesn't the council SEND THEMSELVES INTO SPACE? Even Spock had the good sense to beam down to Vulcan in the Star Trek reboot to GET HIS PARENTS AND THE CULTURAL MINISTERS THE HELL OUT OF THERE.

Zod who? THIS is Krypton's Public Enemy #1.

Other problems:
  • During his siege of Jor-El's home, Zod only takes two other soldiers with him, when Jor-El had previously escaped four guards (killing at least two of them). Zod is apparently a terrible tactician and shouldn't be leading anyone.
  • The gunships that Zod commands on Krypton are nearly identical in form and function to the Republic gunships from Star Wars.
  • When Zod publicly threatens Kal-El on worldwide broadcast goes to church in Smallville to ask a minister for advice. Wouldn't the minister also know his secret identity after Clark Kent appears on TV in a red cape? 
  • The end of the movie is ridiculous. Nobody needs a giant final battle after a giant final battle. There's barely even a city left to fight in. 
  • Zod is killed (FWIW, I doubt he's dead).
  • The film's supposed source material was the superb "Superman Birthright" comic but it completely eschews the major themes of that book.
  • The weird pseudo-but-not-very-well-articulated religious themes and even more poorly articulated insinuation that evolution is evil. 
  • Zod's tri-pronged spaceship and the "world engine" ship it carries are nearly identical making introducing unnecessary confusion over a lack of design sense.
  • Having personally participated in building evacuation exercises, I can tell you that Perry White's decision to wait until the city is falling apart before ordering his staff to leave the Daily Planet is a major error in judgement that should get him fired.
All of these sins could be forgiven if the movie was just a more joyful when it really needed it.

Things I liked:
  • Most of the worldbuilding of Krypton. 
  • Superman is literally one of a kind--he's 1.) the first natural Kryptonian birth in centuries, 2.) been soaking up our sun's energy from birth (not even Zod can claim that), 3.) he's been genetically imprinted with the codex, which should give him an even stronger connection to Krypton than any previous version of the character. 
  • This is the best Lois Lane we've had since Margot Kidder, including TV versions.
  • Henry Cavill is an excellent Superman, but they need to introduce some lighter material for him.
  • Except for the final, final battle scene, the movie is exceptionally visually stunning.
Overall, I really want the big screen version of Supes and the Justice League to be a success. It's long been a dream of mine to see the Super Friends at the movieplex. Here's hoping Zack Snyder and co. are doing a little more diligence with the script for the next one.

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