Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Alternate Realities: Man Of Steel

Okay, something new I'd like to try. Instead of writing a Dork Review for Man of Steel, I'm going to provide an alternate take on how the story could have plaid out. Basically, I'm spit-balling my version of the movie, since I know the movie has been thoroughly analyzed by others, such as my friend Adam over at Page of Reviews (here).

To start off, I should mention that I agree wholeheartedly with Adam's review. He nails the same issues I had with the movie. Man of Steel was a huge letdown for me. Not because I'm a Superman fan but because I'm not and the trailers and snippets for this movie had me convinced that they might actually be doing something interesting with the character, and because despite my better judgement I actually like a lot of what Zack Snyder has done. Yes, even Sucker Punch. (Don't look at me like that. I'm a sucker for all the elements in the movie, even if I understand the issues a lot of people have with it.)

Now on to the rebuild.

First, we need a foundation. I will give Snyder props on the style and visuals in this movie. Krypton is suitably alien and stunningly captured, looking dark, decadent, and foreboding. Really, the only issue I have with the visuals is that they remain dark throughout the entire film. There should have been a greater contrast between Krypton and Earth. Our world, as Jor-El states, is young and vibrant. It should have a color scheme to match. Superman has always been a primary colored superhero. Keep him that way. All it would have taken was adjusting the colors just a wee bit.

Next, we need to chop off quite a few elements, including a few characters. All the military characters, gone. They added almost nothing to the version we saw on screen and can easily be tossed. Next, the crew of the Daily Planet, including Lois Lane, are going to appear much later in my film, as in they'll be in the third act. And finally, Zod and his henches won't be the villain Superman defeats and kills at the end of the film. In fact, Superman won't kill anyone at all.

Okay, so now we know what's going to be cut, let's move on to what is going to be added in. The answer is, more Krypton!

The Alternate Reality version of Man Of Steel will have either it's first third or half take place on Krypton and show the struggle between Jor-El, Zod, and the ruling council. In the version that got up on the screen we received a taste of that, but not enough in my books. Zod could have been such an interesting character, a conflicted patriot who thought he was doing what was right for his people, a dark hero who slid into villainy. Instead he was a genocidal schmoe.

I want to have time to develop both Zod and Jor-El, to show how their choices shape what happens to Kal-El. I want time to explore this decadent, festering society they live in, and I want the over the top space-opera action we only got a tiny taste of.

The rest of the movie would be about Clark discovering who he was. I'd probably use the same flashback technique Snyder employed, simply because it will let me compress the amount of time spent in Kansas while showing the moment Clark decides to come out of hiding and reveal what he can do to the world.

And that is the crucial thing that must happen before Zod, before any villain shows up really. Clark needs to become Superman before there is a threat to respond to. He needs to decide to help people, to explore his full potential after being encouraged by both his fathers. You see, unlike Papa Kent in Man of Steel, my version of Clark's human father would come to realize his son can do great things and encourage him to make a difference, but also encourage his son to do those things without attempting to take credit, to do them because they are the right things to do, and would have some kick-ass scenes of Superman doing those things, saving people from impossible odds.

The whole second half of the film might just be that. Clark traveling the world, helping people, while a reporter named Lois Lane investigates all of these strange stories and sighting that have started cropping up. And my Lois would be able to take care of herself, able to get out of nearly any situation that arose.

The last part of the film would be Clark discovering the scout-ship left behind by his people and the suit inside. The very last scene would be him announcing himself to the world after saving a large group of people, and Lois, from a natural disaster, something that they couldn't have saved themselves from.

My version of Man of Steel would understand that, ultimately, Superman represents hope. Hope that we can do better. Hope for the future. Hope that we are not alone and that we do not need to be afraid.

My version would also attempt to avoid turning Superman into Space Jesus.

In the end, what should be taken away from the thought exercise above is that it is possible to make a big action flick with a heart, and this is what the next Superman film should strive for since he is a character that is all about heart.