Let’s get this out of the way first: bullets can’t hurt The Man of Steel. Nor can they damage the band of bad guys from his home planet out to destroy Superman, the Earth and 143 minutes of your time. You knew that, right? While it’s always nice to see a bunch ‘o black rifles (M4A1s) with the ACOGs facing the right way, and who doesn’t enjoy the the brrrraaaapppp of an A-10 Warthog’s main cannon (GE GAU-8/A Avenger), this is not what you’d call a gun movie. It’s more of a “Transformers Never Saw A Skyscraper They Couldn’t Topple” kinda movie. That said . . .
Why is Colonel Hardy carrying a Heckler & Koch MP5K in a dainty helicopter? And didn’t he have a reload for the that Beretta 92FS? Sure, the first magazine wasn’t much help against the Kryptonian babe with the German accent. But it wasn’t what I’d call a precise group. Maybe he should have aimed at her sense of humor. Oh wait . . .
That out of the way, I was bummed that the Man of Steel’s producers had sucked the patriotism right out of the story. In fact, given the contempt for which the screenwriter has for the average Joe, the movie has a distinctly anti-American subtext. To wit . . .
Young Kel-Tec [sic] is completely friendless. Bullies abound, in Smallville and beyond. Alien alienation. I get it. But as proto-Superman suffers through his coming of age—the most interesting part of the movie—his father singularly fails to give his adopted son a coherent make that American raison d’etre. You’re destined for big things, someday you’ll know what they are, blah-blah-blah.
If Kevin Costner can make a bunch of savages seem like New Age hippies (/sarc) why can’t he teach little Kel-Tec about the essential goodness of humanity and the righteousness of the American experiment? Superman may save the planet from time to time (like all the time) but he’s an American hero embodying American values in America. For Americans. And OK a bunch of people around the globe.
Well that’s the way it should be. To that end you’d expect a little rah-rah righteousness from the US President in this thing. (Paging Morgan Freeman.) All the Big Wigs making decisions about Earth’s response to the interstellar invaders are U.S. military men. Morally bankrupt military men; they surrender Superman to General Zod’s mob faster than I’d surrender to Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows.
Needless to say, The Man of Steel does the right thing saving-humanity-wise. But the movie’s anti-penultimate anti-NSA scene—where The Man of Steel trashes a military drone trying to keep tabs on him—underlines the America-last cynicism. Superman isn’t a patriotic inter-stellar immigrant fighting for truth, justice and the American way. He’s Clint Eastwood with superpowers: an Old Testament God ready to kick mankind’s ass if it steps out of line.
That drone downing scene is not without irony. When the General asks Superman “why should we trust you?” the Krytponian replies “C’mon General, I’m from Kansas. You can’t get more American than that!” Ahem. This. The Kansas AG’s showdown with the feds over gun control illustrates the tension between those who defend liberty and those who say they’re defending liberty. Or something.
It’s the difference between right and wrong. Superman and Superman’s enemies. You could also say it’s the difference between a concealed carry permit holder and an armed criminal but that would be a major stretch. Anyway, the movie left me wondering if Superman needs us as much as we need him. I mean The Man of Steel is a virgin. Know what I mean?