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?

Recommended For You

27 Responses to Movie Review: Man of Steel

  1. The problem with a “Superman as Defender of the Constitution” story is that people in New York State might recognize General Zod in the form of Andrew Cuomo.

    As to the weapons:in before the “9mm and 5.56 don’t have stopping power” post.

  2. I saw Man of Steel and thought it was excellent. Easily the best Superman that’s been made. I especially liked how they told the origin story through flashbacks of his childhood broken up at appropriate times. I also liked the added development of Superman’s father and Zod at the beginning. Going into any first super hero movie where you’re already familiar with the character, I feel like I have to brace myself for the first hour of ‘this is where this guy comes from’ story. Man of Steel did it in a way that was gripping and entertaining, and more importantly didn’t make that first hour feel like a speed bump to get to the actual plot.

    This wasn’t so much of a review as it was a reaching attempt to make some general comment about gun control, and how that somehow has something to do with this movie.

  3. I saw the new Superman last night. I didn’t detect any anti-american subtext. I enjoyed the movie.

    There were exactly two plot devices utilized, the personal growth/discovery/struggle device, and the “unrelenting fight scene” device.

    I liked the personally focused aspect. The fight scenes were definitely neat too, but were long enough and repetitive enough to grow boring at times (they blasted through a building, they pound each other into the ground, another building, more ground pounding, etc). Also I think they could have cut out that fully CG Superman vs. the robot tentacle scene and used the processing budget to slightly improve some of the composite shots.

    I liked it when Superman trashed the drone. He’s an American citizen on US soil. They feared him because of the potential of his power, and potential alone. Sounds just like the fear of “assault weapons”, ignoring the person holding the weapon and what they use it for. In the end he and the soldiers earn each other’s respect.

    I really liked how it was presented out of sequence, with flashbacks filling in back stories that supported whatever you were seeing develop in “real time”.

    Overall I thought it was a good “super-hero movie”.

    When one defines themselves by their fight everything begins to look like a battle. This was just a movie 😉

  4. Morally bankrupt military leaders, drone spying and sell-outs sound perfectly post-2008 American to me. The only thing that would make the plot more-ish would be having the the Justice Department tap Supe’s phone and the IRS doing a full compliance audit of his tax return

    “Do you really use those tights for work, Mr. Kent? You must be some kind of male stripper. And what’s up with the dry cleaning bill for a cape? Really, a cape?”

    There’s nothing un-American about suspecting that our Federal government is up to no good. In fact, there’s nothing more pro-American or more intelligent. The G isn’t the country. We are.

    • My only other complaint besides the plot moving too quickly was she didn’t get more screen time. She was kick azz.

  5. I loved it and didn’t feel as though they sucked the patriotism out of it. Loved the line “I grew up in Kanas. I don’t get much more American than that”. Seems to me Zack Snyder was trying to make up for that abortion of a movie Superman Returns where they did in fact try to whitewash his Americaness and quite openly too.

    Other then the plot unfolding a bit too quickly I really enjoyed it. Best movie I’ve seen this year and is certainly my favorite super hero movie right after the first Iron Man and the Dark Knight.

  6. Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows

    Mr. Farago,
    Would you please stick to your point and make fewer references to females who appear to be not out of their teens?

    • I bet you didn’t like the yoga pants link either. There’s a name for that. But i’m not using it here. You nees to click on the link so to see it. If you don’t like it patronize a different site that adheres to your ideals. Otherwise, pound sand. I’m not trying to speak for RF, just the general pop.

    • I’m betting I am a whole heck of a lot closer to her age than most of the people on this site, and yeah it is a bit creepy. It doesn’t make you any less of a man to not want to oogle someone who could probably be around the age of your potential kids. Also, something could be said about making this site more of a gun-owner hangout for all rather than the second coming of The Chive.

  7. With regards to to the mp5 I’m pretty sure it belonged to the pilot i.e mark durant in black hawk down.

  8. Did we watch the same movie? What I saw was full of conservative undertones, and now Im wondering if Zack Snyder is a conservative. 300 is on imdb’s list of 50 greatest conservative movies. Also 1) Superman opposes a villian who is the product of eugenics and fighting for the “greater good” 2) Clark Kent goes to church for some soul searching and as he’s discussing sacrificing himself to become the savior of earth there is a conspicuous stain glass Jesus in the background 3) Supes destroys a surveillance drone and 4) He cant be any more American because he is from Kansas!

  9. Were we watching the same film? because I saw the one with huge overtones of Christianity: his willingness to sacrifice himself for earth, his cruciform as he leaves Zod’s ship, his seeking counsel from a priest; individualism and freedom constantly being exhorted by Jor-el; Zod representing the fascist State; Americanism in terms of Superman’s love of Country, especially the statement in the end about Kansas.

    As for the military handling things, I don’t think you would see a meeting with the Pres. right out the gate. And don’t forget, you’re dealing with a vastly superior alien technology. You’d just nuke em from orbit? That only happens in Aliens.

    Do us a favor, stick with the day job 🙂

  10. I haven’t seen the movie, but what’s more American than being anti-drone and opposing the US military-industrial complex?

  11. is the next “review” going to be about how there wasn’t a tribute for the troops in this is the end?

    or that there wasn’t a single “god bless the usa” line in hangover 3?

    or maybe you’ll just do a movie review?

  12. Um, un-American? No way. Jor-el’s refusing to have a genetically pre-disposed worker drone of a child a la Brave New World was good old fashioned American libertarianism, and a deep distrust of the govt is the only thing that keeps the country free at all, so the more of that the better. The movie had its flaws, but it was freedom loving to the core.

  13. I have always wondered why the Man of Steel didn’t try out for a professional sports team. The money and fame would sure have beaten working under the irascible Perry White at the DAILY PLANET, though he may have had a harder time ducking out and finding a phone booth to change outfits

    How many home runs or TD passes he might have hit/thrown?.

    Does the movie have the now-mythological phone booth?

  14. Read “The Pro” “Authority” “Planetary” and “The Boys”. The absolute best spoof and anti-super hero stuff you will ever read.

  15. I know I’m a little late to party, but I waited to read this until I had seen the movie. That said I thought it was good Superhero/action movie, but I’m still a bigger fan of the Dark Knight. I never sensed an anti-American slant to the movie and I can’t seem to make the big leaps RF did in his review. I wouldn’t say the movie was perfect, but it’s a movie. I do appreciate when Hollywood does a decent job of portraying the military, weapons, and tactics; but at the end of the day it’s fiction. You have ability to suspend disbelief for 2 hours and believe in a humanoid alien that can fly, shoot lasers from his eyes, and is basically indestructible; yet your complaint is about someone carrying a MP5 and fails to reload his Beretta? I don’t know, but maybe he realized that bullets weren’t working… We can all play the “I would have done this different/better” game, but I just looked through all the major companies offering firearms training and nobody if offering a “First Contact Hostilities with Extraterrestrials” class.

    I wish there were more reviews of firearms/gear/training that initially made me a fan of this site and not this. When you try to tie everything to the fight for Second Amendement and gun rights it comes off sounding paranoid.

  16. It’s ironic that the scene with the surveillance drone can be interpreted as a satiric hint on the NSA spying scandal, although the movie was finished long before.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *