Man of Steel

Went to see it today…well done, great visually, I liked it a lot.

There are many who seem surprised that it has a bit of a “messianic” tone to it but as someone who grew up watching George Reeves as Superman in re-runs of the 1950’s TV show, the Man of Steel was always a bit of a Jesus-themed figure.

What surprised me was the anti-communist theme. It was subtle but strong.

In a scene inside a scout ship that had landed on Earth and was lost over 18,000 years ago, the chief antagonist, General Zod, was readying something called a Genesis Chamber, an incubator for populating a colony. It was explained in the dialog that all children on Krypton were artificially incubated and genetically pre-programmed for what their life’s role in the Kryptonian society would be. Jor-El’s digital consciousness (Clark had downloaded him into the scout ship’s systems from sort of a Kryptonian thumb drive) responded to Zod’s belief in such a system:

What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended? What if a child aspired to something greater?

Kal-El (Clark Kent/Superman) was the first natural birth on Krypton for centuries and his parents wanted him to be whatever he wanted and was capable of being, not some pre-programmed drone in mindless service to society.

Unlike the comedic or slapstick versions that preceded this one, this movie returned to the clear definitions of right and wrong, of individualism and even a little of the anti-communist edge of the early comic books.

I liked it for a lot of reasons but it is nice to see Man of Steel follow the Dark Knight movies and ditch the whole cliched, 60’s hippy anti-hero, counterculture crap and focus on true heroic themes of Greek mythological proportions.

Go see it in IMAX or XD, go big – I hear that the 3D version isn’t very good because it wasn’t shot with 3D cameras and was digitally altered to create a 3D effect.

4.5 out of 5 stars. It got a little long in parts…

7 thoughts on “Man of Steel

  1. I was troubled by the anti-communist rhetoric, and think much has much to do with Nolan. Both the Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel were conceived of and released in the post-2008 economic world. In this environment, where capitalist and neoliberal ideology is being increasingly questioned and issues of socialism are being turned to once more, both these films contain anti-left agendas. The fundamental message, as I saw it, of the Dark Knight Rises was to say that society should have faith in its wealthy to act as philanthropists, rather than advocating one of revolution and upsetting of the established order represented by Bane.

    In the Man of Steel, you have pointed out the key points. Here socialism is perversely portrayed, rendering individuals, to use your apt language, as “some pre-programmed drone in mindless service to society.” Ultimately, it is for this reason why Krypton is shown as decadent, and destined to fail. Furthermore, when the inevitable clash between communist Krypton and capitalist America is reached, Superman rejects Krytpon as “having had it’s chance”, aligning himself with capitalist values.

    All presenting a warped view of socialism and communism, in my opinion, which serves to further misinform the American masses that it is some sort of authoritarian evil when, in reality, it’s about rejecting exploitation.

    I was perhaps even more troubled by the pro-creationist message, however. At one point, one of our decadent Kryptonian cogs with no individuality asserts that “evolution always wins” before promptly finding herself blown up and her race extinguished. Superman, by contrast, goes to visit a church seeking advice from a priest/vicar, with an image of Jesus on a stained-glass window dominating the background. Like Snyder’s previous outings, it highlighted his spectacularly his lack of subtlety. Further, given that the evolution is scientific fact, the message seems pretty irrelevant for the 21st century.

    All in all, a much more ambitious and thoughtful outing than Superman Returns, but one that was a bit morally bankrupt for me.

    • Except for the fact that history has proven you wrong on every count, you are spot on.

      History doesn’t portray, it records… and while the theoretical application of socialism is a seductive idea, it has always been used as a gateway to tyranny because it institutionalizes power of the planner over the planned.

      • I am continuously dumbfounded by those who repeat the rhetoric, deceit, and fraudulent promises ….

        “The Fury” claims:
        “All presenting a warped view of socialism and communism, in my opinion, which serves to further misinform the American masses that it is some sort of authoritarian evil when, in reality, it’s about rejecting exploitation.”

        History bears witness that, YES, marxism in all its forms has been and is “an authoritarian evil”.

        Where? Just one society in the last 150 years that has attained anything claimed above? ZERO

        Every Marxist and Hobbes design has been far worse for the “people’s” they have enslaved, than the oligarchies they destroyed in order to take their place.

        How many hundreds of millions of individuals have the great Marxist societies murdered?

        Oh wait, they just didn’t do enough…. As Terrorist turned professor Bill Ayers explained, “I regret I did not do enough”

        • Texas- this is the reason that any form of collectivism is married to totalitarianism and tyranny. In order to “do it right” or to answer the proposition that it doesn’t work because some entity “didn’t do enough”, they have to impose it through dictatorial methods.

  2. I entirely agree that in many instances Marxism has been utilised in such a way that authoritarianism and tyranny have been the outcome, and don’t myself hold the view that very left-wing Marxism is a particularly good idea. It would be crass to suggest otherwise. However, as the great George Orwell once said, from which I paraphrase, those societies to which you allude resembled socialism in name only. China, for instance, repeatedly portrayed as communist, is nothing of the sort. The Nazi party were supposedly socialist but actively persecuted those holding leftist ideology whilst pursuing a right wing agenda. The Soviet experiment was one that descended into corruption, fundamentally not-socialist. You are right to suggest there is an argument that this is the inevitability of pure Marxist socialism.

    However, I think the Scandinavian model of socialism works pretty well, so would champion that as an instance of Marxism having claimed “anything above ZERO” and importantly one that denies your claim that Marxism “in all its forms” is an authoritarian evil. Of course, whilst not ‘pure’ socialism in the Marxist sense in that it combines a mixed economy (many capitalist elements of which contribute to its success), its constituent elements of high taxation rates for the wealthy, principles of universal healthcare and welfare, high public expenditure, free education, strong trade unionism and consequent low levels of corruption are all key facets in its economic and social successes when measured against other European states and the US.

    Perhaps you are not aware of the Scandinavian approach. In my experience it seldom enters discourse in the US precisely because it fails to conform to the popular perception of socialism disseminated during and perpetuated following the Cold War.

    Oh, and as a professional archaeologist, I can assure you that history absolutely does “portray” and not just “record” 🙂

    I apologise if I came across as passive-aggressive at any point (a nasty habit) and my aim in posting was not really to argue about the merits of extreme left v extreme right but rather to offer an opinion that Man of Steel, in my eyes, was guilty of a not very well nuanced portrayal of socialism, one which I felt was a missed opportunity given the current economic climate.

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