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Old 08-23-2012, 09:52 AM   #171
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Default Re: What's So Bad About Superman Returns?

Originally Posted by charl_huntress View Post
Here's the thing....does anyone who likes SR feel it was a good Superman film?
I think it was a good film and a good/interesting Superman story. (Some make a distinction between the two. Some concede that the interpersonal plot elements in SR would be fine for a different character - but that they’re inappropriate for Superman. A similar objection is sometimes leveled against Nolan - he made three good films but he didn’t quite “get” Batman. Likewise, Ang Lee’s Hulk. It’s an intriguing question: can a good movie - which happens to feature a superhero protagonist - still be a bad “superhero movie”?)

If you do, why do you feel this film is truly representative of Superman?
Hmm. That’s a tall order. It might even be impossible. Different fans enjoy different types of Superman stories. For me, a Supes adventure that takes place on an exotic planet with weird aliens is missing many of the necessary elements (Metropolis, the DP, Lois, etc.). For me, such stories are not evocative of the essential Superman. But some like them just fine. Other fans extend much praise to particular “elseworld” tales (like Red Son). Let’s stipulate that these are good. And if they are, not being “truly representative” becomes a bit of a red herring. In Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (which has a couple of features that are echoed in SR), Alan Moore opened his “elseworlds” tale with: “This is an imaginary story. Aren’t they all?” In other words, every writer is entitled to artistic license; and every reader should acknowledge this and judge the work on its own terms.

Burton had a particular interpretation of Batman… which was different than Schumacher’s… which was different than Nolan’s. When the franchise is eventually rebooted, there’ll be yet another interpretation. And to the extent that fans have different tastes, none of them can be called definitive; they’re just variations on a common theme.

And I look at SR in a similar light - a personal interpretation of Superman that happens to emphasize particular aspects (which, in my view, have always existed as subtext in the mythos).

Why does this film stand out from other incarnations?
You mean the other four films? SIII and SIV don’t warrant discussion. I sorta like STM (especially the “Krypton” and “Smallville” acts). But the Luthor stuff is painful and Supes’ character arc is almost zero. SII is more character-driven; but the rest of the movie is a mess. I suppose you could make the case that STM and SII - taken as one film - have the broad-brush strokes of a basically satisfying plot (though I know many who loathed Supes’ voluntary “retirement” in order to be with Lois). But in terms of individual, stand-alone films with a coherent theme, I place SR well ahead of its predecessors. Is that setting the bar too low? I dunno. I certainly hope MOS is superior to SR. And if it is, I’ll gladly reorder my list of the best Superman movies ever made.

My issue with EVERYONE who likes this film is you cannot seem to name one reason why you like it. You can only defend it. And you can only name why you like in response to a defense against everyone who does not like it.
The question that has long interested me about the character: what does Superman want? We all know about the “super” part - his life’s work. Hearing a cry for help, there’s a phone booth, a shirt-rip and a dutiful and selfless rescue. That goes without saying. But what about the “man” part, the human part - his personal desires? Surely those exist. What are they? Or what might they be? SR offers one interpretation - that Supes longs for a connection to “home” and family. Is this the only possible interpretation? No; but it strikes me as an entirely valid one - a reaction to feelings of alienation that (realistically and implicitly) would actually affect the character. So for me, SR was satisfying on that level - as an interpretation, an “elseworlds” story.

I wrote about this in an essay (which is still posted here). It’s composed in a somewhat “academic” style (for reasons which I won’t go into). But if you get through it, you’ll notice that it contains no “defense” or “reaction” against the critics. It’s a straight-up (positive) analysis.

Last edited by Dr.; 08-23-2012 at 10:03 AM.
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