Originally Posted by Human Torch
My problem with the film being "joyless",is less about the amount of humor,(which,lets be honest,there wasn't all that much of.) but more about the lack of exhilaration at being Superman.Supe is one of the more positive,uplifting characters,and for the most part he's rendered ineffectual and somber.
I really don't like how Superman is now suddenly obligated to be happy-go-lucky and funny just because the Donner films said so. In my opinion, they held the character back from reaching the sort of potential I wanted to see, and is probably the reason to why many prefer Batman to Superman.
I personally believe Superman can be interpreted to be even a more tragic, angsty and somber character(as seen in some episodes of Smallville) than Batman, except he chose rise above all that tragedy and make things better and hopeful about it rather than go deep and vengeful about it like Batman.
In my perception of how a Superman origin should go(which MOS nailed btw) it should carry the theme of sacrifice(as emphasized in the Krypton sequence as Jor-El had to betray his people to save his son and sacrifice his life to save Kal-El, the Tornado scene where Jonathan Kent told his son not to save his life just to sacrifice his life for protecting his secret and in many instances in Smallville, the show). For anybody, knowing that your loved ones will always sacrifice their lives and die for you because of what you will bring to the world(even though you are practically a god) and that "the world will always need you" would weigh anybody down.
Plus the fact that he "lives in a world of cardboard" and that he lived as a human only to realize he was never one of us, plus always having to hold himself back creates many hardships for him, another somber and perhaps angsty theme that comes with being Superman. This was seen a lot in Smallville(for example in the early years he felt he could never truly be with Lana even when the door was wide open and of course in the movie with the flashbacks).
All in all, the bottom line here is: Superman, especially in modern years is not as happy go lucky as some people think he is. I think in later movies there will be a progression in tone and things will become more hopeful.