Re: "Joyless" ?
I'm not big on the complaint, "It was too dark", because that's saying that dark movies are bad in concept, which is ridiculous.
What people mean to say is that they think it was "too crappy/uninteresting/boring" etc.
When some people come out of Man of Steel unimpressed and remember that there was another representation of Superman that they liked which was 'light', they attribute their dislike of Man of Steel to the fact that it wasn't 'light'.
Same thing with the 'joyless' comment. Joyless movies aren't bad in theory. All of Tarkovsky's movies are dour as F, and they're excellent.
Of course, there are people who just prefer the light Superman, no matter how much they liked Man of Steel. Which is fair enough. But joyless shouldn't be a complaint in itself, because that's more of a taste issue.
Anyways, I personally think that Man of Steel, given in its narrative arc, needed a hopeful climax. I think the dour climax is a big reason why people leave that climax saying "thank god it's over", instead of "that was worth it".
Since the movie is about hard choices, it makes sense that he has to make the hardest one during the climax, and it makes sense that the scene should emphasize how bad it makes Clark feel.
However, I feel that the scene doesn't communicate the flip side of that unpleasant action: that he saved the world, and that Clark is a hero for making the sacrifice of making the necessary hard choice.
TDKR, which also had an exhausting third act, does a good job of taking the tragic note and transitioning into a heroic note for the last ten captivating minutes of the movie, making the entire somewhat depressing movie feel worth it.
Man of Steel's climax fades out on a down-note, however, and as a result the audience leaves the climax feeling like Superman failed in some regards. They feel like all that boring destruction and all that tragic back-story is all for naught because the plot is wrapped up on a negative note as well. The heroism and hope don't come through as much, despite those being set up as the main themes that the bulk of the movie sets up; the foreshadowed payoff that doesn't come in the climax.
When Lois comes to comfort Superman, I would have had that emphasize the heroism. She tells him to look at the family he saved, etc, getting him to get back on his feet, not to 'kneel before Zod' (hehe), and to continue with saving the day. Now that he's made the hard choice, he's earned the ability to go back helping the people directly in front of him -- his natural instinct that he's had to suppress for so long. Cue the piano theme and the drums, slower than usual, with a montage of Superman helping awe-struck people in the rubble, trying to hold back the emotions from the prior scene, trying to smile to the people he's saving to comfort them, while he's still visibly hurt inside. Then fade out after one round of the chord progression on a sad, but hopeful/heroic note.
I also would have taken out the World Engine fight, because it led to monotony/boredom, which I am sure is what people mean when they say it's "joyless".
Last edited by FeedOnATreeFrog; 10-21-2013 at 11:07 PM.