Oh hell yes. It’s on. I rarely get amped for movies but when we’re talking superheroes this is the creme de la creme. The mountaintop. Mount Everest. It’s Superman baby. Do we even need to talk about anything else? In fact we do. The Man of Steel makes his reappearance while Seth Rogen and company deal with the end of the world.
Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.
Man of Steel
Do you realize it’s only been seven years since the last Superman movie? Seven years. That’s it. The reason it feels like such a long time since Superman Returns (76%) isn’t because that flick utterly disgraced the red and blue “S”. Bryan Singer’s film wasn’t horrible, it was just completely forgettable-- appearing, disappointing the fanboy faithful and disappearing just as quickly. I was actually surprised at how high the Tomatometer was for that flick considering it is barely mentioned, ever.
That movie appeared around the time the landscape for superhero movies was changing, starting with Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins in 2004-2005 respectively, moving through the Dark Knight trilogy, throwing in the Iron Man’s along with the rest of the Marvel Universe, and culminating in The Avengers. So many other superheroes have taken the big stage that being just “okay” doesn’t really cut it anymore. It isn’t good enough to slap a brand name on something and assume the comic book culture will just love it unconditionally (I’m looking at you Green Lantern and Ghost Rider). The movies themselves have to be great, independent of the character. The outfits and superpowers are just bonuses.
And that’s why it’s time to get excited for Man of Steel. Though Singer is a quality director-- he’s handled the X-Men franchise superbly-- the story of Clark Kent/Kal-El is part of our cultural lexicon, a story as red, white and blue as America itself. For something this big we needed to call in the big guns. When Christopher Nolan came on board as producer/ writer a collective sigh of relief seemed to spread through the comic book universe knowing the story was in great hands. One of the most difficult aspects of creating the great superhero movie isn’t how to handle the dude and his abilities (those are fairly straightforward) but rather how to handle the world around him. How to create a world that is much like ours, but can also accept a dude running around in his underwear fighting crime. And then making that seem “realistic”. Nolan did it with Batman and how he’s turned to someone in Superman with a much higher margin for error. But if the trailers are any indication, he and director Zack Snyder have pulled it off.
Snyder’s career has been critically mixed, with his two big timers Watchmen (64%) and 300 (60%) coming in fairly close to the middle. There’s a part of me that wants almost bump up the scores on those two films, as they were pretty big undertakings considering the source material. That being said, Sucker Punch (23%) did him no favors so we probably just need to look at his resume and say, “Okay, he is what he is.” But whatever misgivings you might have with the dude, I think Nolan more than makes up the difference. In this latest Superman tale, they’ve placed Henry Cavill as Clark in our world, surrounded him with an amazing cast, kicked up the special effects to the nth degree (watching the ground shudder and shake as he begins to take off in the North Pole gives me the chills), added an aura of doubt and uncertainty around the character in his early life, and even spiced up the uniform a bit. All around this thing looks like a winner. A part of me wants to go really crazy with this score, but I’ll temper my excitement just a bit (it’s strictly an emotional hedge). The Rotten Watch for Man of Steel is