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Despite what many people think, movie critics don't typically go to a movie hoping to hate it. We sit in the dark, maybe with notebooks out, but rarely with figurative knives out. We're there in that theater because we love movies. Love them enough to make our life's work discussing them day in and day out. Still, when critics don’t like a movie, we're decried for being smug, esoteric party-poopers who don't know how to enjoy anything. The wrath from the movie-going public is especially boisterous when critics dislike a tent pole release.
This week, critics found themselves divided on Zack Snyder's Superman reboot Man of Steel. At present the pic has a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Here at Cinema Blend, Eric praised the action-adventure, giving it four stars in his review. On the other hand, the closest I chose to come to reviewing it was this tweet:
Admittedly, I am Cinema Blend's "Superman skeptic." I've never really seen the appeal of the Boy Scout in a cape. So maybe Man of Steel just wasn't for me, right? Well, I would have agreed with you until I read an unexpected review from a Superman devotee who didn't just dislike Man of Steel, he felt betrayed by it.
When I asked for Superman fans to give me suggestions for what comics or movies I should read/watch to at long last be won over by the Supes, chief among them was a comic called Superman: Birthright. So, this movie review penned by Birthright's writer Mark Waid caught my eye. I'll warn you up front, the full review is full of spoilers, but is a must-read as it deftly details why Waid was outraged by Snyder's take on Superman.
This selected paragraph contains no spoilers and surmises his complaints, so if you want to avoid knowing anything about its plot, feel free to proceed:
"Look, I know everyone involved in MAN OF STEEL went into it with the best of intentions. And trust me, there are not rivers or coastlines on this planet long enough to measure just how much I wanted to love this movie. If you don’t know me, you can’t imagine. And there were certainly things to like. But there was no triumph to it. None of Superman’s victories in this movie are in any way the kind of stand-up-and-cheer events you’d think necessary in a movie with Superman in it. Did it succeed in what it sent out to do? I think probably so. But what it set out to do, as it turns out, leaves me cold."
Reading this, I totally related to what Waid felt. I got that I was supposed to be engaged in the film's final climactic battles but (okay, now SPOILERS for Man of Steel lie ahead) like Waid Superman and Zod's battle in the midst of a city, carelessly tearing through buildings, the destruction of which automatically brings to mind the horrific images and causalities of 9/11, made me more shocked at the death toll that had to be rising than engaged Kryptons carryings on. (End of spoilers)
But Waid's main complaint comes down to Superman's final decision in his fight with Zod, one that has many fans of the hero calling foul. I won't specify what, but I will share Waid's response. This excerpt has been edited to make it spoiler-free. But if you've seen Man of Steel, you'll know exactly what he's referring to.
"Some crazy guy in front of us was muttering 'Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…' and then [redacted] and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, 'THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,' and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out and that crazy guy was me. That crazy guy was me, and I barely even remember doing that, I had to be told afterward that I’d done that, that’s how caught up in betrayal I felt. And after [redacted], even though I stuck it out, I didn’t give a damn about the rest of the movie."
As someone who has felt that way on several occasions while watching a movie I'd highly anticipated, I got you, Waid. I got you.