Spoilers for MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN!

The DC Extended Universe began with 2013’s MAN OF STEEL, featuring Henry Cavill as Superman. Since then, they have made four movies, with 2 of them featuring the character. Most of the movies in the DCEU have had a divide between critics and fans.

The movies have divided fans as well into those who liked the movies and those who didn’t. Superman was a beacon of hope according to trailers for JUSTICE LEAGUE. He provided the world with an example to look up to. The movies have not focused on the Man of Steel being the beacon of hope. They instead wanted to portray Superman as a god rather than showing him as human.

True Superman

Superman has been around since 1938 where he appeared in Action Comics #1. He has been through many revisions since then, but one thing has always remained the same with his character. Kal-El is a voice for the people who don’t have one. He defends the innocent and protects everyone he can. In Action Comics #987, Superman was seen saving undocumented workers from being attacked by a man wearing an American bandana. He stopped the white supremacist from shooting down innocent workers. The white supremacist is then told that he is the problem, not the workers.

Superman saving Undocumented Workers
Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

He is the character that would inspire people to take action against injustice. Kal-El is an alien who understands and loves humanity more than any other human being. He tries his hardest to do the right thing. He will stumble along the way, but in the end, he can pull through. Superman doesn’t just think with his fists. He thinks before he acts. When he is not fighting super-villains or stopping shootouts, he is simply trying to help as much as he can.

The Human Side

In Superman #701, there is a scene where he simply talks to a girl about to commit suicide. He doesn’t force her off the ledge. He simply listens to her talk about her problems. Instead of leaving her, he waits day and night to help her. After telling her that saving one person can make a difference, he convinces her to get off the ledge and come down.

Superman preventing Suicide
Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Superman #705 showed The Man of Steel helping a kid deal with his abusive dad. He talks about how he could have beaten the guy with his bare hands, but he instead takes him to the proper authorities. He gives the kid his phone number and tells him to call every day.

Superman
Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Loner

When the New 52 came out, DC Comics fundamentally changed his character. They transformed him into a character who was a loner. He was darker and grittier than the version most people love. He did not connect with humanity. Just because he has the looks and powers of the hero we all know, he does not have the same characteristics. This version of the character is what MAN OF STEEL seems to have taken inspiration from. That seems to be the first mistake they made. That will be expanded on later.

Superman
Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Superman That Started It All

One of the most famous interpretations of the character, of course, comes from SUPERMAN (1978) starring the late-great Christopher Reeve. This version of the character is also one of the most beloved versions. In this movie, we see why he became a hero in the first place. We see that Clark Kent had all these powers, yet could not save his father-figure from dying.

Superman
Christopher Reeve in SUPERMAN (1978).

When he comes to Metropolis, he sees the struggles of humanity at different points. Perry White assigns his reporters to get the story of the new hero in town. Clark Kent easily could have “interviewed” himself to impress Mr. White. Instead, he lets Lois Lane get the story. Another scene shows him stopping a cat burglar while he is climbing up a building. He hands the burglar to the nearest police officer and then flies off. That scene may not seem like much, but it shows his faith in humanity and the justice system.

The Jesus Superman

2013’s MAN OF STEEL put the character in a more modern setting and tried to explore what would happen if he existed in the world today. While this was a great concept to examine, the movie does not seem to focus on the character too much. We never see why Clark Kent decided to become a superhero.

We never see what his motivation or morals are as a superhero. The movie shows us in the beginning that he is a hero and in the end continues to be a hero. There is no growth in character. The flashbacks only provide Jesus symbolism more than anything else.

The character does not seem to inspire humanity to be better despite Jor-El’s narration. Humanity seems to be more afraid of him than anything else. During the battle between him and Zod, the city was left almost in ruins. While some people may have been grateful that they lived, others did not survive that battle. Even when he kills Zod, people are more frightened than relieved. The people don’t see a hero; they see a man with unlimited power, who has forced his judgment on evil.

Superman
Henry Cavill in MAN OF STEEL (2013)

There are similarities between Jesus and Superman, but there are also differences as well. Superman is not perfect. He is not someone who descended from the heavens to help humanity. To escape the death of his homeworld, he was sent to Earth.

In some versions, he was sent to provide humanity with a better example. He cannot save everyone, but that’s okay. MAN OF STEEL was right not to make him a perfect character, but to have him destroy most of his city was a bad choice. The film relied too much on Jesus symbolism to truly interpret who Superman is.

Jesus Symbolism

One scene in the movie shows Clark Kent at a chapel sitting in front of a mural of Jesus. Most scenes with Pa Kent (played by Kevin Costner) are mostly Pa telling Clark that he is going to change the world, and he was sent for a reason. Pa Kent talks to Clark as if he is Christ and not a regular boy. When Superman leaves Zod’s ship in space, he exits with his arms outstretched similar to how Jesus was nailed to the cross.

Revisiting MAN OF STEEL

The Gritty Superman

The “sequel” to MAN OF STEEL — BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE — did not do any better in providing character growth. The movie only shows how Kal-El is too dangerous and needs to be put in check. He seems above the law as he is against how Batman handles criminals and tells him to stop or else. Kal-El is forced to answer for the destruction that happened in MAN OF STEEL, but when the capitol building blows up, he still has no real emotion.

Throughout the movie, he questions whether the world needs his help. In the end, when he commits the ultimate sacrifice to stop Doomsday, his death does not feel earned. Kal-El made good relations with Batman and showed Batman that he is human, but he did not show how he was more human than anyone else.

Batman V. Superman
Henry Cavill in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016).

He begged Batman to save his mother instead of begging to save his own life. That may have shown Batman the humanity in him, but to the rest of the world, he was still feared.

The Future Superman

While JUSTICE LEAGUE has not been released yet, certain trailers have showcased the “importance” of Superman. In one trailer, Batman talks about how hope died with Superman.

Another trailer shows a Daily Planet newspaper with the headline “World Without Hope.” Superman never provided hope to the people. He mostly provided fear and destruction when trying to help out.

Nitpicking Trailers: JUSTICE LEAGUE Trailer (2017)

We all know that Superman will return in JUSTICE LEAGUE, but the question remains whether or not he will have changed. Judging by the trailers, the DC movies wanted to portray a Superman that shows humanity at its best. They wanted to portray the alien that was more human than others.

When Superman returns, he will most likely have a lighter tone and a more optimistic look at the world. He will probably have a tone closer to Christopher Reeve’s interpretation of the character than the version seen in MAN OF STEEL. It should not have taken this long to get that Superman, but if that is the route they are going, it’s a good place to start.

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6 Comments

  1. Ryan Drakonis Gore

    November 14, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    ummmm what ?

    Reply

  2. Mario Caraballo

    November 14, 2017 at 8:12 am

    about time! been waiting for a real superman all he needs is to add a little christopher reeve superman and not written so butt hurt all the time.. oh yeah and dont make everything about lois my God…

    Reply

  3. Dominick Rizzo

    November 14, 2017 at 1:03 am

    I LOVE this Superman. He’s just begun.

    Reply

  4. Michael Sacal

    November 14, 2017 at 12:34 am

    Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice are both great adaptations of the comics from the Golden and Modern Ages.

    Reply

  5. Robert MacDougall

    November 13, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    He was just Clark Kent who became Superman in the 1st movie. He was battling who he thought was an ene… https://t.co/iOCKdRdS6Q

    Reply

  6. Sheriff Esq.

    November 13, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Nice read. I agree with you. Supes does not need to go the dark knight route. The fight scenes with zo… https://t.co/rDb3QPZKU9

    Reply

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