The specter of the Man of Steel has loomed on the horizon ever since the first trailer was revealed last summer, attached to the theatrical release of The Dark Knight Rises. Superman fans have been intrigued yet skeptical. For enthusiasts, Superman is the greatest comic book character of all time, and they can’t wait to see him on the big screen again amidst the legion of newly-popularized super hero movies. But for naysayes, haunting memories of Superman’s most recent foray onto the silver screen – 2006’s self-important and visionless Superman Returns – have caused apprehension about a return of the character.
Adding to the conflict is the popular opinion that Batman, once Superman’s second in the pantheon of greatest heroes, has now superseded his rival. He has proven himself critically and financially thanks to Christopher Nolan, who raised the Batman films from the ashes of Batman and Robin and restored the character’s filmic legitimacy.
Nolan now may be Superman’s answer. The connection between The Dark Knight movies and Man of Steel has given the movie its greatest hope. With Nolan serving as producer and story writer on the film, many fans believe he will guide it into greatness as he did with Batman, perhaps heralding a movie that can even match the trilogy’s success. Match it, yes. But can it exceed The Dark Knight trilogy?
It’s a question few fans would even dare to ponder. But it’s one that I believe holds some relevance, partially because of Nolan, but also the other players involved – primarily David S. Goyer and Zack Snyder – who can not only help Nolan, but also make up for his flaws. Yes, The Dark Knight trilogy did have flaws. And if the creative team have played their cards right, Man of Steel can emerge as a film that plays to the strengths of TDK trilogy while avoiding its weaknesses, and captures the best aspects of Superman’s great source material. The ingredients are already there, they just need to be stirred. Here are 5 reasons why Man of Steel could exceed The Dark Knight trilogy.
5. No More Christopher Nolan Plot Holes
I love The Dark Knight movies, but boy do those last two films have plot holes. Let’s count a few of them from The Dark Knight: How does The Joker know how much time Batman has to save Rachel and Harvey even though there aren’t any clocks in the interrogation room? How does The Joker smuggle bombs into a hospital and two ferries without anybody noticing? Why does Harvey Dent become a mass murdering psychopath just because his girlfriend died? Can Commissioner Gordon count? These are just a few of the perplexing questions Nolan makes me want to ask. They’re hard to notice the first time you see it, because Nolan keeps the movie so fast paced and detail-stuffed that you think you’re the one who missed something.
Now let’s look at The Dark Knight Rises. How does pumping someone else’s blood into a dead man’s body convince forensic scientists that he’s the other guy? Ever heard of dental records? What the heck is up with that prison pit where the security hangs out and gets paid to keep Bruce Wayne alive even though they’re also prisoners? Where exactly do they spend their money down there? Is there a Halal food truck parked in the corner? Just how in the HELL did Bruce Wayne get out of suspiciously-nameless Middle Eastern country and back into occupied Gotham without being noticed and causing the whole city to be blown to bits? Did he have a bat-sub docked miles out from Gotham that took him underneath the city and up through a secret tunnel to his cave? Maybe. That actually would kind of made sense, if only Nolan had bothered to explain it to us. Many issues like this plagued TDKR, and they’re the reason I found the movie to be a disappointment and by far the worst entry in the franchise.
Despite all this, we have to admit that Nolan is still damn good at coming up with stories. Man of Steel can benefit from this. It features an original story by Nolan, but with writing duties actually handed to David S. Goyer.
From a storytelling perspective, Batman Begins was the best script of the three movies, and it was the only one that David Goyer wrote personally. It wasn’t convoluted, just a very clear and focused “personal journey” story. Goyer can easily bring this quality into his Superman script, and without Nolan co-writing there won’t be that abundance of wonky logic.
Superman needs a story that focuses us emotionally on his journey. We need to identify with his character and care about the decisions he makes, without stopping to question intrusive plot holes along the way. Nolan’s comparative distance as only producer means that the other creative forces, the ones who don’t fill their movies with WTF moments, will be able to take charge and guide Superman from point A to point B. This is where Zack Snyder comes in.
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