Kirk: Superman should remain ‘grounded’

Matt Kirk

Matt KirkI am a nearly broke college student that recently spent $30 on 20 two-inch plastic figurines.

The figurines were for HeroClix, a comic-book-inspired strategic board game. Justifying my decision might be difficult, because I’m not sure it is justifiable. My interest in HeroClix and the universes created by comic books started in the earlier stages of my youth and are completely intertwined.

What started as simple boredom and a liking for strategic thinking turned into an obsession for strategic thinking and love for the stories behind the characters I played each week.

Years after weekly games with friends have ended, I still find myself drawn to the stories while reading the Marvel encyclopedia in my bathroom. All comic lovers have their favorite heroes. I happen to take the position of choosing one favorite from each major universe. No particular reason, that’s just how I did it.

Thor, the god from Asgard and member of the Avengers, is my favorite from the Marvel universe mainly because of our similarities. I can’t fly or summon thunder — I wish, right? But I am a tall, fair-haired, Nordic-looking guy. My favorite from the DC realm is Batman, which is probably not a surprise to anyone, but I don’t care because I knew he was the best before Heath Ledger put the Dark Knight back on the map in 2008.

What writer David S. Goyer and writer-director Christopher Nolan accomplished with “The Dark Knight” trilogy was nothing short of spectacular, winning over the critics, wowing the crowds and creating an army of jokers on Halloween.

Goyer and Nolan’s next endeavor, “Man of Steel,” the newest Superman movie set to hit theaters in June, will be a much harder task. Superman does not play into the dramatic and realistic style of Goyer and Nolan at all. Superman, an alien from a galaxy far away, has unfathomable strength, speed, hearing and sight, can shoot lasers out of his eyes and freeze you with his breath. Oh yeah, and he can fly too. In a sense, he’s impossible to kill except for one fictional precious stone that causes him to be reduced to Batman’s mortality levels. It’s kind of hard to make that seem realistic.

“I can’t fly or summon thunder — I wish, right? But I am a tall, fair-haired Nordic looking guy.”

While the nature of Superman’s character might be difficult to make believable for writer Goyer and producer/writer Nolan, they will have serious help in making “Man of Steel” look real. Zack Snyder, the man behind the optically amazing works “300” and the DC comic movie “Watchmen,” will be directing the film. Just from the look of the released previews it is clear to see Snyder’s vivid contrasting color schemes at work, giving the “Man of Steel” a connection to the comic books that inspired it. When you combine Snyder’s comic-esque style with Nolan’s gritty cinematic influence, the result very well may be a movie that beautifully fools the eyes into believing the fantasy.

Unfortunately, I don’t think any amount of public demand will allow Superman to yell “This is Metropolis!” in the heat of battle.

The plot of “Man Of Steel” is what concerns me the most. It could either take the film to great heights or restrict it to being your average summer action fantasy. The story is almost certain to be more predictable and less complex than that of the “Dark Knight” movies, but could top the summer box office if it manages to separate itself from the predictable action hero herd.

By portraying Batman as both the detective and the hero in “The Dark Knight” trilogy, Nolan gave the films great depth. But Superman’s character lacks those Jason Bourne-like cunning features that made Bruce Wayne such a badass.

In fact, Superman is not known for being much more than the average thinking man. It is his pure impervious nature that allows him to surmount his foes after they have sprung their traps on him, his loved ones or Metropolis at large. Clark Kent’s only depth of character is his orphaned alien origin story and search for his rightful role on Earth, which I expect will be drawn out and the main emotional focus of the movie. Hopefully this is done tastefully and without an abundance of cliché moments.

The main point of hope is the star-studded cast, which features Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Christopher Meloni and Henry Cavill, who is a spitting image of Clark Kent. Hopefully the script, and not the producer/director combination, is what attracted them to the production.

In all, this movie will be worth watching in theaters thanks to the people who have come together in an attempt to get the “Man of Steel” right. It can easily become the best Superman movie, and one of the contenders for topping the yearly box office. I expect it to be a marvel visually and well-delivered but hindered, like other superhero movies, by the fantasy realm to which it’s bound.

Matt Kirk can be reached at matthewkirk@temple.edu.

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