Why The Hate For Superman Returns?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Trek4Ever, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm not presupposing anything of the sort. You don't have to be a superhero to help people. In other versions, Clark didn't learn to be Superman because his parents groomed him to be a superhero; he learned by watching their example as kind parents and good neighbors, people who always helped out other people who needed it, people who were unselfish and generous -- and people who had faith in the goodness of the people around them and thus inspired the best in them.

    That's what this Jonathan lacked: faith in humanity's basic goodness. He was a fearful, paranoid figure who taught his son that humans were just as fearful and paranoid, that they'd never accept him because he was different and so he should perpetually hide himself. And one of the few things the movie got right is that Jonathan was absolutely wrong. Superman did meet with some initial suspicion, but he quickly proved that he was here to help and that he was a force for good (as long as you disregard the ill-conceived, badly-directed action sequences where he totally ignored all the lives being endangered by his superfights in the heart of populated areas). So instead of the usual story where he becomes Superman by embracing what Jonathan taught him about basic human goodness, in this version he becomes Superman by acting on his own basic instinct to help and renouncing everything Jonathan ever taught him about what a bunch of xenophobic, tribalistic creeps humans were. This is a movie about Superman proving Jonathan Kent wrong. The tragedy is that it took him so long to finally step up and defy the bad advice his father kept giving him.
     
  2. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Seeing as how Superman was a target for the military til he he saved one of them and the satellite scene at the end I'd say Jonathan wasn't off the mark by much.
     
  3. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    Jonathan wasn't wrong, he succeeded at the one thing he set out to do...to ensure that his son kept his secret safe until he was ready to reveal himself to the world. If he hadn't been so strict when Clark was a child, Clark probably would have wound up exposing himself and being taken by the government.

    The tornado scene was very poorly executed, but Jonathan's general attitude in this film was the right attitude for the story that this film was trying to tell.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But he presented it as an either-or choice between helping people and protecting his secret. He didn't offer his son any guidance in how to do both at once -- which is pretty much an essential ingredient for a career in Supermanning. If Clark's father hadn't held him back so steadily for all those years, maybe he wouldn't have been so tentative when faced with Zod and would've been able to cope with the situation in a way that wouldn't have cost those millions of lives that nobody in the movie seemed to care about.
     
  5. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    Clark spent years anonymously helping people, just after the Smallville years, and having to stay on the move under assumed identities. And as others have pointed out, Jonathan wanted Clark to make a difference someday, just not until he had a better idea who he was and what he was supposed to do. It's an origin film, heaven forbid Superman actually has to figure these things out. They were trying to do something a little more naturalistic and complex than "I've been gifted with great powers...I'll put on a costume and fight crime as...Superboy!"
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I understand what Jonathan wanted of Clark. I just think he did a pretty lousy job of it. He paid lip service to wanting Clark to make a difference, but he did nothing to set an example showing how he could do that. So it was just empty words. He didn't help his son figure these things out, he just made him afraid and convinced him it would be harder than it actually turned out to be.
     
  7. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    Jonathan didn't have the answers. Hologram Dad did. Just like the Donner film, but I'd say Jonathan had a more substantial role here.

    And ultimately, though they didn't connect the dots for us, I imagine that Jonathan's influence is what causes Clark to continue to protect his secret by establishing a dual identity...a classic element of the mythos. At least that wasn't Jor-El's idea in this version.
     
  8. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jonathan was not perfect (like most dads, including mine and including myself). We don't always practice what we preach, we often give advice without being able to live up to it, we often have conflicting impulses about encouraging our children to make a difference and keeping them safe. I found Jonathan more like a real person than such "father figures" are usually portrayed in fiction.
     
  9. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Although I'm enjoying this discussion, I think it's amusing that a thread about the hate for Superman Returns has ended up focussing on many people's criticisms of Man of Steel!
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    True, but given the timing, it was kind of inevitable. MoS is much more recent and prominent in people's thoughts.

    So, is anyone unclear on why people hate Superman IV: The Quest for Peace? Anyone? No? Moving on... ;)
     
  11. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    Wait. There was a Superman IV? :shifty:
     
  12. Ancient Mariner

    Ancient Mariner Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It says right here* that it was some fanfic that took a bolt of lightning or some radioactive contamination and mutated into a hideous Frankenstein monster of cinematic proportions.

    "right here" meaning: only in this post.
     
  13. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    People hate Superman IV? You're joking me! ;)
     
  14. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    I like the part where Superman walks in the UN and everyone stands up to sponsor him...not worth ever rewatching the film for, though....

    As long as we're on (off?) the subject, maybe somebody could help me with something regarding that movie. According to all reputable online sources, the official release date was Friday, July 24, 1987...but I have strong reasons, related to personal events in my life the week that I saw the film, to think that I saw it on Friday, July 17, 1987. Is there any evidence that it opened earlier in some US theaters than what's now recorded as the official release date?
     
  15. davejames

    davejames Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. Regardless of what the Superman legend "requires" of the character, I thought this Jonathan came across the most realistic and believable of any so far-- which I think ultimately is the most important thing.

    The fact he took in this alien child and loved him dearly, and then did everything he could to protect him, means a lot more, I think, than whether he did enough to teach Clark how to be a "hero."
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But is that kind of a cynical take on realism, that the only realistic father figure is one who's lost and confused and gives terrible advice, what we really want from Superman of all things? Doesn't that character call for something more idealistic?


    As I said, that's completely missing my point. I never, ever said that Jonathan was self-consciously training Clark to be a "hero," quote-unquote. What I said was that he was an intrinsically good man who helped others without worrying about himself, and that Clark learned from his example. It was Jonathan and Martha just being themselves, just embodying the natural, wholesome values and selflessness that they would've shown anyway, that taught Clark what it meant to be a force for good.

    By contrast, this Jonathan meant well, yes, and was trying to protect his son, but in a very fearful and cynical way that showed no regard for others. He raised his son with a siege mentality, and Clark couldn't become Superman until he finally accepted that his father had been wrong all those years, that people could accept him because humanity isn't as awful as Jonathan assumed. Most versions of Superman have great faith in human goodness because the Kents had great faith in human goodness and instilled that in their son. This Superman's faith in human goodness comes despite everything Jonathan taught him about what a bunch of incurably xenophobic savages we were. His idealism came more from Jor-El than from Jonathan.
     
  17. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    ^But one could argue that Jonathan's deeds did instill in his son the desire to help people, hence the fact that Clark went on to wander around helping people with his powers under a series of aliases for years after his father's death. Jonathan did die trying to save a dog, after all.

    I'll be the first to admit that the execution of this idea was very spotty, but I think that's what the filmmakers were trying to get across.
     
  18. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know that I believe this is a legit criticism of Jonathan-- it's obvious that within the narrative of the film, the overpass is supposed to be safe place to go. Unless we believe that not just Jonathan, but all the inhabitants of Kansas know nothing of tornado safety. This might be factually wrong, but that's a critique of the filmwriters' research, not Jonathan Kent.
     
  19. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Jonathon did more than just save a dog, he saved a baby then went back for the dog. Adn I'm sure that a lifetime with the Kents gave him whatever ideals Clark has, I didn't see Jor-El instilling in Clark any ideals.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which was exactly my intent. I think the filmmakers did a horribly irresponsible thing here and might get somebody killed by presenting that as a good idea. But I'm mad at them for that and I'm mad at them for creating the most contemptible Jonathan Kent ever. When I critique Jonathan, I'm not critiquing him, because he's just a construct of the filmmakers. I'm critiquing the decisions that went into portraying him that way. So in both cases, yes, it's the filmmakers I'm critiquing. I hate their portrayal of Jonathan and I hate their irresponsibility in failing to do basic research into tornado safety. Those two things just happen to converge in that particular scene.

    This isn't like me. I usually try not to be the kind of fan who rants angrily about creative decisions I don't agree with, or who makes my criticisms into personal attacks against the filmmakers. In fact, I'm usually a very forgiving moviegoer while I'm actually in the theater, letting myself get immersed in the experience and not prone to dwell on the negatives until afterward. MoS is one of the few films I can remember seeing in the theater that made me angry and frustrated while I was watching it, that made me bitter toward the filmmakers for the choices they made.