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Dear Mark Waid: You Got Man of Steel Wrong: Sincerely, Cosmic Book News

Posted By: Matt McGloin
Sat, 06/22/2013 - 21:28


Last weekend the Man of Steel debuted to record-breaking numbers for the month of June and is approaching $200 million domestically.

The movie has received mix reviews by the "critics," and a scathing review by comic book writer Mark Waid, known for penning one of the better Superman stories with Birthright.

Below you can read my own opinions and responses to Mr. Waid's thoughts, with his complete review found on, in addition to some cool free comics to read.

I am of the opinion that Man of Steel is actually a better movie the second time around, as it seems - and applies to me as well - most were expecting another Donner movie, but with punching.

Read on.

But about the time we got to the big Smallville fight, my Spider-Sense began to tingle. A lot of destruction. A lot of destruction–and Superman making absolutely no effort to take the fight, like, ONE BLOCK AWAY INTO A CORNFIELD INSTEAD OF ON MAIN STREET.

That's flat out wrong. Superman does indeed take flight but is intercepted by the giant Kryptonian.

He can't take the fight anywhere else because he is fighting TWO people. TWO. Which means Superman IS NOT in control of the fight.

We see its the military that takes out the Kryptonians and NOT SUPERMAN.

 Still, saving people here and there, but certainly never going out of his way to do so, and mostly just trying not to get his ass kicked. (I loved Clark Kent’s pal, Pete Ross, and not just because they cast pre-teen Mark Waid as Pete Ross).

Superman saves the soldier and he saves Hardy. Again, he is fighting TWO Kryptonians. He doesn't have time as they are constantly fighting him. Of course he is not trying to get his "ass kicked"; he has never fought someone before - and he is not up to full power.* 

And then we got to The Battle of Metropolis, and I truly, genuinely started to feel nauseous at all the Disaster Porn. Minute after minute after endless minute of Some Giant Machine laying so much waste to Metropolis that it’s inconceivable that we weren’t watching millions of people die in every single shot. And what’s Superman doing while all this is going on? He’s halfway around the world, fighting an identical machine but with no one around to be directly threatened, so it’s only slightly less noticeable that thousands of innocents per second are dying gruesomely on his watch. Seriously, back in Metropolis, entire skyscrapers are toppling in slo-mo and the city is a smoking, gray ruin for miles in every direction, it’s Hiroshima, and Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich are somewhere muttering “Too far, man, too far”…but, you know, Superman buys the humans enough time to sacrifice many, many of their own lives to bomb the Giant Machine themselves and even makes it back to Metropolis in time to catch Lois from falling (again), so…yay?

Sorry, wrong again. The machines are far from identical.

And why is Superman half way around the world?

Maybe instead of wishing the movie was Birthright, Mark Waid should have paid attention, because Jax-Ur tells us.

When Zod orders the World Engine to be unleashed, we hear that Black Zero is now the slave to the World Engine. That's means the World Engine is now the master. What that means in tech jargon is that the World Engine has become "the authoritative source" with Black Zero the "slave" that is synchronized to it. That's why when Superman destroys the World Engine - the MASTER -  the Black Zero gravity beam STOPS. And that proves that this master-slave relationship, again in tech terms, is not one where neither has control of one or the other.

The World Engine clearly has control over Black Zero's gravity beam as the Black Zero beam stops when the World Engine beam stops.

By Superman sticking around and just destroying Black Zero would not have stopped the World Engine. In addition, as we saw with Zod, his "Earth powers" were coming online, and there is no way Superman would have been able to deal with ALL the Kryptonians which is why Jor-El told Lois HOW TO STOP THEM ALL.

And then Superman and Lois land in the three-mile-wide crater that used to be a city of eight million people, and the staff of the Planet and a couple of other bystanders stagger out of the rubble to see Superman and say, “He saved us,” and before you can say either “From what?” or “Wow, these eight are probably the only people left alive,” and somehow–inexplicably, implausibly, somehow–before Superman can be bothered to take one second to surrender one ounce of concern or assistance to the millions of Metropolitans who are without question still buried under all that rubble, dead or dying, he saunters lazily over to where General Zod is kneeling and moping, and they argue, and they squabble, and they break into the Third Big Fight, the one that broke my heart.

Wow, Mark. You really aren't seeing the big picture, here. "He saved us," obviously refers to Superman saving the entire Earth. 

How do we know this? Because Zod threatened the entire Earth, and said so. Superman then has a moment with Lois amidst all the devastation when he hears the rumbling of Zod. Really there was no time for Donner-like heroic moments.

And you dare ask "from what?" Meaning the audience is actually going to ask that? Have you been watching the same movie I have? That the audience has? Huh?

You've just been complaining about all the chaos and destruction in the movie. Maybe from what caused all of that?

See, everyone else in Zod’s army has been beaten and banished, but General Zod lives and so, of course, he and Superman duke it out in what, to everyone’s credit, is the very best super-hero fight I’ve ever seen, just a marvel of spectacle. But once more–and this is where I knew we were headed someplace really awful–once more, Superman showed not the slightest split-second of concern for the people around them. Particularly in this last sequence, his utter disregard for the collateral damage was just jaw-dropping as they just kept crashing through buildings full of survivors. I’m not suggesting he stop in the middle of a super-powered brawl to save a kitten from a tree, but even Brandon Routh thought to use his heat vision on the fly to disintegrate deadly falling debris after a sonic boom. From everything shown to us from the moment he put on the suit, Superman rarely if ever bothered to give the safety and welfare of the people around him one bit of thought. Which is why the climax of that fight broke me.

Did Mr. Waid miss when Superman saved Colonel Hardy and the pod from Zod's attack, which of course save the human race from the Kryptonians?

I can only guess the preceding paragraph that Mr. Waid has never been in a scuffle himself, as it's hell of a difficult time fighting someone - not to mention another super man - and controlling the fight. Not to mention your first fight. Oh, wait, I already did mention that. However, if we go back to the first fight between Zod and Superman, after Superman's emotional outburst where he sends Zod through the 7-11, we see Superman DOES NOT fight Zod in Smallville. The military takes Zod out, the Kryptonians take Zod away, and then Faora and the giant Kryptonian attack Superman. 

I do agree, though, that some line similar to "the people!" should have been said, but Faora already told Superman in the iHop that his morality is his weakness, so Superman crying to Zod about the people would have been pointless. It was war, was what it was.

Superman wins by killing Zod. By snapping his neck. And as this moment was building, as Zod was out of control and Superman was (for the first time since the fishing boat 90 minutes ago) struggling to actually save innocent victims instead of casually catching them in mid-plummet, some crazy guy in front of us was muttering “Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…” and then Superman snapped Zod’s neck 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 the neck-snapping, even though I stuck it out, I didn’t give a damn about the rest of the movie.

It's a ridiculous notion that Superman won't kill. Especially in a circumstance where he has no choice. Obviously, Mr. Waid will argue the writing could have been different, but perhaps Mark has been writing Daredevil too long as Superman is facing a threat that a) gives him no choice b) perhaps wants to be killed, i.e. suicide by cop, as Zod's entire world and life - and soul - is gone c) cannot be controlled.

SHOW ME that trying to simultaneously protect humans and beat Zod is achingly, achingly costing Superman the fight.

Again. That wasn't possible. Zod was almost his equal and in doing so would have cost Superman to lose and the Earth itself to perish.

Build to that moment of the hard choice…show me, without doubt, that Superman has no other out and do a better job of convincing me that it’s a hard decision to make, and maybe I’ll give it to you. But even if I do? It’s not a victory. Not this sad, soul-darkening, utterly sans-catharsis “triumph” that doesn’t even feel like a win so much as a stop-loss. Two and a half hours, and I never once got the sense that Superman really achieved or earned anything.

I think what Mr. Waid expected was Superman Returns with a couple of super punches and a slightly better story. Superman's triumph was that he saved the entire planet, finally realized his place in the universe, introduced humanty and the Earth - of which they now have a protector - to the greater universe and all the other alien species and such. 

The essential part of Superman that got lost in MAN OF STEEL, the fundamental break in trust between the movie and the audience, is that we don’t just want Superman to save us; we want him to protect us. He was okay at the former, but really, really lousy at the latter. Once he puts on that suit, everyone he bothers to help along the way is pretty much an afterthought, a fly ball he might as well shag since he’s flying past anyway, so what the hell. Where Christopher Reeve won me over with his portrayal was that his Superman clearly cared about everyone. Yes, this Superman cares in the abstract–he is willing to surrender to Zod to spare us–but the vibe I kept getting was that old Charles Schulz line: “I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.”

More than likely the protecting is further down the road as Superman had no time to protect anyone; he had to save them. He literally just became Superman and then Zod attacked; however, a close listen you would have picked up on how Lois tracked Clark down to Smallville -- by following his great and mysterious heroic deeds (did we need to see them all, Mark?).

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. With the exception of the first-flight beat–the smile Superman gets when he first takes to the air–it’s utterly joyless. From start to finish. Utterly. Joyless. And I just have no interest in relentless joyless from a guy who can fly.

I gotta disagree with you in that it was joyless. I just got out of the theater after a second time, and some little kid I overheard said to his dad, "Superman saved them!"

It just sounds like, again, Mr. Waid was expecting another Donner film with corny moments where Superman saves someone and the John Williams score hits.

I think the Man of Steel was just totally different than what Mr. Waid was expecting and those expectations blinded him throughout the entire film.

I also can't let this one go, but perhaps with Mr. Waid's super disapoointment with the movie he now shares something in common with Richard Rider fans.

No more Sam Alexander Infinite Comics, Mr. Waid? Thanks.

My two super cents.

*(we see Superman really comes to full power when he overpowers the gravity beam of the World Engine, possibly a reference to what Jor-El said about testing his limits).