From the moment the credits start I felt like I was about to see an epic movie. I’ve never made one; I’ve never really had the budget for that. So, I’ve seen little point in breaking it down to find out what makes even the credit sequence feel epic (I should probably do that). But, Man of Steel does it. And, it delivers in every way, including the obligatory destruction of of New York.
While watching it, my wife turned and said, “Why do they always destroy New York.”
I said, “Because Hollywood has two capitols. L.A. and New York. It’s where movies are centered.”
“Why don’t they ever destroy Washington DC. It would make more sense since it’s the capitol of the country.”
“Because it’s logistically very difficult to film in DC,” I told her. “The government monitor all the crew, all the equipment, everything very closely. It’s easier to film in New York.”
But I digress.
I’ve noticed a trend in movies that really allows me to enjoy movies that I wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. Sometimes movies are amazing except for a single scene, or maybe even a couple scenes. So, in my mind, I just delete those scenes and pretend the movie doesn’t have them.
Man of Steel has a few of those. The intro scene on Krypton is necessary for exposition, but it’s so different from the rest of the movie that it might as well not exist. Instead, the movie should start with Clark on the fishing boat. Granted, it’s very similar to the Bourne Identity, but I don’t see that as a problem.
Man of Steel is a perfect title because it’s about the becoming of Superman. And, it’s done beautifully. Snyder and the writers brilliantly build the character of Clark as he struggles to find himself, and as he struggles to keep himself hidden from the world.
Part of that struggle to stay hidden is about not showing his strength when antagonized, and that happens a lot. It stems out of one of the really good moments in the should-be-deleted intro, when Superman’s mom warns Jar (Superman’s dad) not to send Kal (Kal is Clark Kent’s Kryptonian name) to Earth.
She says, “They’ll kill him.”
Jar responds, “How? He’ll be like a god to them.”
And, historically, when gods show up on earth, humans haven’t responded well. Clark’s adopted dad on Earth knows this.
Again, all of this is about action as an extension of character. In the final scene, when Superman has revealed himself to the world and has to show his god-ness in the most god-like act, he does. And it means something.
But, all of that isn’t why I love Man of Steel. And, it’s not why I’m writing this review.
I love Man of Steel for one 2 minute scene.
Clark’s just a kid. He’s sitting in class and suddenly, all his super-powered senses turn on. He’s seeing musculatures of his teacher and classmates. He’s hearing whispers across the room. It’s totally overwhelming. Clark runs off into a closet, attempting to shield himself as his mind is buffeted by the new sources of information. The teacher tries to open the door and he uses his heat vision to heat the doorknob so the teacher can’t get in. It isn’t until Clark’s mom shows up and calms him down that he’s able to leave the closet.
I grew up with some very severe learning disabilities. I had dyslexia, which meant I couldn’t read as fast as everyone else. I couldn’t keep up. I still can’t. I also had dysgraphia, that’s a problem with my fine-motor functions, which means I have a very hard time writing with a pen or pencil. That one killed my dreams of being a professional musician. Computers saved my life there.
There were quite a few days where I would come home crying to my mom and she would comfort me, seeing the day-after-day struggle I was going through and how hard it was for me. She couldn’t help me as much as she wanted to, but she tried. But, those disabilities weren’t the worst part.
The last time I took an IQ test I scored 180. Genius is 147. Most people who can get into college are around 120-140. Less than 100 requires special education placement. I’m as far beyond genius as genius is beyond special ed. And it made my childhood very problematic.
I was smarter than everyone I met, by a long, long distance. I had thoughts I couldn’t communicate, and when I did try to articulate them, no one understood. I got really bored in class and would act out, attempting to keep myself entertained. You can imagine how well that went.
I’ve since been able to find friends I can talk to, and even people who may be smarter than I am. I found a wife who makes me feel like I’m not alone anymore and who can follow most of what I try to say. She is my lifeline. Wherever she is, that’s home to me, that’s where I feel safe.
So, when I saw that scene with Clark getting overwhelmed by sensory input, I cried. I don’t know if the writers understand what they were showing, but I do. I don’t have X-Ray vision or super-powered hearing. But, I know what it’s like to be overwhelmed and feel alone and feel like I need to hide, just to make the world small enough that I can breathe.
If you want to know what it feels like, watch that scene. It’s being beyond-genius. It’s also what autism is like. It’s profound and powerful and more than enough for me to instantly connect with the struggle of Clark Kent.