Episode 5 – Because I’m a Fucking Super Hero!

SupermanFaster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive!

In this super-sized episode, Mike and Casey take to the skies of Metropolis with returning panelists Pól Rua of Mike and Pól Save the Universe! fame, and Sam Mulvey of the Ask an Atheist radio show! Our topic? The Man of Steel, Superman!

We explore the character’s origins, his cultural relevance, his symbolism, from the glorious insanity of his Silver Age comic books to the modern attempts to make the character darker and “more realistic.”

Music: 
“Love Theme to Superman: the Movie” by John Williams
“Main Theme to Superman: the Movie” by John Williams

4 thoughts on “Episode 5 – Because I’m a Fucking Super Hero!

  1. Pingback: Mike and Pól Talk Superman! | Mike and Pól Save the Universe!

  2. I think you guys had it way wrong on Man of Steel. The movie is full of deep thebes and symbolism, with a clear character arc and a clear conflict. The central conflict of the movie is not Superman vs Zod, it is Jor El and his optimism against Pa Kent’s cynicism. The film does an extremely good job of showing both viewpoints as somewhat valid, and showing Clark’s decision to reveal himself and protect humanity rather than hide.

    On the scenes of destruction, you are simply incorrect in Clark’s culpability. He throws some careless punches for sure in the Smallville scene, but this is with his mother being threatened and him being in literally the first fight of his life where he’s never tested his powers. Still, the US military does far more damage to the town than Kal El or even the other Kryptonians.

    In Metropolis the vast majority of damage takes place while Superman is on the exact opposite side of the world fighting the world engine. His fight against Zod I’ve seen multiple times, and while he gets punched through buildings many times, he never once punches Zod into or through a building. He in fact tries to guide the fight away but is unsuccessful. He never weilds a skyscraper as a weapon as you say. He does drag Zod across the facing of one doing only superficial damage. He is fighting a trained warrior having only been in one fight in his life, his only advantage being he is stronger from being on Earth much longer.

    You complained he never shows agency in revealing himself, but the way he comes about his decision, weighing advice from a priest, and then the way he executes his decision, by flying right to the military and offering himself up, is vintage selfless Superman.

    Also I’d question your calling his behavior “petty revenge” which is beneath Superman in regards to (I assume) his actions vs the Alaskan bully trucker. Going to beat up a bully trucker is the first thing superman does as soon as he had the chance after getting powers back in Superman 2. He does these kinds of “teaching lessons” constantly in the silver age, and in Smallville (which oddly I don’t think was even mentioned) he piles up the football team’s cars in the first episode.

    There’s a litany of other wonderful things about the film I think you really missed. For me it is the best Superman film ever made (well, best non animated).

    Enjoy your show greatly, look forward to the next one.

    All the best,
    Paul

    PS. Forgive any typos as I typed this on a phone

  3. Paul,

    Thanks for your feedback. I really have to disagree on Man of Steel. I think the movie TALKED about having themes, but didn’t show them in practice. Jor El monologues about Superman being a beacon of hope and optimism, but the character as written doesn’t embody those traits, and gives the human race very little reason to trust me.

    As we said during his fights, he doesn’t pay any attention to people inthe crossfire while bringing down buildings, and in the case of the Smallville fight, he carries Zod from an isolated area to a populated one.

    This isn’t the Superman film I want to watch. I think Zack Snyder believes that putting in an inspiring speech cancels out the way the film actually behaves — ie, as destruction porn.

    I don’t mind blockbuster movies having some destruction in them. The Avengers ends with a battle against an alien invasion inside a modern city, but the team works to limit the destruction, saves civilian lives and contains the damage they do. Even the Hulk is easier on New York than Superman is on Metropolis.

    Man of Steel also compounds that level of destruction, by having it visually ape footage of 9/11, which is the last thing I want to think about while watching a Superman movie. When I see people running to a shaky cam from slowly cascading skyscrapers and billowing debris and dusy, it just takes me out of the fantasy of superhero fiction.

    I want to see Superman protect people. And unlike a lot of people, I don’t take issue with Clark killing Zod at the end, because of the obvious reluctance and his emotional fallout from doing so. However…. it doesn’t feel like that moment is earned by the rest of the movie which never establishes his unwillingness to kill. It simply relies on the audience to be familiar with Superman. And odd thing, since this movie goes out of its way to be a different sort of Superman film. Odder still, because it comes right after a fight in which Clark inadvertently caused the deaths of potentially thousands of people.

    Also, I don’t like the fact that Pa Kent is portrayed as cynical and paranoid. I know it’s supposed to contrast with Jor El’s optimism, but it feels like a backhanded swipe at the human race. That the alien sees our potential for good, but not the man who ACTUALLY raised Clark.

    I would have rather seen those traits reversed.

    As for the trucker scene where the crucifies the big rig, I don’t get it. Henry Cavill is a big guy who could undoubtably kick my ass. If he grabbed me by the arm and threw me out of a bar, no one would wonder where he got the strength to do so.

    And finally, this wasn’t an optimistic movie with any deep tones to it. I feel it was a superficial movie that played at having deeper tones, but was mostly cynical, joyless and angsty. Putting a couple of uplifting speeches against a Hans Zimmer score doesn’t change that.

    I’m glad you liked the movie a lot, but I was profoundly disappointed by it and it still stings a bit to think of it. This is not the Superman movie I wanted, and I have the sinking feeling that they don’t make the sort of Superman films I want anymore.

    Regardless, thanks for listening Paul and we appreciate the feedback!

    • Check out the latest episode of this American life, #508/superpowers. They did a great story from a villains perspective on supes that was really cool. Just thought you guys might be interested.

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