Tag Archives: Man of Steel

Rant Alert: Man of Steel- A Spoiler Free Review

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Full disclosure: I wasn’t always a fan of Superman. As a kid, of course, I loved him. I’d watch the Reeve/Donner movies, and later the Bruce Timm animated series, and run around the house with a cape (usually a towel or blanket) around my neck. But as I got older and started getting into comics I just didn’t care for Superman as a character. I still loved the idea of him, but in execution I felt that he was bland. He was too powerful, too goodie-goodie, too perfect. He was the Gandhi, and in many cases, the Jesus, of DC comics, and when good stories revolve around conflict and you have a character who is perfection personified, that’s often a big problem. It’s one of the reasons why DC still has a hard time getting the character right in his own series.

That all changed while I was working on my first novel with my best friend, Mark Ruelius. He was a HUGE Superman fan, and when he heard my opinion on the character is was as though I had personally offended him. He made me promise to read three comic book trades: Kingdom Come by Mark Waid & Alex Ross (which I already owned and loved), Superman Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu, and Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. He was right. After that, I was a fan. This made Superman Returns all the more painful for all of us, because we were hoping to get a Superman movie as good as what Batman was getting with Nolan or the Marvel movies were getting on the other side of the fence. Instead we got… well, I’m not going to go into that. This isn’t a review of that movie. So let’s just get into Man of Steel.

For me, this was a great foundation to build a untied DC cinematic universe on. This was DC’s Iron Man, in that way. Just about every aspect of the movie is inspired by the various Superman comics, Birthright being a heavy influence in particular. But there are a few things you need to know going in to help manage expectations (and I promise, no spoilers):

  1. This isn’t a Chris Reeve/Richard Donner Superman. The tone is different. There’s no comic relief character. There’s no goofy gags. This has been the biggest criticism most “negative reviews” have and I think it’s because those people are going in expecting a Donner or Marvel tone. It does have some humor and moments that’ll make you smile. MoS isn’t “dark and gritty” either, any more so than any of the best Superman comics are. Just about everything, event-wise, in MoS has precedent in the comics and animated movies.
  2. Again, this isn’t a Marvel movie. Marvel’s movies have a certain tone, just as their comics do. They’ve always been different than DC, and this movie is no exception. If you go in expecting a superhero movie with the same tone (lighthearted is probably too strong a word) then you’ll be disappointed. MoS takes itself, and the character, seriously. Again, it’s not The Dark Knight serious. This isn’t emo Superman, but they do approach the material and character in a serious, mature way- as they should. The movie is still a ton of fun, and I immediately wanted to watch it again, just as I did with Avengers or Iron Man. It’s just a different kind of fun/tone.
  3. This goes with the tone, but yes, it feels more like a sci-fi movie than a “superhero” movie. I think that’s a good thing in this case, given the story. That said, the movie ends perfectly and we have the Superman/Clark Kent we’re wanting to see. This has the potential to set up an amazing sequel the way that Batman Begins set up The Dark Knight.

This is very much Clark’s story, and the focus is on him discovering who he is and what his place in the world is. Henry Cavill nails the part and is by far the best embodiment of the character since Chris Reeve. Amy Adams also does an amazing job as Lois Lane. I have to say I was really impressed with how they handled Lois. She was smart, strong, and important to the plot without just being the damsel in distress. They also did away with a typical trope that has long since been played out and done to death (thank God for that), which makes me even more excited to see how they evolve the relationship between Lois and Clark. Some people may take issue with how they portray Jonathan Kent, but I think it was a great way to approach the character, and it made one scene in particular have that much more of an impact on Clark and how he makes the decisions he does.

I want to address Mark Waid’s review of the movie (caution, massive movie spoilers in the link ). As you can tell from my opening above, Mark Waid has written, in my opinion, some of the best Superman stories, and Birthright in particular was an influence on MoS. Waid wasn’t very happy with the movie for two reasons, one of which is a spoiler so I won’t go into it, other than to say that the way it was handled was VERY well done (and even Waid admitted as much) and that, yes, it’s not anything that hasn’t already done before in the comics and other movies, albeit not very often.

The other, and biggest, complaint that Waid had was he said that this version of Superman felt cold and that he didn’t care enough about protecting humans, given all the “destruction porn”. I will say there were times when I felt similar while watching, and it is one aspect that they could have handled better. Superman does go out of his way to help save people in the movie, but I would agree it needed to be emphasized more, and is probably the biggest weakness the movie has, especially given all the destruction and collateral damage that takes place. Again, it’s nothing that hasn’t been shown in the comics and animated tales countless times. This very much feels like a comic book come to life (or a live action version of a Bruce Timm animated feature); but because it is so realistic and lifelike it makes thinking about the innocent people being hurt that much more, where you don’t as much in the comics or animated features (or where it’s easier for them to just magically have people survive or evacuate in time, etc.) It’s something that needs to be improved upon in sequels, but it was far from a deal-breaker for me.

For me, Man of Steel is the best DC movie to date, and this is coming from a die-hard Batman fan. I’m not saying that Man of Steel is a technically superior movie than The Dark Knight, but for me it’s certainly more fun to watch. This is the Superman movie we’ve been waiting for, and it can only get better from here. Keep an open mind and don’t let the negative reviews keep you from checking it out. Go and see the movie for yourself and judge it by it’s own merits. I think you’ll be glad that you did, as it is, by-far, the best movie so far this summer.
I give it a 9/10.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Saturday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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“It’s not an S. On my world it means hope.”

This is a thing of beauty.

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Announcement: The Just Super Sweepstakes!

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This summer is an awesome time to be a comic book nerd: Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, & The Wolverine in theaters. It’s especially exciting for long-time fans, as CBMs are finally being treated with legitimacy and respect, and as a result we’re getting much higher quality products. We’re in a comic book cinematic golden age, and it’s a beautiful thing. The subject of superheros isn’t as prevalent in fictional novels. There are a few floating around out there that are non-DC or Marvel novelizations, like the awesome Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman, but there aren’t many that get mainstream attention. I’ve been a huge comic book fan since I was a kid, and only got more hardcore as I got older and could afford to drop tons of money I should have been saving on trade paperbacks, floppies, games, and movies/TV shows based on my favorite characters. I wanted to do my own take on a superhero story, but one that might be a bit different than the typical mainstream take. Just Super is more about the people and relationships involved in being a “superhero,” and what the costs might be if someone were really to discover they had powers and wanted to put themselves out there, as opposed to being about beating up super villains in tights as they monologue.

To celebrate superheros and all the fun and entertainment that they bring we’re proud to present our very first contest here at Authentic Productions Entertainment: The Just Super Sweepstakes!

The Mission:  Take a photo of you doing your best super hero pose with either a paperback copy of Just Super, or a digital copy on your Kindle/Phone/Tablet opened to the title page of the book (so we know you aren’t cheating). Creativity counts!

The Countdown: All entries must be e-mailed to authenticwriters@gmail.com by May 3rd– the US release date for Iron Man 3.

The Rewards: Shawn and I will pick the top three entries and post them here on the site.

  • 3rd Place: Will have a choice between a signed copy of the upcoming The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 2, or a special Digital Deluxe Edition of The Chosen: Rebirthing, which will contain both parts 1 and 2 as one full novel as it was originally written, along with additional short stories and other goodies set within the Chronicles of Enoch universe. Either prize will include the winner’s name listed in the dedication.
  • 2nd Place: The same choice between the two prizes listed above, along with a personalized sketch done by artist Shawn Skvarna, who has done all the covers for the books.
  • Grand Prize: A signed, personalized copy of all of our released novels in paperback; a personalized sketch by artist Shawn Skvarna; a “cameo character” (a character based on you) in one of our upcoming novels (you’ll have a choice of which), along with the novel being dedicated to you.

So there you have it! Have fun with it! If this goes well we’ll do another later in the year.

To purchase a copy of Just Super in paperback you can click here. To get a digital copy you can click here. Remember, send your photos to authenticwriters@gmail.com by May 3rd!

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Rant Alert: Why A Live Action Justice League Movie Will Be An Uphill Battle

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After The Avengers did super-crazy-good at the box office the WB announced that they would have their own big team up movie, Justice League, on track for a 2015 release.  Well, they had someone working on a script but rumor is that’s been scrapped. They haven’t found a director, and now they’re claiming they want to see how Man of Steel does before they move ahead. They also seem dead set on not following the proven track that Marvel has by building the world with solo movies before shoving everyone together. They want to do the opposite because, well, it’s the opposite of what their rival is doing. There have been several articles on why this is a bad idea. Personally, I think Man of Steel is going to do fine. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far, and despite fan-geek rumblings on message boards where every quote is taken horribly out of context or blown up to silly proportions (SUPERMAN IS GOING TO BE DARK AND REALISTIC!!!111!!!1!!) I think we’ll get a decent flick.

That said, I think a JLA live action movie is just a bad idea. The Avengers worked for several major reasons. One, they established world building through a series of decent-great movies people generally really liked that linked things together before the big team up. Two, they got a writer/director who knew what he was doing. Joss Whedon knows comics. He knows how to do ensemble stuff well (FIREFLY!!!!). He’s also a pretty great writer. They picked a great person to helm the project. Three, they got the right actors for the various roles. Four, Avengers is just easier to do in live action without it being silly.

Marvel comics have always seemed to be a bit more grounded in reality than DC. DC is more mythological/fantastical while Marvel has always been more sci-fi. Sure Avengers has Norse gods running around, but even that was explained with a more scientific approach- advanced science always looks like magic to those who don’t know what they’re looking at. But all the other members of the Avengers are pretty much just normal humans with sci-fi-explained tweeks that make them superhuman. Stark has a super advanced suit of armor and is a genius. Hulk and Cap have been genetically altered by science. Hawkeye and Black Widow are just crazy good at what they do.Nick Fury is Sam Jackson. See? All their powers are pretty much explained by and rooted in science, granted more sci-fi science, but science none-the-less. It all feels a bit more grounded, enough so when aliens come flying out of a wormhole and Banner turns into the Hulk and smashes the audience goes along for the ride.

With the Justice League you pretty much have a group of gods, and Batman. Sure Flash’s powers happened through an accident and GL is a very sci-fi thing; but you still have basically Hermes who can move at the speed of light and do stuff that just isn’t, as far as we know, even close to scientifically possible and a space cop with the most powerful weapon in the universe on his finger that can make anything he can think of out of pure will. Then there’s Superman and Wonder Woman. You know why Man of Steel is trying to approach the story from the point of view of “how would humanity react to finding out there’s real aliens and they can do all this powerful stuff?” and how Clark comes to grips with who he is? Because that’s more relateable to audiences than a boy scout demi-god flying around in underwear who can do just about anything. Audiences are going to ask “Why does Superman need a Justice League? Couldn’t he just have this whole thing wrapped up in five minutes and have time for a coke and smile before the rest of them even get there?” Wonder Woman is almost as troublesome. She is the daughter of actual gods, after all, and almost as powerful as Superman, depending on which comics you’re going by. Then there’s Batman. The Nolan Batman films played like gangbusters at the box office, and I loved them too. But if we’re honest those weren’t real “comic book Batman” films. They were mob movies with elements of Batman thrown in for flavor. If Batman were a rogue cop and Joker hadn’t had the makeup in Dark Knight you still would have had pretty much the same movie. That’s not the comic book Batman, and it’s certainly not the Batman who’d be running with the JLA. The Batman we’re looking for is the Batman portrayed in the Arkham Asylum games or the animated DC movies and series. Which brings me to my point:

The Justice League Movie should be CGI.

Don’t believe me? Watch this, I’ll wait….

By going the CG route like the example above the WB can avoid a lot of the problems of a live action film and actually make a movie that could still do huge at the box office without being a train wreck. First, people tend to be more likely to suspend disbelief when it’s animation, and you can get by with a lot more without it looking fake and/or stupid. I don’t know a single person who has seen that trailer above, comic fan or not, who hasn’t remarked how completely awesome that was. It was pretty dark, much darker than what they’d want to shoot for with a big movie, but it worked on a level that no live action movie is likely to. In CG the costumes don’t look silly. In live action, they kinda do. In CG you can get iconic voice actors who have been known for these parts for the last 20 years: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker…basically everyone who did the old Justice League TV series. They would already have the perfect built-in team to handle it: Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Andrea Romano. They’re the DCAU trinity of awesome that has made the last 20 years of DC animated products so freaking good. Let them move up to the big time and handle a big budget movie rather than these 70 minute long direct to DVD things. Pixar and Dreamworks have shown that big budget animated movies can do well. Heck, The Incredibles showed that it can work for superheros and make a movie that everyone loves. Its time for Warner Brothers to wake up and realize that their answer to the Marvel movies is staring them right in the face. That’s just my take on it anyway.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, and the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1- all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

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