Exile on the Edge of Insanity: A Stream-of-Consciousness Spoilerific Review of Man of Steel
When you watch a film, you watch it through your own personal filter of associations and experiences. This is why people argue about the merits of a film. They’re each having a unique experience. To see the movie I saw, you have to be inside my head. I thought it might be interesting to jot down quick notes as I watched Man of Steel for the first time. This is unedited and uncensored material. What follows is meant to be read only after you’ve seen the movie–or better still, WHILE you’re watching the movie:
3 seconds in, Man of Steel is awesome. Pin art ultrasound retro-future technology. Russell Crowe should’ve played Supes at some point, but Jor-El will do. Krypton design harkens back to Mignola’s “World of Krypton” miniseries. “I’ve held that hope in my hands.”
Like Krull, Slayers intro. Zod. New kind of Zod. He’s good casting. Like an alien. Sound effects, atmosphere and design harken back to Krull and I love it.
Not a better movie than Superman Returns, but better marketed. Military recruitment tie-ins–wait– Jor-El just jumped on a dragon. This IS a better movie than Superman Returns. Cool as fuck cosmic sci-fi. I think I have some serious competition here. Cro-magnon skull is the codex? I love it.
Love those 80’s laser sounds. Ride, Atreiu, ride! I mean Jor-El. Cracked moon? Krypton is actually Thundarr’s future earth.
Pretty good companion to Superman Returns, just reverse the order. This is a prequel. Feels like melange of Star Wars prequels but with better cinematography and action scenes. I’m bumming out thinking how dull the Smallville scenes are going to be.
Apocalypse Now sunset visual reference. I like this movie better than the movie I imagines while reading J.J. Abrams’ Superman script. Little bit of House Harkonnen in Zod’s design. “First natural birth in ages.” Like Crowe look-alike Clive Owen’s movie, Children of Men.Let’s get a whole movie of Krypton. Fuck Smallville. Fuck fishing boats.
Lara’s got a little Counsellor Troi, some Sean Young. Zod has 8-Opus haircut and a fucked up Kirbyesque face. I’ll keep him in mind for the 8-Opus movie.
Kind of like Masters of the Universe movie. This “Shoot down the capsule” scene is a good idea, but would work better if we didn’t know this was a Superman movie.
Liked it better when it looked like Zod wasn’t going to be an outlaw, but a representative of the Kryptonian establishment. Ursa is good casting, too.
Flying concrete dildo Phantom Zone pods are straight out of Metabarons or some other Moebius Heavy Metal sci-fi thing.Kryptonian culture must’ve built the world in Prometheus. Same design. This’ll helpo when they make the Superman vs. Alien movie.
Spectacle of Krypton’s destruction feels a little empty. Always nice to see Saturn’s rings. Reminds me of home. Ugh, Smallville. Deadliest Catch, am I at my grandparents’ house?
Debbie Sue. Sue Dibny?
He’s Aquaman, too, keeping the peace on the high seas. Crossover with Secret Life of Words. Oil platform genre. He looks a little like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Jim Caviezel? Lifting heavy stuff pose reminiscent of renaissance paintings of Christ. Excellent, Smallville will just be a series of brief flashbacks. Let’s keep it that way.
Clark Kent’s world is terrifying. I see dead people. Good call. Firestarter. Another good call. Diane Lane would’ve been a good Lois Lane back in the day. Conversation is a remnant from JJ’s script, or at least it feels like it. If that’s all we see of Smallville, awesome.
Whales remind me of Jim Rugg’s art from his Aquaman pitch. Guess we don’t need that Aquaman movie now. Way to go Warner Bros.
Young Clark looks like an alien. One of the things Superman Returns got right. Clark looked like something other than human.
Superman saves a school bus. Callback to Donner’s Superman.
Good workaround, Don’t need CGI for every bit.
Lana looks like actress who played her on the hit show Smallville. Good call. John Schneider is the TV version of Kevin Costner. Feels right.
That rusty truck is a beautiful art object. Field of Dreams in the background? “When the world finds out what you can do, the world is gonna change.” Accurate description of Action Comics #1.
Metallurgist from Kansas State. Metallo? “You’re the answer to ‘are we alone in the universe?'”
Hard to tell if this scene works since I’m watching this in critical mode rather than jump-in-and-enjoy-it mode.
Callback to Superman-themed military recruitment ads. Are these soldiers the same actors?
Callback to Superman 2. Nice cinematography on pitcher of beer. Great image. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t throw beer in his face. Better, classier payback than Superman 2. Not as much fun, though.
I like Amy Adams going back to June Bug. She might be too sweet to play Lois. We’ll see. Aviator sunglasses might be just enough to toughen her up.
Okay, approaching 40 Amy Adams might be just right for the role.
Battlestar. Gaeta ‘s ancestor. Technician is the family business.
Crossover with Rucka and Lieber’s Whiteout.
Clark in “bigfoot photo” pose. This scene makes me feel we’re in uncharted territory. I like that in a superhero movie.
Callback to John Carpenter’s The Thing. This is the alien’s cave. Love to know what it would be like to see this movie with no knowledge whatsoever of Superman. Floating “Flight of the Navigator” robot companion. I think this is from the Kevin Smith script. Jor-El’s ghost. Another good call. Superheroes are a patchwork genre. Ghost story makes sense. Vagina dentata doorway. Kryptonian mummy! I love space mummies.
Robot companion reminds me of Prometheus’s three-jawed snake. Super Doctor. SupermanIsADocDotCom. More The Thing moments. This is a pastiche, a patchwork, just like the four-color source material. Lois in Jackie Brown suit.
Cowboy Curtis, Morpheus, Perry White. That’s a career path to study. 1978 Perry was Jackie Coogan [actually Jackie Cooper]. Started out as a child actor. One of the Little Rascals.
Jor-El should sing, like Les Miserables. My name was Jewel? Quipped quipped Khalil Gibran.
Existential question, “Where did I come from? Why am I here?” Jor-El’s slide show feels like Steranko’s [The Exile] at the Edge of Eternity story in Superman 400. Snyder did his homework and dug deep into Warner’s resources. Genesis Chamber. Evidence toward my theory that Krypton was a New Genesis colony. More Krull set design. Play this review alongside the movie, like Darkseid of the Moon with Wizard of Oz. Origin feels immediate, like actual scenes unfolding, rather than pageantry.
Costume colors are like Superman Returns. Same colors as evil Superman in Superman 3. That’s a Kirby cape, like Thor. Like Kirby’s Superman, not quite as puffed up. Superman probably shouldn’t wear the suit until he works out the kinks. Little bit of Greatest American Hero in this. Only a matter of time before we get a big screen remake of that.
Flying characters going close to the ground is more like how flight is in a dream. I expect this movie to have a profound effect on my dream life, like Super Mario Galaxy. I’ll have to take notes. Another Battlestar alumnus.
Supes in Space. Nice tribute to last shot in Superman 1.
Good casting on Pete Ross.
Jonathan Kent, the man who was a headstone. Amy Adams aged into a good Lois.
“Not helping people, not an option.” Car scene references Spider-Man 1 which referenced Superman 1. Yeah, it’s Kansas, a tornado, of course. Feeds into conspiracy theory that recent tornadoes were weaponized, sent by global oligarchy that created this movie as a recruitment tool for the New World Order. Is this how Pa Kent dies? Good call. This is what I liked about Batman Begins. Had genuine surprises.
Office. 21st century version of the one from Superman ’78. Not clear if planet is newspaper, TV news office or what. Good call. Perry White has an earring. I like it. I like that Perry is sitting on the Superman story. Good contrast with Superman ’78.
That dog better be Krypto. Diane Lane and Amy Adams look way better in real life. They should fire their management for allowing such unflattering cinematography. Henry Cavill looks like a cross between the two Duke boys. As someone who drew a lot of war-rooms-studying-aliens scenes, I’m not a fan. Flying saucer comes to earth. This is the Silver Age portion of the movie. Let’s rock.
EMP. The genny kicked in. Poltergeist. Malevolent television. Callback to anti-life equation in Final Crisis.
Nepalese language sounds like Jabba’s language. Zod reminds me of Max Headroom broadcast interruption of Doctor Who in the 80’s. Oh Baby, Zod sells out Supes. Callback to Superman 2. This movie is moving with a sense of urgency. No time for fucking around, which was my fear going into this movie, that it would be bloated. Instead, it’s lean and mean.
Lois Lane, fugitive. With this and Dark Knight, Warners can really build a movie superhero universe. Get to it, Bros. Callback to Karate Kid. Clark even looks a little like Ralph Macchio in this scene. Pa Kent is his Mr. Miyagi father substitute. Young Pete Ross looks like John Hodgeman, who would’ve been good in the role. Sullivan’s? Gilbert and Sullivan? All the boats.
Jesus in a Superman movie. Not Jesus references or metaphors, but honest-to-God, Catholic Church stained-glass Jesus? Previous Superman movies with Jesus represented by his absense, Protestant style. This movie straight up shows him with Renaissance-era figural flamboyant Catholic mode. Catholic warmth in this movie, Protestant cool in the others.
Symbol of hope. Elliot S! Maggin rejoice. 33 years, another Jesus reference. Lois is Mary Magdelene? Sure hope Lex Luthor doesn’t show up. We don’t need another Lex Luthor movie. I’ll allow another Zod movie this once, but next time better be Brainiac, Darkseid, Myxyzptlk or some-fucking-body.
Superman vs. the spaceship from R-Type. Space scarab. My kind of movie. Nice masks. I guess that bald scientist in the background is Lex. I’ll accept him as a supporting character. This is like the Grant Morrison New 52 Lex. Nice glass mask on Ursa. I like the 80’s Heavy Metal Magazine design of this movie.
Kryptonian metal bit is 2013 version of the hairpin 50’s Lois would use to get out of situations. Zod Goatee. Superman’s Ra’s Al Ghul. Moving towards Terrence Stamp archetype.
Kryptonian pseudo-environment is fucking with Superman’s physicality. I got up to use the bathroom and get an iced tea refill. Two guys in the lobby are having a conversation where it’s obvious they’re confusing Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes. “Denzel filmed this before he went to jail.” WTF!?
A needle going into Supes’ arm! Excellent Action Comics #1 callback. Holographic Jor-El getting into the action. I love it. Like the alternate Return of the Jedi script where Ben Kenobi reincarnates and starts swinging a lightsaber alongside Luke as he fights the Emperor.
Jesus pose. C’mon, let’s not overdo it. Oh wait, this is Zack Snyder, king of overstatement. I imagine if Kirby directed movies, they’d be a lot like Snyder’s. Superman rescuing Lois from an out-of-control spaceship is cooler than Superman 1978’s out-of-control helicopter. The flying spin. Superman Returns callback.
H.R. Giger Kryptonian warsuits. Obvious, but still awesome. I like that they skipped Superman 1 and went straight to Superman 2. That was my biggest objection to reboot, that we’d go back to very beginning once again. Great job of side-stepping it. Like Ed Norton’s Hulk.
Zod’s not ready for superpowers. Overload. Nice. I think this was in J.J.’s script. 7-Eleven product placement. Reminds me of when I saw Wargames in the theater as a child. First time I’d ever seen a Big Gulp. Callback to small town fight scene in Superman 2. And Thor vs. Destroyer. Sauron’s hand.
Always loved those jets with shark faces ever since Spielberg’s 1941.
Non. Kind of like Sauron. Like Destroyer. Supervillains vs. jets. Like shot of Superman vs. jets in Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again.
Oh Yeah! The villainess and the diner, callback to Masters of the Universe film. Is Zack Snyder my age? Nice Otto Binder tribute. “Otto’s Bindery” was it? Fight scenes are good.Ones in Superman 2 Donner Cut were better.
Superman’s badass heat vision, more evidence for theory that Superman is an ancestor of the New Gods. “Shoot all targets.” They just don’t get it.
Ursa’s pretty awesome. Superheroes as pro wrestling. Wasn’t paying attention. Is that army guy Lois Lane’s dad? General Thunderbolt Lane. “A good death is its own reward.” A quintessential Zack Snyder line or is it a quote from Superman 2?
No longer more powerful than a locomotive. Flight of the Navigator. Snyder IS my age. Why haven’t I made a movie yet? Just lazy I guess.
They are awed. These army guys will be Superman’s apostles, although there’s more than 12 of them. “This man is not our enemy.” Pontius Pilate quote? Is this movie almost over? Went fast.
“Nice suit, son.” Good callback to 1978’s “Say Jim, that is one bad outFIT.” Greatest line in a Superman movie.
Codex encoded within his cells. all the others living in his body. His body is the church. I love it. Like the cellular micro-supermen from All-Star. “Release the world engine.” Kirby created a world engine? Worlogog.
Independence Day, the most-quoted movie in modern superhero/sci-fi blockbusters. This has better spectacle. Superman Returns had better character moments. World engine is turning earth into Krypton, like go-to Darkseid plot of turning earth into a new Apokolips? Snyder has an idiosyncratic pacing, like movie is one long scene. Not sure if it’s a flaw or an asset.
Superman’s build is like Peter Cheung drawing, wide upper legs, wide upper body, tiny waist. Must be CGI’d. Human beings aren’t shaped like that.
Superman Returns had good flying long shots. So does this. Evil-Lyn/Ursa is great. Love it whenever she’s on screen. Zod coming to terms with his super-senses. Now he’ll be unstoppable. Love that Jor-El’s ghost will not let go. So fitting, Jor-El is the ultimate control freak, ensuring a legacy beyond death. Now Supes has to fight that pin plate technology, the same tech that helped him come into the world. “First baby born on Krypton in generations.” More Jesus comparisons.
Big city chaos is better than Avengers. JLA better show up or Warners dropped the ball.
C’mon Zod, keep earth as is. You’ll be a god (Zod) among gods. Movie’s logic stumbles.
“Superman is 2 times the man you are, Zod.”
“Rebuild Krypton atop his bones.” Did Snyder read 8-Opus, or are we drawing from the same Source? This movie has 10 times the sci-fi content of other superhero movies. Why am I not on Cloud 9? Is it because I’m taking notes instead of sitting back and enjoying the ride? I think Snyder’s one one continuous scene storytelling rhythm is to blame, but I’ll have to see it again to know for sure.
Flynn jumping into the MCP stream. The sun. God the Father giving Jesus the juice. Lois Lane finally uses the cosmic hairpin. Ursa/Evil-Lyn. Lex Luthor played by a Stanley Tucci stand-in. Darth Zod piloting his mega tie-fighter. Red eye Superman. To become an earthling Superman must destroy Krypton. What’s it all mean?
Sad to see the cosmic aquarium go. Just realized, Bottle City of Kandor is encoded in Superman’s cells. Body City of Kandor. This is a better movie than I thought.
Glad Snyder had the good sense to get maximum usage out of Evil-Lyn/Ursa. “S” symbol looks like Max Fleischer version. Lex Luthor presses the button that saves the day. Superman fights the pull of a black hole. Metropolis looks like Apokolips. Was that wolf whistle in the movie or from the theater?”All downhill after the first kiss.” Never heard that before.
I knew Snyder had the potential to make a great movie. Could’ve been Sucker Punch if it wasn’t a dream sequence. Zod is a collectivist. Superman in a rugged individualist. This Zod fight better be good.
Fly, Superman, fly. No hurry to save those bystanders. LexCorp. First outright Lex reference. Still think it’s that Stanley Tucci stand-in.
The angle on that building, never seen that in a movie before.
Zod’s crazy Kirby eyes. This movie’s gonna be a hit, right? Demon Claw from Nick Fury. Zod in his Kid Miracleman outfit. Are we gonna see some horrific Miracleman violence? Heard today that horror comics aren’t allowed in the UK. Would Miracleman be allowed in?
It’s superheroes duking it out in the Lincoln Memorial. Save the last human family, Robotron! Finally some real movie serial suspense. It drove Superman to violate his oath never to kill. We forgive you Superman. Zod died for his planet. Superman killed for ours.
“F-ing stupid.” Would “fucking” have been funnier? “I grew up in Kansas. ” And the American Way.
“Kinds hot.” First clunker of the movie comes minutes before the ending. Not too bad. Movie does a good job of tapping into Smallville fanbase. Finally, the towel-as-a-cape scene. The one we all relate to. Do people younger than me relate to this? I was born in the years of Superman 1 so all this stuff was my mother’s milk.
Steve Lombard. Good casting. Clark shows up for first day. Of course Lois knew who he was from day one. The stinger from Nolan’s plot outline? Did they CGI Chris Reeve’s smile into this? Crowd applauds. I’d like to read that Chris Nolan proposal. Big fat Siegel and Shuster credit. The kind Jack Kirby needs uin the Marvel movies.
The movie’s a hit, right? It’s playing on 8 of the 10 screens at this theater.
Zack Snyder’s killing it in the theaters, Scott Snyder in the comics. Any relation?
My hand hurts. Review over. Is it a review if it’s written as the movie’s unfolding?
Postscript: After the movie I walked to the Three Rivers Arts Festival. There was a free button-making booth, with a stack of comics to choose from for material. There was only one Kirby comic, Super Powers #1. Just the cover art and house ad are by Kirby. He wrote the plot and designed the characters, but didn’t draw the story. I was going to use the Kirby-drawn Kryptonite armor Lex Luthor from the cover, but went with the Superman from Kirby’s house ad. Not a bad day.
Tom Scioli created a comic about duelling superbeings called Satan’s Soldier. You can buy it now by clicking on the link below:
Buy Satan’s Soldier #1 Signed Comic Now
The drawing at the top of this article is from Jim Steranko’s Exile at the Edge of Eternity
The Moebius-looking drawing in the middle is by Moebius
The drawing on the Superman button is by Jack Kirby
Superman and his gang are TM and copyright DC Comics
Satan’s Soldier is TM and copyright Tom Scioli LLC