Here’s why Man of Steel didn’t work – hell, why Superman has NEVER worked, at least for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained. The action was good, and – surprisingly for a comic book movie – I found myself noticing how much I liked the cinematography. The effects were nice and seamless. Acting was nice, and I didn’t find myself bothered by the much-discussed plot holes (which were there, but not in a tremendously greater degree than they are in EVERY SINGLE SUPERHERO MOVIE EVER).
But it didn’t work. It didn’t get me, never had that “whoah” moment. I walked out of the theater saying not, “that was AWESOME,” but instead, “no, I actually liked it.”
Truth be told, I’ve never had a Superman movie or comic book do that to me, other than maybe the Doomsday saga. (Spoiler alert: Doomsday kills Superman).
And there’s a very simple reason Superman just doesn’t hit me where it counts.
No one ever tells him “You’re not special. You’re just another person out there. You aren’t any better than anyone else, and you’ll never amount to anything unless it’s out of sheer dumb luck.”
How COULD you say that to Superman? He’s FUCKING SUPERMAN. And the whole goddamn movie, everyone from his Gladiator dad to his Dances With Wolves dad to both his moms (seriously, this guy has more confusing parentage than everyone in Game of Thrones combined) to Lois Lane spends BASICALLY ALL OF THEIR SCREEN TIME with Supes telling him how amazing, special and world-changing he is.
Everyone has always told Superman how special he is.
Why does this have a problem resonating with us?
Because that’s not what any of us have gone through.
Society in general and people in particular love to tell you you’re not special. You probably grew up with the idea that you’re just another cog in the machine – that a good job and a white-picket-fence house is the best thing you can aspire to in this life.
Oh sure, I’ll bet you had one or two people, probably your parents, maybe your spouse when you got older, tell you that you were special. I hope you did. Some people don’t even get that.
But you went to a school where no one thought you were the best person there. Your teachers treated you just like everyone else in the class. And then after you graduated college or high school, you went out into a wide world that didn’t give a flying fuck about you.
“You’re not special.”
Maybe you’re not special. If not, it’s only because you don’t want to be. And that’s fine. Plenty of people don’t want to be special, or at least they don’t want that recognition. They just want to have a steady job, a good family and a fun life — of course, few of them realize how special that is in and of itself.
But if you want to be special, man, there’s never been anything easier.
No one else in the world looks exactly like you. If they do, you can cut your hair. Or shave your head. Or pierce something (not recommended, but it’s up to you).
Do you realize how incredibly hard it is to duplicate an exact human’s voice? The timbre of each person’s mouth noises are so complex, it’s taken technology years to develop a software that can even understand it. Of course, now there’s voice recognition software that can recognize WHO is speaking to it. And why? Because each person’s voice is unique.
If you were to take this article, the message of it, and re-write it yourself, you wouldn’t use the same words. You’d use different ones — maybe better ones.
YOU ARE UNIQUE.
Yes, as the old joke goes, you’re unique just like everybody else. But you can use that uniqueness, because nobody else has your life. Nobody else has your experiences. And experiences are how we judge things. Experiences are how we evaluate the parts of life and society. And so no one else makes the same judgements and evaluations as you do.
Guess what? You’re fucking special.
And society’s been telling you different your whole life.
So if you WANT to be special, if you WANT to stand out from the crowd, realize that’s the easiest thing in the world. Just start talking about what you want to talk about or what you do. It isn’t the same as what anyone else is doing or has done in the history of anything ever. It couldn’t be. You’re not them.
That’s why it can be a mistake to imitate someone else’s style in the arts. Sure, learn from them technically. See what works for you. Take what you can from what others have done before you.
But put your own spin on it.
Because you’re fucking special.
Want more like that? Check out this post: A Talk About the Arts