Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy

Published 2 years ago by

Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy

It’s no wonder why film adaptations of comic book superheroes have dominated the box office – they have everything a blockbuster needs: a strong lead, equally strong villain, and plenty of special effects spectacle. That might imply that a big, bombastic superhero movie is bound to succeed with both fans and critics; but when you strip away the superpowers and the costumes, superheroes are really about one thing – something even the average person can relate to – how people respond to tragedy.

By now it should be clear that every superhero origin story begins badly. Some might look at that fact and claim that Hollywood needs to change up a stale formula, or stop being so ‘dark’ or ‘dour,’ and start portraying superheroes as larger than life, instead of being forced to endure it as much as a normal person. But superhero stories – the good ones, anyway – don’t have tragedy added to make them fit a modern message: They were there from the very beginning. It goes without saying, but – MAJOR SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. 

The best superhero movie adaptations to date all seem to have realized this important fact, but there are as many – if not more – duds that seemed to miss the point entirely. As the superhero movie genre continues to build momentum, it’s more important now than ever before that writers, directors and actors start paying attention to tragedy; as a few recent failures have shown the danger of ignoring it.



Iron Man Series Tragedy Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy

To demonstrate our point, it makes sense to start at the beginning, with the first movie that signaled the arrival of superhero blockbusters and critical successes: Iron Man. Arguably Marvel’s best movie to date, the film built its plot around how the eccentric, fast-talking, spoiled and brilliant weapons manufacturer Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) would be affected by having to face the consequences of his company’s actions, and losing one of his only real friends as a result.

Stark reacted to his brush with death and subsequent imprisonment in a way that made sense, but he took things farther by accepting a mission to right his wrongs around the world. Stark went from a self-involved playboy to a genuinely caring person, realizing the value of the friends who had stood by his side when he didn’t deserve them: Rhodey (Terrence Howard) and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow).

But following the success of Iron Man, Marvel – and Favreau – seemed to lose sight of the reasons that superhero fans had embraced the film; people watched a character respond to tragedy in a believable way, becoming a superhero by using that tragedy to take on responsibilities and powers that the average person usually wouldn’t. Robert Downey, Jr.’s personality and charm were a hit with fans, so Iron Man 2 saw the return of the cocky, quip-happy playboy who ignored the concerns of those closest to him.

Iron Man 2 Stark and Widow Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy

If the previous film had changed Stark through tragic events, it was no longer easy to see. As Stark fawned over Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), his ‘enemies’ – a genius driven by blind vengeance and a millionaire looking to embarrass the ‘Iron Man’ – cooked up an action set piece for the film’s final act, and a means to get Tony back to where he was at the previous film’s end.

Since release, Iron Man 2‘s issues have mostly been credited to its use as a set-up for The Avengers more than a movie devoted entirely to Tony’s character. It’s no secret that fans were vocally upset by director Jon Favreau’s decision not to adapt the “Demon in a Bottle” comic arc, chronicling Tony’s battle with alcoholism, fall from glory, and eventual redemption.

The filmmakers did add tragedy in the sense that Tony was slowly being poisoned to death by his own arc reactor, but while his response to it may have been believable (turning to alcohol and pretending he had nothing to lose) the ensuing fight with his best friend was played for laughs, and his sickness was cured the next morning. Tragedy became a plot device, and Tony’s response to it was brushed aside in the name of the film’s final showdown.



Captain America 2 Political Thriller Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy

Keeping with Marvel, it’s not hard to see how including tragedy in every one of the studio’s Phase One films was met with varying degrees of success. Captain America: The First Avenger introduced one of the few heroes whose origin story is essentially a case of wish fulfillment, through and through. The undersized Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) joins the Army to fight in World War II, becomes the world’s first super soldier – and the last, when the doctor responsible is assassinated by a Nazi spy.

The treatment Rogers received as a sideshow oddity, not a strong-willed crusader for justice, was definitely a rough patch for the hero-in-the-making, but wasn’t quite on the level of Stark’s tragedy. Still, Rogers persevered – showing his level of dedication and willingness to sacrifice – and was rewarded with… more tragedy. The loss of his best friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) was the real tragedy of the film, challenging Cap to finish the fight they’d both signed up for.

Still, Cap’s struggle to come to grips with his powers and loss of friendship was only ever equally as important as stopping Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and his ‘mystical cube of limitless danger.’ There was enough tragedy fueling Cap’s character, if not the plot, to deliver a solid superhero adventure, but with the biggest tragedy of Cap’s entire mythology resigned to the film’s closing moments – and a further set-up of The Avengers – few would claim it reached the dramatic heights of Iron Man.

chris hemsworth thor 2 loki Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy

The case was much the same with Thor, with the first real tragic event setting the film in motion being the titular god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth) losing his godlike powers – something we’d wager isn’t very relatable for most human beings. As such, Thor occupies a much lighter place in Marvel’s slate of Phase One films, with far more romance and comedy in its genes.

As evidence of just how hungry superhero fans are for tragedy and its aftermath, the character who turned out to be the most impressive in the film wasn’t Thor, but his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Thor may have been cast out by his family (the emotional trauma of which is put on the back-burner), but it was the tragedy which Loki faced – discovering that he was stolen from his true parents and lied to by his adopted family – which put the film’s events into motion.

Thank Kenneth Branagh’s direction or Tom Hiddleston’s performance, but Loki’s justified descent into anger and resentment puts Thor’s lesson in ‘not being a complete jerk’ to shame. Loki’s response to personal tragedy was so well-executed, not only was it decided early on that he would be the antagonist in Avengers, but his ongoing reaction to the tragedy’s he’s faced continues to be the most exciting aspect of Thor: The Dark World.

Thor The Dark World Tom Hiddleston as Loki Why Superhero Movies Need Tragedy

If the varied audience enthusiasm and excitement over Marvel’s Phase One hasn’t made our point evident, the path chosen by Joss Whedon. The writer/director (famous for killing off beloved characters) has gone on the record stating his opinion that “you go to the movies to see people you love suffer,” so there’s no question he’s in our camp.

But when handed the reins of the Marvel universe, and charged with writing a story that would make audiences care for every single one of the assembled Avengers, Whedon turned to the one theme he knew wouldn’t fail: he’d put each character through something terrible, letting the entire story hinge on how they’d react.

With Loki, Whedon had a villain whose motives would be justified (there’s an entire scene in The Avengers devoted to Loki claiming he felt he’d been cast aside at the end of Thor, further justifying his anger and seeing himself as a lost cause). But that was just the beginning.


NEXT PAGE: Avengers Takes it back to tragedy…

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  1. Marvel films are enjoyable for the most part.. but DC is leagues ahead in terms of emotion and as this article says, tragedy. In most Marvel films there is never really a feel of danger, or that anyone in the films is in danger. You know everything is going to be okay. That’s not the case with DC, specifically Nolan’s Batman trilogy. There was always a haunting sense that anything could happen to anyone. If Nolan made a Marvel-like Batman movie… Rachel Dent wouldn’t die, Harvey Dent would find redemption after becoming Two-Face, and Batman would continue to be Batman at the end of TDKR. That’s why DC is overall more satisfying in almost every way. JUST MY OPINION!

    • And I agree.

      DC latest takes on Batman and Superman are superior in terms of filmaking and storytelling, with a more realistic and serious tone, which I personally connect to the most.

      Marvel movies are entertaining, but sometimes there are certain moments and lines that make them feel like a joke of a movie, instead of something memorable.

    • I disagree, because you appear to be confusing ‘Nolan’s Batman Trilogy’ with DC as a whole. I didn’t believe for a second in MoS that they were going to kill off a major character (other than Zod + Jonathan Kent). And don’t forget that Marvel killed off Agent Coulson (although he got better) which was definitely a surprise and lead to a lot of tragedy. The only ever superhero movie I’ve ever watched (from either Marvel or DC) where I actually wasn’t sure whether the hero would make it out alive was TDKR because Nolan had made it clear it was the last film and that DC would have to reboot afterwards.

      • The Avengers killed off Coulson who had only cameos until the team up film. Then brought him back. I don’t care how or why, but already bringing back the only person they’ve killed takes all seriousness away. And Man of Steel was overall much more emotional than any Marvel film regardless of whether you knew someone was going to die. And I can associate Nolan’s film with DC because Batman is DC and DC hasn’t made many other films..

        • Yinsen, Bucky and (presumably) most of the characters from Captain America would disagree that Coulson is apparently ‘the only person they’ve killed off).

          Also, while I’ll agree that MoS tried to be more emotional than Marvel, whether that succeeded is YMMV.

          • Thing is, none of them had much impact before Coulson and I honestly never really felt like I should care when Coulson “died”.

            I didn’t like MOS much and was underwhelmed by it as a whole but it definitely felt more emotional than you give credit for because a tear welled up during several moments, especially moments that involved Jonathan Kent.

            I’ve never felt that with any other superhero movie, whether Marvel or DC.

            • Yinsen and Bucky (more precisely the scene of Cap trying to drink his sorrows away after his death) had a bit of impact for me. And honestly, I struggle to think of any DC death (not even Dark Knight) which had much of an impact. Although I’ll admit that I don’t very emotional at all when I watch movies.

              Also, I’m firmly on the ‘They badly screwed up Jonathan Kent’ camp when it comes to MoS, so that obviously didn’t have any impact for me.

              • Rachel dieing is the most powerful death in comic books. Or harveys death, because it shaped the state of batman as a whole

                • YMMV.

                • Gwen Stacy. That is all.

                  • Gwen Stacy’s death will be the most shocking for sure.

            • My opinion was that Coulson dying was actually a very moving event for me, as was much of Loki’s arc. I didn’t particularly care for Yinsen, because although he helped Stark, I just KNEW that he was going to die. They built the suit for Tony, ok, so Tony’s going to just escape with Yinsen happily and GG? No. Yinsen I already thought would die, but I wasn’t really into his character much. All he did was pretty much initially save tony. After that Tony just pretty much took over. Furthermore, the people in Captain America who died… PLEASE. As a movie-goer, I wouldn’t know half of those people, and just… most pretty much died from old age. Didn’t really care for Bucky since we only barely got acquainted with him. So basically, Coulson’s was the only death that impacted me in any way. They brought him back. Now, there were some curve-balls in the Dark Knight Trilogy, but the Man of Steel movie only had the Zod curve-ball. The reason I liked Man of Steel was not for the initial tragedy of Krypton (though the Krypton scenes were way cool) but for the evolution of a young Superman. So yeah, not much tragedy in MOS either that really impacted me.

      • You’re misinformed. Agent Coulson (Who really cares about this LOSER?!)
        comes back to Marvel’s upcoming sh!**y show, SHIELD.

        • You know, call me paranoid, but I get the impression that Stephanie is very slightly biased against Marvel. Probably just my imagination though.

          • I’m biased against horrible movies** sorry if you did not figure that out by now.

            • Horrible or no, that is up to individual opinion. It’s not objective as you claim, so instead of hating on it, how about just ignoring said post/topic?

      • I agree with this guy. Although my favorite movie ever is ‘The Dark Knight’, I have to say Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises are the only DC movies that I thoroughly felt emotionally connected to. Man of Steel was okay, and I had high hopes for the sequel until they added Batman to the mix, which is sure to take any/all character development away from Clark Kent/Superman. I think Batman/Superman (2015) is going to be the next ‘Iron Man 2′.

    • Have you seen X-Men: First Class where
      one of the X-Men is killed, the leader is crippled for life, and their second in command gives in to his dark side turning into a human-hating extremist and dragging half the team along with him?
      I feel like you’re generalizing Nolan’s trilogy as “DC” and the Avengers franchise as “Marvel.”

      • But Disney doesn’t do X-Men. I’m speaking in terms of Disney marvel movies. And DC honestly only has TDK trilogy and MoS. I love First Class but there Fox not Disney and I’m criticizing Disney CBMs.

        • so are we all just refusing to acknowledge Green Lantern happened these days?

          • That’s what DC is doing and I think we’re all better off for it.

            • +1 for Rukaio101

          • right in the same dusty, forgotten corner where jonah hex sits

    • I’ll concede that Nolan’s batman is far more dramatic than anything marvel has put out, but lumping Man of Steel into the same category with TDK and TDKR is sacrilegious. MoS was absolutey absurd, Nolan’s trilogy was downright epic.

      • Agree. MOS looked like it was trying to be DK. Nolan really walked a fine line successfully and it’s a huge mistake for DC and any other director to think they can easily match it much less build a universe around it. And I say that because it looked to me like they were using Synder as a Nolan stand-in instead of allowing him to make movies the way all his other movies are. Marvel has created more flexibility.

    • Agreed a lot. DC Comics takes a mkore serious and mature way of storytelling, and i think ‘Man of Steel’ was a soberb follow-up to The Dark Knight trilogy in that sense. For most polemics it was, ‘Man of Steel’ build a necessary reiventation of the character what in sort his evolution thought the ages are someway pushed bu a almost religious-and-pure view (much times incorporated by Christopher Reeve figure). For sure Ben’s Batman will not be the “Teacher Figure” to Superman, but someone with his own problems, and together with MOS’s Superman, will find the meaning of what is a superhero in that DC Universe.

      I agreed Marvel Studios films are more lighter, but other franchises, like X-Men and now Spider Man trying to give a deeper look in that characters, what i belive DOFP (and until now, ASM 2) will bring to the table. Marvel Studios want a more lighter approach because its the kind of thing what is easy to sell and easy to have a more immediate connection to the audience. But varies from each studios the approach what its give, diferent scenarios of WB, what have all DC’s proprieties at his hands.

      • the “reinvention” of superman, as you say, was never once my problem with MoS. I could go on for probably a whole page, but to sum it up ill make a condensed list of just a few of my issues with it:
        1) Clear and unabashed attempt to mirror Nolan’s batman universe simply because his trilogy is the only thing that’s worked for them in my entire life. and I’m 22.
        2) All of the kryptonians’ DNA is hidden… in superman’s cells? I don’t care if that’s even scientifically possible, it’s just the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
        3) EVERY scene with lois lane. literally had a problem with every single one. why in the name of god was she even in the movie? seriously. the movie would be 200% better simply without her. case in point, why was she on the c-130 in the end scene. who takes a reporter on a last ditch effort to save earth? so she can plug superman’s sigil into the spaceship? couldn’t she have explained that to someone more qualified?
        4) living ghost of Russell Crowe. most ridiculous plot device ever, or at least damn close.
        5) Total underutilization of Kevin Costner. first of all, they should have shown the young superman scenes sequentially rather than interspersed throughout the movie. second of all, there should have more Costner and young clark. much more. he’s probably the best character in any superhero movie I’ve ever seen. hell, make that the whole movie. a human trying to raise an indestructible kryptonian to live in a human world? origin story gold. I could watch that all day.
        6) takes superman his whole life to learn to fly and control his powers… Zod not only wills himself to be able to breathe in earths atmosphere, but teaches himself to fly in seconds? really?

        those are just a few off the top of my head. not to say marvel movies, or even Nolan’s batman movies don’t have problems, they obviously do (some more than others), but sometimes I just feel like people on this board must have watched a different movie called Man of Steel than me, because I just don’t get how people could like it.

    • It’s not just an opinion sir, It’s simply a fact. Everything you said is fact and all these Marvel fanboys will just give you sh** for telling them the truth. That Marvel films are for children going along for the ride, no danger, no emotions, just mindless crap that doesn’t make sense. DC excels in every single way, except for the comedy part of course. Because that’s all Marvel has, comedy.

      Iron Man 3 was a comedy, it is NO superhero film. It lied to the fans and took 10 bucks from us, delivering one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

      People overhyped the HELL out of the Avengers. Avengers was a MEDIOCRE film, nothing more. What did it have that any other pg-13 film that comes out every week, doesn’t have? 5 superheros coming together? Woopity doo. The action was MEDIOCRE. Best scene is the scene where the camera pans to each superhero doing some action all in one scene, yea that was amazing. But besides that you have a very average movie.

      • I’m just curious, as using the term Marvel fanboy, you sound an awful lot like a DC fanboy. If you just thought Avengers was mediocre then why did you go see Iron Man 3 if you pretty much think it’s all crap and just has comedy?

          • But apparently you disliking every single other Marvel movie which has come out didn’t in any way tip you off that you might not enjoy this one?

          • But you just said that as a “fact”, all Marvel movies are mindless crap for kids and you are an adult. I’m pretty sure Iron Man 3 falls into your description, so I still don’t understand that you even had any excitement.

          • Interesting. You accuse Marvel or making films for kids, then admit you had to see IM3 because of the trailer showing all the suits. I’m glad Marvel and DC make two different types of super-hero films. Not every film needs to have heavy themes and dark subject matter. Sometimes it okay to simply enjoy the characters and storytelling.

      • While debatable as a standalone film, The Avengers is probably one of the most important footnotes in recent times in not just comic book film history but the film industry in general. Seeing 5 superheroes together from 5 different franchises is not something to scoff about. We’ve got our first REAL taste of a working, stable cinematic universe and that was only one year ago. Other companies are taking note of this also with Star Wars E7, Superman/Batman and their upcoming Justice League.

        In my opinion The Avengers is probably the biggest love letter to the Silver Age of Marvel comics and I enjoyed it for that. Whether I was a fan of the previous movies or not, I just had to watch it to see if a cinematic universe could actually work.

        Was it overhyped? To some degree that many of us can admit but the hype had a legitimate reason.

        Also, don’t go around determining what is fact and what is opinion, it’s just not a good look on anyone especially considering the medium is an artform, subjective by nature.

        • @anonymous Yea I would say that sums it up

        • I concur

        • @Anonymous – I’m going respectfully disagree with you a little here my friend. Personally I don’t think The Avengers was overhyped because it built up it’s own momentum. Hype is when something is built up immensely by people and it doesn’t live up to it’s hype through lack of underperforming. Now rather you loved it(I did) or not, is up to the beholder. When I think of overhyped I think of a film that didn’t perform to it’s potential, The Avengers obviously went far beyond that and made a s… load of money, and garnered rave reviews, so I don’t see overhype there.

      • Who are you? I love you! You’ve summed exactly what I thought of Avengers.

      • Wrong. Avengers was a pretty good first effort for something of that scope. And Avengers #2 will be good as well, I think. Adding Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch will help, and it could be helped even more by getting Goliath and Wasp up and rolling!

      • yes, because it’s ALWAYS the “just average, nothing special” films that are all in the top 5 grossing of all time. so yeah, it’s a fact.

        • that was to stephanie btw.

      • All Comic Movie Adaptations are designed around and for Kids. There is not a Comic Book movie that does not have some tie in for kids, Toys, games, McDonald kids meals.

        Just because the tone of the movie is dark and gritty does not mean ultimately it is not for children. If that were the case, then I am sad to say all the Man of Steel Toys sitting on store shelves is a testament to how kids were intended to see Man of Steel.

        A Serious Comic Book movie is about the same as a screen door on a submarine. What is the point? They are fantasy, they are NOT Real and should not be grounded in reality.

      • @Stephanie – The truth in who’s eyes yours, who died and made you the mastermind to judge what’s good and what’s not, lady quit it and stop making yourself looks silly here. Look we all have our opinions, and like a you know what, everybody has one. We can each disagree here, I doesn’t mean either of us are right, it just means we have different opinions. Now I say The Avengers was a GREAT film and your wrong, a different opinion sweetheart, see what I mean. Now Marvel and DC don’t need to be like each other, I think each company brings different and great things to the table which is a good thing, let’s grow up and leave it at that. Thor: TDW & CA: TWS don’t look like they’ll be so full of that comedy that you complain about, so you just might be getting prepared to have your wig blown off your head.

    • @Trey M – Man do you remember the tragedies in the Raimi Spidey flicks man, I felt a long of danger and tragedies in those films, even more so than the Nolan Bat flicks to be honest bro. And even though it was not a great film, X3 went deep in tragedy and loss by killing off Cyclops, Professor X and Jean Storm, something the Batflicks, MOS or any other CBM since have not come close to approaching.

  2. Tragedy and loss is important to every superhero. Its a way for the readers to connect with the characters more. And superheroes represent how we move on from horrible events and to achieve greatness from it.

    • Thanks for the summary.

    • But yet Real Heroes, whether it be Military, Police, Fireman, Doctors and Nurses. The kids who rushed to save a mother and her children from flooding waters.

      The Girl who gave CPR to a man who had a heart attack.
      The Kid who ran into a burning house to save a woman.

      None of them had a personal tragedy in their lives to make them a hero. You either are or are not a hero.

      What Comic Book Tragedy is, it is to give the hero a point to become a hero.

  3. Props to you Dyce; very good breakdown. Every board member associated with a comic book movie should read this and take it to heart.

    • Haha thanks. I’ve sent a hard copy addressed to ‘Hollywood,’ so we’ll see how it turns out.

      • This actually is one of the more interesting and well done articles I’ve read on here, which is saying something since I love SR. Well done

    • +1 Really enjoyed reading this very well done

  4. I can deal with everything in a comic book movie except for blood. You’d think these guys figured out that the physics never correspond with what’s happening. Watchmen, Blade, Sin City, 300 etc… I respect those types of film. The lack of a bit of gore makes CBMs less appealing IMO.

    • Correction *absence of blood

  5. Read Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With A Thousand Faces.” Published in 1949….. It’s the definitive work regarding this subject.

    Campbell travelled the world studying the mythology, the legends and the stories of multiple cultures, past and present, and drew parallels between them them all.

    The heroes journey always involves tragedy. This trope is common to the what defines a hero for all people in the world. This is what makes us human……. Whether you are a modern businessman in Manhattan or a nearly naked south sea islander.

  6. While I can agree that tragedy has an affect on the audience, a good superhero film doesn’t NEED it.

    I think “redemption” is better emotional ploy that drives the audience to connect to a superhero film. That is what Iron Man did well. Redemption also plays nice with families and that’s where I think Marvel is more kid-friendly (although the later ones not so much). Movies like The Incredibles and even Despicable Me (Gru is sort of like a superhero), can be popular with all ages yet not have to rely on a character dying or focusing on a tragic event.

    • I agree with this. well said.

    • I second that, the Incredibles is among the best super hero movies out there. Yet Pixar prefers making cars and planes, go figure…

    • Yeah. I was actually thinking of Kick Ass during parts of this article. That movie was really good but didn’t have tragedy set things in motion, granted theres some tragedy midway… ok crap yeah that movie has tragedy… but yeah I agree that you dont NEED tragedy in order to create a solid superhero movie.

    • I agree with this, tragedy is good but not all the time. Superman is one of those characters who simply doesn’t need it, he was raised to be a good person, no tragedy involved. He is the best of us and shows we don’t need tragedy to be better people. Plus his scenes with Jonathan Kent in all mediums is always interesting to watch.

      Anyway, a good film to adapt for a redemption theme is easily the Thunderbolts. Busiek’s run. I’d love to see that on screen.

      • @ Anonymous: There’s definitely a camp that feels like defining Superman by his personal tragedy is… for lack of a better word, wrong. I don’t know about that. It seems to me that being impervious to grief or sadness – some of the most unfortunate, but unavoidable aspects of being a human – is what keeps the original films locked out of the ‘modern era’ of filmmaking.

        I’m with you that it’s not always the best road to choose though; Superman Returns went full-bore on a ‘sad Superman’ and it was just joyless. I thought the task was handled better in Man of Steel, since Supes was definitely dealing with some heavy stuff, but he still laughed with his mom, and didn’t *enjoy* wallowing in the past.

        • The thing is, Clark has god-like powers but not doing anything with them is personal tragedy enough. Similar to a what-if scenario: if you had the power to change the world, would you do it even for fear of your loved ones’ lives and your own? The fear of being judged for simply being different or all too powerful? Those reasons are already severe dilemmas for him and one the audience can relate to simply because he thinks about the consequences as a human but to a grander scale. To be spectator to the injustices committed on the planet while you go to school or live in a farm can really knock some grief and sadness in you if you were raised with morally good, loving parents. That’s why I think Jonathan getting killed off is probably the wrong way to define Superman but to each his/her own.

          • True. That points to one of the big issues with defining a hero: people usually accept that bystanders who watch something bad happen without trying to help aren’t heroes, and the person who does, even if it’s not a massive event, are.

            So if Superman had the ability to keep bad things from happening, I’ve always thought that if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be a very good person. But instead of just assuming that a hero is who he is, and can’t be any other way, I thought Goyer and Snyder found a nice way of actually giving him not just a reason for staying hidden, but a sacrifice tied to it that he’d never forget.

    • @ BigNerd: partly semantics, since ‘redemption’ is the most heroic reaction to a tragedy, but I get where you’re coming from. I’d be happy is studios at least set the bar there, but it does seem that a writer can get away with a polished ‘redemption’ story without giving proper attention to… ‘the thing the hero needs to be redeemed for,’ usually a negative reaction to a bad thing that they’ve got to make up for.

      Still, your point is heard. Plus, the loose definition of what constitutes ‘tragic’ gives plenty of leeway; The Incredibles always seemed to me to be a story about a guy who had been forced to give up his dream for his family’s safety. That seemed like something every dad in the world could probably sympathize with Bob over, but he became a superdad and superhusband by the end.

      • @Andrew:

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. And I agree, the definitions of both “tragedy” and “redemption” can overlap and be distinct and a good movie can focus on what makes it connect with the audience.

        But I would like to see a more “fun” comic book movie occasionally. Where the story is basically the discovery of powers and putting the bad guy behind bars. The “redemption” aspect is usually not being able to live a normal live because of the burden of responsibility a hero has, but knowing that you are saving lives and making the world a better place. This sometimes was seen in episodes of “Heroes”.

        My take on The Incredibles is a little different, I don’t think he gave up his dream for his family, he gave it up because the world didn’t want superheroes anymore. His redemption was that the world still needed him and that not only could he be a hero again, but his family could join in too.

        As someone else mentioned, that’s partly why Kick Ass resonates. A normal guy, no powers, but feels that something should be done not because of tragedy but because of duty. The comic is a bit more “tragic”, but the movie provided that “redemption” aspect (he got the girl, saved HitGirl, and beat the bad guy).

        I think it’s also why I didn’t like Nolan’s Trilogy as much as the rest of the world. The “tragedy” felt forced and because of that, it didn’t seem like there was any real “redemption”. Why did the League of Assassins want to destroy Gotham again? Bleh.

        • Well I can completely understand why you wouldn’t be thrilled by Nolan’s Batman, since that’s tragedy through and through (however, I do have a special place in my heart for Batman Begins, since that seemed to contain the most fun).

          I think it all stems from the message the writer/director is trying to get across, whether they’re trying to provide an allegory, or escapism. I loved the first Kick-Ass, and still do, but there’s nothing I can really take away from that. Besides the fact that the movie’s world isn’t the one I really live in, it’s about a guy who gets a superpower (kind of) and starts beating the crap out of muggers.

          There’s nothing really there for me to take away, or relate to – aside from the teen angst stuff that isn’t really tied to the ‘super’ aspects.

          That being said, I think it was Millar and Vaughn’s intention there to not make a superhero movie, but a comic book one that commented on superheroes, so… that’s my justification for liking both ;)

    • While I agree that redemption is a very important theme consider this, how can a character need redemption if there’s no tragedy to bring them down?

      • While tragedy is a necessity to the redemption theme, it is more of a plot point that drives the character’s need to redeem themselves. Characters that are morally good and require a nudge towards being a hero don’t always need a tragedy befallen on them.

      • As some have touched on, redemption does not *require* tragedy. Redeeming oneself can be just a turn from a coward to a hero. Or turning from using your powers for evil to using them for good (Gru). And yes, some can argue that being a coward or a villain in itself is a tragedy.

        Captain America is actually another example. There was no real tragedy other than him being undersized, but his desire to serve his country made him heroic and the Super Serum gave him “redemption”. His “tragedy” was a result, not the impetus.

        • Very true for Cap. Of course, I’m infinitely more interested in seeing how he handles the drama of the Winter Soldier’s arrival than I was to see ‘how skinny kid got jacked.’

  7. I feel like we’re in the age of comic book movies that comics were in the 30′s-50′s in the sense that, while they do have tragedy and they do deal with some serious stuff, they’re still family friendly. I’m not trying to detract from the movie stories in any way. I feel like, for the most part, everyone has done a pretty good job with these characters. That being said, I think that studios are still scared to put up the real iconic stories that we saw starting in the 70′s and 80′s. Demon in a Bottle, the story about Tony Stark’s drinking problems, would not sell in this comic book movie market. Death in the Family, where the Joker beats Robin to death with a crowbar, would also not sell as a live action movie. They had to release Under the Red Hood as an animated version that starts off with that story. I doubt Harry Osborn is going to battle heroine addiction in this next Amazing Spiderman. We are still currently in the age of family friendly superhero movies. I think that once Disney and WB are done with their trilogies, when people have said, “Really? Another Avengers film?” then we will see these properties rented out to companies like Netflix who are making a name for themselves with their original content and not having to worry about whether parents will take their kids to see it and the big studios don’t have to worry about ponying up their cash for something that might be critically acclaimed but fall short in the box office because of an R rating. This is why popular stories like The Sandman by Neil Gaiman haven’t been adopted; because there’s horrible violence, torture, rape, nudity (Despair is naked the entire time), unpopular religious views, and portrayals of historical figures that many people would take issue with. A studio can’t put that on the big screen, make a profit, AND be true to the content. So rather than watering down stories that people love and angering fans or being true to the story and risking millions, they’ve opted to stick with more mainstream stories. I think within the next 15 years we’re going to start seeing some really edgy content and hopefully some real well done adaptations of iconic stories.

    • While most comic book movies are viewed as family-friendly, to say the more serious and violent won’t make bank is completely wrong. Look at Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, TDK especially so, if anything studios CAN put more serious content on screen and still make $$$. For some reason however, even with proof of walking successes of TDK and Sin City, studios are afraid of going into that deep end. Even then, we’ve seen more darker influences in movies such as Man of Steel but if anything, with GotG on the way, I actually think we’re going to see LESS darker content.

      • Yes, let’s look at The Dark Knight. The tone may have been dark been the camera cuts when Joker kills that guy who put a bounty out on him. We don’t see his henchmen fight to the death. Real violence isn’t shown. While you may say that some things are better left to the imagination and I agree with that, what I’m saying is that the comics don’t shy away from from showing Joker beat Robin to death or show Tony Stark weeping in front of his Iron Man helmet and a bottle of scotch. This Batman/Superman, which is said to be pulling from The Dark Knight Returns, isn’t going to go into how Superman ripped Green Arrow’s arm off because he didn’t want to stop being a superhero. Granted, Green Arrow hasn’t been established in the movies, but even if he had they wouldn’t put that in the film. Sure there’s violence and I even said they do tackle some serious issues. But, like I said, they are most likely not going to have Harry Osborn battle heroine addiction in ASM2. I think we’re seeing all the LESS dark content now and we’ll see the darker stuff later.

    • I actually want to see a really dark film. In the comic books, there are a few Joker storylines that absolutely make Heath Ledger’s Joker look both sane and tame. I want to see THAT Joker on the big screen. Likewise, I would have preferred them to adapt “Demon in the Bottle” instead of giving us Iron Man II.

  8. This is also the dichotomy between Superman and Batman.

    Batman is driven by the tragedy of the murder of his parents.

    Superman is driven not by tragedy but by heroism and responsibility because of the power he possesses.

    It’s why Batman respects Superman, is even jealous of him in a way, and why Superman finds it hard to understand Batman’s methods because he really hasn’t experienced the loss Bruce has.

    That’s why the ending of Man of Steel doesn’t sit well with me, there is now a hole in Clark’s Big Blue Boyscout armor which didn’t exist in previous incarnations of Superman. Clark becoming Superman actually created a tragic event that Clark will have to deal with forever.

    At least that’s my take on it.

    • I think snapping Zod’s neck will make him overcompensate and give him the motivation to be the big blue boyscout. He’ll have such an aversion to killing that he’ll tout it as his “one rule” much like Batman’s.

    • I agree with the article on this, Clark was pushed into becoming Sups by the events of the film when all he wanted was to stay hidden, not doing so would have made him just as evil as Zod.

  9. Overcoming tragedy is often what makes or defines a hero….
    Oh and who superimposed Black Widow’s onto the woman standing next to Stark.

    • @kBlack:

      I believe that was cut from the final film. In the original cut, it was Scarlett firing his repulsor.

      • Yea you can actually see that scene in the original trailers for the movie. It also included a part with Olivia Munn floating around in the gloves at the party, but since they cut it they gave her the scene at the Expo since they felt bad about putting her on the cutting room floor.

      • OK. Thanks BigNerd.

  10. Thus far DC’s DK trilogy and MoS are films for adults enjoyable for some kids. Thus far Marvel’s films are kids films enjoyable for some adults. It’s that simple imo. Sony’s ASM is very much in between (not sure if that’ll be positive or negative for them), and X-men is definitely toward the DC approach. (X-men has always been a more adult themed Marvel property anyway.)

    I’m curious to see if Winter Soldier will break Marvel’s tonal tradition, but overall I think it’s pretty clear DC aims to give their material incarnations of depth, where they do in fact symbolise myths with an adult treatment, whereas I am pretty sure Disney’s Marvel does what Disney does best: family entertainment. If you want Superheroes treated as the modern roman gods etc, dealing with adult topics and seeking to reflect the reality of our existence in a sometimes fantastical way, DC’s best. If you want cool colourful, fancy and romantic, witty, rockstar entertainment a la disney films, that present us enchanting fantasies, Marvel’s films are best.

    One respectively is symbolism, the other is escapism. Both approaches are as old as storytelling is and both are here to stay. Simply choose what you like best. I think we can all agree both have their merits. The rest is up to personal preference. There’s not that much sense in trying to compare the two, they set different goals for themselves and obviously one doesn’t reach the other’s goal better. DC can’t do what Marvel does and vice versa and I think it’s a mistake if they try. They both have become staples of their respective ends of the spectrum. I say kudos to both for that.

    The challenge here for other companies like Fox and Sony is to struggle in the middle, and just hope to find some compensation in striking a balance between realism/symbolism and enchantment/escapism, because I don’t think DC nor Marvel will be dethroned anytime soon in playing to their strengths. Not by each other, nor by third parties.

    • I disagree that Marvel’s movies are ‘kids films enjoyable for some adults’. There’s a major difference between a film that kids can find enjoyable and film for kids. If I had to pick any label for Marvel’s audience, it would be pretty much everyone, as the films appeal to people of all ages. Whether that makes the movies better or worse as a result is arguable, although there’s no denying box office wise it’s working out.

      Aside from that, I kinda agree with you. DC are making it very clear that they’re using TDK trilogy as a blueprint for the tone of their universe. Admittedly, I suspect we greatly disagree upon how well that tone was used in Man of Steel, but YMMV.

      • Yeah see, here’s a reality check: almost every adult I know would disagree with you. Almost every adult I know views Marvel’s films as films for children who happen to be pretty darn cool. That might be because I don’t live in America, but it’s still very, very clear. It’s hard enough as it is to get people to see the genuine worth in Nolan’s Batman films (trust me, the majority of people on this planet still think Batman’s an idiot with a cape just like pyjama wearing Superman and they barely who Thor is). Box office success isn’t a measure of true appeal films have to the majority of the western population (or the world’s). Go talk to anyone who watches more than action films and chances are they won’t see more in Marvel’s films then just fancy blockbusters. Film’s that stand a chance to win oscars, indie dramas, many MANY foreign films most Americans don’t get to see, those are actual adult films. Those films don’t manage immense box office because they don’t have 3D and they don’t have ten, fifteen, twenty year olds going out to see them three times in the theatre. Even Nolan’s Batman films have a HARD time managing it’s way in between the adult crowd of films. You can try to search for stuff in Marvel’s films you want, they don’t carry the real world depth and complexity films that strive for realism do. We can rave on superhero movies on sites like screenrant, but this is not the real world (at least not the majority of it). The real world is out there where people work 8 hours a day or are jobless, where people have kids to raise, where people try to fight for basic liberties. A world where an east european country is currently being blown to hell, or a parent looses their spouse and their job and has to still keep feeding their kid. Where a small boy loses his parents or a D.A.’s fiancee gets blown up by criminals he tried to prosecute. Where an orphan loses his Uncle to a rober’s gunfire or and some people are just completely insane. That’s the real world and not too many people in it walk around with Iron Man shirts…

        Marvel is great at delivering fun to escape all that for two hours, or deal with it in simple and awesome ways because of superpowers. But they don’t actually deliver much more then that. Which is fine because what they do deliver, they deliver best, honestly. But let’s not (pun unintended) kid ourselves here, Marvel’s movies present a world that was and is mainly designed for children. But because we all were children and let’s be honest, we like to feel like that again, we enjoy them too.

        This was the case for DC as well, and then Nolan popped up and everything changed, because he was able to convince and indeed show comicbook films can actually be more then that. They can be true literary templates for grand stories with deeper meanings and messages. Well, I can tell you, I probably wouldn’t have liked nor understood (!) The Dark Knight when I was 9, but as an adult I genuinely think it’s one of the best films of the last 20 years. Why? Because it actually deals with real issues that’re happening in the world right now and it expands upon them to deliver a reflection on big, big issues like what actually is fairness? Can we actually live by rules and not be hypocrites? Why DO we freak out over one murder in our street when truckloads of soldiers get blown up? That’s real life psychology and apart from to a minor degree Captain American (I immediately admit to being very curious to seeing Winter Soldier) Marvel’s films just don’t deal with these issues in an adult way. They factually, simply, don’t. And they don’t WANT to, and that is FINE. But don’t sell it for something other then it is.

        The fact that DC happened to stumble upon the guy who found a way to DO actually deal with real issues in an adult way in CB films is solely because DC happened to own one of the few CB character with which you can quite easily do that: Batman.

        Man of Steel was their first attempt to do this with a super powered person and Imo it succeeded. I think Man of Steel is the first actual SUPERhero film in which I felt was a sense of reality. Like Jim Lee said you actually somewhat believe what kind of an impact a first contact of this magnitude could have. Granted MoS was not perfect, but it also had only one film’s worth of time. I think MoS2 is going to be the real test whether Superheroes can actually have something meaningful to say about society.

        • You appear to be mistaking kids films with blockbusters. Kids films can be blockbusters. Blockbusters aren’t all kids films, even if they appeal to children. Also, adult films aren’t only films that are likely to win oscars, indie flicks or foreign films. That should be obvious to anyone.

          Also, some people you know thinking that Marvel’s films are kids films doesn’t make them so. Some people think all anime is for kids. Anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of the genre know that is untrue.

          • Also, like I mentioned, I agree with you about the tone that both studios are taking (even if I think MoS screwed that up). I just don’t agree with the classification of Marvel films as primarily being films for kids, instead of films that kids can watch, but are designed to appeal to a general audience

            • Well, I disagree with the assumption they appeal so strongly to a “general” audience, that’s why I spoke about people I know. I think a lot of people do watch them (although even that isn’t enough to say they appeal to “everyone”, not at all), but don’t find them memorable or overtly great in any way. Ticket sales say very very little about this.

              And I have to mention you didn’t address my main point of why I think they are in fact kids films: because they present a childish world without the complexity or attention for issues real life demands. Nolan’s trilogy and indeed Man of Steel do in fact do this. (And yes I do think MoS does this. Theres plenty left on the plate, but there wasn’t room left in this film to adequately deal with the aftermath of what happened.)

              Of course, Winter Soldier might start to do this as well and MoS2 might fail in doing so, so that’s why I purposefully used the words ‘thus far’ in my initial comment. So far, I see little in Marvel’s movies that makes ‘m out to be more then childish entertainment. Good entertainment, but childish nonetheless. It’s too bad the first Captain America resorted to a very formulaic safe 2nd act, because that film started promising.

              • I don’t think a movie can make as much money as Avengers did without appealing to a general audience. I mean, look at the list of films that have made over a billion worldwide. Out of the lot, the only one I’d really class as a ‘kids film’ is Toy Story 3 and that had a lot of factors which led to it appealing to adults as well.

                Also, as for your claims that DC films have the ‘complexity or attention for issues real life demands’, I’m sorry but could you give some precise examples (from the films) of that being the case? Because that sounds like a kinda vague term to me.

                • It’s mostly visible through dialogue. But some examples include:

                  Ra’s Al Ghul speaking about what the essence of a criminal is and Bruce disagreeing about this.
                  Joker calling Batman out on what he sees as a hypocritical use of the ideological rule system Batman applies. (That system itself being under constant scrutiny in all three films itself is another one.)
                  Bruce recovering from his childhood trauma in TDKR, symbolised by his entire surroundings.
                  The whole dichotomy in MoS between Jor-El the one father who comes from an envisioning society to and sees the possibilities for his son, where Jon Kent sees the issues with this.
                  These issues themselves: how would we react to an alien, to first contact? And what actually IS helping humanity? How far of a leap should you go with making powers like Superman has known to the public.
                  Evolutionary functional design versus individualism. Zod clearly comes from a people who have made it a prime staple to rationalise their society, yet it’s become their downfal. What does this say about rational design in society versus the element of choice and the meaning of NOT controlling your own or other peopel’s destiny?

                  Granted, the latter, MoS, only had a setup, whereas Nolan’s films have formed a very coherent trilogy. So there’s nothing to say but hoping MoS will in fact only further expand on the issues it put on the map. Batman Begins certainly got better via TDk and TDKR imo, because it showed the consistency in the entire project. I simply hope MoS will do the same.

                  And I know not a single Marvel film that reaches this level of depth (nevermind fusing it with awesome action, awesome characters and emotional engagement). As I said, Captain America could’ve stepped up to the plate for this, but sadly it did not. Still hope Winter Soldier does this, because as entertaining as a SH movie might be, there’s more potential for true cinematic greatness, and DC’s making better progress on that then Marvel is, by far.

                  • I think I get what you’re talking about. Now let me counter with a list of examples from Marvel movies.

                    - Stark’s whole issues with being a weapons dealer and trying to avoid the Iron Man suit just becoming the next level in weaponry.
                    - Stark’s issues with whether or not to turn the Iron Man suit over to the government, as an extension of that.
                    - Thor and the Destroyer’s presence leads to SHIELD (and Killian to a lesser extent) developing technology to try and combat beings like him. Expect this only to increase after the events of the Avengers.
                    - The Asgardian’s conflict with the Frost Giants. Was Odin right to take their power source? Was Loki right in trying to destroy them with the Bifrost? In addition, Loki’s turmoil to discovering that he himself is a Frost Giant, long considered the arch-enemies to Asgardians.
                    - The first half of Cap (as you’ve already mentioned) dealing with what makes Steve a suitable candidate for the Super Soldier program.
                    - Stark’s PTSD from the third film.

                    So there are plenty of examples in the Marvel movies if you choose to look.

                    As for the moderation thing, yeah I get that a lot and it’s a real pain. I sympathise.

                    • And yet, none of them are worked out to any intellectual degree.

                      - Stark’s a weapons dealer. He gets kidnapped, and then he sees why it might suck to be a weapons dealer. Keeping tech from falling into the wrong hands is not an intellectual subject imo. It’s just being really freakin careful with what you do.
                      - This is indeed a great point, yet it’s NEVER ACTUALLY DEALT WITH. Show me ONE scene, one scene where any form of ideological debate with any level of intellectual depth is held on why Iron Man should or shouldn’t work for the government.
                      - Wow, we’re being attacked by super brutal guys, might be smart to start protecting ourselves. Yeah, that’s deep… Oh wait, it’s not, it’s basic rules of warfare.
                      - Again, show me a scene where this is developed to any level of depth. Any piece of dialogue that couldn’t have been thought of by an avaragely educated 18 year old?
                      - This I will gladly conceit as I mentioned it myself. Unfortunately Cap A left this hanging in the 2nd act (I’ll grant you, I have similar issues with TDKR’s 2nd act, which is Nolan’s worst filmmaking since Insomnia imo).
                      - Star’s PTSD… He had a near death experience, and now he’s scared. That;s literally it. Nothing is there to question. Not whether he should’ve flown up there, not whether he maybe SHOULD be scared. Nothing psychological is done with this apart from him hanging out with a kid who makes him feel cool again…

                      Although my language might come of ass rude because I’m tired, I honestly don’t see how this even comes close to what the DK trilogy and MoS (to a lesser degree, only one film here) tackles.

                      And lastly, since I’ve heard great things about moral greyness playing a big part in Winter Soldier, I hope that film shows that Marvel can have a little more sophistication in their films.

                      Btw it’s not about marvel properties here, I think X-men and especially X2 had great adult tackled themes, especially being pre-Nolan. Clearly I’m solely aiming at Marvel Studios’ currently released movies.

                    • - No, his idealised little world and his belief that he’s only making weapons ‘for the good guy’ are both shattered, leading him to stop making weapons and to be more cautious with the tech he develops that might become weapons. Heck, you can even see a little arc building across the IM films. In the first one, he makes it clear the Iron Man armour belongs solely to him, even revealing he is Iron Man at the end, rather than everyone believe it to be a bodyguard or someone. In the next film, he has to defend his reasoning for keeping the armour all for himself from the US government, eventually (arguably) trusting Rhodey and Rhodey alone with a copy of the armour. (Why else do you think the US government hasn’t made a million copies of it.) Third film explores his reasons for keeping the armour around, ie, his belief that his armour exists to protect those precious to him, but he realises, after challenging the Mandarin, getting Pepper kidnapped and almost killing Pepper with one of the suits, that the armour doesn’t protect Pepper as much as it threatens her and destroys the lot, rather than let it fall into wrong hands. Admittedly, that’s mostly subjective, but still.
                      - His refusal to share the technology with the government leads them to turn to men like Vanko who have no good plans for the technology and instead turns them against the world. Just because the consequences aren’t outright stated doesn’t mean they’re not there.
                      - Yet you seem to have listed something similar for Man of Steel. Double standard much? Okay, to be exact, we concentrate more on the military’s reaction to Thor more than the general public’s mostly because a) Thor’s existence is mostly a secret to the public and b) most Marvel movies involve the military a lot more than DC movies.
                      - I think most of MoS’s dialogue could’ve been thought up by an averagely educated 8 year-old, but I digress. And it is developed to some digress, just very subtly. Loki discovers that he is a Frost Giant. His first act, to trick and betray the Frost Giants when they try to kill Odin and then try to destroy them completely. He’s lashing out at his true heritage in an attempt to reject it.
                      - ‘Stark’s PTSD… He had a near death experience, and now he’s scared. That;s literally it.’
                      Are you seriously try to pull a line like that on me? I could say that about any of your points.
                      ‘Ra’s and Bruce talk about what makes a criminal. That’s it.’
                      Sorry, that just really annoyed me. Back on track, Stark’s PTSD shows how deeply the events of the Avengers affected him and also shows him that he can’t fix everything with his suits. And, for the tech-obsessed Stark, that comes as a serious shock and probably helped lead to his decision that he doesn’t really need the suits at all. Eventually he manages to overcome his PTSD with Harley’s help which (although this may be somewhat YMMV) leads him to become more trusting to others and not try to carry everything himself, hence his attempted psychology session with Bruce post-credits.

                      The point here is that both of these films have these sorts of themes/ideals, but DC tends to wave right in front of your face more than Marvel does. And that works in the tone that DC is setting. But Marvel does still have them.

                • And again my comment awaits moderation…

                  • @ silrain

                    Don’t worry about it. You make valid points and all this guy can do is evade them by talking in circles, ignoring whatever makes sense and twisting it into something else entirely.

                    • And your examples of me doing so are…?

                    • *looks at the pot calling the kettle black.

                    • @ Jeffro

                      If you have something to say to me, do it in an updated thread.

                      Don’t expect responses in threads over 3 days old.

        • A movie has to know what it is. For most of these SH movies, an all ages with a slant towards being kid friendly is the way to go. There is nothing wrong with that. It can be, and often is, a thought-out approach. Movies like “the Incredibles” or “Spider-man 2″ don’t struggle to hide what they are, but end up delivering genuine emotion. MOS was trying so hard to be serious and realistic, but the material simply doesn’t lend itself to that approach, and all the silly stuff sticks out even more, in a bad way. Nolan’s movies managed to do that, but Batman is more amenable to that approach. Even then I don’t think people appreciate the fine line Nolan walked. Unfortunately movies like ASM, MOS, and (probably) Batman v. Superman are going to make this clearer.

          • “MOS was trying so hard to be serious and realistic, but the material simply doesn’t lend itself to that approach, and all the silly stuff sticks out even more, in a bad way.”

            I’m sorry I just utterly, utterly disagree with this. And I’m not by any means a hardcore Superman fan. I think Snyder and Nolan DID find a way to make Superman fit very well within this approach. Perhaps you should watch Man of Steel a second time? Either way, I just wholeheartedly disagree.

            • Honestly, I hated MoS and even I agree that it’s perfectly possible for a Superman movie to be serious and realistic.

            • No need to apologize, Silrian. You liked it. I didn’t. I will most likely watch it again on DVD.

              And I simply don’t think Superman should be too “realistic.” English speaking aliens who look exactly like humans, glasses as a disguise. It’s all a little much.

      • I’m an adult and every adult I know would disagree with you. They are bored with Marvel films, yes bored. They want to be MOVED when they see a superhero film.

        Children enjoy the garbage Marvel throws at them.

        • The people you know are kinda in the minority here. Since it’s obvious that critics and audiences alike both enjoy Marvel’s films.

          Also, people don’t primarily want to be moved when watching a Superhero movie. If they are moved then that’s a definite plus, but they primarily want to be entertained.

          • Being moved is itself the greatest form of entertainment to me… And MoS achieved it, whereas no Marvel film has for me as of yet, ergo by my definition of what’s most entertaining, Superman is more entertaining to me…

            • I agree that being moved is probably the greatest form of entertainment. The only two films that ever moved me (Summer Wars and Wolf Children) are both my joint second favourite film of all time. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t walk into a Superhero movie solely expecting to be moved.

              Also, I really shouldn’t need to say this by now, but YMMV on MoS

        • Well, calling MOS a “MOVEMENT” is one way of putting it.

    • Good post. I have to agree with:

      DC = Adult movies that kids can enjoy
      Marvel = Kid movies that adults can enjoy

      I understand that the Marvel analogy may not sound as flattering as the DC one, but it is what it is.

      Case in point:

      Here is what a Marvel pilot says when the Hulk jumps at him: TARGET ANGRY! TARGET ANGRY!

      …and here is what a DC pilot says when Nam-Ek jumps at him: OH s***!

      As someone posted above, the tongue-in-cheek lighthearted approach that Marvel takes leaves the viewer feeling very “safe” through-out the film, whereas the more serious, introspective style presented by DC pulls you into the film and the attachment is more intense.

      You need look no further than comments about MoS to see that theory in action. For example, this sudden concern over fantasy destruction and theoretical loss of life that turned up as a result of MoS… yet you never heard one complaint about that kind of thing about the Avengers, even though it featured the same elements.

      Why? Again, a theory… but I believe it’s because you feel that much safer in a Marvel movie.

      It’s all about the presentation.

      Is one better than the other? That’s all subjective. Personally, as long as the quality is there and justice is done to our favorite comic characters… then it really doesn’t matter to me, personally.

      • Completely agree.

        • Me too and I think it’s because, no matter what, you always know that with a Marvel movie, the hero will always win no matter what.

          With a DC movie, the same happens but there’s a certain sense of hopelessness and that maybe the villain will win.

          Different tones and styles of writing. Both are good though.

      • Again, you appear to be mistaking ‘film that can appeal to kids’ for ‘kids film’. Calling something a kids film suggests that it is primarily designed to appeal to kids, which blatantly isn’t true about Marvel’s movies. While kids can watch and enjoy films like Iron Man and the Avengers, it’s obviously not primarily designed just to appeal to them.

        As for the comment about the destruction of Metropolis, as much as I don’t want to start another argument about that, I can’t let something like that go unrebuffed. The reason Avengers didn’t have plenty of complaints about the destruction is because they interspersed the movie with scenes of the Avengers (most typically Captain America) defending citizens and organising public forces like the police. Man of Steel didn’t have any scenes like that. And while that’s somewhat understandable, since there’s only one Superman and he’s fighting the Kryptons, the audience don’t get any assurance that the innocent bystanders are being helped, or that Superman is doing his best to keept hem safe.

        • “the audience don’t get any assurance”

          And that is exactly why I think Marvel’s approach is childish: because it’s childish in my eyes, to NEED that assurance.

          An adult can realise Superman’s been helping people all the film through and that when he kills Zod, they immediately (!) cut to what clearly seems quite some time later, when he meets the General in the deserted land and throws a drone before him. He mentions they’re searching for him, which again clearly indicates significant time has passed.

          As far as I’m concerned, an adult has formed a clear image of who Superman is, and realises that this form of editing is clearly done to setup a sequel. I’m sorry if you feel insulted by this because I genuinely do not mean it that way, but I really think it’s childish to NEED to see Superman helping to feel assured of this. It’s a shallow way of watching a film. And that’s exactly what Marvel delivers: shallow films that cater to shallow movie viewing.

          • And I consider it childish to try and gloss over the whole thing on the impression that ‘Hey, he’s Superman, of course he helped out’. Look at the massive damage done to Metropolis. The city is barely even standing. It’s like 9/11 x100. Millions are probably dead. This is where the movie need a ‘Superman being Superman’ scene most. To prove to an untrusting humanity that he truly means no harm and wants to help. And you think it’s okay to just skip to several months later and forget all about it?

            Hell, we don’t even get a scene of Superman reacting to the tragedy around him. He spends more time weeping over having to kill Zod than the millions dead.

            • Oh I’ll readily agree that there perhaps was a good way of showing Superman helping out and that they made a bad directing/editing call there. Just like I have issues with the way Bruce escaping from the pit was shot/edited. None of these films are beyond criticism.

              But that doesn’t make the entire film childish, just like giving Tony Stark a few bad dreams doesn’t all of a sudden make the character that much less childish.

              The amount of thought put into dealing with real issues is so extensively more present in DC’s four current films then it is in any Marvel film (so far). Having criticism on editing decisions on MoS and what to show vs what not to, doesn’t change that overarching fact.

              • I never said it makes the films childish. I just said it’s childish to try and gloss over the whole thing. I don’t think Man of Steel is childish. I think plenty of things were childishly handled (ie, poorly handled), but that doesn’t necessarily make them for children.

          • silrain,

            do you understand that when you make statements like “And that’s exactly what Marvel delivers: shallow films that cater to shallow movie viewing.” that you are insulting ANYONE who enjoys a marvel film? are you that obtuse you cant understand why people would get a bit upset that you are calling people shallow for watching/enjoying a marvel film? maybe that wasn’t your intention, but it certainly comes across that way.
            and fwiw, i disagree with nearly everything you have ranted on and on about. doesnt make either one of us right or wrong, just a difference of opinion…not any fact.

      • I think that’s a very fair assessment of, like you said, the presentation of tragedy in these movies. It is all subjective and it depends on the goal and message of the film.

      • Again, you appear to be mistaking ‘film that can appeal to kids’ for ‘kids film’. Calling something a kids film suggests that it is primarily designed to appeal to kids, which blatantly isn’t true about Marvel’s movies. While kids can watch and enjoy films like Iron Man and the Avengers, it’s obviously not primarily designed just to appeal to them.

        As for Metropolis’s destruction (because I can’t let a comment like that go unchallenged), I’d point out that people didn’t complain about Avengers’s destruction because they made sure to put scenes in the fight, of the Avengers (Cap, to be precise) helping innocent bystanders. Man of Steel had no such scene. While that’s kinda understandable since there’s only one of him vs the Kryptonians, we can’t clearly tell whether Superman is doing his best to keep all the casualties and destruction to a minimum

        • There’s a difference between ‘film that can appeal to kids’ and ‘kids film’. Marvel’s films are designed for kids, they’re designed so that kids can watch. There’s a key difference.

          As for Metropolis’s destruction (because I can’t let a comment like that go unchallenged), I’d point out that people didn’t complain about Avengers’s destruction because they made sure to put scenes in the fight, of the Avengers (Cap, to be precise) helping innocent bystanders. Man of Steel had no such scene. While that’s kinda understandable since there’s only one of him vs the Kryptonians, we can’t clearly tell whether Superman is doing his best to keep all the casualties and destruction to a minimum

          • But I think that was by design. he crashes through the gas station, destroys the silo, throws Zod through buildings and never do we see him go out of his way to save anyone from falling debris or put himself in harm’s way to save someone. These are the things that Batman is going to throw in his face saying, “You call yourself a hero? You’re fraud flying around in pajamas. You’re a caricature. You can’t inspire anyone with that kind of blood on your hands.” That’s going to be a huge point of contention for this next movie, I hope.

            • ^Bingo.

            • +1 That is exactly the kind of influence I’m hoping Batman will have on this Superman. As Andrew said, in MOS Clark didn’t really have a choice in how he responded to tragedy. It was either be the hero or let everyone die. Hopefully in the next film we will get to watch him choose exactly what kind of hero he wants to be; especially when faced with how many people did die because of his inexperience.

            • @Oneiros Exactly.

            • @Oneiros
              All that needs to be said.

          • There IS wanton destruction in NYC in Avengers but nowhere near the catastrophic crater that was Metropolis. Most buildings are left intact during the Avengers and can easily be repaired. Metropolis? They need serious bank from LexCorp to fix up that mess.

          • @Rukio
            That’s a paper thin argument:

            First of all, the Chitari never seemed like much of a threat. Black Widow was holding her own against them with a pair of hand-guns. At what point did you get the impression that our military would have been ineffective? At what point did you say: yeah, thank God we have the AVENGERS!!!

            That wasn’t the case at all in MoS: it was presented that our military was completely use-less against the Kryptonians. The fate of the entire world rested on the shoulders of one man (alien) and he in turn did a job that no one else could do.

            Let’s say for sake of argument, that Superman turns his attention away from Zod to go save some people from falling rubble. What would Zod do during this time? Tap his foot at wait for Supes to do his thing? No. How many hundreds more can Zod kill while Superman concerns himself with a few dozen?

            So again, the fact that Superman focused all his attention on Zod means Superman was doing everything in his power to save EVERYONE, not just a few here and there.

            • Before you accuse people of making ‘paper-thin arguments’, you might want to check your own first.

              The reason the Chitauri were such a threat wasn’t because each of them were on the same strength level as the Kryptonians, it was because they was a freakin’ army of them! Not only that, but an army with superior weaponry/transport than us. Our military would’ve put up a fight (like in MoS) and done a bit of damage, but they obviously would’ve been overcome. Near the end of the fight scene, the Avengers are taking damage, not because the Chitauri are too powerful but because there are too many of them and the Avengers are beginning to tire.

              Also, you seem to be under the impression that Zod and Superman were such equals that it would’ve been impossible for Superman to even take a second to try and stop some buildings falling on civilians/etc. I’d point out that Superman is shown to be much stronger than Zod considering how easily he snaps his neck and (here’s a key bit) considering how easily he sent Zod flying into Smallville. Why couldn’t he have tackled Zod out of Metropolis to begin with? Or, since Zod was obviously concentrating on defeating Supes, so why didn’t Supes lure him away from the city?

              • Most of the buildings falling and people dying happens while Kal is off dealing with the other world engine.

                • Yeah, I get, and am okay with that. But Supes doesn’t show any particular caution for stopping civilians being hurt when he does turn up.

                  • Yes he most certainly does Rukio:

                    When he shows up he:

                    -saves the pilot that Faora is about to kill
                    -saves the falling soldier from the plane
                    -destroys the world engine which would have extinguished all human life on the planet
                    -kills Zod before he can eye-beam that family
                    -saves the entire planet as a result of killing Zod

                    Amount of people saved once Superman shows up = the entire population of Earth minus the casualties from the event.

                    • While I agree that the bigger picture (World Engine + Zod) was more important at that point, that doesn’t mean Supes should ignore the little picture (bystanders caught in the crossfire) completely.

                      Seriously, taking away the World Engine and Zod, we’ve only got examples of Supes going out of his way to save 6 people (I think there were 4 family members although i may be wrong). 6 people in two fight scenes. And look at the destruction in Metropolis and Smallville. I think more than 6 people got caught up in that. And while I’m not saying Supes has to save all of those people, I’d damn well expect him to try. Because he’s Superman and that’s kinda his thing.

                      (Had to type this up twice because my internet died on me, so sorry if I sound a little impatient. I’m just lucky it didn’t get moderated like one of my last posts)

                    • You realize that you are being extremely nit-picky right? The entire movie was about Superman saving people, and you want to forward the idea that somehow Superman doesn’t save enough?

                      Not trying to turn this thread into a MoS thread, but c’mon… the idea of MoS was the story of a rookie Superman and his first day on the job. In regards to that, MoS deliverd… and all the “problems” that you want to focus on will be the primary plot points for the sequel.

                    • Honestly, given that he was up against a group of people with equal abilities to himself and are trained killers, any attempt to take his eye of the fight and help out little timmy in the corner would have come across as utter rubbish for me and would have just killed the film.

                    • @ Dr Mindbender

                      Exactly. MoS just didn’t make a big show of it like Avengers did and also showed more serious consequences.

                    • How is Superman not showing any concern for people caught in the crossfire of his fights ‘a nitpick’?

                      Also, I’m getting a little fed up of people who seem certain that these issues will be resolved in the next film. Firstly, you don’t know that for sure. Secondly, either way, a film should be able to stand on its own and, on its own, Man of Steel suffers because of that. Iron Man 2 hasn’t suddenly gotten a massive free pass because some of the stuff from it has paid off in the Avengers.

              • @ Rukio

                (The reply system seems to be screwy at the moment.)

                I fail to see how the military would “obviously be over-come” by an adversary that just one person with hand-guns was having no trouble against.

                • Because there was an army of them. The Chitauri’s strength wasn’t in the individual power of each mook, but in the sheer number there was of them (That, and their superior technology). It’s implied that there were still a large number of Chitauri that hadn’t come through the wormhole yet.

              • Towards the end Zod was embracing more of his new-found powers and was definitely getting an equal footing with Superman but his whole entire goal at that point was to simply murder humans. Superman can’t lure him out of Metropolis since Zod would just go the opposite direction and kill a human. Superman was just a wall Zod had to contend with at that point.

              • @Rukaio101

                While it would have been nice to have a scene of Superman holding up a building to save people while Zod pummeled him and he managed to still hold it up and save them then go back to throwing Zod through large buildings, I am inclined to agree Dr Mindbender on this one. In Avengers, the cops and SHIELD and everyone SAID “we’re outgunned” but in MoS it was blatantly shown that even 1 Kryptonian could probably take over the world. So what if there were only 20 or so (including those on the ship) as opposed to the army of Chitari? The danger in Avengers was kinda glossed over in favor of neat screen caps of the heroes.

                • I don’t disagree at all that one Kryptonian could’ve taken over the world or that they were much stronger than the Chitauri. My argument with Mindbender was because he said that the Chitauri ‘never seemed like much of a threat’, which I thought was blatantly untrue. Just because each mook isn’t a superpowered being in their own right doesn’t mean the Chitauri as a whole weren’t a considerable threat.

                  • @ Rukio

                    By “not much of a threat” what I mean is:

                    Something that our military would have been able to handle. A threat that really didn’t require the presence of “super-heroes.” If bullets and arrows seemed to do the job just fine, then there really shouldn’t be a problem for SEALs, Red Berets, Rangers, etc.

                    • Except our military probably wouldn’t have been able to handle it. The Chitauri have far superior tech to us (as those flying scooter things show) and they probably seriously outnumber us (since it was implied there were still plenty to come through the wormhole.) If the Avengers hadn’t shut the wormhole, we probably would’ve been overrun in less than a year.

                      If that doesn’t count as a serious threat, then I don’t know what does.

                    • There’s no reply button under Rukaio’s post so I’m putting it here if you don’t mind Doc…

                      Who says the military couldn’t handle it eventually? Movies like to play up to the “American military superiority” theme a lot and I’m sure they have secret tech around that could combat the Chitauri.

                      It’s just that, convenient for a superhero movie, a group of superheroes were around to fight right away instead of attacking and scouting for weaknesses, which could’ve taken the military a lot longer due to them not having an alien/god on their side.

                      Other than Thor and Hulk using their brute force and Cap fighting close quarter combat with altered strength, what else did The Avengers have?

                      Guns, bullets, arrows and Stark’s repulsor tech, which the military would’ve had thanks to Rhodes taking one of his suits in IM2 to reverse engineer his tech for their own weaponry.

                    • Considering the Avengers were actively seeking out Loki and the Tesseract (which he was using to create the wormhole), it’s not exactly just ‘convenient’ that they were around.

                      Also, while it’s true that the Avengers don’t have much more than the military do in terms of firepower, I’d point out something else to you. Towards the end of the climax, the Avengers were losing against the Chitauri. Had they not managed to close the portal, they would’ve undoubtedly been overwhelmed by sheer numbers, just like our military also would’ve.

              • Because he’s new to the hero thing and focused more on stopping the maniac trying to destroy Earth rather than have the foresight to think about bystanders?

                Seriously, I didn’t like MOS or The Avengers but it seems like you seriously have no clue what you’re saying and just typing something antagonistic int he hopes others might agree with your nonsensical warbling.

                Next time you break up a fight on the street, I’ll complain if you didn’t help the old lady on the other side of the road pick out the correct change when she tries to buy something from a store midway through aforementioned fight.

              • “considering how easily he sent Zod flying into Smallville”
                Rewatch the movie, you child. You’re missing an important reason as to why that happened. Too much story for you eh? Ehh just go watch Avengers er something.

                • Why didn’t Thor just sit atop the building and shoot more lightning? It looked to be very effective…lol. Oh Marvel boys…

                  • I’ll happily go and rewatch the Avengers. That movie knows precisely what it’s doing, has some genuine emotion behind it, is entertaining to watch and doesn’t cling to The Dark Knight’s coatstraps in a desperate attempt to replicate it. Unlike Man of Steel.

                    Although I will admit that Thor stopping the lightning did kinda bug me, I just assumed he ran out of power.

                    • I seriously don’t know how a human being with a brain can try to defend Avengers as much as possible. Avengers was nowhere near a great movie, you have a bad taste in film, sorry but it’s true. There is no genuine emotion in Avengers, there’s no heart in it at all. It’s one big fat comedy movie.

                    • *snicker*

                      That’s adorable. But, you know, feel free to go and tell the 92% of critics on RT that they don’t have a brain and that they have a bad taste in film. I’m sure they’ll get as much laughter out of it as I do.

                    • Exactly. Avengers knows what it is. MOS is playing dress up as a grown up.

                      You’re doing an awesome job, Rukaio101.

          • If he’d stopped to help people like he did during Superman II, people would’ve still complained. You just can’t win really.

            • @Rukaio101 For being the genius you are. Rotten Tomatoes is a horrid site to check for movie ratings. For a film like the Avengers the standards are that much lower. But you wouldn’t know that now would you? I love children….

              • And RT’s a horrid site to check for movie ratings because…?

                Obviously though, you visit a much better site to check for movie ratings like maybe IMDB. Oh wait, that’s also positive. Cinescore? Also positive. Metacritic? Also positive. Seeing a pattern here?

                Also, you may call me a child (even though I’m over 18), but at least I know how to reply to the right post.

                • I see you fighting the good fight my friend, but its pointless here. Don’t throw hard statistics and numbers from reputable websites and don’t quote box office figures or audience ratings. According to some of these ‘fans’, Marvel is amateur and hence sucks and that is the end of it. They will refuse to see reason and won’t look past their own biases.

                  • I know. But I enjoy it a good debate/argument. I’m like that officer from the Dark Knight who tries to beat up the Joker. I know he’ll enjoy it, so I’ll try and enjoy it more.

                    Ignore the bit where I get held hostage and possibly get my throat slit though.

                    • Thanks for clarifying to everyone that you are full of s***

                    • Enjoying a good debate/argument = full of s**t?

                      I’d like to see how exactly you made that leap.

                    • …doesn’t cling to The Dark Knight’s coatstraps in a desperate attempt to replicate it.”

                      That bit. Again, thanks for clarifying that I don’t need to take your opinion seriously.

                      Good day.

                    • Rukio, there is a big difference between debate and what your doing.

                      What you are doing is antagonizing with unbalanced tripe.

                    • If you seriously don’t think Man of Steel was trying to emulate the Dark Knight Trilogy then, quite frankly, it’s your opinion we don’t need to take seriously. Admittedly, it’s YMMV as to whether that makes it a good or bad film, but there’s no denying it’s trying.

                      Also, if that was the bit which bothered you then why didn’t you put this post ANYWHERE NEAR IT!!!

                    • And the difference between debate and what I’m doing is…?

                      Also I’d point out that I’m not the one childishly insulting people instead of putting forward arguments.

                    • You didn’t say Trilogy, you said Dark Knight.

                      Whatever dude, I’ve read up and down this thread and I see your game now. Shame on me for engaging you as much as I did.

                      Whenever a counter point is made to what you are spewing- such as “Superman shows no concern for civilians” you ignore what’s been said and talk circles around it.

                      I enjoy both properties for the strengths and weakness that each side presents, but when clear biasm is at play like there is here… then there is no debate…

                      …it’s a flame war.

                    • No. Whenever a counter-point is made to my point, I provide a counter-point to that. That’s how debating works. For example, people claiming that obviously it’s being used to set up tension for the sequel (or that it’ll be addressed at all in the sequel). My counter-point is that a) we have no idea what’s going to be in the sequel and b) while it may work in the Superman franchise as a whole, it reflects poorly on Man of Steel as a standalone film.

                      Another common point brought up is that ‘we don’t really need to see a scene of Superman helping people’ to which I argue that, considering the amount of damage done to the city, yes we really do. This was like 9/11 x100 with likely millions dead and we’re really expected to just ignore it like the film does?

                      I could likely dig up every defence people have brought up and provide a counter to it, but I think I’ve proven enough that I’m not just ‘talking around in circles’ with two solid examples. Meanwhile, the number of examples you’ve brought up of me doing the opposite and completely ignoring points is… oh wait… 0

                      Also, you appear to be mistaking bias with me just disliking the film. In fact, if I recall correctly, you accused me in another article of anti-DC bias, when you couldn’t best my arguments. (For the record, the Dark Knight is my joint favourite superhero film (with the Avengers), I’m on the side of people who think TDKR was a good film (although I admit it’s flawed) and I prefer DC when it comes to comic, TV and animated movies. So it’s blatantly not true that I have anti-DC bias).

                      Just a note. Attacking me isn’t going to make my points/arguments any less valid. It just makes you come off as quite pathetic.

                    • LOL. I know I shouldn’t keep feeding you, but that was good.

                      Nice of you to chastise me for attacking you and name calling…

                      … and then you finish the post by attacking me and name calling.


                      Examples of you side-stepping points that are being made:

                      See: rebuttals against your claim that “Superman shows no concern for civilians”

                      That’s not the only place you do it in this thread either. I know intelligent people will be able to recognize where those replies are… and that’s really all that matters to me.

                    • My response to you listing people Superman helped when I said he didn’t show concern for civilians (although, to precise, I meant civilians caught in the crossfire’:

                      “While I agree that the bigger picture (World Engine + Zod) was more important at that point, that doesn’t mean Supes should ignore the little picture (bystanders caught in the crossfire) completely.

                      Seriously, taking away the World Engine and Zod, we’ve only got examples of Supes going out of his way to save 6 people (I think there were 4 family members although i may be wrong). 6 people in two fight scenes. And look at the destruction in Metropolis and Smallville. I think more than 6 people got caught up in that. And while I’m not saying Supes has to save all of those people, I’d damn well expect him to try. Because he’s Superman and that’s kinda his thing.”

                      Ah yes, what an obvious example of side-stepping that was…. What with me directly pointing out why two of those examples don’t precisely count to what I’m talking about (citizens caught in the crossfire) and, considering the amount of damage called, the number of other examples you provided aren’t nearly enough. That all seems like sidestepping, right?

                      As for the insulting, I’d point out that a) you started it, b) I made sure to post a structured argument first and c) I wasn’t directly calling you pathetic, I was simply saying that trying to attack/insult me makes you come off as pathetic.

                      But hey, you continue calling me a troll/flamer/biased/whatever. Because that makes your points so much more valid right? And it definitely doesn’t make you look like an immature toddler throwing a temper tantrum because he can’t win an argument.

                    • *maniacal grin*

                      *lowers spectacle*

                      “Ah yes, what an obvious example of side-stepping that was….”

                      I couldn’t have said it better myself. The statement that Superman showed no concern for civilians was debunked, so you rephrased what you said and decided to go with “c’mon it’s Superman” as your next supporting argument.

                      Superman DOES show concern for the civilians caught in the cross-fire in Smallville. This is apparent when he:
                      -attempts to fly Faora away from Smallville, but Nam-Ek tackles him.
                      - Attempts to remove Nam-Ek from the populated area by super-punching him into a distant cargo hold.(yeah, that backfired…*!!!TRAIN!!!* but you can’t say the man didn’t try)

                      Also, it’s nit-picking when you claim that something that does happen doesn’t happen enough. That’s pretty much the definition of nit-picking.

                      …and this arguments being bested thing…


                      If you watch the movie and stop trying to find what’s wrong with it, you can see it happen.

                      …that’s the trick with the good movies you see. You miss quite a bit if you only see it once.

                      And now that I have your undivided attention, please respond so that I may point out other places in this thread where you have side stepped counter points that destroy your points.

                    • *wags his finger in his best Miles Edgeworth impression*

                      ‘Side-stepping.’ To quote one Mr I. Montoya, ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’

                      To be precise, it’s not sidestepping, it’s adapting my point to your argument. You’re right that your statement debunks my precise statement that ‘Superman never shows any concern for civilians caught in the crossfire.’ So instead of bullheadedly arguing against the facts, I adapt my point to the equally valid criticism that ‘Considering the scale of the destruction, Superman doesn’t show nearly enough concern for the millions caught in the crossfire.’ It’s how debating works. You don’t moronically stick to your guns, no matter what facts prove you wrong. You adjust your argument when needed to counter your opponents point, while still keeping the heart of it the same. But apparently, in your little world, that counts as flaming.

                      Anyway, back to MoS. While I admit there are examples of him showing concern for civilians, like I mentioned, considering the amount of damage done overall throughout the movie (millions dead, 9/11 x100, etc), him saving 6 people isn’t nearly enough. And no it’s not ‘nitpicking’ complaining that, out of a devastated city of millions, we only see him go out of his way to save 6 people (Heck, in Metropolis, the most devastated city in the movie, we only see him caring about civilians one time, with that family of 4). If you keep calling it nitpicking, it doesn’t suddenly magically become so.

                      As for those Smallville things, I admit I don’t actually remember those moments (if only because I was concentrating on the fight itself rather than the location), so that might be true. On the other hand, Supes still punched Zod into Smallville to begin with and the city that needed his care the most wasn’t Smallville but Metropolis.

                      And I don’t watch movies deliberately looking for what’s wrong with it. Over 99% of movies I watch I enjoy on some level. Sometimes it’s because the action is good. Sometimes it’s because it’s so bad/cheesy it’s funny. I walked into Man of Steel expecting to enjoy myself and figuring that even the story was a bit bad, at least I’d enjoy the action. I didn’t even get that. The shakey cam was all over the place, making it difficult to concentrate on the action and it was mess of grey blurs and debris. I found Green Lantern more enjoyable that Man of Steel. At least that had a giant poop monster I could laugh at.

                    • “Anyway, back to MoS. While I admit there are examples of him showing concern for civilians, like I mentioned, considering the amount of damage done overall throughout the movie (millions dead, 9/11 x100, etc), him saving 6 people isn’t nearly enough. And no it’s not ‘nitpicking’ complaining that, out of a devastated city of millions, we only see him go out of his way to save 6 people (Heck, in Metropolis, the most devastated city in the movie, we only see him caring about civilians one time, with that family of 4). If you keep calling it nitpicking, it doesn’t suddenly magically become so.”

                      He didn’t just save 6 people. This is where your argument gets destroyed: He saves the entire population of Earth.

                      What you are saying is because of your personal vision of Superman, he was supposed to take his attention off of Zod and go help some innocent citizens. You want him to take his attention away from the person who just promised to MURDER THE PLANET and has the power to do so. You expect Zod to just sit back and wait while Supes does his thing huh?

                      So what your saying is… Superman wasn’t irresponsible enough for you?

                      …and you keep bringing up Superman bringing Zod into Smallville and keep SIDE-STEPPING the reason he did it in the first place to re-assert your invalid point.

                      Your argument here is extremely weak, Rukaio.

                  • and yet they also see the films. she trashes marvel, yet has seen ALL the movies…who’s the sucker?

    • i cant see how you can call Marvel films “kids films” when it seems that members of The Avemngers have no aversion to killing people. tony killed quite a few people escaping the cave, then going back and taking out the rest of the group. Cap kills several people in his film, and the avengers. in fact, BOTH films show him throw some guy out of an open door while in the plane/helicarrier. red skull shot that priest in the prologe of cap a, and that was a pretty graphic, bloody shot.
      the only reason you want to try to make them out to be kids films is only because disney own the co, and it’s been pretty obvious they leave marvel alone. marvel produced TWO films in 2 years that grossed over 1 billion. they [disney] will leave their cash cow [marvel] alone.

      • stoopid fat non-typing fingers…avengers…

      • Hey Jeffro.
        “I can’t see how you can call Marvel films ‘kid’s films’…”

        -Brightly colored settings that don’t exist in the real world.
        -Yeah, the violence is there…but for the most part very glossed over and not nearly as menacing as it could be, and as a result the overall tone is still light-hearted and tongue’n cheek.

        That’s how they are more aimed at kids, with an adult appeal.

        With DC it’s the other way around.

        Not to mention, until Marvel Studios makes an R rated movie then DC wins the adult argument hands down.

        • Dr. M.,

          “-Brightly colored settings that don’t exist in the real world.”

          which “settings” are you talking about? if it’s a color, then it exists. if you are refering to their costumes, then i say, Green Lantern.

          “-Yeah, the violence is there…but for the most part very glossed over and not nearly as menacing as it could be, and as a result the overall tone is still light-hearted and tongue’n cheek.
          That’s how they are more aimed at kids, with an adult appeal.”

          did anyone laugh, or make stupid 1-liners, ala the former governator, while any death/killing was happening? i don’t recall any. please, again, provide an actual example, not some random statement

          “With DC it’s the other way around.”

          green lantern. Jonah Hex.

          “Not to mention, until Marvel Studios makes an R rated movie then DC wins the adult argument hands down.”

          not counting The Watchmen, what r rated dc films are out there?

          • “not counting The Watchmen, what r rated dc films are out there?”

            History of Violence, Road to Perdition, V for Vendetta

            • well dr side-stepper,

              road to perdition? history of violence? really? you can sit there and say that those two films [which,btw, i had no idea were based on a comic book. i've never seen RTP, and i don't recall a DC logo for HOV] are good examples in the spirit of this discussion on costumed crime fighter/superhero films? i will give you V for Vendetta however. good call.

              while the entity known as Marvel Studios didn’t exist back then, 2 marvel properties given a good R-rating treatment were Blade, and The punisher [thomas jane].

              i’m still waiting on the examples of what you called “Brightly colored settings that don’t exist in the real world.”

              • Okay Jeffro,

                See all Marvel films. They are run through a filter post-production and color enhanced.

                Also, this responding to posts 3 days later is about is weak as it gets.

  11. @ Andrew Dyce

    An article such as this one, (read: an article that prompts actual and thoughtful discussion) serves as a reminder to me why ScreenRant is far and away my favorite site for this sort of geekery.

    Well done, sir.

    • +1

      • :)

        You guys never let us down.

  12. I checked out your list. Its not bad but I would have put Worlds End much higher. Did you see This is the End? Cuz that was pretty good too, that might warrant a spot on the list.

  13. I dig the article. How about we make a list of the tragedies each hero has to face in his/her movie? I’ll put down a few:

    Kick-Ass: the title character doesn’t have much of anything, but hit-girl has to deal with the death of her dad. That scene sucks :’( nic cage is so cool in that show.

    Wolverine: Wolvy has to deal with Jean Greys death and the deaths of all his close friends. He has to come to terms with immortality and the tragedy of outliving everyone he cares about.

    Got some more? Ones that weren’t mentioned in the article would be preferred.

    • Thing with Hit-Girl is that she was already an ass-kicking machine way before her dad died so I wouldn’t really count that.

      On the other hand, Rainn Wilson’s character in Super decided to suit up because Kevin Bacon has coerced his wife into becoming a drug-addicted member of his group of criminals and Rainn was sick of criminals being able to walk all over people so he fought crime with the main intention being that he wanted to find a way to get his wife back.

      • Well are we saying tragedy that sets the character in motion or tragedy in the narrative at all? Cuz the article mentions Bucky dying which happens like halfway thru Captain America. Bucky’s death doesn’t really make Cap who he is, the tragedy just reinforces his persona. Same thing with Hit Girl and Big Daddy.

        I’ve heard mixed reviews on Super. From what you just said it sounds kinda silly. But yeah so theres an example of tragedy setting the protagonist in motion.

        • sry this is movieDude… alternate screen name :D

  14. How come we never whine that the government in the Avengers just wanted to glass the city?

    • Because they were obviously portrayed as being in the wrong for wanting to do so.

    • @ Cameronsettokill: Haha I was wondering that too. I guess… we’ll just overlook that little bit of completely unbelievable plot…

  15. This article was a fantastic read. Thank you!

    I agree with the fact that superhero movies need to stick with the things that propel the hero to be an actual hero. It doesn’t always have to be a tragedy but something that has the same amount of impact on the person. That’s called a movie with heart behind it, the best kind.

    • Thanks, I’m with you that a superhero needs to know what it’s about from the start, not a generic action movie with a costume tacked on.

  16. I completely agree with this article and have said the same things myself for a while.

    The reason the Nolan Batman movies succeeded while the Burton and Schumacher versions were campy is because Nolan injected psychology and went into the heart of the main characters instead of just putting what we see on the page up onto the screen.

    Characters who have no reason for doing things are best left in horror movies where it’s scarier to not know why someone is killing or torturing. Otherwise, other genres need that three dimensional writing or risk becoming flops.

    • One thing that I liked about the Joker in The Dark Knight was how he was someone who had no real reason for doing the things he was doing. It was kinda like the film was going against its own formula, which placed the other characters that were following the formula in a twisted situation. Like you said for horror films, it made things scarier and more threatening. Loved it.

      • While good, he wasn’t as horrifying as the Joker is in the comics. Great version, best on screen and all that, loved every minute of it, but he wasn’t the type to skin a man alive and push his walking corpse out onto a strip club stage or poison a theater full of people after slitting his psychiatrist’s throat or wantonly shoot people while running through an amusement park. The Joker is much worse than Nolan’s version and that is why I talked about how we have yet to see any mature comic book movies.

        • @Oneiros

          The only answer to that is that it’s down to the studios and whether or not they’ll actually “man up” and allow the darker themes on screen.

          If they’re antsy about Deadpool and The Punisher (despite allowing Blade to slip by them 15 years ago to much success) then I’m not sure we’ll get the mature movies we all seem to be begging for.

          • Yeah we’re seeing the hesitation with properties like Deadpool, Spawn, and even the Joker. In a previous comment I said that once the big studios are done with their trilogies and franchises, they’ll probably allow companies like Netflix or HBO to purchase the character rights for an original movie or series or something like that. That’s when we’ll get Joker beating Robin to death with a crowbar. That’s when we’ll get Iron Man confronting his alcoholism. Maybe Netflix will be allowed to do a Civil War series. These movies aren’t commentaries on society, culture, or history like many of the better written comics. Instead they’re just the most recognizable aspects of these characters adapted to a 2 hour story. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve been pretty good and some have been really great, but the movies have yet to rise to the level of art of the comics.

            • “That’s when we’ll get Joker beating Robin to death with a crowbar”

              We can only dream that one day superhero movies will be serious and artistic enough to let the audience vote on which characters die by dialing a 900 number.

        • Oh completely agree. The Joker in Nolan’s film isn’t exactly how frightening Joker really is in the comics but they needa put a cap on it at one point right? I’d love to see that side of Joker on the big screen but like Dazz said, it’s how far the studio is willing to go, especially when they have a PG 13 rating. I still have hope of it happening though, just a bit.

        • Yeah, after blowing up that hospital and trying to murder an entire boat full of innocent families, I’m sure Ledger’s Joker would really blanch at the prospect of slitting some dude’s throat or desecrating a corpse…

      • I think that’s what made Nolan’s Joker stand out so much.

        You had a world of three dimensional characters with clear motivations and then you had this three dimensional villain who – as he put it – “just did things” with no rhyme or reason. He managed to have a distinct personality but still no real background, no reason for his apparent insanity or why he put on white makeup and dyed his hair green to look like a clown.

        Contrast that to Bane who was just a typical mercenary/soldier type but still had tons of personality and charisma and his motivations were revealed during the twist near the end involving Miranda Tate.

        I’d hope the success of those movies plus Marvel’s prove that screenwriters need to put this depth of character into everything they do, whether it’s for a superhero flick or a straight up Oscar bait style drama. Might see even more of an upward trend in movie attendance if that were the case.

        • +1 Agreed with everything, especially with your last statement. Each character has their own story in the film, even if they’re secondary characters. If they manage to showcase all of it in any form in a 2 hour flick, they’re golden.

          • Agree with all of you guys. The Joker was a great example of Gordon’s closing warning from the end of Batman Begins, about ‘escalation.’ Batman starts becoming larger than life to bring order, and the Joker does the same to bring anarchy.

            I’m always scared of Ledger’s Joker because he simply isn’t unbalanced. He’s clever, brilliant, ruthless, and devout in his beliefs – those just happen to be horrifying.

            • I agree. Joker even confirms that for Batman saying, “You’ve changed things.”
              A lot of people say, including the Joker, that he has no idea what he’s doing or why he does it. He’s lying and they don’t see it. He knows exactly what he’s doing and he loves it. That is the true horror of the Joker. He is clever, brilliant, ruthless as you said, and he also does in fact have a plan. His plan is usually to drive someone insane, namely Batman; but most of all, he loves killing people and he loves that it kills Batman. As the dialogue goes in The Dark Knight Returns during their final fight:

              Batman: No more! All the people I’ve murdered…by letting you live.

              Joker: I never kept count.

              Batman: I did!

              Joker: I know. And I love you for it.

  17. I actually would really like to see a complex kind of Lex in movies. See what story they can give him that would lead to him being the villain, other than the original comic book of “He forever made me bald” vengeance!

    • I always liked the petty jealousy of the “I’m a brilliant mind and a multi-billionaire but they worship this alien” angle. Setting Superman up to fall, wanting to show that he is better in every way other than physically.

      Hell, it’s like Samuel L Jackson’s character in Unbreakable. He had brittle bone disease and became a villain by setting up mass death just to try and prove that if there was someone as weak as him in the world then there must be someone on the opposite end of that scale too.

    • I kind of think they need to bring some meaning to his being bald. That’s been lost over the years.

      • I agree with both of you, Dazz and Nostelg-O. I think I would be fine with jealousy being a high motivating factor, but just not so petty. And I agree with bringing some meaning back to his baldness, but something other than when he was a HUGE Superboy fan, and just because Supes made him permanently bald is what fuels his bald rage and jealousy.

        • Exactly, making it more than just jealousy or envy is pivotal (for me). Honestly, it shouldn’t be that hard to make a guy who feels that people shouldn’t look to the sky for a solution to all their problems sympathetic.

          He committed himself to becoming brilliant, influential, and powerful, and did it; he’s kind of a human success story when you factor in his troubled upbringing. Then some alien comes along and humanity accepts that IT – not HE – is the pinnacle of what goodness is.

          If I were Lex, I’d be smart enough to know how much that way of thinking could stall humanity’s progress. Since most advances came out of solving problems, an alien that does it for people could be harmful in the long run.

        • lol bald rage.

  18. the 1st thor trash captain america trash im2 and 3 trash the avengers for kids all these movies that really werent good but ppl love them idk y smh the asm was good the 2nd will be great the 2nd batman was great cuz of mr ledger r.i.p but the last 1 was trash these freakn companys need to come under 1 umbrella and make great movies it will work so much better $$$$ i know this is about ppl diein but as a fan STOP selling us/me dreams on these over hyped movies jus sayn

    • It’s Stephanie but with worse spelling/grammar.

  19. btw mos was freakn awesome and the 2nd will be better!!

  20. Very interesting read. Thanks

  21. You’re definitely on to something. I think the problem Superhero films have trouble addressing is the mix of tragic drama and true hero escapism. Marvel films are hamstrung by too much humor watering down the drama, except the Avengers, where Wheddon somehow managed to make the personal stakes and journey’s so dramatic that humor was the best way to ease palpable tension. D.C. films, on the other hand, are dramatic almost to a fault. With Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Man of Steel, the sense of sadness and loss permeates so thoroughly that it’s easy to forget your watching an adventure because your so focused on the tragedies that inspired them. Hell, even Wolverine, not mentioned, kept the drama from going too far by adding small moments of humor throughout the story. The best movies I’ve seen have balanced moments of humor and high adventure with palpable drama. Take the trauma and tragedy seriously, but give them reasons to smile (even laugh) occasionally.

  22. “losing his godlike powers – something we’d wager isn’t very relatable for most human beings.”

    Well sure, most things aren’t if you only choose to speak of them in terms that are inherently not relateable.

    • I hear your point, but in this case… his problem is that he becomes ‘just a person.’ Just a tall, muscular, handsome person with women fawning over him. Maybe a millionaire who went broke could relate to that fall, but the fact that he was downright obnoxious in the beginning of the film and rude to his clearly-wiser father prevented any chance of that.

      • Ok, I see that perspective as a bit arguable, and I feel I have some points I can defend on my perspective on that, but I want to see if this allegory may fit: It’s like ‘the Beast’ in “The Beauty and the Beast” who experienced a similar form of tragic downfall as Thor, due to his arrogance and vanity.

        I don’t feel it matters that Thor became “just a person” just because that is the norm for us. Thor is an asgardian, he always has been and that is his norm. He wasn’t privileged like other heroes to rise into being a hero, asgardian is all he has ever been. His tragedy is being reduced down and striped of that to become a human, which just happens to be a lower standard to them (poor us in that situation). Similarly, it would be the same for us to be stripped down into an existence as a monster, like the Beast.

        Likewise this form of tragic downfall becomes relateable to us everyday, non-millionaire/celebrity people because we are just as capable of losing something (practically anything and everything) central to our own lives through the very same character flaws like arrogance and vanity.

  23. I think tragedy really hits home when the hero thinks he’s happy and that he can give everything up at that point, but something strikes close to his heart again and he’s forced to stay where he is.

    Superhero films like “Spider-Man 2″ and “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” portray that element quite well.

  24. :/ Disney cartoons,Japanese Adult Anime,Rocky & Bullwinkle,Simpsons, Original Teen Titans cartoon,90′s Batman cartoon,Lots of Chinese Martial Arts movies,LotR. Heck ever the ‘ol WB cartoons (seems to be a commom thread here,kids these days). smh

  25. Please give us the Lex Luthor from All Star Superman.

  26. Why did we need a tragesy like a fake Mandarin? And killing off Cyclops, Prof. X, and Jean Gray was maybe a little much…but that X-franchise was having troubles already (after #1 & #2, which were not that bad).

  27. We need Iron Man right now like in the first movie, where he flies to the Middle East and kicks some baddie butt in his armor. We need him to go into Syria and kick baddie butt. I want the US to go do that, also. In fact, I personally would like to go do it! And then I would come back and kick butt on everyone who says we shouldn’t, or I shouldn’t, cuz you would need it, too!

    • Oh look, it’s the Iron Monger. The US should stay the hell away from Syria and the Middle East. But some folks won’t be satisfied until there’s a nuclear winter. And don’t you dare call my patriotism into question, I was a former Technical Sergeant in the USAF. War should always be the last of the last resort.

      • This is not the forum to discuss foreign policy. It’s great that you’re so gung ho about attacking Syria but this really isn’t the place for that. This is about movies not politics.

        Nobody is gonna call your patriotism into question and if they do, I’m currently a SSGT in the USAF. I’ve got you’re back.

        Let’s keep the discussion on movies and hope for the best when it comes to foreign relations.

  28. Firstly, Dyce, awesome article. And it makes perfect sense. It’s not that we enjoy watching the tragedy of others, but that we enjoy making the connection, and tragedy’s probably the tool that can elicit the most emotional resonance from a character. Given the examples you pointed out, the correlation between movies that were more a hit with audiences and movies that had strong tragic (or at least emotional) themes is pretty strong.

    I’m hoping that Whedon really brings it in for the next Avengers film – sure, losing Coulson was sad in the first one, but it wasn’t really shattering. MOS had me tearing up more than Avengers did. And as much as story elements like Cap’s readjusting to society and Banner’s suicidal tendencies were mentioned, they weren’t really given much room to breathe, and it’s not Whedon’s fault – it’s essentially one big origin story after all, so the requisite story points had to be done. But now that he’s established the team I think we can expect bigger things in Avengers 2.

    I’m curious though, do you think there’s a way to make audiences as emotionally invested in these sort of superhero characters (for say, Superman?) without the tragedy element? Because there have been so many people saying that they took the fun out of Superman and that he’s all brooding now (arguments which I generally disagree with) yet all I can think of is that if they made Superman light-hearted again, you’d essentially get the Donner films – which were great for its time, but I really doubt anybody was afraid for Superman or felt a sense of danger or had any sort of real emotional investment. I think MOS’s approach to Superman was the right move, even if the film had plenty of problems in other areas.

  29. ….. still likes Green Lantern……