Today, a little bit more about Superman. Specifically: the Battle of Metropolis with some help from writer/Internet personality Max Landis:
I can never decide if Landis is really on our side or not, but his points about Superman and the way superhero movies end are spot on.
Long ago, Warren Ellis tried to jump-start a genre he referred to as “rescue fiction.” I can’t recall if this was on the late, great, Warren Ellis Forum or in actual press for his Global Frequency title, but Superman is a rescue fiction hero. He both fights and aids those caught in the wake of his battles. Which, when you think about it, adds a little bit more tension to the fight scenes if properly executed.
I suppose what I’m getting at is this: Man of Steel needed to have Superman see the cost of his victory and make the choice to help whenever possible. The notion of a young Superman unaware of his strengths or what his mission could cost is not a bad story point if there’s follow-through.
And you can’t put it off until the sequel. Resolution needs to happen before he can pithy to the US military and show up in town with his glasses on.
But like Landis’s point about rock stars, I’m tired of movies where the arc is stretch across three films (I’m looking at you, Peter Jackson). Decompressed storytelling became fashionable in comics at the turn of the century thanks to writers like Ellis and in that format, it’s quite satisfying. In movies — or TV shows that claim to be doing a season of “done-in-one” episodes — it doesn’t work because the unit of story must resolve itself before the end credits. If the whole point of your movie is that Superman must see the weight of his powers before he can control them, then resolve that idea. Turns out that it’s a completely valid take on the character and his origins.
Y’know, provided you do it in a manner that doesn’t leave a bunch of nits for every single Internet jabbermouth to pick at for a month.