Friday, March 7, 2014

Thor: The Dark World is What Man of Steel Should Have Been

Earlier this week Zack Snyder gave an interview to Hero Complex where he defended his unconventional casting choices for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film. It's clear from the interview that Snyder has a ton of passion but is fairly frustrated with all the hate directed at him. I don't want to pile on, but I thought this would be a good time to talk about why I thought Man of Steel was a good film, but Thor 2 suits my tastes better.

Warning: There be spoilers for both films below.

It's hard not to compare these two films since Thor: The Dark World and Man of Steel actually have a bit in common. Aside from the obvious that they're both comic book movies, they're both about good looking alien dudes who come to Earth, are pretty much indestructible, and can fly. (Actually Thor can't fly, his hammer flies and he gets dragged along with it, but let's not get picky here) Both have strong, smart, & resourceful female love interests. Both have villains that are searching for something powerful that is hidden inside someone, and will do anything including destroying the Earth/universe to get it. That's where the similarities end because the two films have drastically different tones.

Marvel is the Kid on the Block With All The Cool Toys

The Marvel produced movies are on a roll and all have something in common. For the most part they are simply fun to watch. (Except for Iron Man 2 where Tony Stark was on a self destructive rampage. Let's forget that ever happened.) The stakes are always high, but the acting and writing is usually clever and witty which balances the humor and allows the audience to have fun.

Thor's major advantage is this is his third outing. He's already been the fish out of water in the first movie. He's already been the god who got knocked around in The Avengers. Our familiarity with the characters is key as the movie can get right to the action. And the ultimate X-Factor is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. Everything is just better with him in it.

DC Can't Live in a Batman World

Man of Steel's major disadvantage is baggage. Superman is an instantly recognizable character which has been portrayed numerous times in film and television and inevitably invites a wave of comparisons. So instead of going down familiar Kryptonian ground like Bryan Singer did, Zack Snyder took the film in his own direction. Unfortunately that direction seems to have made an extended stop in Gotham City.

Snyder did his best to make a dark, gritty, Christopher Nolan-esque movie. The problem is Man of Steel didn't have to be that way. This world works for Batman because the character calls for it. But Superman has more leeway. He really could have been lightened up a little, instead of being the brooding hero mourning over his fathers' deaths. We get enough of that with Bruce Wayne. I'm not saying make him a super-comedian, but even Batman had lighter moments once in a while to contrast the darkness. Literally only twice in Man of Steel did I even crack a smile. But then again, they tried to have fun with Green Lantern and Fantastic Four and look how those movies turned out, so what the hell do I know. ;)

"Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke." 
                                                                                                                 -Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon sums it up perfectly. Take the pivotal death scenes in each movie. In Thor, Frigga's death and subsequent funeral are emotional scenes. But it is immediately followed by a comical scene with Dr. Erik Selvig giving the audience a much needed moment of levity. But in Man of Steel, after Clark's adoptive father dies, the movie never really lightens up, letting the weight of his death burden us & Superman throughout the rest of the film. Thor 2 has this wonderful balance never spending too much time in darkness, while Man of Steel wallows in it. Maybe it's Zack Snyder's fault, maybe it's the writers fault, or maybe this is exactly the tone they're going for, but I really wish Man of Steel was as fun to watch as Thor 2.

DC Is In Total Catch Up Mode

DC has fallen so far behind Marvel on the movie front. And it looks like they're intentionally doing the opposite of everything Marvel is doing. Instead of building rapport with individual characters in their own movies, it seems like everyone from Wonder Woman to Cyborg and possibly the Flash is being shoehorned into Batman vs. Superman, and they're fast-forwarding right to Justice League. It's almost as if Justice League was a book report and DC is giving us the Cliff-Notes. And what really bugs me is Superman isn't even getting a proper sequel! But admittedly, I'm totally going to see it anyway.

I know I'm bagging on Man of Steel, and it's really not fair because it's not a bad film. I just think it lacks the soul that Thor: The Dark World had. 

So what do you think? Is Thor: The Dark World superior to Man of Steel or am I bonkers for thinking that? And what's your excitement level for Batman vs. Superman? Reserved? Meh? Can't Wait? 


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