The price of my ticket has yet to contribute to Man of Steel’s $500 million (!) win at the box office. But based on previous experience, I have a feeling that I won’t be seeing this one in theaters: I only just recently remedied one of my pop culture blind spots and finally saw The Dark Knight Rises.
(Full disclosure: these blind spots also include having never seen a full episode of Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad. I know, I know, I’m missing out on a major part of the cultural zeitgeist, but they are on my summer watch lists. At least with Game Of Thrones, you might be seeing some recaps here later in the season. And might I recommend The Wire and Friday Night Lights?)
I’ve been trying to figure out why the Nolan Batman films have never been something I’ve really actively sought out. I saw The Dark Knight a year after it was released too. At the time, I found it technically impressive but so unrelentingly dour (in spite of Heath Ledger’s electrifying performance), that the first words out of my mouth as the credits rolled were to ask if the second half of our double feature evening could be a screening of Iron Man 2.
Maybe I was just in the right frame of mind this time around, but I really enjoyed the film. There’s no denying Chris Nolan’s talents and specificity of vision. It was beautifully shot with a propulsive story, and it had fine performances, especially from Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anne Hathaway. Hathaway’s attitude and adaptability injected some levity into the proceedings and it was engrossing to watch John Blake’s origin story unfold without him even realizing it.
I did have a few problems some of the plot holes, although mainly just one: Bruce, if you’re afraid that the giant reactor you made is going to be used as a nuclear weapon, and you have an emergency fail-safe, maybe you should go ahead and press that button.
But I have to say, one of my favorite things about superhero movie season is seeing How It Should Of Ended’s take on it (the most recent Iron Man 3 one ends on a pretty great beat). For the unfamiliar, each superhero-oriented HISHE end tag features Batman and Superman shooting the breeze in a diner, in uniform, of course. And hanging out with the odd special guest.
I’ve been trying to figure out why I like these so much. The whole enterprise is pretty delightful in it’s self awareness, and honestly it’s just fun to imagine that Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent have a standing coffee date. From what I hear, this current Superman has a pretty high destruction to plot ratio, but I think what Avengers showed us last summer is that while alien invaders and big bads are plenty cool (and I’m very much looking forward to SHIELD), what resonates most is seeing the people behind the masks and the symbols.
So, is Man of Steel worth seeing in theaters? What are you pop culture blind spots? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @NinaZipkin!