Man of Steel, the most anticipated film of the summer has come and gone. Although it made more than enough money to ensure a sequel, it also failed to live up to its potential, and left audiences saying “more like ‘meh of Steel’”.
It’s not a bad movie. It has a phenomenal cast and some truly heart-wrenching moments that celebrate humanity. Yet it never seems to live up to the promise of those opportunities. Instead of just hating on the movie, make we can learn a few lessons.
1. Be true to yourself (and your source material)
Sure, Superman is a hard story to tell. He seems antiquated and is so powerful that he can be boring. But it can be done. It has been done, again and again.
In an attempt to “modernize” Superman, the story, and the character became darker. Literally, his suit, and even the color palate of the whole movie is dark. The cost of “modernizing” Superman was his core characteristics. No longer is he the charming, indefatiguable farm boy, who learned how to serve from his caring father. Now he is a brooding, misunderstood outcast whose family teaches him to hide.
Superman is a flying farm boy. He doesn’t need to be realistic. Likewise, we should be concerned about naming whom we are, what we are good at and, and looking for the opportunity to share that with the world.
2. Pick something, and get good at it.
I cannot tell you what the theme of Man of Steel was. Immigrants should hide from the government? We’re not alone in the universe? Choose to help, even when it’s dangerous? Evolution and natural selection are more powerful than caring and sacrifice?
Not only was it themeless, it was style-less. The best response to Man of Steel I heard was “I thought I was going to see a Terrance Mallick film, only to find it was actually the latest from Michael Bay”.
Malcolm Gladwell famously said that it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at something. Most of us never make it to that point, because we fill our lives with distractions. If Man of Steel had picked one theme and one style, it could have been truly great. If we could just focus, maybe we could be great, too.
3. Know when to stop
If Zac Snyder had done one thing differently I probably wouldn’t be writing this post: cut out the last 30 minutes of meaningless violence and destruction. For a little while it was cool. After the shortcomings of Christopher Reeves era special effects and the utter disappointment of 2008′s Superman Returns, it was cool to see two super powered aliens slug it out.
Why Snyder and studio execs thought this was necessary, especially in light of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon attack, is a mystery.
We often feel that we have a point to make or something to accomplish. Making that point means not just being right, or being memorable, but timing it well. All is lost when we wait too long to walk away.
I’m not going to give up on superhero movies (although, I’m in no hurry to see Justice League on screen.) But I want to learn from missed opportunities. I hope DC does, too.