How Joss Whedon ruined “Man of Steel” and why that’s a good thing.

**Barely any spoilers. Promise**

“Man of Steel” made me angry. We’re talking toe-tapping, fist clenching, murmuring under my breath like a crazy person angry. And it took me a little while to really work out why. Certainly, some of it was down to the bizarre and confusing editing. Some of it had to do with the lack of the sort of tight ass-shots ofthe lovely Charles Bra- I mean Henry Cavill, which had motivated me to fork out 15 quid for the ticket (20+ USD) in the first place (I was hoping for something along the lines of Anne Hathaway in catsuit on motorcycle in DKR…). But surely such disappointments would only lead to mild discomfort, not the ball-bustin’ rage I was feeling.

Then it hit me. It was Joss Whedon’s fault.

There were two things (aside from the close-up of HC’s tooshie) that this movie was failing to deliver on. Neither of which one would have expected from a superhero blockbuster until Joss came along and blew all our previous conceptions of the genre away. To borrow from every wise parent ever – I was not angry, I was disappointed. And we all knowthat disappointment leads to anger. And anger leads to the dark side. So here we go.

1) Lactose Intolerance.

I’m laying my cards on the table. And by ‘cards’, I mean the certifiable GeekClub cards I carry around with me daily. I love superhero movies. I own comics. However, I will be the first to admit that the genre is pure gooey cheesiness. Joyously so. And this is what MoS was missing – self-aware revelry in the unbelievable cheese that oozes out of a superhero movie. And this movie was not short on cheese. As a vegan, it kinda hurt me.But aside from that, there was no clever self-recognition to cut such overindulgence. “The Avengers” succeeded precisely because it was willing to take such pressure laden moments and completely undercut them. It was not only compelling, but hilarious. And so was MoS, but it didn’t intend to be. It was Joss writing away in my brain, filling the way too serious/obvious dialogue and unbelievable moments with the missing quips that would have made the film tolerable.

2) Excessive Damselling.

Having sat through many, many hours ofthis uncut cheese, I went immediately to the loo. In the inevitable line to the ladies, I asked the woman behind me if she had seen the movie, hoping wecould find solidarity in pain. She had not, and upon hearing that I had gone to see Superman, responded with sympathy “Oh… because you’re boyfriend wanted tosee it, right?” This angered me (see above re Geek credibility). However,upon further reflection, I began to understand why one might carry this perception around. As a woman, I found the film insulting. On a rough estimate, I would say about a dozen times (note to self: new drinking game) the audience was subjected to watching a helpless woman (not just Lois) flail about until a man (not just Superman) comes to her rescue. Lois is all but useless. She fails at her ONE JOB in the saving of the world (here’s the spoiler!!) because she doesn’t screw a piece of technology in correctly. A man has to do it for her as she hangs out the backof a jet. The few other women in the film are subject to the same fate. Two exceptions are the overmakeupped sidechick to the big bad, and a (shock!) female member of the military. Her role, however, is to ask truly inane questions and to comment on Superman’s hot-factor, before being put back in her place by grumpy-commander-man.

Let us compare this to Black Widow in “TheAvengers” (it’s about to get spoilery, but if you haven’t seen it yet… you sorta had it coming). Appearing weak and helpless in her first scene, it is quickly clear that this is just a facade – she does not damsel. Natasha not only kicks EVERYONE’s ass, but ultimately saves the day by successfully getting the otherworldly thingy where it needs to go. And let’s not even talk about Buffy. Cuz we could be here all day.

So, to end. Joss has succeeded – at least to this geek – in making it impossible to get away with the generic colour-by-numbers approach to superhero movies, featuring a helpless woman, surrounded by cheesy humourless dialogue.

Joss has ruined everything. And it’s the best thing that has happened to superhero movies in a long time.

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