Not too long ago, I was talking to Lady J about the Justice League movie. If you don’t know my opinion on it (Where’ve you been?) I was disappointed in it. Lady J on the other hand liked it. I was disappointed.
To be fair, there were some things that I liked. Unfortunately, anything good was buried under so much confusion and just bad writing that I couldn’t enjoy it the way I wanted to. But during this conversation I decided to show her how much better it could be if done right. So far I’ve done a lot of pointing out “What Went Wrong” with a lot of stories so this time I’m gonna flip the script, so to speak. This time, I’m going to show you how it could have been fixed.
Now, I was going to do this first one to fix the Justice league but the more I thought about it the more I realized that to fix the JL I’ll need to fix the earlier DC movies first. So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll start at the beginning and fix Man of Steel. Before that, there is one hard rule that must be followed during this endeavor:
- The main premise must remain intact: By this I meant I must stick to the basic story-line already laid out. I’m fixing the story not writing a new one
And with that, let’s set this bench up and get to work!
MAN OF STEEL (Fixed)
There are a lot of issues to fix here, some of which I went over in my What Went Wrong series here, but this time I’ll start with Krypton itself. The Krypton they gave us was some sort of Star Wars-like cross between future tech and medieval fantasy. I’d prefer a completely futuristic Krypton. It just makes sense to me. Also, I’d change how Krypton is being destroyed. I still can’t accept that a technically advanced society doesn’t understand that mining out the core of their planet might make it a bit unstable. Instead, I’d have it be an anomaly in the sun that will cause it to prematurely go supernova that Jor El detects but is denied by others in the science guild that causes the conflict with the ruling council.
The next thing to fix would be Zod and his motivation. If you remember from my review, I had a hard time being intimidated by Zod because he just didn’t seem that bright to me. That, and the fact that this hardened, professionally trained War General couldn’t even beat up a scientist. Here’s how it should have played out:
General Zod and Jor El are walking to meet with the council. We get a bit of exposition about how Zod, after Jor first presented his findings to the council, believes him and has decided to help Jor convince them of it’s validity one last time. We also find out that Zod has secretly built a colony ship based on a smaller prototype Jor has built. At the council meeting, Zod gets frustrated and begins the coup he’s been planning, unbeknownst to Jor El. In the confusion, Jor El, notices some readings on his scanner and seeing the last hope for Krypton slip away, decides to sneak away and steal Krypton’s genetic matrix from the science guild then brings his wife and son to where the prototype was hidden.
While Zod is busy banishing any surviving council members to the Phantom Zone, he notices Jor El has disappeared and sends a squad to search for him. They find him but too late as they see a rocket blasting into space as they arrive. Through his soldier’s comm gear, Zod speaks to Jor. Jor tells him it’s too late and that he’s already sent off the matrix to be safe. Zod, realizing what this means, races off with a few of his officers to the ship he built and tries to take off as their sun starts to go supernova. We see Jor El’s prototype make it safely out of the system with the matrix and his son. Zod’s ship on the other hand makes it off planet and near the edge of the system but is seemingly caught in the blast of the exploding sun.
Clark’s life growing up:
This is where I’d institute a small change that would probably have the biggest impact on the story. One of the biggest controversies of this movie is Johnathan Kent’s philosophy on what Clark should do with his powers. He felt Clark should hide while Clark seemed anxious to do something. I think this should be switched similar to how it was done in the supergirl series. Clark should have been more introverted, wanting to just be normal while the parents encouraged him that he’s special. Clark, growing up being afraid of his powers, would be teased for being antisocial and become reluctant to use them to help at first. Then comes the storm where Poppa Kent dies. The scene plays out the same as before but this time, instead of Kent telling Clark to stay back, Clark hesitates to go out and we lose old man Johnny.
This event sends Clark into a depression and a journey of self discovery. Same as before, he discovers the Kryptonian ship and activates it, learning of his past. He then decides to accept his destiny, never to hesitating to help someone again and eventually makes his superhero debut while remaining mysterious. Staying long enough to save people only to disappear again. During this time he gets his job at the Daily Bugle and we’re intorduced to the Bugle Crew, including Lois, Perry and Jimmy. This goes on for some time until Zod’s ship suddenly appears.
The Battle to save Earth:
Zod, grief stricken over losing everyone on the planet has become a bit unbalanced. Turns out he escaped the supernova by sending his ship into the phantom zone but suffered damage in the process. Spending over a decade repairing the ship and escaping the phantom zone, plus even more time wandering through space with no goal didn’t help matters. Then he notices the beacon from the ship Clark activated and now has a mission. Obsessed with bringing Krypton back, he wants the Genetic Matrix to load into his colony ship and will use it to
terra-form Earth to make a new Krypton. Most of this plays out similarly to the original script with the difference being how Superman fights. The Kryptonian soldiers do develop their powers rather quickly but Superman has spent his entire life absorbing the yellow sun rays and is vastly stronger. But remember, Superman at this point has ZERO actual fighting experience. In this story, though, he does have plenty experience at rescue operations. This time, instead of focusing on the fight, he concentrates on saving people and minimizing damage. Unfortunately, he’s not very successful. Their greater numbers and battle experience has them knocking him around more often than not. Just as before, despite his best efforts, there’s a lot of death and destruction but it’s clear this time that he’s trying to prevent it. Through pure perseverance and strength of will (plus being actually stronger than them) he starts to over come everyone except Zod.
I think this time we will skip the overt Jesus imagery.
Despite being more powerful, Superman is unable to get the upper hand on Zod who is superior in every other way. Zod has actual combat training, a devious mind and a complete disregard for life around him. He constantly uses his cunning to regain the upperhand as soon as it looks like Superman may be gaining momentum. Most often by using human lives to distract him. Finally, in a fit of fury and anguish, Superman does in fact break Zod’s neck when Zod directly threatens to murder some nearby children.
The rest plays out as you would expect. The governments of the world are wary of him and his powers while the populace sees him as a hero.
Tone & Characterization:
One of the biggest issues I had with this movie was the tone and the characterization of superman and his supporting cast. Superman should not be the dark and brooding superhero. He’s supposed to be the greatest hero and the one all other heroes aspire to. Unfortunately, the story so far seems dark and gritty. So, how do we fix this without completely Whedoning the movie?
Easily done simply by changing 3 supporting characters. Starting with Ma and Pa Kent. With Johnny no longer bringing the doom and gloom, he free to play the wholesome southern straight man to Martha’s down home southern snark. With them playing off each other that gives a lot of opportunity for some cheeky humor. And to keep them from becoming cliche we need to make sure they still act human. Meaning they get mad when necessary and show love and concern for their son at the appropriate points. Then we have Pete Ross. He can be given a slightly larger role as Clark’s only real friend growing up and he can be given a sense of humor to balance the young Clark scenes.
Beyond that, there can be some typical office hijinks in the Daily Planet when he get’s there. This way the movie can be generally lighter. This juxtaposition will also bring more gravitas to the more serious scenes such as Clark’s emotional breakdown after his father’s death and the final fight with Zod.
That’s how to fix the Man of Steel Movie. Would you enjoy it? What would you change? Let me know. Meanwhile, it’s time to pack up the workbench and go home.