Remember Metafilter’s most favorited user and former Partial Objects webmaster Pastabagel? This is the kind of emails I get from him, regularly and thankfully. The one below was in response to a link about easter eggs in the movie Man Of Steel. The shame is he doesn’t write posts anymore, I assume because of his blood pressure.
The easter eggs in this article (except for the soldier Farris) are literally impossible to see when you watch the movie, because the camera is moving too fast and the shots are so quick. Even in the still shot, the words Lexcorp are extremely hard to read. You barely have time to register the satellite in space, let alone take the time to spot a logo on it.
In fact, there is a much easier to spot reference to Lexcorp, which is during one of the interminably long and pointless fight scenes, superman is pushed into a stopped freight railcar with the words LEXCORP emblazoned neatly on it.
Finally, I find it very hard to accept that people are studying frames of Man of Steel for references like Blaze comics and then searching that out and lauding it online as a clever Easter egg, and yet these same flavor-profile fanboys somehow missed the literally hundreds of art, architectural, and philosophical references in Inception, historical references in Avatar, and literary references in the works of Kubrick. Or worse, when you point those things out to them, they accuse you of reading to much into it. Really? The name of the security officer in Avatar is Miles Quaritch, which is a reference to Miles Standish and and the 19th century book published about his genocide of Indians by the firm Bernard Quaritch. Oh, but I guess that’s just a coincidence, because James Cameron isn’t that smart even though he designed his own submarine to go to the bottom of the oceans. Instead, let’s have man-child hold a seminar about Blaze Comics, which as everyone knows is a famous publisher of openly gay comic books, as opposed to the closeted gay ones published by DC and Marvel.
Notice that in all this Easter Egg talk, it’s all fanboy bullshit. There was a pod that was open, so you conclude that it was Supergirl? Because it’s impossible to image that the filmmaker invented a new character that wasn’t already the subject of a six-color kid’s picture book.
No reference on the internet anywhere to all the (badly) cribbed Nietzsche in the film, like where someone tells superman “You are a bridge,” even though Nietzsche meant that man was the bridge on the way to superman, “man is a bridge, not the end.” Or how about all the soft-core religion “You will be like a God, etc” even though the point of Nietzsche declaring man to be the bridge is that God is dead, God has held man back, and for man to evolve, he must abandon God and religion. But this is Warner Bros and Zack Snyder, and the last thing Hollywood wants to do is rock the boat that keeps the money rolling in.
Or how about the fact that with all the God and Country in Kansas treacle, the movie basically revives the original conception of Superman as a jewish hero. Krypton is basically a failed totalitarian state which perfected Eugenics. Zod is a Nazi caricature, trying to revive the master race on the ashes of a mud race (recall Zod’s many references to the dirt, and human crawling out of mud, etc.) Superman’s real name is Kal-El, his dad is Jor-El. In hebrew, El means, you guessed it, God, or “the highest”. Kal-el and Jor-el, like Samu-el, Dani-el and Emmanu-el are servants of God.
All this makes the Nietzschean references dropped to the film even more incongruous. Now, there could have been a very interesting film here if this was explored, in the way that the Dark Knight deeply probed the “liberty vs security” issue. E.g. if Zod set himself up as God to the people of earth (like how Jor-El said his son would be viewed), and Superman destroyed him (thereby killing God and freeing the people, which is exactly what they did in Superman II–“”God help us…” “Not God. Zod.”).
But they didn’t do this, and in fact Zod wasn’t even that bad of a bad guy. He wanted to rebuild Krypton on Earth, but he was genetically engineered to want to do that (as he says at the end of the film), which sort of excuses his behavior. But Superman also wanted to rebuild Krypton, he just wanted to do it somewhere else so that the people of earth wouldn’t die. But the truth is that superman and Zod are exactly what we would call gods, and Gods can be excused for wanting to build their cities on top of humans, much like we are okay with building our houses on top of rabbit holes, birds nets, anthills etc. We only care because we’re looking at it from the perspective of the ants (this environmental question is another path they could have gone down especially given that Krypton exploded because they used up the planet’s last natural resource, the core. But they didn’t).
These are hard questions that are upsetting to the masses, which is precisely what art is for. The fight scenes are pointless because the ideological stakes don’t matter. The end of Star Wars has considerably less kinetic action than most modern action films, but it feels more dramatic because it’s really important to us that Luke win. Luke vs. Vader is rural vs urban, domestic vs foreign, freedom vs tyranny, US vs Russia, the allies vs. the nazis, innocence vs corruption. The stakes matter.
In Superman, the stakes don’t matter. In the movie, if Zod wins he destroys the earth, but Zod isn’t a metaphor for anything real. We know superman will win just like we know Luke and the Rebels will win. But we want Luke to win because we want freedom to win over tyranny. But what is Zod? In today’s world? If you can’t answer immediately, the movie failed.
What is the Joker in the Dark Knight? The Joker is terrorism. Not a particular terrorist, but the phenomenon itself. The chaos that erupts without justification or explanation. The Joker is 9/11 unfolding on TV.
If they make the story matter to me living here and now, I’ll sit through dogfights in the Death Star trenches 50 times over and over. Make the story matter and I’ll be on the edge of my seat the fifth time I see IED’s go off in the city of Gotham.
But dodge the tough questions? Then I’m bored after Superman throws the first CGI punch. I know Superman is going to win, but it’s meaningless to me. This is also why Tron failed. There, they set up a great philosophical question, God as creator in a hierarchy vs emergent phenomena blooming from within: which is better, or gets you closer to truth? But then Disney wet its pants about scripture-loving folk not buying RC lightcycles, so they waved their hands and defaulted to the traditional position “Yup, it’s God, nevermind that other bit! Look over here! Vinyl tits!”
None of this is on the internet. But oh, look! A sign on building says Lexcorp! You mean there’s a reference to Superman’s archenemy in a Superman movie? No way! Let’s all grab our acne cream and have Dorito-bespittled debates about who is stronger, the Flash or AIDS.
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