I have been thinking about the Man of Steel again. I never really stopped. I know, I know..
However, this is in part inspired by a post by fellow blogger, Mr Fickle Fascinations, you can find him on the right hand side of this site if you want to check the original out.
In the world of the reboot and remake, the endless re-cycle, how much should be made of the original story? These stories, most of which it must be acknowledged originate from comics, have had more reincarnations than.. well than anything I know of. They have spanned different media, allowing each medium to influence the shape and form of the others; attracted fans who have often remained with them through life and in doing so, have grown with them, maturing with the needs of their supporters. Equally they have changed with the times, reflecting concerns of the moment, political, social and spiritual, and the abilities of the ever-evolving technology, something always at its geeky heart and more than simply convenience and plastic posing.
And as such you can understand why the makers feel an obligation to honour those fans; an obligation as much concerned with finance as it is with respect. Yet the very evolution of such characters, the countless tangents and alternate reality versions, show us that reboots can take different directions and thrive. The fans haven’t gone anywhere. The trick is to create something that they can latch on to, cloak them in the zeitgeist of the current generation and remember that you will never please everybody. In this particular arena it won’t stop them talking about it, blogging about it, arguing to the 300+ post mark about how easy it is for Superman to go for a pee in his new suit – a winning argument for keeping those pants.
This history is not the curse or even obstacle that some might assume. If handled correctly it can function as simply that, ‘history’. Every film draws on history, both real and filmic, using it as a context, a short hand to allow us to avoid unnecessary exposition and create nuance and depth, playing with the expectations of the viewer. If we are confronted with a man in fatigues we need not be told he is a soldier, we assume. If he mentions gooks and is slightly older, we assume he is a veteran of Vietnam. In this one short scene we have set up expectation, built a sense of character and given the viewers, despite many being of an age that they could not possibly have any first hand knowledge of this war, a sense of where this may be heading. This was a war where innocence was lost, the anti-hero born, every sweat-soaked moment imbued with the sense of a nation in the grips of those last painful spasms of adolescence. There is a world of history in those few key pieces of information. just as there is a world in those few opening bars of Superman, that red cape, the Daily Planet..
This was infused into every molecule, as it must be, of MoS, so why didn’t they give us the new story? They did you might argue, doing away with the whole Lois/Clark/Superman triangle and the ‘how can those glasses fool you and yet you still call yourself an investigative reporter’ angle, making them allies and co-conspirators from the very off. Except it wasn’t a story, it was a couple of scenes and a snog. Every time we thought we were going to get stuck in, that they indicated they were willing to throw off those old shackles, we were interrupted by yet another Kodak moment.. my superhero childhood memories..
Why not SHOW us. Show us Lois hunting him down, show us her struggling, the cynical reporter with the enormity of what she is seeing. Would you hand that story to your boss and go, come on believe me..? Show us the struggle between respecting a man’s right to determine his own life, even a growing attraction for said man and her killer instincts.
This has bugged me so much I must rewrite..yep..
INT: HOSPITAL WARD – DAY
By the window, sun streams in bleaching the bed a too bright white. A heavily bandaged man is talking. Lois Lane sits by his side, leaning an elbow on a pillow. Her bag contents take up most of the bottom of the bed, pushing the man’s plaster cast leg perilously close to the edge.
MAN: he was aflame
LOIS: So he’s dead?
MAN: no.. I mean, I saw him last holding up a entire rig.
She starts to pack up her bag.
MAN: there was molten steel running down his arms.
He holds out his arm, wrapped in bandages. Lois slings her bag on her shoulder and stands.
LOIS: maybe if they uncover a steel mould on the ocean floor they can erect a statue of him at the National Mall… or his arm.
Man blinks, looks up at her.
LOIS: but I don’t write the obituaries.
She turns and walks towards the exit.
The man watches her
MAN: (screaming) I know what I saw.
She stops. Nurse comes running in.
MAN: I know what I saw.
NURSE (to Lois): You should visit more often sweetie.
INT: BAR- LATER THAT DAY
LOIS: I’m claiming the planet for the airfare. All that money for a half dozen accounts of why you should just say no.
JIMMY: yeah but there were half a dozen
Lois raises eyebrows at him
JIMMY: doesn’t that count for something?
LOIS: bad sex is still bad even if there is six in the bed.
JIMMY: I’m just saying if half a dozen people see something that walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, maybe they saw a duck.
LOIS: you want to believe half a dozen people saw Jesus
JIMMY: no one claiming they saw Jesus
LOIS: Long flowing hair? A beard, rags.. Jesus the comic book superhero.. you can sell it to Perry.
That’s off the top of my head. The last time I was this obsessed with a film was when The Return of the Sith came out. I was forced to rewrite that in entirety. I think I may have to do the same here; it may be the only way to be free. I’m off to look out my Final Draft software..