The (More Than) 400-Word Review: The Man of Steel

By Sean Collier

June 17, 2013

I heard the Joker showed up here!

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Superhero movies, sit down. We need to talk.

We’re all here because we love you. We’ve shared some great times together. Iron Man. The Dark Knight. We loved hanging out with you and Sam Raimi. We care about you.

But we’re noticing a pattern in your behavior. Time after time, almost every time we see’s origin stories. It doesn’t seem like you can function without origin stories. I know that you think you’re just having a good time, doing things your way, but we have to say this: It’s possible to still be a superhero movie, a great superhero movie, without your reliance on origin stories.

And that’s what it is. Reliance. Frankly, addiction might be a better word. Man of Steel...well, that was the last straw. Superman is great. Everyone loves Superman. But you were so busy with an origin story that he didn’t even really get to be Superman until like an hour in. He didn’t use his powers until, what, an hour and a half? And that stuff was great! That was the kind of superhero movie we love! But we just don’t know if it’s worth dealing with you if origin stories are a part of it.

We want you to enter a program. I know, the 12 steps are cliched, but they work, dammit. Here’s a list:


1) Admit that you’re powerless over origin stories.

2) Believe that a greater power — some call it Stan Lee, some call it Joss Whedon, whatever it may be — can restore you to sanity.

3) Decide to turn yourself over to that power, whomever it may be (but not Zack Snyder, and not Christopher Nolan because we don’t know if he’s really committed to things anymore.)

4) Make a moral inventory of yourself. Accept that some things — Fantastic Four being one good example — are just not okay.

5) Admit to Hollywood, yourself and the audience that you know we don’t actually care where superheroes come from.

6) Be entirely ready to abandon origin stories entirely. Look at the '80s. Superheroes just showed up and were there. No one cared how Michael Keaton got there, he just dropped in the alley and started punching.

7) Humbly ask Hollywood to remove your shortcomings, by way of test screenings.

8) Be willing to make amends to those you harmed, like Edward Norton and Brandon Routh.

9) Apologize to them by getting your studio friends to cast them in small, prestige dramas.

10) Promptly admit when you’re wrong. Acknowledging right now that spending a damn half-hour on Krypton at the beginning of Man of Steel would be a good start.

11) Meditate on how stupid it is to do origin stories of superheroes that have had movies less than 10 years ago. We remember them. We still have the ticket stubs. Just because you wish Superman Returns didn’t exist doesn’t make it so.

12) Try to carry this message to other genres. Horror looks like it might have the same problem.

We know it won’t be easy, but you’re worth it, Superhero Movies. We’ll be there with you. We can never get Man of Steel back, but that’s okay.

The Wolverine is the first day of the rest of your life.

Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at



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