Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Film Review: Man of Steel

Role of Women: To be honest, it's hard to tell where the portrayals of women in Man of Steel were flat or stereotypical because they were women, and when they were just flat and stereotypical because they were characters in Man of Steel, since one of the main criticisms I have of the film as a whole is the one-dimensional, underdeveloped characters. They had the usual suspects of hardboiled/tough girls-- Captain Farris, Faora, Lois Lane (who claims she gets writer's block if she's not wearing a flak jacket)-- and tender, motherly types-- Martha Kent, Lara-- none of whom ever really did anything to catch you off guard. The angst, suspense, and tension mostly lay between male characters. Clark's human father teaches him to believe in but also hide himself, leading to a relationship with currents of respect and resentment mingled; Clark's human mother gardens and has dogs and believes the best of Clark no matter what. Jor-El gets all the action in challenging the Kryptonians' self-destructive genetic selection and pointing out the end of the world, while Lara gets to be indecisive and mostly passive/background; do you really think she went through a natural pregnancy and childbirth because she was sort of thinking maybe Jor-El had a point about the end of Krypton? I have a feeling she would've needed a lot more courage and conviction than portrayed. It would've been pretty awesome if Lara had've been uploaded onto the ship as well as/instead of Jor-El, and really there's no reason why she needn't have been. Just Hollywood defaults.

Sexualization of Women: Why do filmmakers insist on putting women who need to run in ridiculous platform heels? Don't they realise that in real life either the heel would break, or the character's ankle? Other than that, though, they did fine on this front, with one exception-- when they had Captain Farris remark with a girlish smirk to her commanding officer that she thought Superman was "kinda hot". Considering the grit and dedication she would've had to display to get to her current position, is that really the sort of thing she would be likely to say to an authority figure in her job? Even if she did think that, I humbly suggest she would've had the self-control to keep it to herself. It just made her seem like a silly schoolgirl instead of a hardworking woman. 

Bechdel Test Pass/Fail: Iffy. Lois and Jenny have an exchange ("Why is the printer out of toner?" "You have got to come see this...") which is not in the strictest terms a conversation; more just two unrelated sentences tossed at each other. Given the relatively higher number of female characters in this film, you'd think they could've managed to give at least two of them meaningful dialogue that didn't directly involve a male. 

Male:Female Ratio: In terms of presence of women, this film did pretty well (especially compared with its counterparts in the same genre which often feature only one or two token females). Pretty well all the male main characters had a female counterpart-- Zod and his second-in-command Faora, Clark and Lois, Jor-El and Lara, Clark's parents,  Perry and Jenny, General Swanwick and Captain Farris. It is telling, however, that every single male main character holds the role of authority or action, while the females really are 'counterparts': second-in-commands, supporters, love interests, and underlings.

So, overall, not awful like some superhero movies can be (don't get me started on Iron Man 3...) but by now means a shining star either.

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