I have a theory for what is causing "
Around the fifth time
Jor returns as a hologram. So on the multiplex screen, dead Jor and live Jor look exactly the same. Lois Lane (
At that moment it hit me: The TV pilot plague had infected "Man of Steel."
The plague usually proves fatal before a TV show can make it to prime time. The infected that do rarely last long — remember "The Mob Doctor"? Last fall? On Fox? My point.
The major symptom is a kind of feverish fear. Fear of blowing your chance by leaving too many lingering questions, of being misunderstood, of not being able to pay the mortgage on the new place in Los Feliz. But fill in too many blanks and dialogue begins to sound like a Hewlett Packard owner's manual. Or Jor-El.
About half of Crowe's lines courtesy of David S. Goyer's script are meant not for anyone on screen. They are for us, the audience.
The film turns to Jor for historical context, and Superman comes with a lot historical baggage. Apparently the filmmakers believe they have a lot of explaining to do.
It doesn't need to be that way.
The most significant lesson? You can intrigue with tantalizing, often dead-end or otherworldly plot twists as long as you always, always entertain. That buys a lot of time, or at least six seasons, without explaining anything. There are still bloggers out there debating the final episode.
The trepidation is understandable. In television, series creators get one shot to set up an entire new world and hook an audience into caring. In Snyder's case — one shot at setting up a new Superman franchise.
There is no sure cure for the fear factor, but as philosophers tell us, it is all about how you face it. As someone wisely counseled Superman (
Christopher Nolan took a giant leap in crafting 2005's
Nolan never asked whether redrawing Batman for a new era was OK with us. He almost dared us to go with his vision. And we did.
The 2008 sequel, "
Though there is no sign the writer-director ever suffered through TV pilot season, somewhere Nolan picked up a knack for teasing out the unexplained. It was there in 2000's
Which brings us back to "Man of Steel." The director is always first in the line of fire when it comes to laying blame for a film's shortcomings, but Snyder has never been accused of being cautious or fearful.
Snyder has been bold, starting with "300's" distinctive portrait of heroic death in 2006. More visually than verbally expressive, "300's" very brashness put Snyder on the map.
The director's last outing, 2011's "Sucker Punch," was certainly not shy. As one of maybe three critics in the world to like the movie, I did, and I do, see merit in its Dickensian morality tale.
The dialogue offered little about "Sucker Punch's" orphans, such as why the teen girls were hookers or mainly dressed in bustiers and baby doll pajamas. The reasons for the living hell they were in and the various purgatory war zones they were forced to survive were never spelled out. The stunning imagery answered most of the questions.
All this is not to suggest that "Man of Steel" should have been one big question mark. But the high-flying aerial showdown between Superman and his archnemesis Gen. Zod (
Now a word to the filmmakers about the sequel, because you know — cha-ching — it is coming. Start by keeping in mind that audiences are a pretty discerning bunch these days. TV has learned to trust its viewers, serving up brilliantly challenging shows. We have rewarded them by watching.
So next time, instead of talking about a leap of faith, try taking one. On us.