Monday, June 17, 2013

On Man of Steel and video games

Speaking of Superman, let's briefly talk Man of Steel. Initial impression: I'm pretty mixed-to-negative on it. There are some interesting elements, especially visually (always true for Zack Snyder), but I could've used way more Smallville and non-destroyed-Metropolis, and way less explosions (also always true for Zack Snyder) and Krypton.

If Bryan Singer's Superman Returns skewed too heavily emotional at the expense of memorable action, Man of Steel has the opposite problem, favoring mindless destruction over character investment. The happy medium between those extremes remains Richard Donner's Superman, still the definitive live-action representation of the world and tone of these characters.

Ironically, Singer encountered the same problem on Superman Returns that Snyder had later when adapting Watchmen: By being overzealous in his devotion to the source material of Donner's Superman, Singer was unable to give his own version any potency. With Man of Steel, Snyder feels no such obligations; make no mistake, this is Zack Snyder's Superman, for better or (mostly) worse.

In contrast, Supes's Justice League compatriot Batman is faring better recently on the adaptation front: Last week, Warner Bros. released the gameplay trailer for Arkham Origins, due out in October.



Admittedly, I haven't been much of a gamer since the Super Nintendo was still around, but what I have played and seen of the Batman: Arkham series has been enough to nearly suck me back in. Playing from the Dark Knight's POV to solve puzzles, select utility belt options, and swing on the grappling gun is the kind of video game I dreamed of as a kid (it's the closest thing to being Batman!).

But what's really made the series stand out is that its creators truly understand the character and the city he inhabits. The Arkham games collect generations of source material and choose from among different story lines and visuals, allowing players to move among a Gotham that's familiar but wholly the series' own. They've been able to do what I suggested future Nolanverse Dark Knight films could by keeping the story grounded in the "reality" of a hard-boiled modern metropolis while still incorporating the "Dark Deco" elements of the animated series and comics.

Would that Snyder could do the same with Superman's long history for his inevitable sequel.

1 comment:

jane said...

I totally agree superman series is so overly rated. It gets boring and predictable after a while.