Dystopian Societies Everywhere

Man of Steel

Man of Steel (Photo credit: abhiomkar)

Hubby and I decided to give the “Man of Steel” a whirl recently.  The last Superman installment was disappointing in that the actor, Brandon Routh, although such wonderful eye-candy, was pretty blah on-screen. Not much connection there across the digital divide.

This time, Henry Cavill delivers, I must say.  But, this is hardly what you could call a chick-flick.  For one thing, there were too many buildings falling, cars and trucks flung and pummeled, and the fight scenes were tedious enough to induce coma.  What’s more, significant women such as Martha Kent, Lois Lane and Faora (General Zod‘s sidekick commander) had such minor roles and their characters only served to help Kal-El‘s further understanding of his unusual situation, and condition.


Dystopia (Photo credit: Enokson)

What struck me with this re-creation of Superman’s origins is the insertion of yet another dystopian society on the planet Krypton.

  • Kryptonians have a council of bony elders who meet and discuss and argue issues. (Do they ever make a decision?)
  • Kryptonians are cloned, not born. Their genetic make-up is dictated by what they are destined to be: scientists, warriors, engineers, etc.  Therefore, these babies are born with no choice on what they could be.
  • Kal-El was conceived and develops through, heaven-forbid!, the natural way, by Jor-El and his wife, Lara.  So, he’s a Kryptonian anomaly.  He’s doomed to be an outcast.  He has a choice on his future. He could be a Barca-lounging Jamba-juice sipping, computer-game obsessed lout.  Or he could be a hot superhero in spandex who’s faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap giant mountains in a single bound, and all that.
  • Kryptonians don’t like to kill as much as possible.  When Zod and his team are found guilty of treason, they are banished to the Phantom Zone, not executed.
  • Kryptonians abused their planet and they ended up destroying it completely, thereby annihilating their entire population.  They’re supposed to be a far advanced society compared to us earthlings, but look!  They could not make things work, in spite of their superior intelligence, their far advanced technology, their orderly and probably, predictable, society.

    Fahrenheit 451

    Fahrenheit 451 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have often wondered why these dystopian cum post-apocalyptic themes have flourished in the recent years.  I have even posted in the past about it here and here.  I wonder if it’s our way of escaping our problematic realities.  We get to inhabit another world far worse than ours temporarily through books, novels, movies, TV series, video games, etc.  Is it our way of consoling ourselves that our lives are not as terrible as we think they might be? That there are worse worlds to live in?

Or perhaps, is it our delving on the possibilities of what the future might look like with all the modern developments we are able to avail of today.  Are we projecting into the future of what our lives might be if technology took a slight turn to the left or right?  I came across such books with similar baseline themes but one where the issue of no privacy or big brother are taken a little further out:  Moxyland by Lauren Beukes or Blind Faith by Bob Elton.  Or, remember the movie, The Island, where the character played by Ewan McGregor discovers that his whole raison d’être is for his harvestable organs and other body parts in the event his owner needs them.  Are you shuddering yet?

P.S. My hubby had a few words for the movie: Did not like that Lois Lane knew early on who Superman is.  It’s a love story starving of romantic scenes.  Did not like story re-write altogether.  “How will they write-in Supergirl and Superdog?  There’s gotta be a superdog!”

As for me, I was mostly focused on the genetic pre-determination and the pseudo-perfect society that self-destructed.

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13 Responses to Dystopian Societies Everywhere

  1. The Hook says:

    I agree; we need Krypto!


  2. My husband and his best friend (both grew up on Marvel comics and are now in their early 60s went to see the film over the weekend). I had no desire to see the movie and from their review, I’m glad I didn’t go. They’ve said it would be their last. Often these two grown men remind me of kids in a candy store (a cliche for sure) but they threw up their hands and said ‘no more.’


    • likeitiz says:

      Like your husband and his friend, we’re longtime Marvel Superhero fans. We grew up with the comic book series. We lumped it with the Juicy Fruits and Frutellas. I guess you can say these are bygone times, huh?


  3. lidipiri says:

    My sentiments reflected in your words. I saw it yesterday in IMAX and 3D in the Sony Center in Berlin, Germany in GERMAN. Now I know not one word of German so relied completely on expressions and actions. Felt like I was witnessing a video game. Not much feeling into it all.


  4. Barbara says:

    I’ve often thought it sacrilegious that Superman was being remade. There is only one Superman: Christopher Reeve, may he rest in peace. However, I agree that Henry Cavil is certainly a delicious stand in. And yes, what about Supergirl and Superdog?!


    • likeitiz says:

      Indeed, Christopher Reeve was the right combination of a beautiful man, strength underneath grace, and he also played the goofy Clark so endearingly.

      I’m willing to give Mr. Cavill a chance.


  5. I thought it was an action packed thrilling movie. It was so different from the first Superman I saw with Christopher Reeve but I thought it has its own unique qualities. It did miss that magical love effect when Superman and Lois Lane flew with the music “can you read my mind” in the back ground which to this day bring back memories happy childhood memories. Superman 1 was my first movie experience as a little boy and you can’t forget those kind of events.


  6. frizztext says:

    “I have often wondered why these dystopian cum post-apocalyptic themes have flourished in the recent years…”


  7. munchow says:

    Thanks for giving your evaluation of the latest superman. I have to admit none of the previous installments have convinced me so far, not since the first one was released in 1978. The question of why we “enjoy” stories about dystopian societies, whether on films or in books, is very interesting. I think one major reason is it’s a way of describing tendencies in present-day’s societies or even how they are today. It’s simply a way to investigate what is going on in our world. Like Karel Čapek in his War with the Newts and George Orwell in his Animal Farm or 1984.


    • likeitiz says:

      Yes, that cast was quite something too in 1978. War of the Newts is the last of a three part novel, right? It’s more a criticism of the state of affairs in Europe and the U.S.


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