I finally realized this as I looked around for something to use to slit my wrists during the two hour CGI fight-scene that finished Man of Steel: this movie was made for retards. And no, I’m not retracting that. This film was nothing more than a pointless CGI fight that lasted close to two hours combined with CGI disaster porn. That’s it. There’s no story. There are no characters. Even worse, if you felt the least bit tense during the fights, then you’re an idiot because both sides are invincible and cannot be hurt!! Seriously! Neither Superman nor Zod could get hurt, so what’s the point in fighting?
Anyway, the problems with films like Man of Steel are these: (1) they substitute endless CGI fight scenes for plot or characters, and (2) they dumb the stories down to a level that everyone should be insulted, and as a consequence they create tension free, interest free films. By comparison, the cartoons are surprisingly smart. In fact, the two things the cartoons do right are the very things the live-action versions do wrong.
Consider the mindless plots. The live action films are generally a series of waaaaaay overly long fight scenes strung together with a few cliché moments wedged between. The cartoons are not. The cartoons are plot heavy. They involve a villain who has some scheme and sets that scheme into motion. The superhero must first discover what is going on and then must stop that scheme. In the process, the superhero typically discovers the involvement of someone they considered a friend, they encounter traps set for them by the villain, they are put into moral dilemmas, and they struggle just to get to the final battle.
Will there be fights along they way? Absolutely, and they last about a minute at the most before the villain escapes. As for the final fight scene, you’re talking about maybe a maximum of five minutes, depending on how many superheroes are involved, and even then you get a variety of action... it’s not just two morons beating on each other as the building around them collapse.
What’s more, they don’t dumb any of this down. When they talk about human nature, they hit the issues head on. They talk about all the good and the bad, the rational, the irrational. They allow that people hold different views. They point out that not everyone can be won over. They also address realistic issues. None of this is true with the live-action films, which substitute mindless platitudes for issues and seek not to offend anyone: “People fear what they don’t understand.” Talk about a shallow and safe “thought.”
I find it amazing that a film aimed at children (in theory at least) would trust its audience so much more than a film at an adult audience (in theory at least). But there is a reason: the competition.
Oh, and the answer to the question that was brought up with agonizing regularity in Man of Steel (not that the film bothered to ever explore this issue) is that the same public that flocks to movies and documentaries about aliens, who tell pollsters they believe in life on other planets, and who have reacted to every other human discovery or invention calmly and with excitement is that they would be thrilled to learn of Superman’s existence.