One movie this year was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, made over $1 billion, caused nationwide controversy and just so happens to be based on DC Comics.
Directed by Academy Award nominee Todd Phillips, “Joker” is the highest-grossing rated R film of all time.
A story about a mentally ill man that becomes a murdering clown earned the seventh most money of the year.
Warner Bros. and Phillips pulled no punches. This film is bloody, curse-filled and undeniably uncomfortable.
While there are those who didn’t like the film, “Joker” is nominated for the most Academy Awards and lead actor Joaquin Phoenix has already won awards for his performance at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
The audience for this film was a perfect storm of nerd culture, mental health advocates and film buffs.
Would this perfect storm have existed 10 years ago?
Let’s take a trip back to June of 2013.
The Miami Heat were on their way to back-to-back championships, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk was atop the charts and Vine was rapidly growing in popularity.
Something else you may have forgotten after June 2013 was the release of Zach Snyder’s “Man of Steel.”
The Superman reboot earned $668 million at the box office, but faced a lot of scrutiny for its muted color scheme and dreary plot.
Full spoilers for “Man of Steel” below.
In the film’s climactic final battle, Metropolis is being decimated by a Kryptonian World Engine.
The tallest skyscrapers imaginable crashing to the ground while survivors run through the streets surrounded by clouds of dust.
Shortly after the film premiered, controversial screenwriter Max Landis went to his YouTube channel to share his displeasure with the film and also said: “… after hundreds of thousands of people have died on camera is such a direct 9/11 corollary…”
In 2013 Variety’s Justin Chang also wrote: “I’d say Snyder goes even further than those movies in the way he channels the specific terror and chaos of 9/11.”
On top of the 9/11 comparison, some DC fans were also outraged that Superman (Henry Cavill) brutally snaps Zod’s (Michael Shannon) neck – making him a killer.
In my opinion, Superman had to kill Zod, he was given no other choice.
“Man of Steel” does a good job of explaining that Zod was never going to stop or settle for less than recreating Krypton.
Once that plan is no longer an option, Zod simply goes ballistic. Someone with Superman-like strength looking to get revenge on Earth’s people.
Superman doesn’t want to kill him, he just couldn’t let Zod kill the innocent.
The Man of Steel even cries out after killing Zod, a clear indication that he’s troubled by this hard decision.
As for the destruction of Metropolis, I would have never correlated the scene to 9/11 on my own. For me, it was how any giant city would look while sections of it crumble to the streets.
“Man of Steel” couldn’t shake the controversy as “Joker” did. In fairness, both films faced controversy for two very separate reasons, but they are both undeniably dark films.
In a direct comparison, “Man of Steel” could even be considered upbeat or chipper compared to the emotional weight of “Joker.”
In 2013 no one wanted to crack through a dark, dull outer shell. People wanted the flashing lights and quippy characters from 2012’s “The Avengers.”
The story of Clark Kent in this movie is about self-discovery, fitting in and knowing the difference between right and wrong.
We see Clark go through life not knowing why he has these powers, why he has to be different than everyone else. He also struggles to know how and when to use his powers for good.
Clark even lets his father die in a tornado because he didn’t believe it was time for the world to see that his son was different.
I believe this movie gives us our best look at what it would really be like if an alien came to Earth and was virtually unstoppable.
The U.S. military involvement, The Daily Planet afraid to publish a story due to fear of public reaction and where religious beliefs fall in this fiction world, to name a few.
I’d advise anyone who has made it this far to rewatch “Man of Steel” sometime soon.
Maybe you already love the movie, if so that’s great, but if not, give it another chance.
I think with a few more years under your belt you may believe in the brilliance that I do.