The Cavil Over Henry Cavill, and other thoughts on Man of Steel

Wayne Boring Superman

1. Happy to Be Here

I was delighted to sit in on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, a Very Special Episode we — okay, I — have decided to call “The Cavil Over Henry Cavill.” The A-topic this week was the arrival of Man of Steel, the muscled-up, darkened-down reboot of Superman film franchise that is, we all agree, short on humor. Also short on height. Zing!

Any regular listener to the show will know that Glen Weldon, my pal-for-life and 25 percent of the show’s regular lineup (along with host Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson and Trey Graham), just spent the better part of two years researching and writing the marvelous Superman: The Unauthorized Biography. I recently ran a freezing cold 12-mile death race wearing a Superman T-shirt, so our credentials are roughly equivalent.

But they didn’t exactly need a second longtime Supes fan. I snuck in by making fun of Henry Cavill’s average-ish height. He is, for the record, exactly as tall as I am if you believe IMDB, an authority on which actor heights seem to be self-reported.

“I think he makes you feel short,” Linda tells me during the show.

Ouch. But I am not alone. My film-critic crush Dana Stevens said on the Slate Culture Gabfest this week — an episode featuring the Gabfest debut of one Glen (Superman:The Unauthorized Biography) Weldon —  that she kept picturing Cavill “standing on a milk crate. Amy Adams seems strapping compared to him.”

And yet he does make me feel short. Cavill’s performance in the movie is the one element we all agreed worked splendidly. Otherwise we differed in our assessments, although it’s clear I liked it more than Linda, who liked slightly more than half of it, and more than Steven, who hated it…. which means he still may have appreciated it more than G-Weld, who in various podcast appearances this week has called the film “small” and “evil” and likened it to a Transformers film. I understand why he said that, but that’s still way harsh, guy.

I have different tastes from the PCHH gang, particularly where summer blockbusters are concerned. They’re more The Avengers, I’m more The Dark Knight. I like my blockbusters intense and a little bruising. I was at an impressionable age when I saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day in the theater on opening night in 1991. My popcorn and candy were untouched at the end of the the 135-minute film because it was so suspenseful I couldn’t eat. That’s what I want from a blockbuster, at least sometimes. I like to feel a little beat up when it’s over.

…which is not to say that’s what I want from a Superman movie. It isn’t. And come to think of it, it’s pretty weird that Terminator 2 is a lot more aware of the sanctity of human life than Man of Steel is.

Lots more semi-sorted reflections on Man of Steel after the jump.

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