There is a lot riding on Man of Steel. Since the Dark Knight trilogy has wrapped up, DC and Warner Brothers need a new franchise to help them compete against the Marvel juggernaut. If Man of Steel is a success, then there will absolutely be another Batman movie in development and Justice League will be fast-tracked.
I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing. I just don’t want them to rush anything.
I think we can all appreciate the original Superman movies and respect them for pioneering comic book movies. Granted it took nearly 20 years afterwards for anyone to make a great comic book movie (Tim Burton’s Batman) but Superman made filmgoers believe that a man could fly. It’s because of the iconic Christopher Reeve that I ran around my house wearing Superman underwear and a towel cape around my neck at the age of 7 (let’s be honest, this was last year).
The problem is, Superman has never been done justice. Yes, the first two movies are fun to watch but they were extremely simple. Then 3 and 4 came out and tarnished Superman. Bryan Singer had a great opportunity in 2006 to reintroduce Superman to the masses that would have welcomed him with open arms. But instead of making a great Super-human movie, he made an art film (similar in scope to Ang Lee’s Hulk). I still get angry when I think about Superman fighting an island. So dumb. I liked Brandon Routh, but he was more Clark Kent than Superman. It just felt like Singer was trying to recapture the magic of the originals and it was blandsville.
You can see why there has been trepidation to bring the character back to the big screen. How do you make an invulnerable character relatable anyways?
That brings us to Christopher Nolan, the apparent Godfather to the DC movie universe. He brought on visually talented, but inconsistent director Zack Snyder to direct. The pairing of their two visions is magic on screen.
We all know the story of the last son of Krypton being sent to Earth and being raised as a small town Kansas boy, until he realizes his potential and calling. But this time around, there is a bigger emphasis on Krypton. In fact, the first 25 minutes of the movie take place on the dying planet of Krypton. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) knows that the only way for Krypton to live on is by sending his infant son to another planet. Though, General Zod (Michael Shannon) intends to stop him. Zod eventually becomes imprisoned in the Phantom Zone.
This movie takes some risks in terms of pacing. Clark is fully grown when we first meet him. He is doing some soul-searching and has numerous flashbacks about growing up in Smallville and receiving counsel from his father (Kevin Costner). This risk in pacing definitely pays off. We don’t need to watch Clark grow up and go through the motions. Instead, we see him in action as he discovers who he is meant to become and that is spliced with the heart of the movie, being life lessons from his youth.
Meanwhile Zod and his minions have escaped from their black hole prison and threaten the Earth to ensnare Kal-El (If you don’t know that’s Superman, then why are you still reading this?).
So once Zod and Supes finally collide in the final half, you finally get exactly what you’ve always wanted from a movie about the most powerful being ever. Obliterating. Superhuman. Action.
This movie delivered in every way. Superman’s world may not be as innocent as we remember, but Cavill plays the character as trusting and self-sacrificing. He is still the boy scout that fights for truth, justice and the American way.
The action is absolutely incredible and even stays away from the Snyder slo-mo action shots I’m used to. There are few times in comic book movies where I care about any of the destruction being caused by the villain. But as Metropolis was being leveled, I felt actual anxiety. I hoped the mayhem would stop, but at the same time, wanted it to continue. And it does. Let’s just say that Superman proves his might in this movie. It’s a sad fact when we’ve seen so many Superman movies where he doesn’t even punch anyone.
This movie has heart, action and great performances. Henry Cavill was the perfect choice. At one point in the movie, his face looks exactly like Reeve’s. I’m sure it was intentional, but I still cried a little geek tear. Many people will have issues with how Lois Lane (Amy Adams) was handled, but at least she gets to prove that she really is a great journalist and not just a damsel in distress. Michael Shannon works great as a villain because he believes that his actions will lead to the most moral outcome.
The subtext of this movie is love and compassion from father(s) to son. Crowe and especially Costner nail this. Without them, this movie wouldn’t have half of the emotional impact.
Does it sound like I love this movie? It’s because I do. It’s a great and necessary reintroduction to a character who has never been represented how he needs to be. Welcome back Superman.