Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel is a comic book origins story of the finest degree. Man Of Steel tells the story of the godlike Superman. Kal-El is the son of Jor-El and is sent to Earth just before his homeworld Krypton is destroyed. Now taking the alias Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), he discovers his true calling when he is led to become Superman. He’s a hero committed to protecting Earth from those who’d see it harmed. Fellow Kryptonian, General Zod (Michael Shannon) looks at Earth’s existence differently. He sees the Earth as a waste of life and the mortals as nothing more than primitive beings. Superman, with the aid of the US miliary and Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams), unite to stop the evil Kryptonian Zod from ending all life on Earth as we know it.
Omitting “Superman” from the title sends a message that this is going to be unlike all previous Superman movies. Snyder’s interpretation of the story is darker than all previous renditions. To be frank, the earlier movies have been B-movie quality and have aged poorly. There are movies that I watch from those times that are still watchable today but those movies just make me cringe. Man Of Steel is a complete revamp of the character from his imperfections whilst still retaining his moral compass and his wanting to do good, regardless of the cost. This film is dark, violent and very uncanny to the scenes at Ground Zero in 2001 with toppling skyscrapers and fume-inhaling survivors.
Henry Cavill’s Superman has a new improved suit and they’ve learnt from the past to stop putting red underpants on the outside. Directed by Zack Snyder (Batman V Superman) and produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy), Man Of Steel leaves behind the sparkly and Disney movie-spirited Superman behind, and looks at the darker and more realistic side to the character, as in when Clarke finds out that you can’t save everyone. He tries to save Zod from himself but can’t when Zod puts Earth in danger as well as everyone he loves. This movie has severed ties to the cringeworthy Christopher Reeve and Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns and has reinvented the character entirely. It brings the character in tune with the culture of melancholy stories about rogues defending a world that doesn’t want them, or blamed for things that are out of their control. Humans need a scapegoat and it’s easy to blame an alien.
The opening scenes are on Krypton and it’s wonderful to look at. It’s a great example of fantasy as we see Avatar-esque winged creatures and pompous rulers thinking they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. Snyder’s depiction of Krypton lays the grounding of a great world full of mythos, waiting to be explored more. The script was written by David S. Goyer (Blade) and starts with a prologue on the Kryptonian homeworld. Superman’s father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and mother Lara (Ayelet Zurer) are fighting on two fronts. The first is against the government in that their environmental carelessness has put the planet into a self-destructive time bomb. The second is to stop a rebellion led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) who is annoyed at Jor-El because he violated Krypton’s breeding law, to conceive a son the old way. Zod and his posse are imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. Kal-El is sent to Earth shortly before Krypton bites the dust and is raised on Earth by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) in the picturesque rural Kansas in the United States.
For me, one of the most potent scenes in the entire movie is when a teenage Clark Kent saves a school bus load of his classmates from drowning in a river. He then goes home to his Earth father, Jonathan Kent and they talk about whether he should have done it or not. It’s the moral dilmemma between knowing he can do something but choosing to do nothing or doing what’s necessary and saving those people but at the risk of exposing himself to the world. He saves his classmates from certain death. But his father knows that if Clark ever revealed himself to the world on a grand scale, he’d be met with hostility. The world will never be read to accept those who are different. We can’t even get along with people of different races or religions. I dread to think what would happen if there was an alien in our midst. Clarke would be labelled as freak and monster because he’s different. Humanity hates what it does not understand.
Another great scene is when Clark runs out of his school lesson because he can hear everything. His senses are more powerful than any human. He sees and hears everything. He dashes to the bathroom and he emotionally drops, like a sack of potatoes. He can see people’s organs and hear things that are happening down the street as he hasn’t mastered sound filtering and he has yet to get his lead-laced glasses. Costner is superb as Daddy Kent in this father figure role and he’s Clarke’s voice of reason. He knows that if Clarke fights back in any way, people will find out about him. Jonathan has zero trust in human nature and knows that Clark will essentially become a government asset where he will be experimented on like a lab rat. When older Clark heads north, he finds his own place AKA The Fortress Of Solitude and a second father, his biological father Jor-El. He’s Clark’s mentor but also his eyes and ears in many situations, including helping Clarke against Zod.
I like the portrayal of Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in this movie as a competent reporter. The attraction between her and Clark is evident but it fails to get going. It’s more evident in Batman V Superman. Clark is constantly battling the forces inside his mind. Meanwhile, Lois is uncovering a government conspiracy to hide traces of a Kryptonian spaceship. Then she struggles to publish this story because nobody will believe her. Aliens? Seriously Lois. It’s the kind of story that you get sacked and smeared for. Crazy conspiracy are outcasts to society. Daily Planet Editor Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) laughed at her, in addition to the fact that she can’t prove it. This movie has a ban on strong female characters. Amy Adams was good with what she was given but I believe that all female characters in the movie were damsels always needing to be saved. Hopefully, that’ll change later on the DCEU.
In my opinion, the action scenes and cinematography are really great. They are full and into the body. This is a very masculine movie and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a movie about the Man Of Steel. I also enjoyed the concept, as it is analyzing mankind as a social construct. Humans will never relinquish their control and Superman reveals that, for all to see. They suddenly became afraid when they saw they couldn’t control Superman. Humans want to drive but Superman was driving the car whilst us humans were driving shotgun. There’s a great scene when they put Superman in handcuffs (he let them). He lets them because it makes them feel safer despite him being able to leave at any time he wishes. After all, we are creatures of habit.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this movie. It has some great acting performances and fight scenes. Furthermore, it shows a realistic aftermath of what would happen if someone like that ever came to our world, let alone a whole crew as we saw with Zod and his goons. I loved the musical score from Hans Zimmer (12 Years A Slave) but it’s an all round good movie. It’s slow to get going but once it does, it doesn’t stop. The second half trumps the first half and it’s truly the world’s finest Superman movie and is one of my favourite comic book movies to date. It portrays the horrors of what would happen when otherworldly beings come to party, and that’s something that I’ve been looking for in a superhero for a long time.