To any of my followers is not a Superman fan or a comic book fan, I sincerely apologize. But I can’t help myself. I have been waiting years, YEARS, for a new Superman movie and I can’t stay away from discussing it. To any of who have not yet seen the movie and wish to do so:
Like I’ve said before, I really, really liked the movie. Was it perfect? No. It does have some problems, like Jor-El perhaps being it in longer than he should have and maybe Kal-El should have some sort of training before actually suiting up. I do get why this was done, the plot needed to move along and I believe they wanted to make it clear that he was biologically Kryptonian but human by nurture. Though he has the powers of a god he has human emotions and experiences. But it would have been a nice touch if Jor-El instructed him once and for all and then his presence had been reduced.
Using flashbacks instead of linear story-telling has its benefits and its drawbacks. On the one hand it creates a sort of balance between action and the more emotional parts of the story, but on the other hand it doesn’t really allow you to feel completely attached to the Kents. It doesn’t ruin the movie; it was very Batman Begins of them, but Clark’s story is slightly more complicated than Bruce’s because there’s a whole lot we don’t understand or can’t relate to [That could be argued is a problem with every Superman portrayal], and requires more linearity at times. However, one of the best things of the flashbacks is Clark rescuing his bully. He was eternally grateful to Clark for the rest of his life, actually lending him his hand after he had been pushed to the ground. It was a small thing, but it was one the key messages of Superman; seeing the good in every human being and trying to save everyone because they deserve to be saved.
Krypton, let’s talk about Krypton for a moment. In the past the viewer got the sense that Krypton was superior to Earth in every way; We are led to believe that all Kryptonians, except for Zod and his minions, are wiser and fairer than humans. This is not the case in the Man of Steel. And I loved that. It was a world of conquerors and they did terrible things to other worlds and their own resulting in the destruction of their own planet. This whole back story, or prologue, gave the movie a sci-fi vibe to it. Perhaps that is what threw some people off balance who were expecting a more ‘classic Superman’ story, but it added something extra to the “I came to Earth-grew up in a farm-became Superman” story line. I respect that move not only because it adds to the story but is also able to explain the nature and origin of the Kryptonian’s powers on Earth. I loved that Clark felt weaker inside the Kryptonian ship and that the Faora and Zod were blindsided by their own abilities.
One of the movie’s most positive aspects is the women. I don’t keep my love for Lois Lane a secret. And Amy Adam’s Lois Lane did not disappoint. In her very first minutes on screen you know who she is; she’ll let you know exactly what she thinks of you no matter who you are. She drives the plot, for the very first time on the silver screen. She’s just not someone Superman has to rescue, a side-plot or just his romantic interest. Clark saved her and she is determined to find him. When she does and actually speaks to him she puts ‘story hungry journalist’ aside and becomes his first ally. Instead of Clark protecting Lois, she is protecting him by simply dropping the story that would expose him to the world. Her commitment to the truth is extremely visible in this version; the clearest example was the internet leak of the Kryptonian space ship and her ‘mystery savior’. Not to mention that she and Clark work together to bring down World Engines [colonizing ships]; she is Earth’s savior just as much as Superman. And for that alone this movie deserves respect.
Faora was equally as terrifying as Zod. Granted she wasn’t the main villain, but she was ruthless, powerful and cruel. She never just threatened to just kill, she went for it. And there was no holding other women hostage for the sake it, the closest thing you to that was her trying to choke out the truth out of Martha Kent. No woman in this movie was a simple plot device, there was more to them than that. Clark’s mothers, Lara and Martha, though they weren’t as important in the story as his fathers, there are not just in the background. If Jonathan Kent tried to guide Clark, Martha soothed him [even if this one only visible in a scene or two].
The destruction of Metropolis was massive, although a more experienced Superman might have moved away from the already half destroyed city, the massive wreckage really showed what his powers are capable of, if fully unleashed. It was their way of showing the audience what a world where Superman was more like Zod would look like; pure destruction and death.
Now the moment that made my jaw drop, Superman killing Zod. I really did not see that coming, during the weeks leading up to the release I kept trying to figure out how Zod would be beaten without being killed. My question was answered; you can’t. Zod made it pretty clear that it was a ‘kill or be killed” situation. Part of me wishes that it hadn’t been that way, but like I said before, if Zod’s wrath and powers were unleashed on Earth it would result in destruction. It was a hard decision to make and I would have been upset if it hadn’t been for the fact that Clark grieved Zod’s death and was consumed by guilt. I wish that had been longer in the film instead of skipping ahead to his introduction to the Daily Planet; it was a bit rushed to be honest.
If fans are saying how Christopher Reeve’s Superman never did anything so dark in anything of his films, I’d like to point out that in both cuts of Superman II Richard Lester’s cut and Donner’s, and not the TV versions of it, Superman does in fact kill Zod. And it’s played out lightly; he breaks his hand, picks him up and tosses off to an endless pit/fall in the Fortress of Solitude. And he does all this with a smirk on his face. Lois punches Ursa, who also falls off into doom (?) and Non suffering the same fate [out of his own stupidity].
The Man of Steel does a better a job at humanizing Superman in that crucial moment of his life.
All this being said, I give the movie 4 out 5. There are parts that could have been longer and others that should have been shorter, but it is by all means not a bad movie. It’s a solid beginning to a new Superman mythos for the big screen. The sequel will be better and hopefully David S. Goyer and Zack Synder improve on some aspects that were criticized in this movie. With the Man of Steel Clark took off, hopefully the sequel will make him soar beyond our expectations.