Man of Steel (2013) – Not Your Father’s Superman

Man Of Steel (2013)Man of Steel is a 2013 reboot of the Superman franchise directed by Zack Snyder, produced by Christopher Nolan, and scripted by David S. Goyer.  Once again we’re given the origin of the character which was originally told in the 1978 classic Superman.  Early indications are that Man of Steel is to launch a shared movie universe similar to how Marvel has created a shared universe for Iron Man, Thor and the other Avengers.  This flick is pretty much either loved or hated… I’m not sure I quite understand either sentiment.

THE PLOT

Just as I did (or didn’t do as the case may be) with my Iron Man 3 commentary, I’m not going to go into a super detailed plot summary.  There are far better resources out there if you’re looking for a run down of what happened in the movie.  That said, I will speak openly so consider this a spoiler filled discussion.  If you don’t want to know plot points, skip this post until after you’ve seen the film.

Krypton (Superman’s home planet) is screwed.  It’s on a one way track to destruction and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it.  The high council is taken over by General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his minions.  Jor-El (Russel Crowe) and his wife (Ayelet Zurer) jettison their son into space so he can be saved from the planet’s destruction.  Zod kills Jor-El and he and his crew are banished to the Phantom Zone (a prison type thing) but is freed when Krypton is destroyed.

Kal-El is raised on Earth by his adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane).  After a retelling of Kal-El’s youth, (dubbed Clark by his Earth parents) Clark finds a link to his past when his Kryptonian spaceship is unearthed.  Aboard the ship, Kal meets a vision of his father Jor-El.  Louis Lane (Amy Adams) also finds the ship and she now knows about Clark’s alter-ego though she does not reveal who he is.

General Zod and crew come to Earth looking for Kal who’s now the key to rebuilding Krypton and all of it’s people (stick with me).  Zod demands that Earth turn over Kal to him in return for peace.  Kal agrees but Zod reveals his true plan is to use a “world engine” to transform Earth into a new and improved Krypton.  Naturally, this would destroy the entire human population.  Huge battles ensue between Kal-El, Zod, the military and Zod’s crew, shit blows up, Kal kills all the bad guys (yep… you read that right) and the flick ends with Clark taking a job at the Daily Planet.

COMMENTARY

I’m glad that I waited a few days to write this review.  It’s allowed me to sit back and really consider what I thought about this film.   As I said in the intro, this film is pretty polarizing.  People either love it or hate it.  I’ve heard that it’s clearly the best Superman movie we’ve ever gotten.  This, I think, is pretty stupid.  This is barely a “Superman” movie at all.  If fact, I don’t think he’s even called “Superman” once.  Those semantics aside, this is a movie about an alien making his way in the world.  The character of Superman has always been an alien, but THIS telling is the first time where that fact was really brought home to me.

The folks that think this is the greatest Superman movie are being blinded by the (get ready for me to create a word here) Michael-Bay-ification of Superman.  That’s not necessary a bad thing, as I have a tendency to really enjoy Michael Bay movies.  But they’ve got a certain look and feel to them.  The 78′ Superman and the sequel Superman II are far superior to this in my opinion.  But that’s not to say Man of Steel isn’t a really fun film… it absolutely is.  I walked out with a huge smile on my face.  But I do have to laugh at that ADHD crowd who consider this the best… maybe I’m just getting old.  This is a huge “assault on the senses” experience that I expected from director Snyder and producer Nolan. It was however a nice and refreshing take on the origin story of Kal-El.

As for the folks who hated this take on Sup. I think this is pretty stupid as well.  A couple major complaints that I continue to hear is that his suit is different and that “Superman never kills.”  Let’s tackle the suit issue first.  Really?  This is your complaint with this film?  I actually really liked the suit.  If you’re tied up about the fact that Superman is no longer wearing his underwear on the outside of his uniform you’ve got bigger problems.  As for the whole, “Superman never kills” thing.  Um… did you not see Superman II?  Pretty sure ol Chris Reeves killed Zod, Ursa AND Non.  Oh, and regardless of how much you’ve tried to forget about it, he killed ol Nuclear Man in Quest For Peace too.

The cast here is great.  Henry Cavill plays both the Clark Kent and Kal-El parts very nicely, though as I pointed out earlier there really isn’t much “Clark” here.  When he is in Clark mode I’m getting a Hugh Jackman / Wolverine vibe (especially early when he’s shirtless and bearded).  That said, he rocks the Super suit to great result.

Zod and gang were incredible even if I was getting a Matrix: Revolutions flashback every time they were on screen.  Speaking of the Matrix… I’m not sure how you COULDN’T have seen the comparisons.  Hell… we’ve even got some of the same characters.  Amy Adams was serviceable as Louis Lane but really didn’t have much to do here.  Costner was outstanding in the role of Pa Kent and Russel Crowe stole every scene he was in as Jor-El.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There’s a ton going on here with Man of Steel and most of it is really enjoyable.  There are plot holes that you can fly through with your cape flying in the wind but this movie LOOKS outstanding.  I love that Lois Lane knows who Clark is but chooses not to reveal it.  I love that Superman does what needs to be done when he kills Zod.  I didn’t mention it, but during the epic battles where Metropolis is being destroyed there are some great Easter Eggs to find such as a “LexCorp” truck being thrown through rubble… Lex Luthor in part II anyone?  Man of Steel has already brought in over 500 million at the box office so you know there’s going to be a sequel and early indication is we’re headed toward an Avenger-like universe where we’ll get a Justice League movie at the end.  That’s something worth looking forward to.  Is this the best Superman movie?  Nah.  Is it the worst?  Not by a long shot.  I’d heard bad things going in and I was pleasantly surprised.  It’s certainly a much darker and more action packed take on the character of Superman but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Have you seen Man of Steel?  What’d you think?  Where do you rank it among Superman movies?

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