A Look Back: Man of Steel
After the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Dark Knight Trilogy, Warner Bros. was anxious to relaunch another one of their most bankable heroes. Superman. In June 2013 Man of Steel was released to a very respectable Worldwide gross of $668 million. At the time only a few established Superhero films were breaking the billion dollar mark so there were no expectations that Superman’s return to the big screen would also.
The film had solid reviews at the time and Director Zack Snyder was asked, shortly after it’s release, to work on the follow up film in hopes to create a similar universe to that of Marvel‘s.
My take in 2013
*Apologies for the grammar. This was 7 years ago*
I have to admit, Man of Steel was my most anticipated film of this year. From the day they announced the film until the day I finally saw the film my expectations were extremely high. Unlike most people who may read this post, I actually enjoyed Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns“. It paid homage to what Richard Donner had created and it fell right in line with that series. Yes it had its flaws and in no way did I ever feel it was the best super hero movie ever made. I felt the idea and concept was different and sometimes different is good. All of that leads me to Man of Steel.
**SPOILERS AHEAD** Read at your own Risk!
Man of Steel was superb in my book. Henry Cavill did an amazing job portraying not only Superman, but the emotionally torn Clark Kent as well. There was never a moment during the film that I looked at Henry and said, “I can’t relate.” and I think that is one of many reasons why this film may be my favorite Superhero film to date.
The way they showed Clark struggling with his life, his abilities and being an outcast really made me feel for the character. They truly make you feel bad for him at times and even wish that he could be a regular human.
I am not afraid to admit that I am one who can and will tear up during movies from time to time, Heck I shed some tears while watching The Dark Knight Rises when Alfred is giving his little speech at the grave. But during this film, at least for me, there were two scenes that really hit me hard. In the beginning while Jor El is saying his good bye to baby Kal El and then near the end while Clark and his mother are speaking about his dad wishing that he could see the man he has become. Its at this time they go to a flash back where Clark is a child and his father Johnathan Kent looks on from a distance. It’s an absolutely beautiful scene that is relatable when being a father.
Lois Lane played by the beautiful Amy Adams does a wonderful job in portraying the intelligent Pulitzer Prize winning Reporter. I will admit that her role was not as I would have liked, but Adams does a good job with what she was given. She is very head strong and strong willed, but obviously gets weak in the knees around the boy in Blue. Unlike Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises. Cavill and Adams have some chemistry on screen. Chemistry that I look forward to witnessing grow for however long these films go on for.
If you are wondering, yes Lois Lane does know who Superman is, and honestly I love that! Lane was always supposed to be this very smart reporter, but could never see past a pair of glasses to see who Kent really is. They don’t make it simple for her to find out this information. She actually did the whole investigating thing in which she is led around the World and eventually to Smallville to confront Clark’s mother.
The reason for Clark not yet being Superman and keeping his abilities a secret was due to his father’s concerns about how the World would look at him. Johnathan Kent believed that only harm and panic would come of this information. Because of this he allowed himself to die during a Tornado instead of allowing his son save his life in front of a handful of people. Just another heart wrenching scene in the movie. One that truly helps you understand why Clark feels the way he does about his abilities.
When we finally see Cavill in the Superman suit it is a moment of awe with the cinematography on top of the musical score, it truly makes you believe a man can fly. The scene plays out better than you could imagine. Just like he was originally envisioned Superman starts off by leaping far distances. (a nice nod to the original source material if you ask me) He eventually gets such a good leap that he finds himself beginning to fly but falls through a mountain as he was unable to keep up his momentum. Then in such an amazing sequence slowly walks to an open space and kneels down. And in what seems like he is using all of his energy finally lifts off and begins to fly…. EPIC!
The main protagonist in this film is non other than General Zod. Now no ill will towards Terrence Stamp in Superman II, but this is the Zod I have been waiting for. Early on in the film he attempts to take control of Krypton as he believes he can save the race from extinction. It’s because of this that Zod and Kal El’s father Jor El get into a very physical fight in the beginning of the film. A fight where Jor El beats down Zod but ultimately loses to him.
Zod ends up being captured and imprisoned in the phantom zone when attempting to take over Krypton to save it’s people. Later in the film when he finally finds his way to Earth, it becomes very clear that his initial intentions is to have Kal El join him. But his motives for the planet are to complete destroy it and its inhabitants to create a new Krypton. This is something Clark is unwilling to do.
There are two big fight scenes and honestly both are pretty Epic, the final showdown between Zod and Superman is something everyone has waited for their entire lives. This surely is not your Superman from the 70’s and 80’s… This one can punch and this one can take a hit. Every punch feels (to the viewer) that it has weight to it, every building and every object that is destroyed draws you into the film. And when Superman finally defeats Zod in what could be perceived as the most morbid moment in Comic book film history, I was left with total satisfaction but also heartache for what Clark was going through. .
Without a doubt Zack Snyder took one of the most beloved heroes of all time and made him relevant again.
My Look Back in 2020
Over the last seven years I have been able to watch and re-watch this film. Even with all the spectacles that Marvel has put together during this time. No film has come close to Man of Steel in my book. The score, the cinematography, poetic and religious undertones. It is truly a spectacle to see.
While there are many who will complain about changing aspects of Clark’s journey into becoming Superman and the man he is. It’s truly a breath of fresh air in an old and overdone story. In the comics and other iterations Clark loses his father to a heart attack. This was the moment he realized that no matter how powerful he was he could never save everyone. In this film they change that to his father dying in a tornado. Something that he could easily save his father from. But couldn’t.
The reason for this was because of the approach Zack Snyder took to his story.
How would people react to Superman in the real World?
A theme that would play even a larger role in the follow up film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This was the entire point of this movie. A man who would undoubtedly be shunned because of fear. A Man who would never be accepted. No parent wants to see their children treated like that. That is what Johnathan Kent was protecting his son from. Something all parents would do for their kids. At least I know I would.
The action scenes are fantastic in this movie. While you would think the final battle would be the most intense and satisfying. It’s actually the fight in the middle of the film in his hometown of Smallville that takes the cake. That’s not to say the final fight with Zod isn’t good. Cause it is ridiculous and brutal in a good way. But the fight in Smallville is so satisfying as we see Clark beginning to learn how to use his abilities in this setting.
Overall this film is still a Masterpiece to me. It has everything a superhero film should have and more. Heart, Humor, Heroics, excellent acting, fantastic script and impressive cinematography. Let’s not forget the amazing score.
Give it another look. I am pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.