After the last adaptation of Superman onto the big screen, I was excited for Man of Steel. It felt wrong to leave the Superman movies at Superman Returns, surely Clark Kent deserved better. Superhero movies tend to be either big hits, like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, or big flops like The Green Lantern. Superman has certainly seen his fair share of hits and flops, but after some recent disappointments, I was beginning to wonder if anyone today could make a good Superman film. The build up to Man of Steel certainly promised not only a good Superman film, but a spectacular one. Excited, I went to see it at midnight, and despite my sleep deprivation, I was not disappointed.
As someone who has seen all of the Superman movies, I really liked Man of Steel because it captured the essence of the cinematic Superman in a way different than all previous movies. The flashbacks from Clark Kent’s childhood were one of the best parts of the movie. Scenes such as the one where Clark, overcome by his heightened senses, hides in a closet at school until his mom, Diane Lane, can coax him out reach out to the audience to build their sympathy towards Clark. While scenes from Clark’s childhood are in other movies, director Zack Snyder captures Clark’s struggle to fit in with the human world despite his superhuman abilities in a way that really connects to the audience.
Snyder also uses Clark’s job transitions to build sympathy with the audience. I found it interesting that in Man of Steel, Clark doesn’t start off as a reporter for The Daily Planet because it’s different than every other movie when he becomes a reporter in the beginning of the movie (if he isn’t one already). But in Man of Steel, Clark doesn’t begin with a steady, normal job. Instead, the movie highlights his struggle to fit in with normal people in a normal job as he bounces around from one job to the next. Clark can’t hold down a job because he always ends up exposing his superhuman abilities while trying to save people.
Another thing I liked about Man of Steel was the depiction of Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams. I don’t want to tread on any toes, but in previous Superman movies, Lois Lane is often a very annoying and pushy character. Amy Adams, however, was different. She was still spunky and assertive, determined to followed her leads and get the true story out there to the world, but she knew when to step back. Lois is willing to keep Clark’s secret, demonstrating that she is not just a woman who pushes her way to get whatever she wants. She respects Clark and his story.
It was also refreshing that Lois knew Clark’s identity. She figured out who he was, but she kept his secret, which formed a bond in her relationship with Clark. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane were also wonderful as the Kents. Not only did they give excellent performances, but the fact that they were Kevin Costner and Diane Lane added a certain familiarity to them.
In any Superman movie, you expect to see familiar things—Superman catching Lois Lane in the air, Superman flying through the atmosphere up into space, etc. Man of Steel had these quintessential shots, but in a way that made it feel like you were seeing them for the first time. This is largely due to the special effects team. I’m not a huge action film fan, but it was slightly mesmerizing to see Superman cut through the ozone layer at a hundred miles an hour and on fire. It made it feel like a Superman movie done in a new way (with cooler effects).
Overall, I really liked Man of Steel. I enjoyed the themes it presented, the acting, and the cinematography. It had traditional Superman elements, but it had a refreshing take on much of how the story was presented. Long time fans of Superman and new viewers alike will enjoy the movie, and hopefully we will see more of Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel.
P.S. Was I the only one to be glad that the red underwear was gone? Finally Superman has a respectable suit.