With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice about to hit theatres worldwide I thought I’d take another look at Warner Bros's first entry in their DC Comics Extended Universe. Man of Steel was directed by “visionary director” Zack Snyder and as is often the case the term “visionary director” is to highlight the director’s unique visual style that hopefully compensates for his lack of storytelling ability. This is definitely the case here. Man of Steel is wrought with some truly breathtaking visuals but as a Superman story it is a bit of a mess, or are we just looking at it the wrong way?
The benchmark to aim for when making a Superman movie is of course the Richard Donner movie starring Christopher Reeve, now I’m not saying that the 1978 Superman
movie was perfect, but to date Christopher Reeve is still the best
Superman/Clark Kent we’ve seen and Donner’s film was the first serious
comic book movie that showed the studios you could make a lot of cash
with this stuff, if done well. In 2006 Bryan Singer made a sequel to that film but unfortunately it was more of a love letter to Donner’s movie than a film that could stand on its own, and poor Brandon Routh,
who is an excellent actor, was forced to do his best Christopher Reeve
impression instead of being allowed to make the role his own. Flash
forward seven years and Zack Snyder
brought us his incarnation of the world’s first superhero, and he
basically pissed over everything Superman as a character stood for. He
also, for some reason, insisted on giving us Superman’s origin story
again, as if everyone on the planet didn’t already know it.
and his followers initiating a coup d'état against the ruling council.
Zod’s rebellion fails because it consists of like six or seven people.
Did Krypton’s military commander forget to ask his army to join him for
this little coup? Regardless the planet blows up and Jor-El (Russell Crowe)
manages to send his son Kal-El, the first naturally born Kryptonian
child in centuries, off in a rocket, but for some reason he infused
Kal-El's cells with a genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race. Why
did he do this? Zod wants the Codex so that he can pick and choose what
genetic traits for his new master race, but what was the purpose of
Jor-El sticking it inside his son? Was it just the best hiding place for
it or did Jor-El plan on his son populating the Earth with a new race
of Krptonians all on his own?
working on a fishing boat that is then called to aid an oil rig that
has become a raging inferno. Clark dives off the boat and uses his super
strength and invulnerability to help with the evacuation.
Kevin Costner) chides Clark for risking exposure by saving those kids from drowning.
Pa Kent: “Clark, you have to keep this side of yourself secret.”
Clark: “What was I supposed to do? Just let them die?"
Pa Kent: “Maybe.”
What the fuck? Superman’s dad actually says “maybe” when asked if he should have let a bus load of kids die. Superman is the way he is because of how he was raised by the Kents, and this version
of Jonathon Kent is just such an asshole that I can barely wrap my head
around the character, but then again this scene does kind of explain
why Superman isn’t all that upset about the thousands of people in
Metropolis who die during his fight with Zod.
but Superman arrives in the nick of time, tackling Zod and carrying the
villain away from the farm and Superman’s sweet mother. There are two
problems with that strategy; first he ends up taking the fight from the
rather isolated farmland to the much more populated town of Smallville
where collateral damage will be greater and more lives put at risk, and
secondly Superman left dear ole mom back at the farm with the other
three Kryptonian supervillains.
In Superman II
once Superman realized that the fight with the Kryptonian supervillains
was causing too much damage, and was endangering lives, he lured them
off to the Fortress of Solitude where he used his brain to defeat them.
Now in Superman II it does look like Superman drops the
de-powered villains to their deaths in the bowels of the Fortress but
there was a deleted scene where the Kryptonians were later marched off
in handcuffs, because Superman does not kill.
many versions of Superman
over the years, and there is an entire collection of DC comics that is
dedicated to alternate versions of beloved characters called Elseworlds. Mark Millar’s wrote an Elseworld story entitled Superman: Red Son which answered the question “What if Superman was raised in Russia?” and so Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is basically an Elseworld story that posits the theory of “What would Superman be like if he was raised by a terrible Jonathon Kent?”
Amy Adams) is finally shown to be fairly good investigative reporter who is able to track down and figure out who Superman really is, Laurence Fishburne
brings the proper gravitas to the character of Perry White, and not
since Christopher Reeve has there been an actor who looked the part as
well as Henry Cavill does. I’d also like to give a shout out to Ayelet Zurer who played Lara Lor-Van, Superman's biological mother, because she was just fantastic in this. Russell Crowe as “Action Jor-El”
left me cold but Zurer’s Lara brought so much pathos and dignity to the
character, and with virtually no dialog, that I wish she'd been the one
to become a hologram in the Fortress of Solitude.
David S. Goyer's nonsensical storytelling, making me look back more fondly at the misstep that was Superman Returns.