MORE THAT JUST A FRESH COAT OF PAINT ON AN ENDURING CHARACTER!
Warner Bros. Pictures/Legendary Pictures/DC Entertainment
Directed by Zack Snyder
Produced by Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas & Deborah Snyder
Screenplay by David S. Goyer
Based on “Superman” created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
There was a great amount of anticipation and tentativeness for me as I walked into the theatre with my family to see “MAN OF STEEL.”
I was a fan of Richard Donner’s “Superman: The Movie”‘ and after the horrendous thing which was “Superman Returns,” I was leery and at the same time excited to see where DC would take the character. It is in my humble opinion that Zack Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Nolan have delivered a Superman for a new generation with “MAN OF STEEL.”
Let me first say that this depiction of Superman/Kal-El aka Clark Kent was one which I found I was most able to identify with. We see a character who embodies what it might mean to be a stranger from another world, in search of their destiny. Although the film was a bit action heavy and dialogue light, you could feel (or at least I could) the emotions of the protagonist and somewhat relate to him.
The special effects and cinematography were quite extensive and brilliantly rendered. The scenes on Krypton were very much EPIC LEVEL SCI-FI stuff. The Krypton scenes were—in my opinion—some of the greatest things depicted in the movie. This vision of Superman’s home world was I think more in line with an alien environment than just an Antarctic backdrop which was what we saw in previous Superman films. We see an alien culture where the architecture, technology, costuming, creatures and architecture were much more robust and science fiction like than any from the previous films. I applaud the filmmakers on that.
The movie score—provided by Hans Zimmer—was very different than prior films, but I think that it was necessary to break out from the all too familiar John Williams score. While I’m a fan of the original score, the tone and atmosphere of MOS needed something more updated. Zimmer gave it a feel that was epic, solemn, tranquil, and at times thunderous when it needed to be—re-invented music for a re-invented hero.
As to Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman/Kal-El aka Clark Kent, it would be pointless to compare it to Christopher Reeve’s turn as the iconic hero. It would be like comparing Adam West to Christian Bale…not even in the same room. That’s not to diminish Reeve’s turn as Superman, which will always be magically classic for me and countless others who grew up in awe of it. I think that in this interpretation of Superman, it is apparent from the onset that Cavill OWNS THE ROLE! He embodies every aspect of the character and takes him out of what I call, ***“The Rocky Balboa Syndrome.” ******This is where the main character gets the snot beaten out of him within an inch of his life before finding his “GLOW” and defeating the villain/opponent.
It made sense that trained warriors from an alien planet would be more versed in combat than one raised on a farm in Kansas however, in this film Superman for the most part, gives as well as he gets. This was especially refreshing in regards to future films and a proposed Justice League film.
I must also say that despite being humble and introverted, Cavill’s portrayal of Clark Kent didn’t come off as the buffoonish caricature that was Reeve’s version. This was the one thing which I hated about the original Superman films. Even George Reeve’s Clark Kent had more swagger and that was the 50’s!
This film had breathtaking action, stunning visuals, commanding performances and albeit subtle nods to both the comic books and previous films incarnations. I feel that this film marks the return of Superman to the BIG screen and opens the door for other films about DC characters—other than Batman!
Michael Shannon (Premium Rush, The Iceman) was perfectly cast as General Zod. He portrays Zod with the intensity and relentlessness due the character and what we’ve come to expect from this fine actor. I found that with this incarnation of Zod (no slight to Terrance Stamp’s performance) was easily more relatable and definitely much more intimidating. Here we have a former war hero genetically engineered to live for the safety, well-being and continued survival of his race, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY! Unlike Stamp’s version who suffered from great arrogance, a case of Napoleon syndrome and simply wanted revenge because Jor-El sent him away to the Phantom Zone for being a murderer. There is much more to Shannon’s Zod and that was VERY refreshing!
Russell Crowe was also perfectly cast, as he embodied a similar air of aristocracy that Brando brought to the character in the original film, but also a “Gladiator,” flavor which spoke greatly to the spirit his son Kal-El would inherit. I’m so glad that unlike Brando and Reeve, Crowe and Cavill DID NOT share the same hairstyle!
Kevin Costner and Diane Lane gave admirable performances and Jonathan and Martha Kent. They fit into their roles and gave us enough emotion to suspend our disbelief. Of course Costner was born to play someone’s father after, “The Bodyguard,” while after pining after Lane in, “The Outsiders,” as a kid, it was kinda hard to see her as Martha Kent, but she pulled it off in the end.
The other performances were well executed and fit the film nicely I think.
Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White was a decent portrayal. I didn’t get all upset that the character went from being white to black as others did. He was never anymore than a guy who yelled at his staff and smoked cigars to me. A city as BIG as Metropolis is bound to have a black person somewhere…everybody can’t be white.
To speak on what I think didn’t work with this film, was the casting and character development of Lois Lane. While Amy Adams is assuredly more appealing both visually and as an actress than Margot Kidder, she’s NO Teri Hatcher either. What I mean here is that Hatcher’s turn as Lois on “Lois and Clark,” was not only prettier, but she had a greater chemistry with her leading man, Dean Cain. I just didn’t feel the chemistry between Cavill and Adams. Hopefully in future films it can develop.
I also didn’t like that they failed to integrate more of the overall DC Universe into the film. They did to some extent (albeit sparingly). I understand why they were as tentative as they were about it (what if Man of Steel flops like Green Lantern), but it still would’ve been really cool to see, imo.
Another problem I had wasn’t with the film itself, but with critics of the film saying that Superman didn’t save everyone. Well re-watch the Avengers people, neither did they! Although it was more gingerly implied in The Avengers film than in Man of Steel, let’s be real here…PEOPLE DIED IN BOTH FILMS!!!
Comparing the human death toll of both films is so inherently asinine and preposterous that it should go without saying. THIS IS FICTION! None of this is real because I can assure you that had it been, you’d have seen a lot more deaths and there wouldn’t have been a damned thing Superman and The Avengers combined could have done about it!
I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MAN OF STEEL! I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Superhero films, although I warn you….THIS AIN’T YO DADDY’S SUPERMAN!
I’m just sayin’….
If you haven’t seen the film, please don’t read any further! With franchise films such as this one, particularly Comic Book movies, I like to give my take on the sequel.
For Man of Steel II, I think that having saved the planet and acquired his place in Metropolis, Superman begins to patrol the world and safeguard humanity (particularly Metropolis).
Since LexCorp vehicles and the building itself featured prominently in the film, it stands to reason that Luthor has been observing the events in Man of Steel and is none to happy that some “Alien” is hogging the limelight and stealing away the admiration of the city.
Here is where I’d have Lex procure remnants of Kryptonian technology left behind in the battle between Superman and General Zod and his followers. He would of course use his considerable wealth to clean up the aftermath and destruction the battle caused, while playing devil’s advocate to whether Superman is a liability to the city in lieu of the vast destruction he left in his wake.
Lex holds a press conference and is interviewed by national talk show host Gordon Godfrey to speak on how Superman is a potential threat to humanity and cannot be trusted. Meanwhile, LexCorp is studying the Kryptonian tech and discover two significant finds.
1) An artificial intelligence module (with three blinking red dots) beyond anything human scientists have ever conceived.
2) A crystalline substance that emits an odd radiation.
Luthor reverse engineers the Kryptonian tech to create battle armor and sells watered down versions to the US Military. Special liaison Amanda Waller in particular is interested in seeing what this tech can do. She and her elite task force want to stock pile the weapons in case Superman ever goes rogue or there is another alien invasion (preparing for an alien threat from Darkseid perhaps?)
Luthor also vows publically to protect Metropolis and the rest of the world from the alien threat which is Superman. He selects the head of his private security force—John Corben—to head up a special task force to work with Metropolis Police in cracking down on the city’s crime and arming themselves against Superman.
Superman attempts to speak with Luthor and reach some sort of accord, but Luthor provokes him to use his powers against him and records the whole exchange. He then alters the footage to make it appear as though Superman attacked him and severely injured Corben. Luthor releases the footage to the news media and in particular Gordon Godfrey and soon the public sees Superman as the enemy.
Superman keeps a low profile hoping that things will blow over. Meanwhile, Luthor uses the Kryptonian tech to configure a metal endo-skeleton and the strange radioactive substance his team found as a power source to create a new body for Corben after he is lied to about how he was injured. This new body contains some level of Kryptonian DNA and gives Corben strength and endurance on par with Superman.
As a result of this new found power, Corben becomes increasingly unstable mentally and Luthor is no longer able to control him. He goes on a rampage and tries to take over the city. Superman confronts him and in the battle and during the course of the fight, Corben’s synthetic tissue is ripped away and exposes his power source.
Superman finds himself weakened by exposure to the glowing substance and is forced to retreat. The US Military arrives and using new weapons supplied by Luthor, are able to force Corben into fleeing.
Corben is on the run and Superman is dealing with the result of their confrontation. He goes back to his Fortress and attempts to piece together what happened. He soon realizes that what happened to him was the same effect he experienced when he first boarded the Kryptonian ship in Man of Steel. The substance was somehow tied to the environment regulators of the ship.
Superman approaches STAR Labs—who also procured some of the Kryptonian tech—on how to best defeat Corben. They have discovered that lead is the only substance which appears to neutralize the radiation emitted by the substance. The scientists at STAR Labs construct a lead based exo-skeleton armor (similar to the armor worn by Zod in Man of Steel) that Superman can wear during his next encounter with Corben.
Superman confronts Corben and eventually defeats him. He begins to question him about his involvement with Luthor when he self destructs. Superman takes the scraps which were Corben back to Luthor and confronts him. Luthor is dismissive and challenges him to prove his complicity in Corben’s actions. Superman cannot and is vexed.
Luthor tells Superman that together they could accomplish so much and nothing on earth could stop them. He offers for Superman to join him and Superman declines. He tells Luthor that he’ll be watching him and when he slips up he would expose him for the criminal he truly was.
Angered, Luthor tells Superman to leave unless he wants to be escorted by his private security force and have the incident leaked to the news media and a formal complaint made to the authorities.
Luthor goes down the basement of the LexCorp building and observes a large tube containing a young blonde woman cryogenically frozen. We also see the Kryptonian Artificial Intelligence with its three red dots blinking. He vows to unlock the secrets of Kryptonian technology and use it to rule the world.
This is the bare basics…of course Lois Lane, Ma Kent and the Daily Planet would figure into the story.
Feel free to comment and let me know what you think! I’d also love to hear your takes on how a sequel might go.