Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Man of Steel is the current newest Superman film directed by Watchmen’s Zach Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan and written by David S. Goyer, both of Dark Knight fame.
The plot of Man of Steel takes us through a re-imagined version of Superman’s origins. As the planet Krypton nears its end, Jor-El (played by Russell Crowe) sends his son, Kal-El, to Earth in the hopes that their race may endure. Thirty so years later and we meet up with Kal-El (who has now grown up into Henry Cavill) as he continues to search for purpose revolving around his god-like powers. His destiny is right around the corner, however, as the surviving Kryptonions, lead by General Zod/ Michael Shannon are approaching earth with plans of world conquest…
So yeah, it’s the usual Thursday night for the Man of Tomorrow here but it’s done very well.
If I had to sum up the Man of Steel in a single word, in order to remain true to a corny over the top reviewing style, I’d have to say the best word to sum up Man of Steel would be ‘paradox’. Man of Steel is an impossible movie. For one, it’s a good Superman movie. That in itself is a rarity considering Superman Returns, the last attempt at rebooting Superman for the modern age, drew mixed opinions from fans and critics alike. As an added bonus though, Man of Steel manages to be a great Superman film without using either Lex Luthor or Kryptonite.
Now, at first glance, the idea for Man of Steel might seem a little strange (How can you have Superman and NOT have Lex Luthor or Kryptonite? That’s like Tim Burton making a movie that isn’t starring Johnny Depp!) and admittedly, Man of Steel takes a short while to warm up to but overall, the film is a brilliant spectacle to behold. The effects are brilliant and fight scenes move fast with great action that you would expect from a Superman movie. The characters are solid and the actors behind them give a great performance with the help of a nicely paced plot. There’s even some nice surprises along the line such as a plot twist here and there and some great character development, especially for our lead villain who, over the course of the movie, becomes a lot more sympathetic than I expected for a genocidal demi-god bent on destroying earth (and before I forget to mention it, Russell Crowe was pretty badass in this film too). I suppose my only real complaint about Man of Steel in general would be that the film really was too dark for its own good. Don’t get me wrong, I like dark and mature stories but when a Batman movie can have more jokes in it than a Superman movie, something is definitely off balance.
Overall, I believe the main thing that cements Man of Steel’s greatness for me is the fact that Man of Steel understands Superman. Every superhero has their own theme which the thrust of their character and Goyer understands this perfectly. With Spiderman, for example, the theme is guilt: the reluctant hero doomed to fail over and over again due to his own limitations only to rise again once more as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. For Superman, that theme is acceptance: the last son of Krypton trying to find a place for himself in a strange unknown land whilst the weight of the world rests on his shoulders. Man of Steel takes this theme and demonstrates it perfectly.