Man Of Steel (2013) – A Look Back
The planet Krypton is dangerously unstable after years of inhabitants mining the planet’s core. Respected scientist Jor-El recommends evacuating the planet – but before the Council can make a decision based on his findings, General Zod and his minions mount a coup.
Zod is after the population’s genetic codes – stored on what is known as the “codex”. To stop him getting hold of them, Jor-El steals it and infuses them within the DNA of his infant son Kal-El.
Jor-El is able to put Kal-El in a rocket ship and send him to Earth but afterwards Zod murders him. Zod and his henchmen are captured and sentenced to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. Shortly after this is a devastating explosion renders Krypton no more.
Kal-El’s ship lands in Smallville, Kansas. He’s found by the childless couple Jonathan and Martha Kent who name him Clark. They raise him as their own at their farm.
Clark experiences a difficult childhood as he struggles with the emergence of his superhuman abilities. His Dad reveals to him that he is an alien and therefore must keep his powers hidden in order to avoid drawing attention to himself. So insistent on this he even forbids Clark rescuing him from a tornado that takes his life.
With the guilt weighing heavily on him Clark travels the world, helping people in need. When reporter Lois Lane uncovers a Kryptonian Scout Ship hidden in the Canadian Arctic and learns of Clark’s existence – a terrible chain of events is put in motion that will lead a freed General Zod to the planet Earth – seeking a confrontation with the son of his greatest enemy.
After the relative disappointment of Superman Returns and the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Warner Bros decided to reboot the Superman film series. The intention also being for the film to be a springboard for their own cinematic universe known as the DCEU (DC Extended Universe).
Due to the success of The Dark Knight Trilogy Christopher Nolan was appointed producer. With a script by David S. Goyer he chose Zack Snyder to direct.
British actor Henry Cavill was cast in the title role. Amy Adams was chosen for the part of Lois Lane. Laurence Fishburne was cast as Perry White, chief editor of The Daily Planet. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane were chosen for the parts of Jonathan and Martha Kent – and Michael Shannon was General Zod.
Man Of Steel was released in June 2013 to a decidedly mixed reception. Whilst there was no doubt that it was a financial success – it wasn’t popular with a large number of critics and audiences. Many felt that it lacked the joy of the old Christopher Reeve movies. That it was too dark and took itself too seriously.
I’m going to out myself here. I am a massive fan of this film. I LOVE it. To that end I am going to try and make a case for it. Try to say why I like it and why I think YOU, my readers should give it a second chance. It really does deserve reappraisal.
I like it’s approach to the story. Man Of Steel feels a little less like a superhero movie and more like a sci-fi thriller. It has more in common with movies like The Matrix and Blade Runner than the old Superman screen adventures we previously knew and loved.
Those old Superman adventures represented a bygone age of The Man Of Tomorrow – whereas this movie takes it’s cue from comics published since John Byrne re-imagined the character in 1986.
Having said that though I do understand some of the criticisms levelled at this movie and I wish to address three of the most common ones.
1. Jonathan Kent rebuking young Clark Kent for rescuing the passengers on a crashed bus. Going as far as to indicate that “maybe” he should have let them perish.
Many audiences felt that this was uncharacteristically cold of Jonathan Kent – in stark contrast to previous incarnations of this character as played by Glenn Ford and John Schneider. They would more likely encourage Clark to use his powers to help those in need.
I think it’s advisable to try and look at that scene in a different context. “Maybe” means just that. “MAYBE”. It was clear that Jonathan was proud of what his son did. He was just frustrated and worried about the repercussions. He loves his son unconditionally and doesn’t want someone to come and take him away.
I don’t think that scene was an indication of any callousness on Jonathan’s part. More just expressing uncertainty and worry.
2. The “neck snapping” scene with General Zod.
Many think that killing Zod by snapping his neck was out of character for Superman. I think it was justified given in the context of the scene. Zod was about to kill an innocent family after all. Superman felt terrible for killing him.
Considering in Superman II our hero tricked Zod into giving up his powers, crushed his hand and smirked as he threw him into a bottomless abyss… Man Of Steel‘s scene of Zod’s defeat is a bit more honourable in comparison.
3. The damage done to Metropolis during Superman and Zod’s fight.
I can see that some people may not have liked this… but if superheroes were real then I think occurrences like this would be an eventual problem we’d have to prepare ourselves for.
Also I don’t think this movie commits any more sins than other superhero movies in this respect. We see plenty of citywide destruction in Marvel’s Avengers movies.
Few movies are perfect and this one certainly isn’t. However I’ve always felt the backlash against it was somewhat harsh and I’ve never really understood it. I admire the film. It makes a conscious effort to do something different to what has come before. I don’t want a remake of old Superman movies. I have those on blu-ray. I can watch them any time I want.
When a new version of a story is made I personally want it to be different. To stand on it’s own and have it’s own identity.
I think Man Of Steel does that perfectly well.
Come on guys, give it another chance!
The Man Who Saved Movies