Since Justice League has released, I wanted to take a look back on the DCEU’s first entry Man of Steel. This was a polarizing movie, and I understand why people don't like this movie. This depiction of Superman is certainly unconventional and can definitely turn people off.
All Superman films definitely focused on the Clark Kent and Superman identities, while Man of Steel focuses on Kal-El, a kid from Krypton who’s trying to find his place in the world. Clark Kent is merely just a name and he really hasn’t taken on that classic identity yet.
This movie explores what it might be like if Superman existed in today's world and how they would react to that.
There are complaints regarding Henry Cavill’s Superman saying he never quite gets the charm of Christopher Reeve's interpretation. After five Superman movies, this is a welcome change for the man of steel. This is a sci-fi first contact film about an alien who's trying to find his place in this modern cynical world, and Cavill portrays that perfectly.
While this movie can look a bit washed out at times, it's still beautiful with gorgeous cinematography. The visually stunning prologue set on Krypton is one of my favorite intros to a comic book film and I love the exploration of that planet's history.
Russell Crowe as Jor-El is my favorite character in the film. I admittedly think his consciousness being uploaded into the ship's AI is weird, but it gives the film an opportunity for the father to interact with his son. I love that Jor-El acknowledges Krypton's failures and that Kal has to be better than his ancestors in order for Earth to succeed.
Kevin Costner as Kal's Earth father Jonathan Kent is also great. He feels like a down to Earth dad whose duty is to protect his son from the world. Jonathan’s tough love on Kal grounded him and made him realize that he can’t realize use his powers for selfish reasons like beating up the bully or saving his own dad because it could do more harm than good, well intentioned or not.
The people on this planet can barely handle living with each other, what makes you think they can handle a Superman? The world wasn’t ready for a Superman until Zod’s invasion. His appearance inspired heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman to come out of the shadows in Batman V Superman. Suicide Squad also mentioned metahumans being inspired by Superman’s appearance to finally come out of hiding.
A lot of people question why Superman wants to save people, as his desires to suddenly become a superhero can be a bit jarring. His emotional attachment to people like his Earth parents, Lois, the values he learned, along with Jor-El saying Krypton was a failure, all made Kal feel justified to fight for his world. Even as a kid when he saved his classmates from drowning, it just shows that this character has been unselfish at heart.
Michael Shannon as Zod is a bit over the top at times but is ultimately an effective villain. He is someone from the old world who wants to preserve Krypton by building it over Earth. Kal has to choose between his two identities and realizes that eliminating an entire civilization is wrong and chooses to protect the world he grew up on.
The action scenes in this movie are breathtaking and we finally get to Superman use his powers to his full potential. While some may think the action is overblown, I would argue it’s a way to truly show how powerful these Kryptonians are, and how they can potentially destroy the Earth from fighting each other.
I love that we see the full destruction that these characters cause, because a lot of superhero films don’t really show that, which is unrealistic. Superman makes the decision to snap Zod's neck because he knew that if they kept on fighting it would've caused more destruction and lives.
Lastly the score to this movie is awesome. Hans Zimmer hot off the Dark Knight trilogy came in to do the score and it represents the intensity and emotion going on. I’m glad Zimmer didn’t use any classic John Williams themes, because I believe this music stands on its own.
This along with Wonder Woman are my two favorite DCEU films so far. Their ensemble movies have underwhelmed in some areas, just because I feel they try to do so much with little time. These two movies take their time with their singular characters and tell a coherent story that works. It’s also no coincidence that these two films have the best Rotten Tomatoes ratings, even though Man of Steel sits at 55%, which is better than most of them.
This is not a blog to convince naysayers, but to say why I love this film and bring a new perspective to it.