I’ll have to admit, I’ve never really cared much for Superman. Sure, I liked the 1978 and its follow-up. But a superhero that’s infallible, alien, and an all-round good guy really seemed too good to be true, and subsequently, boring.
Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns just sort of brought that home and drove the final nail in the coffin. Plus Lex Luthor was terribly boringly played by Kevin Spacey.
So when I first heard they were going to reboot Superman, my reaction was “meh”. Things got a little more interesting with Zack Snyder directing. Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer then joined the fold, and things became wildly interesting, if not unpredictable.
See, Zack directed 300, the insanely macho film that no doubt blasted sales of Abs Trim through the roof. But he was also responsible for Sucker Punch. David S Goyer was the writer behind the Dark Knight Trilogy, but he also penned Ghost Rider. The tipping point ultimately came down to Christopher Nolan. Once his name was down, I was sold.
I think the very first order of business, even prior to getting the film greenlit, was to ensure Superman was right and ready for a 2013 audience, and that must be retiring his red underwear, which they thankfully did. I mean, no respectful superhero would ever wear their underwear on the outside, right?
Feeling more snug after the underwear location switch.
Warning: Spoilers from here on out.
Man of Steel is a reboot of the tale of Superman. As such, the action starts in the heart of Superman’s real home; Krypton.
Krypton as a planet is dying. Natural resources have been milked, and the planet is on the verge of imploding. Jor El (Russell Crowe), a badass scientist, warned the council (they looked like one anyway) as much, but were soundly unheeded. At the same time, technology has evolved to the point that babies were now being bred, and their DNA infused with their destinies long before they take in their first breath of air.
Aside from the very immediate threat of planetary destruction, they also have to deal with a coup from General Zod, the Kryptonian military leader. It is against this backdrop of calamity that we see the birth of Kal El, the first natural born boy in more than a thousand years. (So he is as much alien on his home planet as he is on Earth!)
I am your father
I think this is the most we have seen of Krypton in terms of world-building in films, and it’s really a beauty to behold. And this is just the beginning of the film!
Once we see the space pod with baby Kal El shot out to space, we zoom back to earth, and witness an adult Clark Kent trying to fit in with the humans, while hiding his abilities, trying to discreetly save people he encounters in distress, AND find himself.
No wonder he’s too bummed out to shave.
From this point on, we zig zag back and forth in time, as we’re shown snippets of Clark’s childhood years as and when its needed so we know his motivations for his actions. Sort of like the LOST flashbacks.
Meanwhile, an anomalous object is discovered buried in 20,000 years of ice, which leads both Lois Lane to cover, and Clark to investigate in a bid to find out more about his origins. It turns out to be an old scoutship, that when turned on, acted as a beacon for ol Zod to hone in to Earth for revenge.
The third act consists on one big brawl between Kryptonians, and an army of humans trying desperately to make any sort of dent on the fight. While many have commented that the fight went on for too long, that there was too much destruction and Superman’s apparent nonchalance for the violent deaths of what must be tens of thousands of peole on Metropolis. I say well, he’s a little busy right now, trying to save the other 6 billion people or so.
He can’t possibly save every cat on the planet!
The action sequences, for the first time, made Superman’s extreme speed and strength very apparent. And I think Zack Snyder really did a great job with this.
Overall, I think the film made Superman relevant, and therefore, cool, again. In other words, all superheroes need to have daddy issues. Or at least a drinking problem.
Also, a Lois Lane that my wife doesn’t hate? That must be a good thing!
Eastereggs: Look out for the LexCorp tower among a blaze of asteroids, and a Wayne Enterprises logo on a satellite that Zod destroys.