Title: Man of Steel
Director: Zach Snyder
Screenplay: David S. Goyer
Story: David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan
Release Date: 2013
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, and many more!
Opening Weekend: $116,600,000
Box Office: $665,100,000
Also in the DC Extended Universe:
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition (2016)
Suicide Squad Extended Cut (2016)
Wonder Woman (2017)
Man of Steel, Man of Steel, Man of Steel. The movie that started everything for the DC Extended Universe. The movie that really made Zach Snyder a target of all the hate that he knows to this day. This is the reboot to all the Superman movies that fans have known and offers us Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel and an original story to kick things off smoothly. Or should I say roughly?
In this story, Clark Kent is sent to Earth as the last survivor of Krypton, a race that is will soon to be extinct. Learning the ins and outs of being a human being throughout his whole life, he quickly understands that there’s nothing easy about fitting in and belonging. His abilities would easily trouble humanity and the world is far from ready to embrace such a break from normality. The arrival of General Zod and his army of survivors however forces Clark Kent to reevaluate his faith in humanity and to break out of the shadows to unveil his red cape and his symbol of hope.
This is not a happy and bright Superman. It’s something that everyone needs to understand of Zach Snyder’s Superman. His vision of Superman is an alien who is trying to fit in with humans without raising awareness regarding his powers. As a child he finds the world too big and suffers from hypersensitivity. As a teenager he feels alienated and attributes his special powers as an act of God. As an adult he is tired of suppressing his abilities when he knows he can do so much for the world. The movie explores the struggle of a being who doesn’t understand the risks of living among those who will inevitably feel powerless and threatened. Honoring his adoptive father’s wishes to hide his identity until the world is ready is a burden that Clark Kent refuses to drop. That is until Earth is threatened to suffer the same fate as Krypton.
The nonlinear narrative is one of the elements that sort of bothered me every time I watched this movie. Just when you think that flashbacks of Clark Kent struggling to adapt as he grows seemed fascinating, you’d later be revisiting him as a child, teenager and adult in a mixed up order. It isn’t a huge problem, but it does make the transitions between present and past a bit perplexing. In present time, the story slowly develops Clark Kent’s development as a superhero. After a tragedy stroke his life, he exiles himself onto a journey to discover his history. This adventure forces him to make use of his abilities in portions until he crosses paths with Louis Lane and an unidentified airship. This is where their relationship begins, but also the moment that Clark Kent dons his cape and tests his powers. It is a truly amazing sequence to watch him push his limits and break the sound barrier as he grasps the extent of his powers.
Man of Steel is also a movie where a whole religious allegory can be made. Not only are we talking about about a savior that hides among the mass because the world isn’t ready for him, but we also see elements of this allegory in the way everyone will look up at Superman, as if to worship him, as he flies in to stop General Zod from erasing the human race. There are also countless scenes that help convey this allegory, but ultimately Superman is a God among humans. His very intent to protect humans unconditionally is the ultimate leap of faith he’s attempted and the trust of them in him is just something that will have to be developed over time as they learn to understand their place in society.
The introduction of General Zod, played by Michael Shannon, was brilliant, especially thanks to the actor’s fantastic performance. The insane conviction of General Zod to resurrect Krypton was conveyed perfectly and could be seen throughout the movie with his intentions and the chaos he brings to Earth. What however annoyed me is the final boss battle between General Zod and Superman. As amazing as it was to see them wreaking havoc and finding themselves in unique settings that gave them the opportunity to slip in some awesome Easter eggs—I liked the one with the LexCorp on the truck as well as the Wayne Enterprises one on the satellite—the amount of destruction was just too insane for me to appreciate the battle. With that much damage done to Earth, especially Metropolis, I strongly believe that almost half the population must have died and that’s not something Superman would even let happen. Even a Superman who has only worn his cape for one day. Come on.
In the end, Man of Steel was far from being the horrible movie that critics have said it was. Zach Snyder simply brought us a whole new take on Superman and delivers an origin story that does well in world-building and character development. Even if Louis Lane somehow always finds ways to get herself in trouble, Superman always being there to rescue her will never be something I’ll get tired of watching. With Man of Steel, DC sparks the beginning of what we now know as the DC Extended Universe. While it has been a roller-coaster ride to this day in regards to these movies battle with critics and fans, I am still pumped for the next hero to remind us who the real Gods are.