I was lucky enough to catch a midnight première of Man of Steel. I went in expecting a decent movie at the least, refusing to get my hopes up. I saw the trailers, and like every time before, the hairs stood up on my arms the minute I saw Superman fly. But still I had reservations. Was it going to be the same ol’ same ol’? What changes were they going to make? How are people going to react to those changes? I almost felt like I had a personal stake it in, since I’m constantly defending Superman to naysayers and Marvel Zombies who like to pick on big blue and didn’t want to get years of ranting thrown back in my face.
From the opening action filled scene until the very last line… I felt vindicated. Snyder and Nolan have figured it out. You take a character, any character. Do a little research to tell you what people didn’t like about their past iterations. Do a little research to see what people want to see in said character. You then strip away all the bad and enhance and restructure all the good. And blam! You have a good comic book movie.
Just like Nolan and Bale’s Batman trilogy obliterated any sense of goofiness left over from Silver’s neon obsessed bordering on slapstick Batman, Snyder’s Superman is a great example of a reboot done correctly and it heat vision’s away any past interpretation of Kal-El.
Henry Cavill is spectacular. He quickly rises to the top, making Brandon Routh the George Lazenby of the Superman franchise. As defining a role as Christopher Reeve had given to the onscreen character of Superman, Cavill re-interprets both Kal and Clark for the modern era. This Clark is much more self-conscious of his powers, and the emphasis on his alien origin; and the world at large’s reaction to it is the primary motivation for Clark to keep his identity secret.
Both Ma and Pa Kent instill this in him from an early age, training him to control his powers and preparing him for the world’s reaction, from fear to worship and how to choose the right path at the right time.
Cavill’s portrayal as a wandering laborer in search of his identity and history is brilliant. He captures the angst and heart of the constant battle to remain anonymous, yet be the hero he truly wants and is capable of being. His growth is evident throughout the movie and seems to add an element of character development that will hopefully continue through further movies. I’m convinced the sure to be controversial climactic battle between Superman and Zod is another seed for further character growth to be seen in the next movie; not just something to piss off purists. This is a nascent Superman who steps out of his Spaceship-of-Solitude; unsteady and unsure, not only of his powers and abilities, but of the responsibility he his undertaking by revealing himself to the world. The storyline is well paced of full of action. The writers pulled from all aspects of Supes’ origin, elements of Byrne’s Krypton, Waid’s Birthright, Strascynski’s Earth One are all present in Snyder’s interpretation. There are even elements of Lobdell and Roccaforts New 52 Krypton, especially in the more action oriented roles of Jor-El and Lora.
Russell Crowe kicks ass as Jor-El ( literally ). This is light years from a day-glow Marlon Brando chewing scenery. There is also a nice nod to the original movie: Look at the carbon nanite representation of Kal’s pod when his origin is told to him by a holographic Jor-El, it resembles the original pod greatly.
The tech and special effects are fantastically rendered. The armor is reminiscent of Mike Turner’s Godfall designs and look great on-screen. Superman’s costume does have a function and its shown here. The kryptonian battle armor is intense and their see-through morphing face plates are eerily cool and high-tech. Krypton surely looks like an alien planet with an Avatar like level of detail and so does all the tech from there.
Facing Superman against Zod and Faora was a great idea. Everyone talks about the mighty strength level of a Kryptonian and their potential for mass destruction, but it’s never been present as well on the screen as it has here.
Clark’s early trials are nothing compared to fight scenes that ensue later on. Snyder pits Kal against villains that can showcase the massive amount of devastation a superhuman is capable of. Just check out what happens to Metropolis and I’m sure you’ll have a new amount of respect for the strength it takes Superman to hold back, especially when considering he’s surrounded by us stupid humans (this Clark is a little less goody two shoes, you’ll see it in how he gets revenge on a douchebag trucker in one scene).
Michael Shannon’s Zod is the ultimate villain. All that Teutonic non emotional intensity he had on Boardwalk Empire, is only more nefarious and frightening when he is given the full range of emotional output. This Zod doesn’t want you to kneel, he wants you dead. Future movie villains now have the bar set at new level.
Antje Traue’s Faora is deadly beautiful, with her cold eyed steely stare, and that short pause she takes before kicking ass is just loaded with disdain towards those beneath her. A well done compliment to this movie’s more realistically military Kryptonian invasion force.
The rest of the cast was top-notch as well. Diane Lane is incredible in anything she does and here she captures a more concerned and involved Ma Kent, one who has deeper if not larger impact on Clark and his view of life and his powers. Kevin Costner impressed me as Pa Kent, showing a larger range of emotion than I truly thought he was capable of. From his choked up response to always being Clark’s father to his final sacrifice to protect his son and wife, Costner pulled of the conflicted manner of a man raising a being with godlike power, trying to guide him down the right path.
Amy Adams was the first actually cool Lois Lane , whose adventurous attitude towards reporting puts her on early track to being an important personal in Kal’s life and a bridge from him to the rest of humanity. Her chemistry with Cavill was perfect and believable and one of the least hokey male female relationships in a comic book movie.
Man of Steel was spectacular re-imagining of the Superman Mythos for the modern audience. Of course its different from the rest… That’s exactly what this franchise needed. And if you have a problem with Fishburne as Perry White, or Jimmy Olsen possibly being a Jenny, I feel bad for you. I really do. If you want Christopher Reeve’s Boy scout white bread lectures, a scatter brained damsel in distress Lois, and fine Shakespearean villainy, please do not see this movie.
If your ready for the Superman of the 21st century, Sit back, and brace yourself for a Superman Movie that finally lives up to its name.