It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, but I’m hoping to start doing them a lot more often — along with a complete site refresh. And despite having a whole lot more to say, I figured this was the best film to restart with.
After rewatching Man of Steel for the third time, I still do not vehemently hate it as much as everyone else does. Yes, it changes the character irrevocably and yes, it really does feel like it should have been called Superman Begins with how closely it plays alongside the story beats of Batman Begins. But it is an entertaining and bold film, and one that actually made me like the character of Superman. No small feat since I have always been Team Batman.
I give credit mostly to Henry Cavill. He needs to stop yelling so much, but he brings a greater sense of gravitas to the role than anyone before. Christopher Reeve is the definitive Superman no doubt, but his take was larger than life. Cavill’s is more down to earth, more gritty and more real. We no longer look at him like he is an alien from another planet. We look at him like he is an extraordinary human being who can do things no one else can. And I think that alone makes him a stronger and more believable character.
While I have no real problems with Zack Snyder’s style here (or his best attempts to ape Christopher Nolan’s), but I do feel the film suffers in its depiction of Lois Lane. Amy Adams is pretty good in the role, but we never really get the chance to see what a firecracker the character can be. We believe Margot Kidder takes no prisoners as Reeve’s Lois. Adams says she’s great, and so do other characters. But she just seems like a helpless damsel in distress for one half of the movie, and a literal walking plot device for the other. That entire sequence with her and Russell Crowe on the alien ship? It’s only purpose is to bridge the second and third act. She’s not nearly as bad as what Marvel’s team did to Oscar-winner Natalie Portman in the Thor films (where she turns from a super smart scientist to a love sick teenager in the matter of seconds), but it still takes away from this film.
The length is also of concern. I did not time it, but the massive fight scenes near the end of the film seemingly go on forever. They seem endless, and I just felt numb after watching them this most recent time. I could care less about Superman letting Metropolis get destroyed, and I do not think it is nearly as big a deal as everyone else does that so many people die in the chaos. No one said anything when this happens in the Transformers films, and from the very beginning, Man of Steel makes it clear this is not the version of Superman we all grew up with. So the chaos makes sense in the film’s context — as does his Sophie’s Choice over killing Zod. But really, there’s no reason we needed three separate fight scenes and action beats. The entire Smallville section probably could have been chopped out in favour of a more streamlined Metropolis fight.
And beyond pointing out how incredible Hanz Zimmer’s music is, I have to say this may be one of the only films I have ever liked Russell Crowe or Kevin Costner in. And that alone is something of a miracle.