Christopher Nolan has done it again! As Writer/Director, he brought my #1 favorite Superhero to life: Batman. Now as a Producer/Writer, he has brought my #2 favorite Superhero to life: Superman. There’s lots of due credit to go around, but I blame the brilliance on Nolan, first and foremost. After Nolan, I say bravo to Zach Snyder. This has got to be his best film ever. Not only did he make the best Superman ever, he made a great movie overall! I liked 300 and I really liked Watchmen, but I didn’t know he had this in him!
Before I get to the review, let me share my level of Superman fandom. I’ve watched all of the Superman movies and all of the seasons of Smallville. I’ve never read the comics before. So, basically, I know lots of Superman stories, but I’m not versed in the giant mythos that is the Superman comics.
Man of Steel is the story a man, Clark Kent, who grew up as an outcast. Kids made fun of him, because he was different. He suffered through growing into his powers. When he was old enough, he left his home, to wander. He felt like there was no here that he could fit in, so he drifted from job to job and town to town. Something finally changes when Clark hears about a discovery in Canada. It is there that he discovers who he truly is, but he doesn’t know what to do. Should he reveal himself to humanity? Are they ready for such a revelation? The arrival of General Zod forces his hand. He must take a leap of faith in trusting humanity or there may not be a humanity left to trust.
Man of Steel starts out on Krypton and I felt like that was the first time I’ve ever really seen the planet. It’s not an ice world in this version and I’m OK with that. It really did seem like an advanced alien world. The people themselves look the same as us; but their world, culture, and everything else is most definitely alien. The closest thing to a complaint that I have is that after Krypton, Superman’s story is told out of order. His youth is shown through flashbacks. It doesn’t take away from the movie. They make it work. I just prefer things chronological, because I’m anal like that. If I’m going to watch the Indiana Jones movies, I watch Temple of Doom first. Anyway, that’s just my weird personal preference. Chris Nolan did the same thing in Batman Begins and it works just as well as it did then!
Overall, the story was top notch. Very well written. I knew it would be, with David S. Goyer and Chris Nolan writing it. The only man missing from The Dark Knight trilogy writing team, was Jonathan Nolan, but I guess he’s busy with Person of Interest. I feel like they balanced the story really well. There’s a proper mix of character introduction/development and action. One thing that they did right from the very start was not including Kryptonite in the movie. I feel like Superman writers always use the kryptonite as a cliche crutch. I hate it. It has it’s place in the mythos, but it’s just overused. So, no Kryptonite, sat well with me. I think this freed up the writers to really write the best movie they could. Lex Luthor was also missing, but he wasn’t necessary for this one. I’m sure that Goyer and Nolan will make him the best and most sadistic that he’s ever been in the next movie.
Anyway, I really loved the story. Some of the elements are familiar from past stories, but it’s never been told this well before. I can’t wait to see what these guys will write for the next installment!
One of the things I love the most about Man of Steel is that Superman is an allegory of Jesus. In his 75 years, Superman has always been compared to Jesus, but I feel like Man of Steel really had that in mind while writing the story. From the more obvious allusions, such as a Father sending his only Son to Earth, to the not as obvious allusions, like Superman being 33 years old in the film. It’s really cool to see Jesus’ story told (kind of) through the story of Superman. It’s not like it makes the movie “religious” per se, but as a Christian viewer, I think it’s really cool.
The cast of Man of Steel was brilliant, but there are a few that I want to point out:
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman
Henry Cavill is a GREAT Superman! He’s at least as good as Christopher Reeve. I didn’t LOVE the old Superman movies, but I did like Reeve as Superman. He was one of the redeeming features of those movies. Man of Steel didn’t rely on Cavill, but it thrives with him. He pulls off the depth of Superman to perfection. I was really impressed!
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
I’m a fan of Amy Adams. She’s probably one of my favorite actresses right now and now she’s my favorite Lois Lane. Why? The main reason is because her Lois is smart and not a pain in the ass. I have never really liked Lois Lane that much, because she’s always been a bit annoying and not the brightest tool in the shed. Adams’ Lois Lane is someone that I really liked. I was skeptical when she was cast. I just didn’t think she sounded very Lois-like. It turns out that she wasn’t very classic Lois-like, but ending it up being a good thing!
Michael Shannon as Zod
Michael Shannon and David S. Goyer brought depth to Zod for the first time, in my experience. Shannon’s Zod is most definitely a bad guy, but in Man of Steel, you can see his motivation for his deeds. He’s not pure evil. I can’t say more without spoiling you, but the point is that Shannon was a great Zod!
Russell Crowe as Jor-El
I had my doubts when I heard that Russell Crowe had been cast as Jor-El, but he proved me wrong. Crowe gave the best portrayal of Jor-El that I have ever seen. Sorry, Brando!
Brilliant. Not quite perfect, but brilliant all the same! Man of Steel is a remarkable movie, across the board. Story, Cast, Director, Special Effects, Design, Score, etc. Part of me was hoping that with Nolan being involved, that Man of Steel would tie-in with The Dark Knight trilogy. Perhaps Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Batman in the credits to tease a Superman-Batman movie? No such luck, and what’s more, apparently never will be. According to an interview with Goyer, Man of Steel starts the new DC Movies Storyline. That’s fine with me. I’m just glad they came out and said it, instead of keeping me wondering if they were in the same storyline or not. I’ve been waiting for a Superman-Batman movie my whole life and hopefully it’s coming soon!
I digress. The bottom line is that this is the best Superman movie ever made and it is a must see for movie-goers. You don’t have to be a Superman fan to enjoy it, but for those of us that are, it is the movie that we have all been waiting for. Go see it! Also, may I recommend seeing it in 3D IMAX/XD? That’s how Superman should be seen!
Rhodes Rating: 95/100
Did you see Man of Steel yet? What did you think?
Don’t forget to read the free Man of Steel prequel comic here: http://imgur.com/a/mMCZm
All of my Man of Steel coverage: http://stephenwrhodes.com/tag/man-of-steel/
The Top 20 Reasons Why Superman is Jesus/Interview with Snyder/Goyer: http://metro.co.uk/2013/06/11/man-of-steel-the-top-20-reasons-why-superman-is-jesus-3837465/