Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, and is directed by Zack Snyder. For years, Clark has struggled finding his place in the world, while trying to keep his powers a secret. When a threatening message is received by outsiders led by General Zod (Michael Shannon), Clark is forced to embrace his true destiny and protect his world.
When Warner Bros decided to reboot their Superman franchise, they looked to one man to help lead the way. Director Christopher Nolan, who was prepping to release the third and final installment in his Dark Knight Trilogy, was brought in. Along with his writing partner David S. Goyer, the two served as creative consultants in introducing a new Superman. After shaping together a screenplay, Zack Snyder was brought in as director and was essentially handed the keys to the future of the DC cinematic universe. The vision behind Man of Steel was to make it as real as possible. To make Superman an alien in the eyes of humans, and to ask the question, “how would our world react to something like him and to learn that we are not alone after all?”.
Many of us are already familiar with Superman, including his abilities and his weakness. While serving as an origin story, Snyder felt the need to first introduce audiences to his home planet, and set up the film. The opening scene on Krypton was beautifully done. Everything from the landscapes to the creatures felt otherworldly. The film has us not only witnessing the birth of Kal-El (Superman), but also the death of his planet. The early conflict between General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) was important for its stakes. It also gave a sense of who General Zod is, and the motives behind his brutality. By the end of the opening scene, I can already relate to Zod, and that makes him a much more stronger villain.
From the end of Krypton, we jump to present day and meet an adult Clark Kent (Henry Cavill). As he goes from place to place searching for purpose, he revisits his experiences as a kid which made him struggle the most. The decision to save a bus full of kids led to a feeling of uncertainty later regarding whether it was the right decision or not. As I stated earlier, this film puts Superman in a real world, and the outcome from revealing his true self is unknown. Clark’s adoptive parents play a hand in Clark being extra careful with his…gifts. Martha Kent (Diane Lane) hurries to her son’s aid, as he loses control of his powers in the middle of class. Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) has several discussions with Clark about choices and consequences. Both scenes contain amazing dialogue, especially the moments involving Kevin Costner.
The question regarding whether or not the world should know about Clark Kent plays a major part towards the end of the first act. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has an early encounter with Clark, as he follows him into a Kryptonian ship in the arctic. That experience leads her on a journey to find this mystery man who saved her life. The deeper she digs, the more she begins to realize the importance behind keeping Clark Kent a secret. Her own editor Perry White (Lawrence Fishbourne) is aware of the potential damage that could be done if people learned about this alien among them.
The efforts behind keeping Clark’s secret a secret are destroy with the re-introduction of General Zod. That sequence of his warning message to Earth was very intimidating and somewhat terrifying. The shots of Superman in handcuffs and taken into custody are very telling. The interrogation scene between Lois Lane and Superman provide much humor.
The second and third act provide no shortage of action. Superman’s first battle with two of General Zod’s kryptonian soldiers is not only entertaining, but natural. We clearly see that Superman is trying his best to fight the threats and save people, but there’s so much collateral damage. Its not entirely avoidable, but Superman chooses to keep the battle in the middle of Smallville. His inexperience in fighting is doing as much bad as it is good.
The third act’s final battle in Metropolis is lengthy and a bit stuffed. By the time General Zod and Superman fight, I partially felt exhausted from already watching so much action. The final sequence of the fight is a controversial one. Superman was forced to end General Zod, who was inches away from killing civilians. I was fine with Superman killing, because of the implications it’ll have later on. Its a ballsy move, but Cavill sells the moment with a scream of pain after having his hand forced.
In the end, Man of Steel is a really great film. I love its themes, characters, and especially its dialogue. Performances are strong across the board, with Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon giving the best. The film features many beautiful shots, and is accompanied by a masterful score by Hans Zimmer. Its a film that will get better with repeat viewings, and serves as a origin for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Man of Steel gets a 9 out of 10.