I felt compelled to offer a retrospective review of “Man of Steel,” the inaugural installment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).
Table of Contents
Kal-El (Henry Cavill), the son of Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayelet Zurer), is sent to Earth when his home planet of Krypton faces destruction. Discovered by Midwestern farmers Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent, he is raised as their own, learning to conceal his extraordinary powers from a world unprepared to comprehend his abilities. As years pass, he adopts the name Clark Kent and gradually embraces his true identity as Superman, dedicating himself to protecting Earth from harm. However, General Zod (Michael Shannon), a former Kryptonian citizen and military leader, views Earth’s fate differently and intends to use it for a dire purpose. Superman, aided by the military and journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams), forms an alliance to prevent Zod from annihilating humanity.
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT Man of Steel
It’s been a while since I revisited a cinematic classic. With the impending release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I felt compelled to offer a retrospective review of “Man of Steel,” the inaugural installment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). After the lukewarm reception to 2006’s “Superman Returns,” I approached the prospect of another Superman film from Warner Bros. with some skepticism. Nevertheless, the promise of a new Superman actor and a fresh origin story piqued my interest. Additionally, the involvement of director Zack Snyder, renowned for his work on “300,” “Watchmen,” and “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” added to the anticipation. I vividly remember watching “Man of Steel” when it premiered during the summer of 2013. While I hadn’t revisited it in some time, the anticipation for Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of “Justice League” prompted me to revisit this 2013 gem. Did it still hold up? Surprisingly, yes. “Man of Steel” remains an enjoyable cinematic experience, just as I remembered.
Directed by Zack Snyder, “Man of Steel” presented a significant departure from previous Superman films. Snyder, known for his distinct visual style, transitioned to superhero filmmaking, delivering a movie that blends entertainment with action sequences seamlessly. The film’s story was crafted by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, adding weight to the narrative. “Man of Steel” delves deeper into critical events such as Krypton’s destruction and Clark’s upbringing, enriching the story and adding depth.
The film opens with a captivating sequence that immediately engages the audience. The birth of Kal-El, Zod’s rebellion, Kal-El’s departure, and Krypton’s demise are all masterfully depicted in the film’s opening moments. Snyder’s decision to start with this sequence was a brilliant choice, setting the tone for the film’s first 10-15 minutes.
The film’s presentation is outstanding, creating a visual spectacle that rivals any blockbuster. Every aspect of the technical presentation, from production design and set decoration to costumes, cinematography, and editing, is meticulously executed, immersing viewers in a world filled with superhero nuances. The CGI work is particularly noteworthy, especially in portraying Superman’s powers and Kryptonian technology. Hans Zimmer’s score is exceptional, providing memorable musical moments, from bombastic compositions to quieter, heroic themes.
While “Man of Steel” shines in many aspects, it falls short in a couple of areas. The film’s pacing is inconsistent, with the first and most of the second act slowing down considerably to focus on character and narrative development. Action sequences are sparse during this part of the film. It seems that Snyder intended to compensate for this in the film’s climax, leading to the other significant issue—excessive destruction. The third act is relentless in its action and destruction, becoming repetitive and reminiscent of a Roland Emmerich disaster film. Trimming this portion of the film by 10-15 minutes would have resulted in a tighter, more enjoyable experience.
The cast of “Man of Steel” delivers strong performances across the board. Henry Cavill embodies the role of Superman, offering a convincing portrayal of Kal-El/Clark Kent. While the character’s development is minimal, Cavill’s physical presence and embodiment of Superman are remarkable.
Amy Adams impresses as Lois Lane, portraying her as a capable and compelling character rather than a mere damsel in distress. The chemistry between Cavill and Adams is palpable, making their on-screen relationship believable. It’s refreshing to see a Lois Lane who is aware of Superman’s identity, as revealed in the film’s conclusion.
Michael Shannon excels as the main antagonist, General Zod. Shannon brings depth to Zod’s character, portraying him as a megalomaniac zealot determined to see his plans through, regardless of the cost. Zod’s motivations are relatable, even if his methods are ruthless. Shannon’s performance ensures Zod remains a memorable and compelling villain.
The supporting cast, including Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, and Diane Lane, shines in their respective roles as Kal-El/Clark’s parental figures. Their seasoned acting talents lend credibility to their characters. Antje Traue is notable as Zod’s sub-commander, Faora-Ul.
“Man of Steel” left a significant impact on DC Comics fans. While it may not surpass Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy as a fan favorite, it deserves recognition as a well-rounded superhero film with a strong cast, impressive visuals, a solid story, and Zack Snyder’s competent direction. The film’s success paved the way for Snyder’s vision of the DCEU, which, despite some missteps, delivered entertaining films like “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman.”
In conclusion, my recent revisit to “Man of Steel” affirmed my continued appreciation for the film. It remains an enjoyable Superman movie that offers intriguing storytelling and captivating visuals. With Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” director’s cut on the horizon, the future of the DCEU is uncertain, but “Man of Steel” continues to soar, regardless of differing opinions on its strengths and flaws.