A Man of Steel review

Let me start off with this disclaimer: I’m a DC Fanboy. I admit it, and I’m rather proud of it. I’m also a fan of both Batman and Superman. If you’ve read my books, I really dig Batman. Superman? He’s a good character, but I always liked the Bat.

I’ve also heard the horrid things the critics have said about Man of Steel, and a few other people in the comic industry. I’ve heard it called terrible, a travesty and other things that I really don’t want to get into right now. I am here to say that the critics have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill, a British actor who is the first non-American to play the Big Blue Boy Scout, and he does a superb job portraying someone who is both humble and capable of splitting mountains when he sneezes. The retelling of Superman’s origin was an interesting choice by the screenwriters, and the story, one of self-discovery and nature versus nurture, was rather well done. For the folks who haven’t gone to see it, I won’t do any spoilers, even though it’s been out for a few weeks now, and it’s unlikely anyone can get through life spoiler-free these days. Regardless, here are my takes on a few of the plot points that critics and some in the industry have brought up.

1) The fall of Krypton. The differences between how it happened in the comics and how it happened in the movie are irrelevant, to a point. Harping on how Jor-El wasn’t that way, he was this way, and Zod wasn’t like that, he was like this, are largely ridiculous, especially when you realize that this is an updating of the origin. The particulars aren’t important, save in an overall plot sort of way. The main thing is Kal-El was rocketed to Earth as a baby. They could have had a dozen different ways for the story around that rocketing, but you know what? I liked the idea of Zod leading a coup against the Council. It worked in the character of Zod, and made sense in the long run.

2) The disaster porn. Okay, I can somewhat agree with this point, especially in the third act. Holy crap, is the construction business going to boom for the foreseeable future, both in Smallville and Metropolis! However, even the destruction made a little bit of sense, considering we were dealing with not one, but a bunch of super-powered deities duking it out and beating the hell out of each other. Of course there’s going to be destruction! I hear the critics now “Why didn’t he lead Zod and company away from the people?” The answer is simple: Zod and company knew exactly what would hurt Kal more than anything, and that is hurt humans. If Kal had left, Zod would have started slaughtering people with even more abandon. Ergo, the battleground was where it was. However, the destruction was a lot, and I grudgingly partially concede this point to the critics.

3) The complete change of Clark Kent’s life and times. This is the big one. For years, people have yelled for something new, something different when it comes to Superman. For years, people have complained “Oh, it’s the same story over and over! We want something new!” So, here’s a story of Clark Kent not being this awesome guy right out of the gate, how he’s unsure of himself, and his journey to becoming Superman, with all the roughness and tumbles that can happen in such a journey. There’s no Lex Luthor (though the hints are there), and most importantly, no kryptonite. What’s the response? “Oh, how can you have such heresy? You changed Donner’s story! You changed Christopher Reeves’s brilliant performance! You changed who Superman is!” Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Firstly, the very first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve wasn’t that good. Yeah, I said it. It was good for the time, it was pretty awesome for the time, but it hasn’t aged well. Brando phoned in his performance, and the whole “fly around the world backward” thing just killed it for me. Also, Lex Luthor. Gene Hackman did a great job playing Gene Hackman as a criminal, but it didn’t really work for me. Looking back, it was okay, but there are warts there. In addition, kryptonite is one of the most overdone macguffins ever. Five movies, two TV shows and they all had the stuff. There was so much of it, I had to wonder how Superman could do anything, since it was freaking everywhere! Yes, we want to see the mighty brought down to our level, but can’t it be done without the obvious escape? After awhile, I half-expected Superman to fly around in a lead suit since there was so much kryptonite lying around.

That being said, the changes made to the character of Superman were the right ones. I recommend this movie to anyone wanting a fresh take on the Man of Steel. He’s not the ubermensch god that he seemed to be in the last outing. (For the record, I liked Superman Returns, up until it became another “Lex Luthor land scheme”.) He’s trying to find his place in the world, and he’s going to do his best to help the human race, and we get to watch him reach his potential. And along the way, he might just help us achieve ours.

Bottom line: Great movie. Bit loud, bit much on the destruction, but overall, an absolutely great re-imagining of the origin of one of the greatest heroes of any generation.

~ by Walker on July 7, 2013.

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