Lots of people don't know, or probably more accurately care, that there are two major universes of comic book characters. Marvel is the company repsonsible for 90% of the ones in pop culture; your Avengers gang, X-Men crew and Spiderman. DC is the other and although they crafted some pretty dull and weird characters like Hawkman or Wonder Woman, they are the owners of two of the MOST famous of all time - Batman and Superman. Writer/Producer/Director Christopher Nolan (the Dark Knight
) has picked his team and done wonders with Batman. He didn't select the back seat on Man of Steel
but he's sitting shotgun and you can tell he's shouting directions the whole time.
I love more Marvel characters but I love Superman and Batman more. Does that make sense? I've always had a very soft spot in my heart for Superman because he appealed to my sensibility of doing right in the world as a young boy. I didn't have parents that pushed The Bible
on me too much so my sense of a self sacrificing beacon of good came from Superman. The older I got the more the character symbolized more to me; it's no coincidence that his outfit is red, white and blue; he is American aspiration and the symbol of what we strive to be (unsuccessfully). All that being said, every time a Superman film comes out I want it to be amazing. Sadly, there hasn't been a good one since 1980 when Christopher Reeve took on General Zod in Superman II
. I hung all my hopes on Man of Steel
and that Nolan and Director Zach Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead
) would alter that losing streak. I was let down.
The red cape is donned by Henry Cavill (Immortals
, HBO's The Tudors
) and I think he does a fantastic job with the chop shop-of-a-script he had to work with. He's joined by what appeared to be a very impressive cast that consisted of Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburn and Michael Shannon (Bug, Take Shelter
) as General Zod. All have done movies that are excellent and most have won or been nominated for Oscars. With the exception of Shannon, who always gives 110% with every maniac performance he has, they all seem confused and lost in the movie.
Decisions were made for Man of Steel
that I don't quite understand. We all know that UFO and sci-fi films don't typically do that well at the box office or with critics but for some reason that's the direction they took this. Massive amounts of focus are showcased on the fact that Superman is an alien and this is sci-fi as you can get. Perhaps that's the casulity of making General Zod the villain for the first relaunch of a series instead of the far more familiar and human character, Lex Luthor. This was a turn off to not only casual filmgoers but lovers of Superman like me who wanted to see the citizen of Earth fight to defend it instead of highlighting the fact that he's not really one of us.
It's also rather disjointed when it comes to the linear plot. Rather than showing it chronologically, Snyder tells much of Superman's terrestrial upbringing through flashbacks that would have been so much more effective if they were given more time. Also an excessive amount of time is dedicated to his origin on Krypton and its destruction. They also take liberties with the story that I didn't care for, as a fan.
I know this makes me sound like I hated it; I assure you that I didn't. Man of Steel
is actually still entertaining. Actually, the last half is very entertaining and the first half is kind of slow and frustrating. It's a true rule in almost everything in life that it's not how you start but how you finish. Man of Steel
is 143 minutes and the final hour is non-stop action that is so big and epic it verges on parody at points. Some will say that the climax between Zob and Supes is ridiculous but it played out as largely as it did in my boyhood imagination. Is it perfect? No, but it's good enough that I'll anxiously await the next installment and keep hoping it's a Superman film as inspired as the character who stands for truth, justice and the American way deserves.
Man of Steel (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B