Man of Steel was the first ever movie I saw in IMAX 3D. I’ve always stayed away from seeing movies in IMAX theaters and I rarely watch movies in 3D because I just can’t appreciate them. Actually, I find these special formats annoying. However, I felt Superman deserved a larger than life movie viewing experience so I decided to pop my IMAX 3D cherry. I wish I didn’t.
Before we proceed, know that there are SPOILERS ahead.
I’m so sad, you guys.
What I didn’t like about Superman Returns was its depressing tone. I hoped the next movie would be brighter and more fun, but instead, we got Man of Sad Feels. I was looking for the grand entrances, the epic soundtrack, and the sheer awe-inspiring presence of the Last Son of Krypton. All I got was endless flashbacks of a sad childhood and somber scenes of exposition. There were scenes that were meant to have humor, but I guess I just didn’t find them funny or maybe the movie was just so damn depressing that it sucked the sense of humor out of me. Joyless works for Batman, guys, but not for Superman.
You Can Save Them All
Another thing I didn’t like about Superman Returns is that there was too much saving of people and not enough punching of things. Man of Steel did the exact opposite. Too much punching, not enough saving! The Smallvile smackdown just threw me out of the movie. To save his mom from the Kryptonians, Superman takes Zod away from his farm and straight into town, crashing through buildings and eventually ending up at a gas station that explodes. Sure, he tells innocent bystanders to get inside because it’s not safe outside, but guess what Super Einstein, it’s not safe inside either because you keep crashing through walls while you’re fighting other super strong aliens! Yes, he does try to save whoever he can, but the whole time I was waiting for him to take the fight somewhere else to protect people and he didn’t. And then there was Metropolis.
Run, Intern Jenny Who Is Totally Not Gender-Swapped Jimmy Olsen, run!
Usually, it doesn’t bother me when I see disaster porn. No matter how good and real it looks, I shrug off seeing entire cities being turned into rubble. Sometimes, when it is done right, I enjoy it. In Man of Steel, the disaster porn just bothered me like a mofo. It’s because all this destruction and presumed deaths of thousands happen in a Superman movie.
That big Kryptonian thingamajig is killing people and demolishing an entire city while Superman is on the other side of the planet. When he gets back to Metropolis, the only person we see him directly save is Lois Lane who just can’t stop falling from the sky for some reason. Also, Superman fights Zod for the second time, again crashing through random buildings presumably still containing people.
I know it’s logical and realistic for Superman not to save everyone, but it just feels wrong especially if we don’t even see him try. We don’t even see anyone’s reaction to the horrific demolition of Metropolis. We actually skip seeing the physical and emotional aftermath of the Kryptonian attack.
“I’m a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist!” – Lois Lane
“CLARK!” – Lois Lane to Superman in full costume who is hugging his mom at their house, right in front of cops
“Krypton had its chance!” – Super Harsh Man
“I grew up in Kansas.” – Superman to General Swanwick immediately after telling the army man to stop looking for his home/base of operations
These are just some of the lines in the movie that just threw me off. Most of them just sounded wrong or dumb, but the “Krypton had its chance!” line particularly did not sit well with me. It sounds awfully harsh coming from Superman. But by this point in the movie, it has already dawned on me that this is a realistic and practical take on an extremely raw and inexperienced Superman. It still doesn’t excuse the other stupid lines of dialogue, though.
Before you say I hated the movie, I didn’t. There were parts of it that I really liked. The lengthy look at Krypton, including its culture and history, was great. The whole oil rig scene where Bearded Clark saved people while he was on fire was fantastic. The first time Clark put on the suit and learned how to fly was very amusing. The fights, while I couldn’t tell what was happening all the time, were exactly the kind of fights I was dying to see ever since I saw the first Superman movie. The way everything was explained — from the ‘S’ on Superman’s chest to how he got his powers — was not perfect but all of the explanations kind of made sense in a science fiction-y way.
On my world, the ‘S’ stands for ‘shadows’. Also, ‘silhouettes’.
The cast, while also not perfect, was good enough to do justice to their characters. Henry Cavill is an exceptional Superman. He’s always sad or angry for most of the movie, but he showed us tiny glimpses of optimism that I think should be more prominent in the sequel. It should be noted though that we didn’t see any distinction between Clark Kent and Superman. I’m not really a fan of the whole clumsy farm boy act so I’m cool with an almost identical Clark and Kal-El, but it should be interesting how Cavill would pull off the secret identity bit next time.
I’m not really thrilled about Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Sure, I love Adams, but I always get the romantic comedy vibe from her which does not fit at all in Man of Steel’s tone. She’s not bad but I just don’t see her as Lois. I can’t think of someone right now but I would prefer someone else in the role. As for Morpheus as Perry White, I can dig that. I think he was not used enough in this movie, though.
Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Ma and Pa Kent were decent. I’m a big fan of Annette O’Toole and John Schneider as the more cheerful and hopeful Kents from Smallville, so Lane and Costner’s gloomy Kents were just too dull to watch for me. On the other hand, Russell Crowe played the version of Jor-El that I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it. I can almost forget his singing shenanigans in Les Misérables because of his role as a man of action and SCIENCE! in Man of Steel. Almost.
Michael Shannon as General Zod was just OK. I can appreciate his acting when he’s not screaming, but he’s screaming most of the time, so yeah. My favorite character would have to be Faora-Ul mostly because she kicks ass, she doesn’t talk much, and Antje Traue gives her that sexy but deadly look.
Ah, the ending that will be talked about for generations to come. The first time Man of Steel made me say “WTF?!” out loud was when a twister murdered Kevin Costner. But that was a “Haha WTF?!” kind of WTF. When Superman killed Zod, that was my second Man of Steel WTF moment and it was a “WTF?! Did they just do that?! Did they actually make Superman snap Zod’s neck?! What. The. Fuck.” kind of WTF.
Look, I get it. This is Superman’s first big super fight. He had no other choice. In his rookie world savior mind, he only had one choice and that is to end a life to save millions more. I get it. But I waited years for the definitive Superman movie. Something for the ages. Something that would have the same effect on kids today as the first Superman movie had on kids when it came out.
In case you can’t see the expertly edited image, it says “You’ll believe a man can MURDER.”
I was hoping for a movie that would inspire kids to be heroes and adults to rediscover their sense of wonder. Something positive and optimistic because I’m tired of darker and “more realistic” versions of superheroes in movies. That’s probably why I love the Marvel movies so much. They have heroics, humor, and hope. If there’s one superhero movie that should not be cynical and dark, it’s a Superman movie. Man of Steel is not a Superman movie that inspires kids; it is a Superman movie that shows kids Superman, the supposedly greatest symbol of hope for mankind, hopelessly killing another man.
I get why he had to kill Zod in the context of the story. I just don’t get why it had to be part of the movie. Why do we need to see Superman killing Zod? Was it supposed to make Superman look more human? The entire fucking movie was all about Superman making all too human choices and committing all too human mistakes. What is the purpose of having him snapping another man’s neck? If it’s for emotional impact, then it failed.
After being “emotionally broken” by the whole ordeal, Superman spends the next couple of scenes being a smug asshole who smashes a drone right in front of General Swanwick and having eye sex with Lois on his first day of work at the Daily Planet. There was almost no transition from the death of Zod to the next couple of lighthearted scenes. Maybe killing Zod cured Superman of his eternal sadness?
Nope. Still sad, you guys.
I understand that this is the Superman for the modern times. This is the Superman that reflects our current world. This is the realistic, more human Superman. Frankly, this is not the Superman that I want. 75 years of Superman history in comics, TV, radio, and movies have given me a very specific idea of who and what Superman should be and this is not it. Sure, the movie keeps telling us that Superman is a symbol of hope, that he is to inspire everyone to be better, that he is Jesus (as we are painfully told over and over again), but it does not show us that Superman. Instead, we get an extremely flawed Superman who is nowhere near being the superhero who everybody looks up to. I’m willing to stick around to witness his journey but I’m going to be grumpy doing it.
Man of Steel is a decent sci-fi flick and a good action film. There were baffling plot holes and idiotic lines of dialogue, but overall, it was a pretty entertaining movie. I can even say that it’s the best Superman movie I’ve seen. It’s just not the Superman movie I’m looking for.