Man of Steel
Origin and History of Superman
Man of Steel
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Ayelet Zurer, Christina Wren, Jadin Gould, Joseph Cranford, Michael Kelly
Synopsis: A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language
Origins of General Zod
Man of Steel Parody Sketch
Disclaimer: This parody sketch is entirely fictitious. Any and all similarities and/or references to any actual events and person is purely coincidental.
Narration: Steven is currently on vacation, as he visits the empire state buidling; wearing his black two piece suit, a fedora hat, and glasses. While touring the top of the building, he comes across a newspaper article that reports about a bank being robbed.
Steven: This looks like a job for Superman.
Narration: Steven undoes his dress shirt, and opens it up a bit to reveal a blue shirt underneath with a superman logo on the front. Then he takes off the rest of his clothing, along with his glasses, to reveal a full on superman costume underneath his regular clothes. Steven gets a running start, and jumps off the empire state building to fly off to the crime scene.
Only one problem....steven forgot he isn't really superman, so he falls all the way down to the ground; crashing into a hood of a car. A homeless man walks by and says gruntingly.
Homeless man: Who do you think you are? Superman or something?
Steven: This...looks like a job....for...a doctor......
A Superman for a new generation
Upon hearing the news that there would be a darker toned Superman movie, I recall telling my brother once, in casual conversation, that I firmly believe it could work, as long as they had Superman remain the shining beacon of hope humanity looks up to in their hour of need. Looks like someone was listening to me, when I said that, as that's exactly what we got in "Man of Steel." Take in mind, this isn't your father's Superman, nor is this even your grandfather's version. No, this film draws it's inspiration from the modern day versions of the character.
Unlike Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns", this one wisely chooses to ignore the previous films that came before it, and treats it like a completely fresh adaptation of the character. Unfortunately, it's because Goyer's script takes on such an approach that it's rubbed a lot of people the wrong way; particularly film critics in general. Before I get into my thoughts on the film, I would like to address a few things first.
For starters, I just want to say that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and just because a person dislikes a film it doesn't mean they're stupid or anything. It just means they have a different opinion. Same thing goes for if a person likes a movie that you may end up hating.
Therefore, I often try to respect any and all critics' opinions on movies. However, it does seem like most of the negative reviews that I've read tend to portray the author having preconceived expectations of the type of Superman film they want to see; versus judging the film right in front of them for what it is. But, that's just absurd considering that comparing "Man of Steel" to any of the previous Superman movies is like comparing Tim Burton's "Batman" to Nolan's "Batman Begins." Granted, they're both about the same character, but both films also have different approaches and styles as well; hence it's not really a fair comparison. That's why I'm going to simply say this. If you're on these fans that has these preconceived expectations on what you think Superman should be like, then odds are you probably won't like "Man of Steel."
However, there's an old saying my father once told me about films that's true when you stop to think about it. "Son, never condemn a movie because it's not what you want it to be, but instead...just judge it for what it is." Therefore, I would kindly ask my readers this. If you see the "Man of Steel", then please go into it with an open mind. Erase all memory of what you remember from all the previous "Superman" adaptations, and act like they never existed. Because, that's exactly how Snyder and Goyer approach this movie, and it works rather well.
Some people will argue that the film took a lot of liberties with the character, but so did "Superman: the Movie" upon its theatrical release. However, the key thing people have to remember is this isn't based on the golden or silver age of Superman. No, it's based more on the modern version of Superman; while also emphasizing the science fiction elements of the character.
As for some of the critics that have complained this film is too dark, I beg to differ. It's darker than the previous "Superman" movies of the past, as there's no disputing that. After all, the world they create around Superman is a bit more colder. The stakes are higher, and even the villains are given more pathos to work with in this film. Unlike the previous movies, things aren't spelled out in black and white. Meaning, that even a villain like Zod can come off as genuinely sympathetic; even though he's trying to kill off humanity throughout most of the story.
But in the end, this is still a Superman movie no matter how you look at this. Although some critics will have readers believing that this new Superman movie is dark and brooding in ilk of the "Dark Knight" trilogy. However, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Granted, it's the darkest Superman movie that we've ever had, but Superman is never dark himself. Although Clark Kent doesn't become Superman until one third of the movie is past, the film manages to become a bit upbeat through the darkness whenever Superman shows up.
Henry Cavill may not be Christopher Reeves, but he doesn't have to be. Unlike Reeves' portrayal, this Superman is more of a troubled soul that ponders the question, "Am I a Kryptonian? Or am I really a Kent?" But, it's never to the point to where it drags down the film, as the movie is very well paced.
Henry definitely does justice to the iconic character, as you can definitely sense that he understands the character perfectly through is performance. Russell Crowe is both endearing and stoic in his portrayal of Jor-El. Although I hesitate to say whether or not, I think his role outshines even the Marlon Brando version of the character, but he does a great job with it nonetheless.
Diane Lane plays a great Martha Kent that's both lovable, yet compassionate. Not to mention tough, as she even tells off Zod in this flick. As for Kevin Costner, he kills it as Jonathan Kent. Like "Superman: The Movie", Jonathan dies in "Man of Steel" early on in Clark's life. However, the circumstances of how he dies changes though, but it's still equally endearing to watch.
I remember being touched when I saw Pa Kent die in the original Superman movie, as a child watching it. The scene in the 1978 film was potent in defining the fear that Superman had back then. His fear of knowing that even in spite of all his powers, he can't always save everyone. A tragic reality that we all learn to endure over time, but it's still a powerful message nonetheless.
The tragic death of Jonathan Kent, in "Man of Steel", touched me as well, but for a different reason. Throughout the film, it's revealed that Pa Kent encouraged Clark to hide his powers at all cost. In fact, there's even a scene where he scolds Clark for blowing his cover, in order to save a bunch of kids from drowning in a schoolbus. Needless to say, Clark didn't take it too well, but he respected his father's wishes. Eventually, there was a scene where Clark had the opportunity to save his father from a tornado, but Pa Kent told him not to because if he did save him, then it would blow his cover; hence putting his son in jeopardy, as there were several people there watching.
Needless to say, Pa Kent died because he didn't want his son being exposed to a world that may not understand, or embrace him, simply because he's different. And like the old saying goes, people always fear what they don't understand. It's touching to see how Pa Kent is willing to sacrifice his own life for his son.
Throughout first hour of the film, Superman's origin is explained via flashback, as he works various odd jobs to get by. The flashbacks are arguably some of the best scenes in the film, and the depiction of Krypton are nothing short of breathtaking.
Although some people may not like the new version of Krypton because it deviates from Donner's interpretation, but it's surprisingly better than Donner's Krypton in many ways. Unlike the previous films, we get a more in depth look into Krypton's culture. Finding out that even though they're a more advanced civilization, it doesn't mean they're beyond making mistakes as well. This only makes the characters a bit more relatable in a lot of ways.
The cinematography works perfectly in this film, as it immerses you right into the action; which really makes it a treat to watch in IMAX 3-D if you can afford it. As for the action scenes, they're very well choreographed, and epic to watch. In fact, I'd dare even say this film features better action sequences than anything we might've seen in Nolan's Batman trilogy.
Although some people have complained about the collateral damage that's caused during the fight with Superman and Zod's army. Many saying how the real Superman would lead them away to an unpopulated area. Fair assessment, and I'd agree if that were possible. However, the last time I checked, Zod isn't a stupid villain. He knows Superman's weakness to want to protect humanity, as they even mention this in the film. Therefore, even if Superman wanted to lead them away from Metropolis, then chances are that Zod wouldn't leave. If anything, he'd just kill almost any human he could find. We also have to take in mind that Zod is a general, as it's emphasized in this movie. Therefore, it stands to reason that he wouldn't want to follow Superman into an unpopulated area because it wouldn't be a strategical advantage for him. Plus, I doubt Superman could drag him to an unpopulated area either considering they're both fairly evenly matched.
As for Amy Adams, I thought she played an excellent Lois Lane. Not only nailing the character down, but her chemistry with Henry Cavill is amazing to watch on screen. Although the romance between Lois and Superman isn't quite as memorable as it's portrayed in the Donner movies, but this new interpretation has it's own unique charm to it.
Overall, the best advice I can give to my readers is this. Don't listen to the critics, or anyone else. Just go see the film, and judge for yourself if you think "Man of Steel" is a good film or not. I personally loved every minute of it. Granted, the first two Superman movies starring Christopher Reeves will always hold a special place in my heart, but I'd be lying if I said "Man of Steel" wasn't clearly the superior film in many ways.
It not only had a deep character driven story arc that made it's audience feel emotionally invested into it's main protagonist, but it even managed to make Zod a sympathetic character as well. Michael Shannon is no Terrance Stamp, but he manages to do something with the character that Stamp couldn't do; which is to make Zod a deeply complex character who's not only intimidating, but also relatable in a lot of ways.
Bravo to Shannon for pulling it off. Bravo to Zack Snyder and David Goyer for constructing such an epic film to begin with. Granted, the trailers may emphasize Christopher Nolan's name a lot, but make no mistake. This is definitely a Zack Snyder film all the way, as he knows how to create a visually impressive film. Speaking of special effects, "Man of Steel" features arguably some of the best ones that I've seen in a superhero movie.
As for Hans Zimmers' scoring, it's nowhere near as memorable as John Williams' work for the previous Superman movies. However, it still manages to match the tone of each scene nicely. Granted, the scoring can seem a bit redundant at times, but it's never to the point that it ruins the movie.
Although I know I'll probably get a lot of heat from my readers for saying this, but "Man of Steel" is arguably the best adaptation of Superman that I've ever seen. Yes, even over Donner's Superman films of the past. Granted, I know some fans will say that's blasphemy for me to say that, but would you rather I lied to you? Or do you want me to be honest? In the end, I'd have to give "Man of Steel" a perfect four out of four.
However, don't take my word for it. Go see the film, and decide for yourself.
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Man of Steel- 13 Minutes of Behind the Scenes Featurette
Man of Steel Parody (Warning: Contains Adult Language. Parental Discretion is Advised)
A More In Depth Look At the history of Superman in both literary works and in Pop Culture
The Science of Superman
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