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Man of Steel: A Second Look

Updated on July 15, 2014

Warning: This hub contains spoilers.

Since it's release last Tuesday, I've had a couple of chances to watch Man of Steel again and I love it more with each viewing. There are specific scenes that are some of my favorite of all time and are what I consider to be some of the best scenes in a superhero movie ever done. I love the story, I love the actors, and I love the action in spite of a number of people's disdain for it. This movie has become THE Superman movie in my eyes. I adore the Christopher Reeve original film and it's sequel, but this reboot had everything that makes Superman great and had everything I wanted to see in a modern Superman story.

This film sees a different Superman than we're accustomed to seeing. This Superman is portrayed as being more human than ever before because of the kind of story Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, and Christopher Nolan decided to tell. They asked "What would happen if a Superman ACTUALLY appeared in our current world?" and they explored the struggle of being different than everyone else because of his superpowers. This Superman didn't just appear to the world and gain instant acceptance. This Superman fell on an Earth that is fearful, xenophobic, and utterly violent. He crash landed on the REAL WORLD, not an idealized version. Jonathan and Martha Kent understood this which led to Jonathan wanting Clark to hide his powers until the world was ready to accept him while he installed the classic virtues as he's done throughout the character's history. Martha Kent even tells Clark when he returns to Smallville after finding his birth parents that she's afraid "they" would come and take Clark away from her. Despite those fears, Clark makes the decision to reveal himself to the world once General Zod and his followers arrive from outer space. That leap of faith characterizes Superman in a nutshell. He is profoundly naive and always looks for the best in people unless they're obviously intent on death and destruction. Despite his gut feelings based on his checkered history, he STILL gave Zod a chance to prove he wasn't the evil man Jor-El told him about even though he knew that it wouldn't turn out well.

The Superman in the third act of the film was every bit the hero that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created in 1938 as he flew across the planet to save the human race from annihilation. He fought the bad guys, he destroyed their war machines, and managed to save people in the middle of it all, despite some views to the contrary. We finally got to see the kind of action on the big screen that is always present in the comics and the result was some of the most epic action ever put into a movie. Superman's crazy brawl with Zod was one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen, hands down. Superman destroying the world engine is simply one of the best scenes in a movie that I have ever seen. That scene was Superman's true coming out party. That was the moment where he symbolically became Superman as he saved the entire planet in one amazing display of superhuman heroism.

With all of that out of the way, I'd like to take some time to address some of the specific criticism this movie has unfairly received.

1) "Superman didn't save anyone" - He saved the people on the oil rig, he saved people as a kid, he saved Lois Lane four times, he saved his mother from getting hurt by Zod, he saved the soldier who fell out of the helicopter during the Smallville fight, he saved Colonel Hardy from getting killed by Faora in the Smallville fight, he saved everyone on the C-17 from getting killed by Zod, he saved the family Zod tried to kill at the end, and most importantly, he saved the ENTIRE PLANET when he destroyed the world engine. He saved more people in this movie than he did in any of his other movies combined in the world engine scene alone.

2) "They made Superman too dark and he brooded all the time" - He only brooded when he didn't know who he was. Once he found out his true heritage, he embraced his new life as Superman and became the hero every fan has come to love in the third act of the movie. The Clark Kent in the original Superman brooded too before he became Superman. Granted, both situations weren't the same, but they both shed the brooding once they put on the big red S. It also wasn't dark so much as it was just serious. This movie didn't need to have the kind of humor present in the older movies. Despite that, it still had humorous moments spread throughout the movie, which leads me to criticism number three.

3) "There was no humor" - There was plenty of humor. Not every superhero movie has to have a million jokes told every five minutes. I feel that the Marvel movies have spoiled people on this front because of the constant humor in those movies. It works for them and I'm not advocating that it's wrong, but it's okay for some superhero movies to be more serious. The Dark Knight Trilogy didn't have zingers flying out of the mouths of everyone and they were just fine. From Clark destroying that jerk at the bar's truck, to the soldier saying that she "just think he's kinda hot" offered very humorous moments in what was a thematically heavy film.

4) "Superman doesn't kill" - This is one of two of the biggest criticisms this movie has received. However, there is a precedent for Superman killing. He killed Doomsday in a fight that cost him his own life and he has killed Zod a couple times in their storied history. Superman killed Zod in the comics with kryptonite and he killed Zod in the sequel to the original 1978 film. In that film, he killed Zod with a smile on his face as he crushed his hand, lifted him up with ease, and threw his de-powered body into an icy abyss. In a deleted scene, it's shown that Zod is arrested, but it's a DELETED SCENE, therefore it does not count as part of the events of the movie. In Man of Steel, Zod forced Superman's hand and Superman made a controversial decision that at the time, was justified. If Supeman didn't kill him in that moment, that family would've been killed and there would've been more damage done to Metropolis, causing more deaths in the process.

5) "Superman is responsible for the destruction and the deaths of thousands of people" - This is the other big criticism of this movie and it's the most annoying. The type of destruction and action depicted in Man of Steel happens all the time in the comics. It's become commonplace for Metropolis to get trashed and since this film stayed true to the more modern version of Superman in the comics, this kind of destruction was to be expected. Unless I was watching a different movie, I'm pretty sure Zod and his gravity beam were responsible for the death and destruction in Metropolis. Superman and the military did their best to stop it and they did, but not without the obvious cost accrued before they succeeded. During the final battle between Superman and Zod, the common criticism is that Superman should've led Zod away from the city. In this context, that would've been the stupidest decision Superman could've made and then he would've been responsible for thousands of deaths since Zod would've just stayed in the city and killed everyone while Superman fled. He told Superman that he would literally make everyone suffer i.e. kill everyone in sight. Just as the destruction is commonplace in the comics, so was the kind of fight that Superman and Zod had during the finale. It was also the kind of super action people desired after Superman Returns had none back in 2006. You got what you wished for and now you're complaining about it? Right. "Oh, but all those people in the buildings must've been killed." Most of the buildings were EMPTY. They showed that in the movie. During the attack on the city, the police and other emergency personnel were evacuating people across the city. Just because we only saw some cops doing it outside of the Daily Planet, didn't mean that wasn't happening across the entire city. Even so, Zod was responsible for most of that damage from the fight because he beat the crap out of Superman for a good portion of it. HE threw Superman through those buildings. Superman only slammed Zod into a building once. This is the kind of knit-picking that has really irked me since the film was released and I think I know why.

Some people just don't like Superman anymore. Plain and simple. Superman has been characterized by some as being too boring, one-dimensional, and too much of a boyscout. We finally get a movie that addresses all of those criticisms and the same people complain that it's went against tradition therefore it's wrong. You can't have it both ways. After Superman Returns, people didn't want to see the Christopher Reeve Superman anymore. It was time for something new. It was delivered and it made Superman a more interesting and relatable character by making him an outcast. That change makes him easier to connect with because it gives him human struggles that many of us have faced in our own lives. Being that he's the remnant of a dead race, that makes him the ultimate outsider. The filmmakers shouldn't have to apologize for capitalizing on that kind of drama. It doesn't matter what the people in charge do with Superman. In our cynical times, the people that don't like Superman anymore aren't going to start liking him now, even if the very things he's criticized for are addressed.

For people like me, who want to see Superman grow and evolve with the times, Man of Steel was quite a sight to behold. The future is bright and I can't wait to see the upcoming Superman/Batman film in 2015. We will continue to see the evolution of the world's greatest superhero as we see his adventures move forward in new and exciting ways. His first big screen meeting with Batman will truly be a monumental moment not just for superhero movies, but for all of cinema. Is it it July 17, 2015 yet?

Michael Shannon did a great job as General Zod.
Michael Shannon did a great job as General Zod.
The fight scenes were some of the most epic ever put on film.
The fight scenes were some of the most epic ever put on film.
The future is bright for the Man of Steel as we will finally see him cross paths with Batman for the first time on the big screen.
The future is bright for the Man of Steel as we will finally see him cross paths with Batman for the first time on the big screen.


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    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 

      4 years ago

      Hey you should check out this youtube video that was put up recently. It's the nostalgia critic's review of man of steel. Even though he hated the film, he also had angry joe, who loved the film, review it with him, so you actually see both sides of the argument.

    • clopez26 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Lopez 

      5 years ago from Laurel, MD

      Thanks for reading my friend. I'm glad to know that there are plenty of people out there like yourself who saw the things we have talked about here. As for the part about the people being evacuated, I know that a lot of people caught in the middle of the action probably did die, but my point was that it wasn't directly Superman's fault since Zod was the one throwing him into everything throughout the city. The cops did evacuate people, but in that situation they obviously wouldn't be able to evacuate everyone. I was just saying it wasn't Superman's fault.

      I think your idea about the sequel has a good chance at being spot on. You theory is very similar to what I have also suggested in conversation with others. The plot surrounding Lex could be spread out to even include Intergang and/or Metallo. I really hope that we finally get to Metallo done on the big screen. We'd get an awesome tag team climax with Batman and Superman taking on Lex and Metallo. Lex could even done his classic green and purple power suit so he can stand a chance during the fight.

      Normally I would put spoiler alert in my hubs, but since it's been five or six months since the film's release I figured the people reading this are the ones who've seen it. You have a good point though so I'll go back and add it just in case.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 

      5 years ago

      (warning: this comment will contain spoilers)

      Your review pretty much says it all for me, as I agree with you a 1000 percent. Although to add to your argument though, I know another criticism people have is that superman wasn't developed enough in this film, and that the story was written poorly. I highly disagree with both of those points because like you, I thought the film did an excellent job establishing clark as the ultimate outsider. A man that eventually after learning about his roots that learned to embrace his true destiny.

      I especially loved the subtle scenes they showed of him as a kid, as I thought it gave great insight to the internal struggle that superman was. I know a lot of people say that part of the reason he didn't seem developed was because he didn't talk a lot. to that, i say why does a character need to talk a lot for you to know how he feels? I mean i understood what he was going through just fine when i saw man of steel, and I honestly thought it had one of the deepest characterizations of a character I've ever seen in a superhero film.

      Heck, it certainly had more characterization than the often overhyped "Avengers" film; another one that i did love for different reasons, but lets be honest, it gets way more praise than it deserves.

      As far as the whole death thing, I agree with you completely. Plus if you want to go even further than that, then you can also count the fight in superman 3, where clark ends up killing his evil self by crushing him in a trash compactor. Or you can count the time when he defeated Nuclear Man in Superman 4 Quest for Peace, when he dropped him into a nuclear reactor. Although one would probably think that would only make him stronger, but in that movie, they made it fairly obvious that he died. And as you pointed out in superman 2, he did it with a smile on his face, which is another reason why I don't understand why people complain about superman showing little to no remorse after he killed zod, in the following scenes. I mean the man cried for god's sakes. CRIED! And, he yelled, "Noo!!" what more do you honestly want?

      Do you want superman to go around in the following scenes saying crap like, "I'm a murderer...a selfish murderer...unfit to live..." Seriously, is that how people expect the man of steel to end on that kind of a downer note?

      Oh well to each their own, but i think man of steel was arguably one of the best superhero films ever made, and it's definitely miles ahead of wolverine if you ask me.

      By the way though, your wrong about the part about the people being mostly evacuated fyi. David Goyer, the screenwriter for Man of Steel, said publicly that in that fight scene that over a 1000 people did in fact die, and it was going to play a huge plot point in the next movie.

      Although the plot hasn't been revealed yet, I do think that this might play a key role in how batman ends up meeting superman, and how even lex luthor gets involved. I could be dead wrong, but this is how i think the film might play out.

      Since the destruction of metropolis, Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne end up rebuilding the city together. Bruce being the paranoid son of a b**** that he is would obviously only use that as an excuse to investigate superman to see if he's a potential threat.

      Lex on the other hand would want to take advantage of the situation as well. Although some people have speculated that lex could be more of a sympathetic kind of villain to where he'd be against superman, but mostly out of fear of what he might do to us, but to be honest, I think think if dc wants this to be more of an expanded movie universe, I'd say we need the more cunning and evil lex that we've seen in the superman the animated series, and the comics. Someone who can make speeches like obama, yet he's really an evil guy that manipulates behind the scenes.

      My guess would be that lex would appear in the public to be an honest, yet legitimate businessman. However behind closed doors, he'd probably have his hands on a lot of dirty business dealings. My guess would be that maybe his company specializes in military weapons, and ends up confiscating most of the deserted kryptonian tech left behind that isn't in the fortress of solitude.

      Lex would of course use some of that tech for the military, but he'd also sell that tech to terrorists as well as sort of a war profiteering scheme, to go along with the fears of the current times.

      Superman would catch on but couldn't prove it. Lex tries to buy off superman, but he refuses; thus lex uses the events of the last film to launch a giant smear campaign against superman. batman would even be on lex's side at first; thus explaining why they would end up fighting.

      However, batman would eventually figure out that superman is really the good guy, and they'd inevitably team up to stop lex luthor. I could be dead wrong in how this'll play out, but based on what i heard and read, this seems like the plot they're leaning towards.

      as far as the whole wonder woman cameo in the film, i can only assume that's to set up the justice league film after this, but again, i could be dead wrong, so please take that with a grain of salt.

      however, i can't wait to see the next film. although to be honest, i wish they would've made this next one just a sequel to man of steel because even though i liked how they developed the story, the only aspect that was sorely missing was clark kent's news reporter persona. You know the one that he uses to fool people at the daily planet. Sure, they got his farmboy persona (which if you ask me is who he really is), and they got his superman persona, but they didn't have the clark kent news reporter one. sure, he showed up at the end with the trademark glasses and all, but that was about it.

      I wish they would've just made another sequel without batman first, to kind of establish superman as humanity's savior, as i think the first one was more about establishing him embracing his destiny. However, with them introducing him to batman this quickly feels kind of rushed, but then again, i do think this was kind of planned all along though, as im sure the easter eggs referring to batman and lex were kind of hints that we'll see them in the next film, so i guess we'll have to see how it plays out. anyways great job on this review, as i think this is hands down the best one that i've read so far on this movie, and that even includes mine. lol

      although one word of advice though. when you said that you wanted to address the criticism that this film unfairly received, you should put a warning saying that this next part will contain spoilers, so that way if someone that hasn't seen the movie yet won't have most of the film spoiled for them. just free advice. anyways keep up the good work


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