Clark Kent: It’s not an “S”. On my world, it means hope.
I have gone on and on, time and time again, about how much I truly loathe Zack Snyder, of WATCHMEN and SUCKER PUNCH fame. His work is just over-stylized trash. Yet somehow, MAN OF STEEL, his highly anticipated take on Superman, does not fall into the familiar trappings of his usual over-the-top, Snyder-ized CGI. Instead, MAN OF STEEL has a very beautiful style and tone that surprises and enhances the overall experience. This is fortunate as it also distracts from the film’s many, many flaws.
At this time, the Superman origin story has been told so often that most people know that his parents sent him to Earth when their planet was being destroyed for a chance at a new life, with a new earthly family. For whatever reason, Snyder’s telling of this story deviates so far away from the original, that it’s almost an entirely new story. This may be fine for some, but hardcore fans don’t always like change. The shift in question finds Superman’s birth father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), taking a heavier hand in shaping his son’s journey to becoming Superman than in past tellings. According to Superman history though, it is Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), his adopted father, who truly raised that boy and turned him into a man. It may seem like a slight change but it has a big impact.
Superman and his alter ego, Clark Ket, are played by Henry Cavill, who used to be known as one of most unlucky actors in Hollywood. He was passed up to play Edward in the TWILIGHT movies (bullet dodged), and was too young to become the new Bond back when Daniel Craig got the part. Clearly, his luck has changed though as his portrayal of Superman is truly one that warrants respect and acclaim.
Aside from Cavill’s performance, there were a couple of other elements that truly stood out in MAN OF STEEL. The first is how well suited Snyder’s style is here, like he finally found a story that actually fits with his visual approach. The film is at times like a science fiction epic more than anything really. When it comes to superhero films though, the more extravagant and glorious it looks, the more fans will indulge in it and adore it.
Perhaps all Snyder needed all this time was to work with Christopher Nolan. Nolan brings the same heavy-handed, dark tone that he introduced to the genre with BATMAN BEGINS to his screenplay for MAN OF STEEL. A dark superhero movie requires an equally disturbing villain though. He must breathe fear into the audience, much like the Joker did in THE DARK KNIGHT. Unfortunately, I felt more fear from Michael Shannon from his role in PREMIUM RUSH, which was something of an exaggerated joke to begin with, than I did from his portrayal of Zod in MAN OF STEEL.
Flaws aside, MAN OF STEEL brings an abundance of amazing action sequences, making it fun for both fans and the masses. It certainly brings a much needed, strong kick-off to the upcoming and continued introduction of the DC world. Whether we make it to JUSTICE LEAGUE remains to be seen still but MAN OF STEEL could arguably be considered Snyder’s “Superman Begins.” If this is where the DC universe is headed, I am ready and waiting to see what comes next.