‘Kal, my son, when you were a baby on Krypton (your home) was on the verge of being destroyed because our government wouldn’t listen to reason and mined our planet’s core to the point that the life support was giving out. There are other pointless details but what matters is that you are on Earth now and you are Krypton’s first non-machine made Baby in centuries. You are born with free will but as your father (Jor-El) I want you to put on this costume that looks nothing like our other suits. You’ll be a symbol of hope my son because that is what our house stands for and don’t be confused when the humans mistake it for a giant S.
Anyway my son, my old rival General Zod (the man who killed me) is on his way because the dumb moronic government put him in the Phantom Zone (it’s like a space void prison) instead of executing him. So the point is my son that you need to use the ship you came in and immediately bring it up to Zod’s ship to send them back to where they came and then Kal my son you be the symbol of hope you’re meant to be and keep your distance with that Miss Lane character you’re not here to mate with her and be by her side. You are here for the entire human race and you’ll be the embodiment of both worlds. And lastly my son, when Zod finally arrives don’t let him land on earth because Kryptonians are basically invincible under Earth’s sun so there is no point beating Zod to a pulp and for the love of Krypton’s 7 Suns don’t fight Zod in heavily populated human cities!’
Introduction: Man of Steel is a movie made by people who don’t understand anything about the character they’re adapting. Man of Steel came out back in 2013 and is supposedly the first movie of the DCEU, if you don’t know what that is it’s DC’s Comics Movie Universe to combat with Marvel aka the MCU. So with Aquaman coming out this December why not talk about the lovely mess that is the DCEU and also this series has been on my mind since I first launched The Blog Complainer. Also there are spoilers for all these movies I’m going to talk about, if you haven’t seen it and you push forward then that’s your problem.
The Birth of Moody Kal-El: So Man of Steel came out the year after The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. So this movie would’ve been in development while The Dark Knight Rises had just hit theatres. So the idea of Man of Steel is ‘what if Superman existed in our modern world’. Kind of like The Dark Knight movies and the movie would have a similar tone to those movies. That was David S Goyer’s pitch to Christopher Nolan while he was working on The Dark Knight Rises back in 2008. The only link to some sort of extended universe is with references like in the movie where Superman chucks Zod at a Wayne Satellite.
I’m solemnly convinced that they had no real plans to make a Cinematic Universe. Man of Steel is supposed to be more of a sequel to The Dark Knight movies than the start of a connected universe. If so it would be like Iron Man that they would slowly build to a connected universe. It wasn’t until The Avengers smashed the box office and Warner Bros saw the potential gold mine in their grasp that they got Zack Snyder to cancel a Man of Steel sequel in order for a Superman meets Batman movie/ Justice League origin story movie. We’ll talk about this again when we get to Batman vs Superman, so now let’s talk about the movie itself.
From Pandora to Captain America’s Crash Site: In this review I’m mostly going to focus on the story and the characters because all of that is the crowning jewel of this movie. The movie starts on Krypton where we have the most over dramatic mother giving birth scene I’ve ever seen. (It’s also pretty funny too!) Zack Snyder has always been more of a visual guy than a story making guy because the movie looks very nice but the story is too drawn out and boring. Especially the Krypton part where I feel it could’ve been cut out completely and the movie should have started with Clark as a drifter looking for his purpose in the world. When Clark meets his real dad then introduce Krypton and all that beacon of hope stuff. Krypton has nothing to do with the rest of the story; I feel its only purpose is to set-up the baby making machine and the villain of the movie. Especially since Jor-El just explains everything later to Clark, making Krypton more pointless. There are some ups to this sequence like Michael Shannon’s over the top acting. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__FoNi9VXYA) There is a patrol ship that wants Jor-El to hand over the Baby Making Machine but for some reason the ship blasts at him which I’m guessing is a good way to kill him but you would also doom the entire race by doing that and Jor-El’s death at the hands of Zod is just hilarious.
On Earth we swap between Clark Past and Clark walking around. Kevin Costner plays Papa Kent and he sounds as disinterested as Jor-El. That’s probably why they both get lame deaths, ‘Zack, Get me out of the stupid movie as fast as you can’. The bus scene is also pretty funny where the bus gets a flat tyre and the bus driver drives like a maniac and drives it into a river. Clark saves them by lifting the bus out of the water but what baffles me is why do none of these kids try to open one of the doors or windows and swim out. (You think the emergency doors are there in case you wanted to enter the bus by the roof) I’ll talk about this more later but the thing I hate about this movie is shown in this scene where Clark talks to his dad about having superpowers as if it’s the worst thing that could happen to you. Later on Papa Kent kills himself in a tornado because he wouldn’t let Clark save innocent people on a highway. (What an Ass!) This one actually tops Superman’s real dad’s death because Papa Kent leaves his son with the trauma of not being allowed to save his own father. Imagine if Lois did that, oh wait that might make him fly around the world a million times or become a tyrant.
I think the first thing you’ll notice with this Superman is that he’s so uncharismatic that he actually becomes very unlikable. Earlier on some truckers at a bar harasses a young woman and Clark intervenes. You expect him to just tell them to buzz off and leave the nice lady alone; instead he just stares at them looking all stern like. He walks away and completely destroys the guy’s truck which doesn’t really solve the problem but more of a petty comeback. It’s like an older kid trashes your sandcastle so you decide to throw sand into his face. Later on we’re introduced to Lois Lane – she is a reporter who’s allowed to go to the Arctic Circle to report on Area 51 discoveries. I can’t even comprehend why she is so involved in the plot. I think she gets the most development when we first meet her and then she meets the hot alien hunk and becomes the boring love interest who could easily be replaced with a wet towel. Her relationship with Superman is so underdeveloped that I can’t even buy them been just acquaintances and all their scenes together fall completely flat. After Superman saves her from a drone he decides to take off in his spaceship and leave her in the middle of nowhere to freeze to death. What a hero, and we haven’t even got to the main meat.
The Day The Earth Started To Rumble: Zod arrives an hour into the movie and since he’s an alien his transmission is all static but still has perfect audio. Zod’s plan is to use two giant space machines to turn earth into Krypton and use Clark’s DNA to repopulate his species. All of this is delivered in exposition of course because you really need to explain everything three times in the movie like what the S on Superman’s chest means. Superman meets Zod on his ship and he starts going on drug trips for some reason and Lois Lane is there too just because. They escape and Lois Lane needs to be rescued again. Once Zod arrives on earth its invincible guy versus other invincible guy and there is no tension to the fight because no one can die and it would all look good on an IMAX theatre. I find it funny during the Smallville fight that in the background there are just cars driving around in the background while an entire street is been decimated by a super powered god.
I’m just going to jump straight to the final fight with Zod and the main complaint with this movie is Superman kills innocent people by throwing Zod into buildings. Rewatching it I realise Superman didn’t start the destruction so you really can’t blame all the deaths on him but I’m sure he could’ve negotiated with Zod to come to some sort of agreement. It’s really hard to watch this fight knowing what happens in the next movie because in that movie I’m supposed to think this is a bad thing unlike in Man of Steel it’s a tense final battle and it looks awesome! (That’s just one of the many problems with this universe.) There is a quick subtle gag I liked in this fight where Zod chucks Superman into a pole at a construction site where he bumps into one of those work accident signs. It’s really quick and I like those types of hidden gems. The fight ends in Grand Central where Zod tries to laser some random people and Superman has literally no other choice and the writers think he has no other choice so SNAP and NOOOOOOOO! Oh and Lois Lane is here too. Clark is convinced he needs a secret identity so he becomes a reporter and apparently nobody recognises him. Also Metropolis is back to normal in an instant even though reality would say otherwise.
SuperPrick: I think in retrospect this movie holds up pretty well compared to the hailstorm that’s on its way. But what this movie fails at the most is how much they messed up Superman. I’m not a Superman fan, I find him really boring. My favourite version of Superman has always been from the Injustice games because in this version Superman is evil and is way more interesting than goodie-too-shoes Superman. I guess for media I would go for the animated Justice League show because Superman is not just a goodie-too-shoes but is actually an interesting complex character. Even Smallville did a pretty good at their Superman, although I never got up to when we became Superman. How I see Superman is someone who is supposed to represent the best in a hero. A man who will stop at nothing to protect the people he loves and a man who will always be there if anyone needs a hand.
As I stated before, this Superman is more like Batman in that he has a tragic backstory and he is always brooding over his actions. I’m never convinced that Superman actually cares about anyone. He always seems to be only doing it because somebody has to. I think it has something to with the actor Henry Cavill. He has the looks but not the acting ability which also shows with other characters in later DC movies. He always acts like he doesn’t really care about what’s going on. I think it also has to do with the tone the movie has. It works for Batman because it makes him more interesting but doesn’t work for Superman because he’s too goofy to be taken seriously. Like the S stands for hope and you want me to somehow not laugh at that.
It might also have something to do with Zack Snyder wanting to make a Batman movie but that was taken and Superman would be easier to make. What I said at the start of this article I think is the biggest flaw of this movie. They know who he is and where he came from but they don’t understand what makes the character great. What made The Dark Knight great is because Christopher Nolan studied a bunch of different Batman comics to make his own version of the characters. Man of Steel and the following DC movies fail because they looked at what’s popular and went, yeah that’ll do. So we get a Superman who doesn’t care about who he is, a Superman who has no concern for human life, a Superman who only wants people to just shut up about him so he can go home and make out with Lois Lane.
Conclusion: In the end Man of Steel is a movie that smothers you with its messages and symbolism. Man of Steel is like an arthouse movie and a generic end of the world movie all in the one bowl. There isn’t much that stands out in Man of Steel because it’s so dark and depressing. I’ve never seen it but I imagine it’s the same as The Passion of Christ, I think I even read somewhere this movie was inspired by that movie. To sum up my thoughts, Man of Steel is a boring movie with flat characters; it’s so serious that it becomes funny and its way up its own bottom for the majority of its 2 hour run time. The only good thing about is the score which is pretty good, it looks very nice, the CG looks okay and the side characters that aren’t connected to the main plot do a pretty good job.
So til next time, I’ll be back to try out the real meat! See you then.