With the dreary 2006 movie Superman Returns failing to reignite the franchise, this time around the Hollywood bigwigs have opted for a much darker telling of the ultimate immigrant, perhaps to fit into Chris Nolan’s “real-world Batman.” Although those two universes will not coexist, with both Nolan and Bale washing their hands of the Batman franchise, Man of Steel could well be the lynchpin from which the DC universe revolves around, whilst hurtling towards a Justice League mega-movie.
Although we start with a hobo-like Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) wandering through America and down memory lane, the narrative essentially starts in a similar fashion to Donner’s 1978 Superman i.e. on the dying planet of Krypton. Russell Crowe steps in as the ultimate father figure, Jor-El, a man who managed to save his son, but very little else from his exploding planet. Michael Shannon is suitably chilling as the maniacal General Zod, but whereas Jor-El bites the dust, Zod sticks around as the film antagonist.
Once our Superman gets his hiking and flashback sessions over with, we have caught up with his backstory in small snippets of mini-narratives, instead of lengthy arcs that are bound by continuity to establish our main character. It is a common ploy, but one that works well here, as although Kevin Costner and Diane Lane do a fine job stepping in as the homely and supportive Jonathan and Martha Kent, what the audience came to see is Superman making Lois Lane (Amy Adams) weak at the knees, while punching bad guys in the face, which Snyder delivers in his typical stylized and slow-mo fashion.
It is by no means the most exciting superhero movie you will watch, but Snyder decided to concentrate on Clark’s weaknesses, not Superman’s strengths, a decision that makes the character vulnerable, and therefore relatable.
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