Hopefully most people reading this have already seen Zack Snyder‘s Man of Steel – but just in case here’s a word of warning: this post may contain some minor spoilers.
I was really sceptical about Man of Steel from the moment it was green lit. Let’s face it, Bryan Singer‘s Superman Returns sucked a big bag of dicks and I didn’t really think another reboot was going to save Superman’s image. (Seriously, Kryptonite is supposed to be Superman’s only weakness – how the f$%k did he lift an entire island of it and hurl it into space without dying?!!)
But, credit where credit ‘s due, both Snyder and Henry Cavill did a great job of reinventing the character.
I’ve got to be honest, I really don’t see the fascination with Superman. I just don’t see the appeal of a superhero who has no weaknesses and is a really just a pretty-boy, goody-two-shoes. I want a superhero with some balls and emotional hang-ups – which is probably why Batman is the only DC character to really translate on film.
But I liked that they brought Superman into the real world, and more importantly, the same world where Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy also resides. They made Superman a real person, with personal conflicts. I sympathised with the fact that as a child he struggled to deal with his powers and that the Kent’s were the only reason he became a do-gooder.
In addition to the story and characters, the film also ticked many other boxes. The casting was spot-on. I loved Rusty Crowe’s Jor-El and especially Michael Shannon’s General Zod. The only one who really lagged was Amy Adam’s Lois Lane. Adam’s is too much of a good-natured girl next door, and Lois Lane is basically supposed to be a confident and cut-throat reporter, who will stop at nothing for a good story.
The action scenes were also beautifully choreographed. I was expecting a mess of special effects (a la Michael Bay‘s Transformers) but you could actually keep track of movement and feel yourself ducking and weaving in excitement of it all.
All in all, I was thoroughly entertained while watching Man of Steel… it was just that after thinking about it, I realised how much of a mess it really was.
I guess the thing that pissed me off the most is that on a very basic level, the plot is almost identical to that of the first Thor movie. In the comic book world a lot of people say Thor was originally Marvel’s answer to Superman, as a God who finds himself abandoned on Earth – but considering that Kenneth Branagh‘s Thor came out only two years ago, it seems strange that they would go with such a similar concept.
Seriously, break the two movies down (and include what happens in The Avengers) to their core and you get something like this:
- It begins on an alien planet;
- A protective father sends his son to Earth so he can embrace humanity and learn good values;
- A curious, confident and beautiful woman attracts the hero’s attention and they fall in love;
- After “discovering” himself, the hero dons a new suit (complete with red cape);
- Trouble arrives from the hero’s home planet and causes chaos in a small town – but the hero defeats it;
- The fight goes out into space;
- Someone who shares a personal connection with the hero wants to take over Earth (The Avengers);
- The hero is victorious and everything is set up for a sequel… plus, subtle hints are dropped about a greater universe.
See? Basically the same concept. It would have worked well, except DC are about 5 years too late.
Marvel started setting up their universe back in 2008 with the first Iron Man, so the race between the two for Hollywood domination is now like a one-sided chess game – DC still have their King and Queen on the board (Superman and Batman), but Marvel have been effective with each of their main players and are now at the stage where they can move forward with smaller pieces like Falcon, Quicksilver and even Guardians of the Galaxy.
I guess we’ll see if DC can ever reclaim the throne, but with garbage like The Green Lantern they are making it hard for themselves. Man of Steel was OK, but in the scheme of things it won’t make a dent in Marvel’s current reign.