Man of Steel is the first movie in the new-ish DC movies timeline. Man of Steel is the origin story of Superman. This movie goes a little deeper than previous Superman movies into what might have happened on Krypton that lead to Kal-El being shipped to Earth. Man of Steel also veered away from the Superman of the comics in one very important way. More on that later.
Man of Steel was a huge disappointment. I’m a big Superman fan, so I was psyched for this “re-imagining.” Man of Steel seemed like it was going to be more grounded than previous Superman movies, a la Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy of movies. Unfortunately, there were two movies happening in Man of Steel. There was a goofy movie, with a soft Lois Lane and softer military generals. Then there was a darker movie, about Clark Kent trying to find his way when he’s stuck between two planets. He’s also torn between the need to save people, and his father’s fervent desire for him to stay hidden. Neither of these mini-movies worked very well.
Man of Steel spends way too much time building up to Clark Kent becoming Superman. We really didn’t need so much time spent on Krypton his father, Jor-El, either. It’s pretty boring, Russell Crowe’s performance aside. Then there’s too much time spent on Clark’s relationship with his father, played effectively by Kevin Costner. (He does farm boy real well.) Get to Superman being awesome, already!
The biggest plot point that fans took umbrage with occurs at the end of Man of Steel. (SPOILERS) At the end of the movie, when Superman is fighting General Zod, it seems like he can’t be beaten. Finally, Superman snaps his neck, killing Zod. That is a HUGE difference between Zack Snyder’s Superman and the Superman of the comic books. Droves of fans cried out against it, and rightly so. Superman doesn’t kill his enemies. Ever. (END SPOILERS)
In addition to finding a better ending, I wish Man of Steel would have been more linear. There were clearly too many cooks, including Chris Nolan. You just cannot treat Superman like he’s Batman. You can’t make a “dark” movie about Superman, because that just isn’t his nature, not like Batman. The studio, Zack Snyder (director) and Chris Nolan all had very different ideas of how Man of Steel should be made. The result is a mess.
Henry Cavill makes a fantastic Superman. He brings much-needed gravitas to a character that is made fun of a lot for being a goody-goody. You can see his inner struggle writ plainly on his face. And while Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe deliver good performances, I can’t say the same for the very talented Amy Adams. She’s a terrific actress, but she is much too soft to play Lois Lane. I don’t know if Zack Snyder was sending her in the wrong direction, or if she just naturally can’t find the steel in her spine. Regardless, her breathy voice and puppy eyes just don’t work as hardened reporter Lois Lane.
According to Box Office Mojo, Man of Steel made $291 million in domestic grosses. Is that a lot? No. Not when you compare it to, say, The Dark Knight, which brought in $535 million. Man of Steel’s box office total was considered a disappointment. Man of Steel fought middlin’ reviews, which was one of the reasons fans didn’t flock to the theaters. It received a 55% at Rotten Tomatoes, which is just shy of being rated Fresh.
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