All American Boy

Superman is back on the big screen like you’ve never seen him before (well almost) in “Man of Steel.”  The film stars relative newcomer Henry Cavill as the legendary DC Comics superhero in a film that focuses on Superman’s origins with a new twist.  The film also stars Russell Crowe as Superman’s Kryptonian father Jor-El, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon as the devious General Zod.

Like previous Superman films, more specifically the 1978 Richard Donner adaptation, Superman’s origins are relatively the same.  He was the last born child of his home planet Krypton who was sent away from the planet as it was imploding.  The young child who is later named Clark finds himself on Earth and is raised with Earth parents.  Clark is different from most children.  He has super strength, incredible senses and is “faster than a speeding bullet.”  But instead of others being wowed with Clark’s new-found powers, he sends those around him into a panic.  This forces Clark to seek refuge going from place to place in order to find an identity.

When an unusual discovery is made in Alaska, Clark finds the answers he’s been looking for in all 33 years of his life.  Who is he?  What is he capable of?  The answer is just about everything.  He dawns a suit similar to those of his home world and fulfills his destiny as someone who could be a symbol for hope in a world that takes it for granted.  While Clark learns and adapts to his new-found purpose, Zod, a military leader who staged a coup before his banishment from Krypton, arrives on Earth and seeks the young Krypton refuge.  Clark complies to go with Zod and his army in order to prevent the destruction of his adopted home planet.

Zod’s peacekeeping attempt soon proves meaningless and it’s all out warfare on Earth.  Superman, as he is now dubbed, must save us.  Packed with incredible effects and fast paced action (it took 35 years for a Superman movie to accomplish this) Superman and Zod clash.  In the end, does Superman realize his destiny?  Can he stop Zod?  What will happen to his new-found family and friends around him?

In general this movie is great.  It’s got amazing action, great story telling and caught me by surprise at least once or twice of how emotional it is.  Despite critics bashing it, saying it’s too dark and too sad, it works for this new adaptation.  DC has to differentiate from Marvel’s film series as some are of a little bit of a lighter, sometimes more humorous fare.  DC and Warner Bros. accomplished this with Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Trilogy” and successfully adapted it to Man of Steel.  All the actors in this movie are perfectly cast and Superman finally has a place in a world with a film that can define him.

What do I mean by that?  I’m a fan of the 1978 original film, but since then the Superman movies have gone down in quality.  Superman II (1981) was okay, but I find the 2006 Richard Donner cut of the film to be a little bit better.  Actually if you cut together the two films you’d have a perfect Superman II.  Superman III (1983) was pretty ill-conceived as a buddy comedy and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987) is one of the worst movies ever made.  Superman Returns in 2006 felt very underwhelming, but was a better fitted ending to the original series from 30 years before.  Superman’s legacy on the big screen isn’t great but is on the right track to improving that.

In the future we’ll be seeing a second Man of Steel as well as a potential “Justice League” film.  My only hopes before for those are that the scripts are given time to develop and are not rushed, that the right people get cast as characters such as the Flash, Green Lantern (You can keep Ryan Reynolds in that role.  He wasn’t the problem in that movie.), Wonder Woman and several others, and that Man of Steel 2 can feature new villains such as Brainiac and a new Lex Luthor (I wouldn’t mind seeing Kevin Spacey back to be honest).

Overall it’s a great movie, but this new Superman is only the second best Superhero movie this year with “Iron Man 3” still firmly holding the top spot as the best superhero of 2013.  Still, it’s very much worth your time to see it.

Overall Score: 9 out of 10