It has been proved, over the past few years, that the best superhero films are those who focus more on the person instead of the world-saving alter ego.
You can watch The Dark Knight trilogy (a masterpiece) and learn about Bruce Wayne, his childhood, what motivates him to do what he does… and then the Batman bits are just the action stuff. You still get to see Bruce Wayne underneath the costume. And the same happens with the last instalment of Iron Man: Tony Stark wants to have a life of his own, without the suits. And then we could talk about The Avengers and how the bonds they create are as important as the final fight in New York. But you get the point.
Needless to say, it can be stated that a film that has the Christopher Nolan seal on it is bound to succeed -this time, he writes the story and acts as a producer. There are so many similarities with the structure of his Batman movies, that it is going to be impossible not to compare them at some points.
About the plot, it is likely that fans of the Superman comics will be disappointed. It always happens. The only possible advice for them is this: forget about the comics, and limit yourselves to enjoy this film, because it is outstanding, and thinking about the source material all the time is only going to ruin it.
Before starting with the plot, there must be a special mention to someone from the crew, whose name I haven’t been able to find: Russell Crowe‘s hair stylist, whoever you are, good work! Every time Crowe was onscreen, all I could think about was what an amazing hair he had.
Back to the actual film, the prologue is extremely well designed, in every way. The setting of Krypton looked very modern and mythological at the same time, and so were the costumes they wore (they make the Superman costume from the 1970-80s look like a joke). Crowe carries the full weight of this part of the movie, making us remember what an exceptional thespian he is.
It is overall spectacular, a feat. You get the story of a father who sacrifices everything for his son, because he believes in him and in what he may do in the future (the same way his adoptive father will believe in him some years later).
And then, the Earth part -very nice transition.
Amy Adams is good too, but somehow, it seems like the character of Lois Lane is always a hateful one (or maybe it is only me).
One of the singularities of the film’s structure is that it inserts flashbacks all the time, so that the audience gets to know a little bit more of Clark Kent as the story progresses.
Nonetheless, do NOT expect a thriller, or a film based solely on an emotional journey. This one is action-packed, as expected, but it happens to be perfectly blended with the other aspects. It is a plot that doesn’t give you a minute to rest, with scenes like Clark’s first flight (great photography) or the final fights.
It is also worth mentioning the acting of Michael Shannon. His performance as the villain General Zod is remarkable -there is something about him that makes you fear him, and it gets worse when he starts yelling at everybody.
There are a couple of very interesting parallelisms in this movie, with the first one being the metaphor of Krypton’s destruction: they abused their once prosperous planet, and they ended up running out of natural resources, thus destroying everything. Quite a wake up call for us all.
The other parallelism is that of Clark with Jesus Christ. Yes, you read it. Not only it is mentioned that he is 33 years old -and he meets again with his biological father at that age-, that is the moment when he decides to show himself to the world. He tells the army officers that he is not from this world, but he has lived among them and feels like one of them. The humans regard him as a superior being. Plus the relationship with his mother, the only parent he has left, and all those moments in the film when it looks like he is elevating to the skies (figuratively and literally). And the church scene really supports this theory. If you are not that spiritual, just forget you read this paragraph.
So Man of Steel is simply the story of an alien. Not as much as someone from a different world, but as an outsider. He has spent his life trying to discover what is his life purpose, and he decides that helping humans is a good one. Just don’t mess with his mother, he gets really angry.
THOSE LITTLE THINGS YOU DIDN’T THINK OF
The director is Zack Snyder. If that name seems familiar, here is why: 300, the most famous movie he had directed so far. Now it is understandable why Cavill had to be in such good shape.
Talking about Cavill’s body, his shirtless scenes were mandatory, because Snyder wanted everyone to see that the muscles underneath the Superman costume were actually the Brit’s real ones, and not a foam arrangement.
There are some DC references throughout the film: the satellite Superman and Zod break has the word Wayne written on it, and you can spot a lorry that belongs to Lex Luthor.
Composer Hans Zimmer, perfect as always: after a thrilling score for The Dark Knight Rises, he achieves excellent music once more. And he manages to evoke the famous Superman Theme by John Williams without plagiarising it. That theme’s absence shows that this movie means a new start for this superhero, a different story.
Every time Russell Crowe shows up is a breath of fresh air.