Man of Steel Review
So, I’ve been actively avoiding Man of Steel. For a couple of reasons: one, I’m a Marvel fan. I love Marvel. If I was living in L.A. I wouldn’t buy season tickets for the Lakers because I’m a diehard Celtics fan. If I was in living in New York City, I wouldn’t buy season tickets to the Yankees. I would rather buy tickets to the Mets or Clippers. You don’t support your arch-rival. I’ve also looked a little down on DC comics; their characters are too un-relatable. I can’t connect with a God-like alien or a Princess Goddess or a billionaire orphan. I can connect with the nerd in high school who gets picked on and wants an escape. DC comics pride themselves on having a Pantheon of God-like heroes and how our world interacts with them. Marvel, on the other hand, prides itself on realistic heroes who have come with their own baggage; their characters are us and how we would see ourselves if we had that power. We want to imagine we would be as just as Captain America or as clever as Iron Man or as witty as Spider-Man. So I’ve always been drawn to Marvel over DC.
Unless it’s an exceptional film or character (such as Batman) I generally avoid DC comics. Something else that is bothering me about DC is how they are actively trying to be the opposite of Marvel. Oh, so Marvel slowly builds a universe film by film, introducing characters then throws them into a blender? Well, we’re not going to do that because we’re DC! We’re going the opposite: we’ll give you the blender then pick apart the ingredients after you tried the whole dish. Marvel goes bright with humor and popcorn fun; DC goes dark and gritty with plenty of angst. Now I’m happy they are taking opposite directions, more diversity means consumers can choose what they want. However, this seems like DC is going opposite simply because they are DC and trying to show they are not Marvel instead of putting out the best product available.
This is where Man of Steel comes in. Superman is the hero in comics. He’s the first, the most successful and the longest lasting superhero of all time. There are also very specific character traits that go along with him. When I watch a Superman film or read a comic I know that I’m not getting Batman or Wolverine or any other angst-y hero. Superman is the moral center of all heroes; he was the Captain America before Captain America. He’s the guy who does everything right and does it because it’s right. He controls his powers and protecting America, the world and civilians is his number one priority. He’s the light to Batman’s darkness and that’s why we love seeing those two characters interact. The first thing that got me was how the colors weren’t super bright. I was expecting much toned down colors but they weren’t as toned down as I thought they would be. After a while, Superman’s costume did seem bright in the dark universe he’s inhabiting. However, I still wasn’t a fan of it. I watch that film then I see the Supergirl trailer and one clearly looks more like a Superman world.
The other thing was that I didn’t feel like I got to know the adult Kal-El very well. I got to know Kevin Costner’s character and I got to see more acting by the kid Clark than by Henry Cavill as adult Clark. The progression of a character trying to hide his abilities to becoming a hero was very sudden and didn’t make much sense. It’s hard to do that when the main character has very few lines. I would have liked to see more of an internal struggle with Kal-El and Clark Kent. Clearly Jor-El (Russell Crowe) wanted his son to take up the hero mantle while Pa Kent wanted his son to stay hidden. I wasn’t as offended by Pa Kent wanting a busload of children to die as some because he seemed conflicted by that as well: doing the right thing over his son’s safety. Remember he answered as a “maybe” not a “yes.” But if I had seen more of an internal struggle with that it would have enhanced Superman’s character.
I did, however, enjoyed Russell Crowe and Amy Adam’s performances. I thought that they were great with what they were given. They really brought some depth and engaging acting chops to their respective roles. When Crowe was in a scene he was magnetic; he was where my focus went each time. He has gained that aura about him. Amy Adams’ acting chops haven’t been questioned for a while. She absolutely killed it in American Hustle so she was more than capable of taking on Lois Lane. He line about a dick measuring contest was cringe worthy but otherwise I really enjoyed what she was able to do.
Zod was kind of a comic book character. He and Superman fell into Snyder’s favorite acting: yelling and screaming at the screen. It did get pretty ridiculous. I feel like Superman screamed more than he spoke in this film.
Now onto the biggest sin that people complain about: the destruction of the city. This is where Snyder got infected by Michael Bay. All of the worst destruction in a film. It got ridiculous when the 12th building was knocked down. Here’s my problem: we only saw the Daily Planet workers actually suffer from the destruction. There was nothing about how people were affected by the destruction. Also, it was ridiculous how so many of those buildings were empty. Also, wouldn’t Superman take the fight outside of Metropolis? He attempted to do that in Smallville but it wasn’t successful. Then Superman suddenly cares for a family? The snapping of Zod’s neck was not a big problem but what I found more criminal was the destruction of Metropolis with no one around. Superman is the biggest good guy in the world; he wouldn’t risk all that destruction. This guy saved a bus of kids from drowning, he’s the guy who saved workers on a burning oil rig. He would not have fought Zod, risking all those lives, in the city. Also, even if he did, he would have been more active on saving other people’s lives.
So, even though it seems like people either love this film or hate it with a passion, I don’t find myself on either. I think there are redeeming parts of this film, such as Crowe and Adams, plus the score. Yet, the things I found negative outweigh the positive. The hard on for destruction (seriously, Snyder loved destroying infrastructure more than a teenage football team loves eating at an all-you-can-eat-buffet) with no repercussions, the bizarre interpretation of Superman, the unappealing color scheme and the inconsistency of valuing lives was too much. Also, Zod was a weak character, as was Superman. I don’t find it as a good sign that I got to know young Clark Kent over Superman. This was not a good movie, in fact, I would say it is a bad film but it is not the abomination that people say it is.