WARNING: Possible minor spoilers
I think we’ve been spoiled for the last 13 years. Indeed, the box office in the 21st Century has been absolutely dominated by comic book adaptions of legendary superheroes. Marvel’s led the way with two different Spider-Man franchises, a still strong X-Men franchise, and the money printing cross-over saga of the Avengers. DC Comics has been carried Batman in his critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy.
None of this could have happened if not for the one who started it all, Superman. His story was the very first major comic adaption in the 1970s and 1980s and laid the foundation for these superhero films and the modern era of blockbusters. Starring Christopher Reeve as the titular character, the first two films were very successful but the franchise lost steam after two following bombs. An attempt to revive the series, Superman Returns, was launched in 2006 but failed to gain any momentum, which led to this major reboot, Man of Steel.
This new installment is a re-telling of Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El’s origins. The film opens with his father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe) sending his recently-born son to another world to ensure the survival of the Kryptonian race, very similar to how the 1978 classic did it, with Marlon Brando as Kal-El’s father. Eventually, the boy, named Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) discovers his origins and dons his famous tights and cape.
Similar to Batman Begins, the film focuses a lot on the man himself and not the actual hero in the first act. For the most part, it was very effective without taking away from Supes kicking some butt. Cavill was very impressive as the character, particularly as Clark Kent. Amy Adams played a very good role as his famous love Lois Lane.
But who really stole the show was Michael Shannon as the villain, General Zod. He plays a similar role to Terrence Stamp in Superman II, in which he tries to conquer Earth. But Shannon plays different type of villain than Stamp, as Stamp’s Zod was completely evil and psychotic, only seeking to rule Earth. Shannon’s Zod only acts for the survival of his race, and becomes somewhat of an anti-hero, despite his intentions to destroy Earth in the process of the restoration of Krypton. Shannon has created one of the more memorable and more human supervillains of the era of superhero cinema.
For the most part, Man of Steel succeeds as a reboot and as a film on its own right. The effects were good enough, the casting was great, the writing was solid. My only problem was the way the film seemed to drag on for what seemed to be 30-45 minutes following its climax. Also, the action scenes were a bit too long and stale at points and the dialogue was at times bland and unimpressive.
In the end, I felt like a wanted more, but maybe that’s a good thing. Similar to Batman Begins, it was a good start to a new franchise that could lay the foundation to even better accomplishment for Superman. I just don’t understand the mixed reception from these “professional” film critics. Man of Steel is a worthy addition to this age of comic book blockbusters.