Since the release of Marvel’s Iron Man five years ago, there has been over a dozen superhero films released by various studios, whether it be the Marvel cinematic universe, the latter part of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy or Sony’s recently rebooted The Amazing Spiderman. What I’m saying is that the superhero kitchen is incredibly crowded.
In this tidal wave it’s easy to get lost in the flood of super-films, it’s even easier to glaze over a franchise that has been rebooted over and over again, on both the silver and the small screens. Which is sad; to many Superman is the first hero, despite their cheese, the films released before the superhero boom have incredible nostalgic value to those who watched them.
Zach Snyder was in charge of the latest retelling of a classic story, and when considering Man of Steel there are two things to be considered. First of all despite the producer’s name on the box this is not Christopher Nolan’s Superman, Snyder’s visual signature is all over this film. Fantastic scenery, stylised costumes and incredible set pieces galore make up the near two and a half hour film.s that need to
The second is that despite being the story of Superman, this is not so much a superhero film but a film about first contact. Superman is after all, an alien. This is Man of Steel’s lifeboat in a veritable ocean of superhero origin stories, seeing our iconic hero restricted by those he’s trying to protect and the panic that ensues at the thought of another form of life living among us is a real boost to the film’s originality. This is not only a story of Clark Kent’s growth into something amazing that can help humanity, but also the story of humanity growing to trust him. These two stories are excellently intertwined and the growth of Clark, shown through gradual childhood flashbacks add depth to not only the character but to the audience’s understanding of his existential crisis.
Man Of Steel is not without fault however, while the previously mentioned set pieces are incredible, the explosion filled third act drags. Even within the preferable first two acts there is a lot of downtime and by the time the climax comes you may find yourself thinking; haven’t we been thrown through this building before? It could have been a lot shorter and snappier in parts, or on the other hand split into two films altogether. I found myself thinking that it was all build, and that no matter what the conclusion to all the action was, it would fall a little flat.
Luckily, while the action can be a bit of a bore, any interaction between civilians and Superman lifts the mood, and relieves you of the burden of all the action and explosions. Because Henry Cavill’s superman was the real clincher for me. The guy wasn’t given a huge amount of dialogue, but he proved he didn’t necessarily need it. With his wry smiles and lingering glances he portrayed more than many do with a whole script, a perfect example of this can be seen in the ‘S’ scene from the trailer. There’s lots more of that sort of charm to Cavill’s Kent.
Having to laboriously explain the ins and outs of an entire planet can be a pitfall to many directors, but the exposition is kept subtle and in some cases is very pretty, just look out for Russell Crowe’s liquid metal Magna Carta of Krypton.
Man of Steel definitely does what it intended to do; it’s set up for a solid sequel, and possibly a Justice League movie if the studio has its way. However, it can drag in places, especially in the third act and the mark of Nolan is evident as it doesn’t quite seem to deliver the light heartedness that we’ve come to expect from Superman as an overpowered hero. But the cast is more than capable of carrying the story, and the stunning visuals and Cavill’s Clark Kent are well worth the ticket price. After the hiccough of 2006, with Snyder’s most recent entry to the franchise it’s looking very hopeful for our Man of Steel.