When it comes to comic book movies, Superman has been in a bit of a slump for the past thirty years or so, there hasn’t been a real quality Superman film since 1980 (same year I was born, in a nice coincedence), now, he’s flourished in the interim years in television..mostly, we don’t talk about the late 80’s Superboy tv series.. But when it comes to the big screen adventures of Superman, it’s been all downhill since Superman II. Some try to argue that Superman Returns wasn’t that bad, and I’ll give them that Brandon Routh made a decent Superman, and Kevin Spacey is always entertaining in anything he does, but still the movie itself was terrible.
So now a few years have gone by since then, and Christopher Nolan managed to revive the Batman franchise out of it’s nipply bad pun filled hell, plus Marvel’s been owning the silver screen with their cinematic universe franchises, so Warner Brothers and DC took to Christopher Nolan, and director Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch, 300, Watchmen), to try and revive not only the Superman franchise, but to form the beginning of their own cinematic universe, which will later be populated with a Justice League movie, and other new superhero movies, all of which as a comic fan and a movie fan I’m doubly excited for. But none of that will happen if they don’t score a home run with their Superman reboot, ‘The Man of Steel’
Now, like all Superman origin stories we have to start with the destruction of his home planet, Krypton, and we meet his parents, Jor El (played by Russel Crowe), and Lara (Aylet Zura). But this time it starts out different from any other Superman origin story filmed before, we get to spend a good few minutes on Krypton, seeing the planet itself briefly, then there’s a coup by General Zod (Michael Shannon), and more Jor El action than ever seen in a Superman movie, and then the traditional set up. Zod and crew get trapped in the Phantom Zone, and Krypton blows up, but not before Kal El is sent to our planet to start his destiny.
I liked how scriptwriter David Goyer and director Zack Snyder did this opening, you expect to see the same old story we’ve seen before, but it’s not the same here. And then from here we get Clark as an adult, wandering from town to town, helping people and walking the earth, like some latter day Bruce Banner, and we flash back to his childhood in scattered scenes, and we get some great stuff from Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent.
From there the rest of the movie starts to take off, and we meet Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and then the rest of the movie takes off, leading to one of the best super battles I’ve ever seen, you really feel the power that both Superman and Zod have as they beat the hell out of each other, and just about everything else standing in the way of the fight.
It’s not a perfect film however, there are some underdeveloped characters, namely the ‘controversial’ Jenny Olson played by Rebecca Buller, whom you’d only know is Jenny Olson, a female stand in/relative of Jimmy Olson, traditionally ‘Superman’s best friend’ in the comics, if you’re a comic fan that goes on the internet and saw this casting news a while back. It’s like she really could have been just anybody, and so hey, there’s no Jimmy Olson in the movie, no big deal, he’s never really been used in the movies that well anyways.
Also, some spots of the movie felt like they were taken from Marvel’s repetoire. You have the big super fight in the small town, that conviently product places certain store names before they blow up, like in Thor, and the big city alien invasion from The Avengers. Also….being a Whovian I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few episodes in there too with The Master and The Doctor, not unlike Zod and Superman they are now the the last of their kind, and the ‘You Are Not Alone’ thing, also there’s a flash on the screen in one of the battles for a Utopia casino, which was also the name of the planet where The Doctor met Professor Yana, (Yana as in You Are Not Alone, a.k.a. The Master), which may have been an Easter Egg to something from the Superman comics, but those two things instantly made me think Doctor Who reference.
Speaking of Easter Eggs and references, there are a lot to be found for clever eyed comics fans, a cameo from Carol Ferris from the Green Lantern stories, a Wayne Enterprises logo on a sattelite, and oh, also, the movie seems to have taken a play out of the latest Spider Man reboot, with not starting the new franchise off with the lead businessman arch villain (Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in Spider-Man) or Lex Luthor here, in fact we don’t even see Lex anywhere, but you see LexCorp, his company, in a lot of places throughout the film, so you can bet we’ll be seeing him in a future installment.
All in all, despite some weak minor character development, this movie in my book kept me going from start to finish, and as it stands it’s currently tied for my favorite summer movie so far with Star Trek Into Darkness. If you’re a comic fan or just love good fun summer movies, you should definitely check out Man of Steel, and I can gaurantee you will have a great time.