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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

My Superman: Man of Steel

I will not let this film Inception me. I won’t be taken in by the big-booming score and the incredible special-effects. It is not happening.

Everything in my bones is telling me that Man of Steel is a special film, but I’m not ready to whole-heartedly scream it out from the highest mountain. Not yet anyway.

Truth be told, I am not Superman’s biggest fan. Yes, I admire the Donner films but they have always left me numb. I couldn’t and still can’t relate to them whatsoever. That Superman was far too reactive, far too mild-mannered, passive, cheery, bright and bloody hopeful.

Christopher Reeve’s Superman never felt like an alien with immense power, he felt like a human being that has just come across these gifts. I sensed little conflict in that Superman and the little there was felt forced.

I just didn’t get that Superman.

Thankfully since watching the Donner films I have come across more relatable and interesting interpretations. Yes, I am a fan of the Smallville version of Sups and Red Son is one of my favourite comics of all time. Both these versions taught me that Superman can be a deeper more thoughtful character than I thought he could be.


Back to Smallville; say what you will about the show but it got across the idea that Clark Kent was not human, he was different and all throughout that show he was struggling with this fact. There were moments when he was even struggling to figure-out whether his allegiances were with the human race – whether he was bad or good. Again, I found that Sups more relatable than Reeve’s.

I think Cavill's Clark Kent comes from the same lineage as Tom Welling's. The brooding dark nature of Cavill's Clark makes absolute sense to me. If you lived your life not knowing, not only who you are, but what you are then you are not going to be a cheery hopeful person. This film is about Clark's journey of discovering himself and that journey isn't going to be all bright colours. Imagine how emotional the TV show 'Who do you think you are?' is and add an Alien episode. This film goes a long way to explaining why Clark is so hopeful. That hope has to come from somewhere. 

I've hated the way previous Superman films have tried to make Clark Kent appear Jesus like. I've hated the way the public have always accepted him - it never has rung true. In Man of Steel, Clark and the world he inhabits, is a world I recognise. We (human beings) would never accept him as a saviour and protector, we'd try to nuke him.

I’ve read a lot of reviews which mark down Man of Steel for being too dark and joyless. Watching the opening sequence in Krypton was one of the most joyful blockbuster cinema experiences I have ever had. I had my mouth open throughout the Krypton scenes trying to comprehend what I was seeing.

What the film did from the beginning was set up the idea that although Clark may look human, he really isn’t. He comes from this beautiful, vast and plush world; where they ride dragon like creatures, use PinPoint screens when they are delivering their children and they genetically modify their population depending on need.

Also, watching the flashback when Clark was struggling to focus his powers further highlights the fact that HE IS AN ALIEN. This disassociation from the human race is why I truly think some have had a problem with this Superman. Although Henry Cavill’s Superman insists that he is as American as the soldiers in the film, Man of Steel systematically points out that he really isn’t and that is one of the things I found most fascinating about the whole film.

And the action. I found the action overwhelming. I actually agree with most negative critics of the film who say that there was too much action and Snyder didn’t know when to stop – but I don’t think that this was necessarily thing. The action, again, makes it clear that Superman and the Kryptonians ARE NOT HUMAN – THEY ARE ALIENS. The destruction caused in the action scenes make it clear that this isn’t the Donner Superman. Also, the special-effects are bloody spectacular and helps to sell this world to the audience.

I also found the fight scenes believable. This was Clark's first time out as Superman, there is no way he could have limited the damage - especially against multiple super enemies.

Michael Shannon. He is nothing short of just brilliant in this film. I can’t help but comparing him to Heath Ledger’s Joker and thinking that he comes out of that comparison very well.

Shannon plays Zod as a genocidal maniac with incredible depth. I found myself sympathising with Zod in parts of the film and that left me truly troubled. He wasn’t just blindingly crazy; he had a reason for his craziness – to stop Kryptonians from being extinct. When you frame his actions under this reason, he becomes difficult to disregard and he left a lasting impression on me.

The final scene where Zod is left with nothing and all he wants to do is make Kal pay was, for me, truly emotional. Although the finale of this scene has been very controversial, it makes absolute sense.  

Also, a quick shout out to Antje Traue who damn near steals every scene she’s in.


The only negative thing I can say about this film is that I didn’t buy how quickly Clark and Lois' relationship developed. It felt false.

But apart from that, I can’t think of anything else I didn’t enjoy and this makes me feel uncomfortable. The last time I felt this way about a movie was Inception and that didn’t end up well for me.

Man of Steel feels like the start of something special. I can’t shake that feeling. I can’t shake that feeling that Man of Steel is a nigh-perfect blockbuster film. I can’t shake the feeling that Henry Cavill will do to Reeves what Ledger did to Nicholson.

Although I have all of these overwhelming feelings for Man of Steel, I am not ready to accept them. I’m going to wait. I’m going to let my feelings marinate.

I would ask people to ignore the professional reviews and give this film a go. I’ll be shocked if you’re disappointed. And if you are, let me know about it.