Telling the classic tale of Clark Kent/Kal-El, a Kryptonian orphaned by the destruction of his homeworld, Man of Steel brings a Superman for the 21st century to the big screen. Emulating producer Christopher Nolan’s epic Dark Knight trilogy, Zack Snyder’s superfilm is a much darker tale than we have previously seen.
Throughout the movie, there are some pretty epic battle scenes. If Superman Returns was criticised for its lack of action, then Man of Steel is exactly the opposite. In the opening act alone we get a magnificent school bus save and an exciting oil rig rescue, and that’s before he’s even gets around to donning the supersuit!
The cast throughout the film are superb. Henry Cavill seems born to play the role of Superman, and Amy Adams shines as a strong and confident Lois Lane. That she knows his secret identity from the off makes for an interesting change in the dynamic between them. Michael Shannon’s General Zod is perfectly pitched, and the supporting cast of Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe and Laurence Fishburne are all strong.
The film is not without its flaws, however. The superfight set pieces drag on a bit; once you’ve seen a superpowered man crash through a dozen skyscrapers, the next dozen are a little tiring.
In the classic canon, too, Clark’s adoptive father Jonathan Kent instils in him a belief in hope and the goodness of humanity. While Kevin Costner’s take on the role is good, his paranoia leads to a different kind of Superman: one that is certainly more brutal. Superman is unlike Batman: his message is one of hope, as symbolised by the insignia on his chest. With that in mind, the tone of the film is very dark and the colours fairly muted; perhaps it would have benefited from being a little lighter in both respects.
Man of Steel, then, isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. With the news of a sequel already on the horizon, we can but wait to see what the future will bring for the original superhero.