Following previous mediocre installments in the franchise, Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel is a much-needed reboot that followed identical trails to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. The film revisits the origins of Kal-El where his home planet Krypton is on the brink of destruction, his transportation and childhood on Earth as Clark Kent and the fulfillment of his destiny as Superman.
The story had already been told in the original 1978 version starring Christopher Reeve but Man Of Steel is a new installment for a new generation. However, while the film maintains concepts from the first film adaptation and the comic books, Man Of Steel is a whole new reinvention of the Superman franchise on a visual and emotional level.
Visually, Man Of Steel is the most different Superman film to date. It acts as a clear advancement on the series and an appealing visual director had to take charge of directing this reboot with a touch of sophistication behind it. Zack Snyder uses the same visually dim style seen in his previous films 300, Watchmen and Sucker Punch. These dark effects add a more serious tone to the film, which has not been seen in most previous Superman installments. However, Snyder had not delivered on a dramatic level in previous films, and was in need of a breakthrough. In that sense, Snyder was reinventing himself as a director as well as the Superman franchise. Consequently, the creative minds of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer provided Snyder with the ability to add emotional drama into his films, which is displayed in Man Of Steel.
However, while Man Of Steel reinvents the whole series and displays it for a new generation, there were certain flaws that did not entirely declare it as a masterful reboot. For example, the film begins with a marvellous opening sequence of Krypton’s destruction that builds up excitement for the remainder of the film, but after that point the film suddenly becomes rushed and occasionally jumps between scenes. Man Of Steel was all about reinventing Superman and the build-up to Kal/Clark fulfilling his destiny moved a little too quickly. In addition, it became rather forced at times, especially when the second half of the film seemed to present as one massive climax. However, this does not necessarily mean that it was not enjoyable. After all, we have been waiting a long time to see Superman’s return and now that he’s back and has never looked better, the long action scenes and noisy sound effects did not ruin most of the overall effect.
Regarding Superman himself, Henry Cavill literally swept away Brandon Routh’s portrayal of the character in Superman Returns. Let’s face it, Routh was clearly aiming to recreate Christopher Reeve’s timeless portrayal in the original, and it had little effect. However, Cavill was a much more convincing Superman. Due to the film’s darkened visual style, the character’s costume appears as slightly less comical than past portrayals of Superman; however, Cavill is more physically realistic. Snyder’s dark and visual style provided a new, more believable tone to the depiction of Superman.
Cavills’ masculinity reaches its climax in Man Of Steel, as he will clearly gain further recognition from female audiences – but, more importantly, his performance added a touch of warmth and emotional depth, as seen in roles such as Christian Bale playing Bruce Wayne/Batman. Man Of Steel was a fantastic start for Henry Cavill in the title role and he deserves to play the character again.
Recent adaptations based on both Marvel and DC comics have featured a more sophisticated cast. The first Superman film starred prominent actors and Man Of Steel maintains that allegiance. Four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams portrayed Lois Lane with an impressive performance that, like Cavill over Routh, completely blew away Kate Bosworth’s role in the previous adaptation. Adams has almost always been a serious actress and, while her role as Lois was not at Oscar level, her talent as an actress worked impressively in the role of such a famous character.
Michael Shannon’s performance as General Zod was absolutely fantastic! He was menacing, emotionally manipulative and physically terrifying. Furthermore, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane’s humane, humble roles as Jonathan and Martha Kent provided even more raw emotion, symbolizing love and family with strong morals at their core. Finally, Russell Crowe totally shines as Jor-El, Superman/Kal-El’s biological father, who becomes the striking hero again like he once was and gives Marlon Brando, of all actors, a run for his money.
Man Of Steel is a breakthrough both in the Superman franchise and Zack Snyder’s directorial career. He, along with the great Christopher Nolan and screenwriter David S. Goyer, have provided a highly entertaining, emotional and, most importantly, relevant reboot of the franchise. It may contain similar concepts to The Dark Knight trilogy but Snyder’s work took over from Nolans’, becoming his greatest and probably most successful film to date. Finally, Man Of Steel is arguably the best Superman film to faithfully portray the origins from the comic books and, with this impressive reboot, we could be in for another adventure with Superman in the sequel and the Justice League adaptation.