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The Best & Worst Of ‘Man of Steel’

The Best & Worst Of 'Man of Steel'

If you listen to the internet — and that’s always a precarious thing to do — Warner Bros.Man Of Steel” is either the worst movie of all time or the best movie of all time and of course, nothing in between (and lord there’s been some kicking and screaming by people who disagree with one another). It’s either all due Zack Snyder inability to direct or David Goyer’s (and to an extent Christopher Nolan’s) writing genius. Granted some Playlisters did not like this movie much and some of it thought it was decent-to-ok, but we’d still like to think there’s a middle ground to be found when looking at this latest Superman movie (in fact, we’re happy to say our original review does just that).

So, will this movie beget a “Justice League” super-team-up movie? Is that even the success metric? A “Man Of Steel” sequel is already in the works and while Superman couldn’t outgun “Iron Man 3” at the 2013 box-office this year, it did break some June release records and grossed north of $110 million domestically this weekend (helping to bring the worldwide tally over $200 million) which is nothing to sneeze at.

What most of us at The Playlist can agree on — no matter how impressive “Man of Steel” occasionally can be — it’s that the film is far from perfect and often very uneven. So, as we’re wont to do, we thought we’d look at what worked, what didn’t work, and what kinda worked in the superhero film. Or to make it simpler —  the Best & Worst Of “Man of Steel.” Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the film, but really, you should probably see it before you read this piece.

“The Best”/What Worked

The Score
John Williams‘ iconic score for Richard Donner‘s 1978 “Superman: The Movie” is so unforgettable that it would have been a fool’s errand to try and replicate or even pay homage to its kind of sweeping grandeur (Bryan Singer‘s abortive remake/sequel/whatever-the-fuck “Superman Returns” was chose to just forgo any originality and play the original theme song.) Instead, composer Hans Zimmer, who had just finished crafting a trio of legendary superhero scores for Nolan’s three Batman movies, went the other direction: instead of sweeping, he went brooding and rhythmic, with a heavy emphasis on hardcore drums (some played by none other than Pharrell). The music serves to make the action sequences even more thrillingly intense and (occasionally) tragic, yet there are also moments of quiet, reserved beauty, like the twinkly synths that accompany some of the outer space stuff. Zimmer balances these quieter moments with the unrelenting intensity of the rest of the score evenly and with a sure hand. What makes the music even more miraculous is the fact that, like with Batman, he creates so much stirring emotion while only utilizing a handful of notes. Even if you didn’t care for more of “Man of Steel,” you had to begrudgingly admit that the score was a feat of super-heroism.

The Fresh & Bold Take On Superman
If you have to drill down and pick out the best elements of “Man of Steel,” it really makes you wish Christopher Nolan was more involved. Nolan always said his Batman trilogy — one in which Batman controversially fakes his death and then hands down the cape to another generation of crime fighters — was the story he wanted to tell. Fanboys may not have liked it — Harry Knowles infamously lost his shit about the end of “The Dark Knight Rises,” but Nolan stuck to his guns and vision, letting it play out right from “Batman Begins” with little compromise. And so the best element bar-none of “Man of Steel,” is its foundational story, premise, ideas and themes. Nolan and Goyer wanted to modernize Superman so that meant boldly changing his origin wherever possible. They told the story that they needed to tell no matter how much that fucked with the origin stories that most audiences are familiar and comfortable with. That meant Clark Kent isn’t a journalist (well, not until the end anyhow). It means he’s a brooding outsider living on the fringes of society trying to figure out where he fits in. This means Pa Kent being killed right in front of Superman’s eyes — almost at Pa Kent’s request; the father making his final point, if you intervene, they will know and that will change the world and the world isn’t ready. Smallville isn’t even mentioned as Smallville by name (though it is seen quite clearly on a water tower). Goyer and Nolan eschew most of the outdated, cheesier relic moments of Superman’s origin in favor of the story they’re telling, which is a man torn between two fathers, struggling with his own identity, grappling with having had to turn the other cheek his entire life, and haunted by the fact that he could have saved his father from death, but was prevented from doing so. This is all great, deep emotional texture to work with and as much as you can argue that the execution messes it up, the central ideas are modern, fresh, compelling and affecting. Pa & Ma Kent aren’t shown finding the baby, or dealing with a child with super powers and lifting cars because we’ve seen this before and it can be extremely hokey. Goyer and Nolan focus on the emotional and spiritual burden of being superhuman and we can’t think of finer philosophical building blocks to work with.

The Modern Context Of The Film
There’s no, “it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” And thank god. The name Superman is barely said and when it first appears it’s in the form of an audio joke. This Superman wants to boldly go into modern times and we’re, ahem, super appreciative of that. That means building a plausible and grounded world and a similar context. What Nolan and Goyer clearly started off with was this question: what would happen if an alien being with super powers revealed himself to the people of Earth? And that central and essential query is what drives most of “Man of Steel,” and is part of its very fabric. How would the world react? Well, there would be a lot of fear. This is embodied by Pa Kent, a wise man who is all too familiar with the way the world works: humanity’s mistrust and fear of the unknown, even of religions that aren’t familiar to us. He raises Clark from a young age to keep his powers hidden. Not for the greater good, but for himself. If humanity knew, the CIA/FBI/etc would be on the Kent doorstep in seconds flat and not only would their family be torn apart, but Clark’s life would be ruined. How would the world react? A news editor might squelch one of the biggest stories in the world from one of his own writers for fear of the panic it could create. Selling newspapers is important, but having an ethical responsibility to the public is even more essential. And so a boy who becomes a man grows up with a secret that is often too much to bear. He knows he isn’t from this world and thus feels alienated from it and his parents. He struggles with his father’s ideals and then has to live with the fact that his father died because he chose to keep his secret safe, just as his father always asked. You’d grow up into a hell of a moody kid too and it’s this entire modern context, modern, relatable emotional context that Nolan and Goyer create that we not only appreciate, but respond and relate to. The world they set up is plausible and the reactions to Superman — the government coming out in full force to try and contain him, their mistrust and fear — feels very real. Everything from news stories leaking on blogs to drones trailing Superman to find out his whereabouts (illustrating that the government doesn’t fully trust him despite the fact that he saved the world and fought off an alien invasion), there’s a solid modern world built in “Man of Steel,” and it’s as solid as anything you’d find on Krypton.

The Film’s Themes: Family & Fathers

The fresh take, the bold redoing on the origin, the modern context…we realize this is all cut from the same cloth. But if you look deeper at this texture, all the themes of the film emerge and again, and this is the richness within a film that’s, well…not always that rich. But it’s also what makes us enjoy “Man of Steel.” Without it, what you’re left with is pretty surface level (and it’s why many critics are rightfully complaining). So choice is a big theme as discussed, with Clark having to choose between Earth and Krypton and its potential rebirth should Kal-El have chosen to go that route (knowing what he knows, probably not). But “Man Of Steel” is also about fathers, Clark’s two disparate patriarchal figures and choosing between them. Both instil Clark with values, but Pa Kent admittedly is on the apprehensive side of things with good reason. But the turning the other cheek philosophy is also god-like is it not? Jor-El envisions his son like a god amongst the people of Earth if he chooses, and its his initial meeting with Superman in the arctic that finally forces Clark to piss or get off the pot. His father essentially galvanizes him. Clark’s been internal for years and finally, there’s a figure who says, “Embrace what you are,” and Clark is very ready to hear this message. It gives Clark’s embrace of being Superman, the same kind of rebirth that Jor-El and Zod would like to bring to Krypton. And while all of this doesn’t always work — is the movie saying Pa Kent was just a cautious wuss, what does he take from him? — these dimensions and philosophical compositions are what keep “Man Of Steel” interesting and not just the tentpole super showdown the movie is constantly threatening to become. It’s an uneven picture to be sure, but to say due thought wasn’t initially put into the movie would be grossly unfair.

The Cast & Henry Cavill
We’ll say this, while there’s no real masterpiece theater of acting to be found in this tentpole, films like “The Cold Light of Day” and “Immortals” didn’t convince us of Henry Cavill’s acting abilities, indeed the former is so bad that the English actor seemed positively wooden. But we’ll admit Cavill is really confident, self-assured and comfortable in both conveying his angst and confusion and the in moments he has to play the more-cool and collected Superman. The writers thankfully give Amy Adams much more to do than previous Lois’s and she puts a nice spin on Lois Lane as an ahead of the curve, tenacious journalist that grows the character from the Margot Kidder days. Special shoutout must be given to Kevin Costner who makes it look all too easy as Pa Kent, who loves his son completely, but also aims to protect him from a world that simply won’t understand. Costner’s appearance is brief, but so good and so natural that when his death comes, it’s one of the most powerful moments of the entire film. Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni — even if not all these actors have a lot of screen time or worthwhile scenes, they all sell their characters well. Zod on the other hand, we’ll get to that…

So-So/What Kinda Mostly Worked

Jor-El 2.0
The Jor-El we know from most Superman comics and Superman films is the father who wants to save his child from death, provide him another chance and sends him to another world where he may have a chance to survive. But Nolan and Goyer, cribbing from the comics a little bit, create a much more layered and complex Jor-El. He’s a scientist with a rogue streak in him. He’s a maverick and probably closer in spirit to Zod then he’d like to admit. He is responsible for Kal-El, the first naturally born child in Krypton in centuries and normally, if the planet wasn’t going to all hell, he’d likely be tried and put to death for ethical crimes. But it’s more than just that. As a free will thinker, Jor-El isn’t simply saving his son, he has a similar motivation to Zod but a bigger purpose and plan in play. Of course, as a free-will thinker, the plan he’s set up is one that Kal-El will have to choose to enact or not. Jor-El isn’t selfish or simply in love with his son. The scientist doesn’t just send Clark to save the baby, he embeds the Kryptonian codex within him to Earth, and a planet he knows contains a ship with Kryptonian embryos. Jor-El, like Zod is also trying to save civilization, albeit in a totally different manner. Essentially, he’s armed Kal-El with all the knowledge he’ll need to restart Krypton on Earth (presuming he knows Kal-El will eventually find this ship and his spirit life force). “We can co-exist” he says several times. As an ethical man, Jor-El believes that Kal-El could “help them achieve wonders” and with this alien technology could thrust Earth into a golden age of civilization. Of course, all of this is rather convoluted and Jor-El’s spiritual life force or whatever it is that allows him to interact with people beyond the grave is a little hokey. In fact, we’re not even sure Jor-El’s would-be “plan” (again, it’s up to Clark if he wants to) is even clear to audiences who probably just enjoyed a punch fest. Of course, the events of the movie render said plan moot, but it is there and it adds interesting layers and texture to Jor-El that you don’t normally see beyond the comic stories and drills down deeply into the myths of Krypton.

The Ahead Of The Curve Lois
As mentioned above, “Man Of Steel” puts a nice twist on the Lois Lane mythology. In this version of the movie her character is proactive, is chasing down a story and is ahead of the curve. She’s the first person to find Superman and she doesn’t have to wait for his alter ego Clark Kent to join the Daily Planet to meet him. In fact, Lois is a defining part of Superman’s outing to the public. She’s instrumental part of his decision to unveil himself and when they meet in a cemetery, it’s nice to see a realistic side of Lois with some humanity. Even though she’s an intrepid reporter, her conversation with Superman strikes a chord in her: what if the world isn’t ready like he says? The conversation weighs heavily on her sense of morality and subsequently Lois is absolutely ready to drop the story. All this is fairly new in the Lois Lane character mythology — at least in the movies we’ve seen previously — and this new twist on her character, familiar, while still fresh is deeply appreciated. The problem with it however, is that Lois really doesn’t have a lot do in the 2nd and 3rd acts of the film other than be a damsel in distress who’s constantly being saved by Superman. Sure, she and Jor-El lead the charge on the key to ridding Earth of the Militarized Kryptonians, but we couldn’t help but feel this element of the movie felt out of step with the movie’s “realistic” side. Adams is a wonderful actress with an impressive range — see “Enchanted” or “The Muppets” to “The Master” and “The Fighter” — but beyond the first act Lois drops out of the story for the most part, and has almost zero chemistry with Superman. Their romance is rushed in favor of the big dumb action finale so therefore their kiss and blossoming romance feels unearned by the time it finally arrives.

The Krypton Stuff At The Beginning
No Superman movie before “Man of Steel” has started with such a bang (literally), depicting both the legislative turmoil and the physical war that accompanied the planet-wide destruction of Krypton. It seemed like the filmmakers were throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck – a “council” like from the “Matrix” sequels? Sure, why not! Russell Crowe riding a dragon? Yes please! Crazy robot assistants who have faces that look like art deco murals you’d see at a World’s Fair? Yeah we’ve got a few of those. The opening moments of “Man of Steel” are ballsy and borderline brilliant; they have a zippy energy and a kind of breathless enthusiasm that suggests that the filmmakers were not only trying to recreate what we’ve seen before in the mythology but push the same general material to weird, exciting new places. Filled with enough sturm and drang for at least a half dozen summertime blockbusters, there was a kind of fearlessness to the prologue that the rest of the movie could have greatly benefited from. That being said, it was also Snyder on maximum overdrive, and many of the sequences were incomprehensible and left the audience to sort out just what the fuck was actually happening.

The First Act
So “Man Of Steel” is arguably broken up into brawn and heart. The first act serving as its pulse and soul, its second and third acts becoming louder and louder and more punchy (see below). However, there are some little problems in establishing the world of “Man Of Steel.” Kevin Costner is great, but every one of his speeches to Clark is a little monologue-y. One can argue, the Krypton stuff (as mentioned above) is interesting, but like we said tries to cram too much into this futuristic world. The other issue is that it seems to just want to yell, “Don’t worry there’s lots of action in this Superman movie!” over the din of explosions, lasers, fights, shouting and constant flashbacks. Still, there’s a lot of good stuff here changed from the Superman origin you know that merits high marks, such as Clark wandering Alaska searching for a purpose, the emotional and moving death of Pa Kent, the school bullying scenes and the overall set-up leading to who our Superman is, an emotionally anguished man who doesn’t know his proper identity. Is he an alien? Is he an earthling? Does he belong to this world? In many ways Clark, like in his angry early 20s scenes, is resentful of his lineage, his earth parents and the fact he has to hide who he is. And as established from when he discovers Jor-El, the ship and his alien origin, Clark seems to have romanticized his heretofore unknown Kryptonian heritage. It’s all this texture built up in the first act that gives the movie its legs and what makes it much more memorable than a loud and clumsy third act.

A Strong Motivation For The Villain
Villain motivations for superhero or sci-fi fantasy films are seemingly more and more predictable or annoying. Ever since The Joker in “The Dark Knight” — “some people just want to see the world burn” — film writers and producers have been invoking what seems to be terrorism masked as madness. As Vulture aptly put it, evoking 9/11 in a superhero film is getting a little played. “Man Of Steel” certainly has a lot of these issues just as “Star Trek: Into Darkness” does (it may be the best example of overly convoluted super villain revenge). But more and more we’re seeing mad men terrorists and some kind of revenge being the super villain norm (even in “Iron Man 3,” Guy Pearce’s motivation seems to be revenge for being blown off at a party decades ago). As problematic as Michael Shannon’s Zod is in “Man Of Steel” (we’ll get to that), his motivation is a strong and good one. As patriots, Zod and Jor-El are two different sides of the same coin in “Man of Steel.” Though, Jor-El uses his mind and knowledge of science and Zod uses his muscle and military training, their motivations are the same: to keep the Kryptonian race alive. Of course, Zod will do it at all costs, even if it means genocide, but this devout protector’s spirit is programmed in his DNA much like all of the citizens of Krypton (minus the naturally born Kal-El), who are born and bred for a specific purpose. Zod’s purpose is protecting his race and his planet by any means necessary, which means going as far as attempting military coup, to combing the ends of the galaxy to find the DNA-skull, Kryptonian mumbo jumbo Codex stuff that’s embedded into Kal-El’s DNA and essentially contains the bloodlines of everyone on the planet. Just by the sheer fact that Zod’s not simply a power-hungry mad man who wants to destroy Earth, well, hell, we’ll take it. He essentially has a noble cause manifested in an ignoble manner. Of course, Zod is also pretty one-dimensional and shouty which tends to ruin the character. 

The Visuals
While some of the visuals are beautiful, more poetic/striking than anything you’d find in a Marvel film but we can’t help but admit that it would’ve been nice to ease up on the CGI a bit during the big fight sequences. The grey/drab palette could’ve infused a little more color into the look (the blue/grey scheme is played). And again, the lazy 9/11 imagery — complete with a collapsing skyscraper, characters covered in ash, even more running away down a smoke filled street — borders on tasteless and at best is cheap trick to gain audience sympathy and awe. On other other hand, middle America has never looked this good, and Snyder shoots the heartland with the kind of reserved lens we never knew he had in him.

The Score
Yes, we just lauded it above, and yes, Hans Zimmer’s score is quite anthemic, emotional and powerful, but too bad Zack Snyder has no idea what to do with it. Perhaps this is no surprise given that the director has never quite shown the sturdiest hand with music in his movies (see the nearly unlistenable alt-rock of “Sucker Punch”; Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” making the awkward sex scene in “Watchmen” even more laughable) and that continues with “Man Of Steel.” Where Nolan knows when and where to let Zimmer’s music take over and do some of the emotional heavy lifting, Snyder instead pours it on over nearly every scene of the movie. Not only are the action segments filled with bombast, so too are the quieter domestic scenes, with nary a moment without some kind of cue or rising tide from Zimmer’s score. An unintended effect is that actually drains the excellent soundtrack of any real power. Take for instance the triumphant song featured in the trailer (“What Are You Doing When You’re Not Saving The World?” on the official soundtrack) — instead of being brought out during select moments to heighten the picture Snyder is content to let it play out during several scenes, often forgettably. Unfortunately, the director treats Zimmer score as just another noise to toss into the assault on the senses and it devolves into this way far too frequently.

“The Worst”/What Didn’t Work:

The Overly Long 40 Minute Punch Fest
When are writers and directors going to realize that endless fist fights between invincible characters simply aren’t dramatically compelling? “Man Of Steel” is especially guilty of this, given that there are roughly four characters with the abilities of Superman himself. Three of them (Supes, Faora and some CGI giant fellow) land in Smallville to do battle and the end result is simply violence, with a complete lack of progression to the narrative. Granted, this scene gives Antje Traue’s swagger-licious Faora some action beats in a film that, like all superhero pictures, is light on a female presence, but aside from that, it only establishes what we already know: Kryptonians are pretty nasty brawlers. By the end, Zod’s plan has been deep-sixed, and his only reaction is to lash out like a cornered animal, leading to a scrap that results in the further demolition of an already Hiroshima’d Metropolis, with two unstoppable characters figuring it will be THIS or THAT punch that finally stems the tide. Superman’s got heat vision, x-ray vision, flight, and smarts, but clearly he’s never found a situation he can’t fly straight into, fists extended like a Kryptonian battering ram. And Hollywood, yes, the falling skyscrapers are off-putting once we’re forced to consider the death toll, but have you realized this: the more CGI lets us see the destroyed skyline of a major city, the less interesting it gets? Yes, the endless brutality is discomforting, but it’s mostly just boring; maybe we need some fresh ideas for those big action climaxes, no?

The Brutal Collateral Damage
Let’s face it, the destruction of Metropolis is callous and brutal and like we said, we’re not the only ones to complain about it. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity is to acknowledge the 9/11 style damage in the last act and have Superman react to it instead of being the primary cause of it. Imagine a world where we have a hero like Superman on a day like that. The fact that this scene so obviously recalls the realistic horrors of that day without giving us the catharsis of the hero to respond to it is the biggest missed opportunity. Destruction and mayhem hover over all these scenes like troubling, rotting death, but Superman seems to be too busy busting Zod’s skull to notice. The evoking of 9/11 in these scenes is therefore shallow and hollow, the tragedy being abused for this superhero film, but never seeming at all earned. There’s little to no humanization in it whatsoever except for the scene of Perry White helping his assistant out of rubble. Disturbing and disconcerting to say the least.

The Shouty One Note Villain
Michael Shannon is one of our great actors, able to arouse great nuance out of a steely glare and a short story worth of sentiment in a single line. So it’s unfortunate that he would be saddled with this role, a far cry from the aristocratic snobbiness of Terrence Stamp’s classic creation in the earlier films. Instead, Shannon is given a score of yelling speeches that only increase in number as the film persists: here’s an actor of hidden corners and unexpected gestures, forced to compete with computer effects and repetitive violence just to be heard. It’s safe to say the blockbuster formula doesn’t suit Shannon, and it results in a villain that seems to believe destruction is the best cause of action. Are we to believe that there are absolutely NO other planets the Kryptonians can colonize with their “World Engine”? And that Zod simply can’t appeal to his shared background with Kal-El in coaxing the Codex from the Man of Steel, possibly to take it to another planet or galaxy? You wonder why an Oscar-nominated actor like Michael Shannon is hired for a role best suited for a stubborn bruiser like Kevin Nash or Dave Bautista, casting that would better suit the primitive nature of this film’s central conflict.

Little Sense Of Discovery
For a reboot that inventively rebooted and reconsidered Superman’s origin, Clark Kent’s life on Earth and thrust the franchise firmly into the 21st century with greater stakes, and deep emotional underpinnings, it’s curious that the superhero’s pure sense of discovery and awe is mostly left out of the film. While we do get a cursory scene of Superman learning how to fly, for the most part, his powers are treated as a burden before he comes suited up. And that’s fine. But was there no moment as a kid when he realized the extent of his strength? Or even as a grown man, has he ever surprised himself by the sheer strength he has? Even Goyer and Nolan’s Batman do-over spent more time on Bruce Wayne fumbling around in “Batman Begins” and in subsequent films, having a bit of fun playing with Lucius’ latest toys. Here, Superman flies into outer space, holds up entire oilrigs, bends Mack trucks for fun like it’s all in a day’s work. He never seems at all surprised about how strong he is, but most crucially, never feels truly threatened as a result. Thus, even when he is getting thrown around Smallville, there is never any question that he will come out on top and that gives “Man Of Steel” very little sense of tension.

The Expository & Groan-Inducing Dialogue
The take on Superman on “Man of Steel” is fresh and great, and that’s why the movie is more of a disappointment than a disaster. At no point during the film’s running time did we lose total sight of the film it could have been. but it seemed like about 50% of the film’s dialogue was either exposition or the character’s spelling out how they were feeling and really could’ve used another pass by another writer (like Nolan, who rewrote Goyer’s “Batman Begins” screenplay and relegated him to “Story By” on the two other Bat-films to follow). Exposition is a huge problem that makes the movie clunky over all. From groaning lines like “I’m a Pulitzer Prize winning writer!” to “There’s only one way this ends, either I die or you will!,” as much of the story and set up of “Man of Steel” is great, the almost annotated delivery of dialogue is just a little painful and first draft-y.

The Final Scene
Ok, you’ve spent two and half hours boldly deconstructing the hallowed origin of Superman, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Pa Kent, etc. and what do you do for a finale? Cave comfortably into the most obvious character myth imaginable. C’mon, Clark’s not a journalist in “Man Of Steel,” he’s been an offshore worker, a manual labor blue-collar type of guy. He clearly didn’t go to university and that’s fine because all of that texture is elemental to the type of Superman story that Goyer, Nolan and Snyder chose to tell. But the end of “Man Of Steel,” with Clark joining the Daily Planet just seems incredibly contrived, winky and played for pure fan service. Forget that part that he has no credentials for journalism, suspend your disbelief — but are we to believe the government is looking everywhere for this guy and he’s just going to pop up on the staff of one of country’s biggest newspapers, out in the open? Something tells us the NSA is gonna figure out who Clark is pretty damn fast. That and the fact that it just seems silly. So Lois Lane can now pretend she doesn’t know him and they can surreptitiously flirt in the office? What is this “Superman II”? We thought you guys were boldly world building here and were going to be something different moving forward. What the end of “Man Of Steel” conveys is to the audience is: “Ok, you know how we’ve fucked with the origin story thus far and changed everything? Well, thanks for being super patient. Back to our regularly scheduled program now.” It’s incredibly disappointing — especially after a scene with a drone that’s been following Superman and feels very contemporary. And it points to a potential comfortable laziness in the sequels where Superman can just be the Superman we all love and know, rather than this fairly unique and new one we were presented with up front. Simply, this ending just feels incoherent in tone with what came before it.

No Payoff For What The World Will Make Of Superman
Much of the movie pivots on how the world will react to Superman’s appearance. Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) suggests that people aren’t ready for his power and pleads with Clark to keep his specialness a secret; Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) thinks that news of a classified alien visitor will cause a mass panic; Superman’s biological father (Russell Crowe) is all for him becoming the hero the world so desperately needs – even giving him his nifty, sparkly suit. But once Superman is revealed to the public, through some very conspicuous displays of his power and innate punching abilities, we never get to see how people react. There are no “citizens of Smallville/Metropolis” reaction shots, no news clips suggesting how the everyday person is dealing with this mind-blowing revelation (plus, didn’t Zod’s social media throw down kind of spoil things for the Big S’s arrival?) It’s bafflingly abandoned. For a movie to obsessively work over this thematic concern and then do absolutely nothing with it is the kind of fiendish plot worthy of a super-villain (though to be completely fair, Goyer did say this would be addressed to some degree in future films).

Miscellaneous “Worst” Stuff:
Everyone’s mentioned the dumb CGI zooms and they’re not terrible per se at first, but it’s the one “visual gag” of the film (since Snyder seemed to dial back the use of every other one of his tricks like speed ramping, thank god) and it’s a trick that the director employs over and over again, to the point of annoyance. Product placement is pretty damn rampant too from Sears, IHOP, 7-11 and more. We’d argue some of it is simply endemic to the heartland of America where much of these sequences take place (Kansas), but it’s one thing when James Bond has a cool watch and it’s quite another when you stage entire fight sequences in front of several brands rather blatantly.

Your thoughts? Clearly audiences went out in droves to see “Man Of Steel” and the media narrative thus far is that audiences love it and that critics hate it. Hopefully we’ve at least shown the conversation is more complex than that. What did you love about “Man of Steel”? What kind of threw you or felt off? What didn’t you like and what elements of the film did you downright hate? To dig in to the additional idea: where does “Man of Steel” go from here? Discuss and weigh in with your thoughts below. – Kevin Jagernauth, Rodrigo Perez, Drew Taylor, Gabe Toro, Cory Everett,

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Best parts in the movie are provided by older veteran actors – Costner's death and checking on his son, Maximus' pained doom while sending baby S off into space and Lou Fishburne's selecting to stay and die with his friend when he couldn't get her out.

I love the layers, and good motivations each character gets; Gen. Screamer makes perfect sense and is a fine villain; a sort of pragmatic military man who has lost his way, and perhaps he screams more out of anguish than resolve, maybe the feeling that he is failing what he was born to do, protect his kind.

What really is GRATING and TIRESOME is the loud big wholesale destruction. It happens in every superhero movie nowadays, and each week another comes out, see Thor, see Ironman Part 14, see The Avengers Vs. the Transformers Part 11.

How cool would it have been if Jesus led Zod and his check-out my blue eyes hench-woman, away from the city to fight them in the desert, arctic or underwater? You don't need gravitas and significance by destroying skyscrapers full of people. We already get, that he saved the world, see their terraforming devices and invulnerability to our missiles, planes and bullets.

Plus, later I'd scoff at Superman for saving LL from falling, like, what kind of egalitarian hero are you, you just let whole buildings full of people collapse while you flew to catch LL, are you kidding me right now?

Also, his diplomatic skills, suck. I would have told Zod, look dude, I'll give you the goods you need, just terraform any number of planets, maybe ones that were previously colonized – obviously, they must have been good places if picked once before. Let's save these people and save Krypton too; or let's krypton form the moon or Mars, and work with the humans, why kill them, and WHY OH WHY, would you RISK all Kryptonians fighting me, for Earth? Let's leave Earth together and find a new Krypton in this big Universe; sure, Earth and LL doesn't get S-man, but they also don't lose Manhattan for the umpteenth time.


I think dialogue is one of the most important aspects of a film. I think it’s what makes a film great, and I’m glad you made that point about Christopher Nolan rewriting David S. Goyer’s screenplay for Batman Begins, because a lot of people don’t know that. I think Goyer is a good storyteller, but he’s definitely a weak writer. I liked Nolan’s dialogue. I think his writing is what made the Dark Knight trilogy great.

The dialogue made the characters feel dry and bland. For example, the conversation between Clark and Jor-El. I swear, Jor-El went full in detail with his explanation of Krypton only to have Clark answer with short one sentence questions. Seriously, wikiquote it. It made for bad character development. Especially the chemistry between Clark and Lois.

In the end, the film was only okay. I was disappointed, because I expected something like Batman Begins or Iron Man. (As far as origin stories and film quality) I think stronger dialogue would have made it a lot better. It was a great visual film, and I praise the action sequences. I also didn’t agree with the end result, because it conflicted with Superman’s obvious morals from the comics, but I guess I don’t really care about it as much as other people do. I’m curious to see how his darker characterization is going to contrast with Batman.


Superman has never been one of my favorite superheroes. I have always thought he was corny and lame. This new movie did better at illustrating Superman's story then any previous movie. I think Christopher Nolan did a good job and will make this Superman series more enjoyable for me.


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SO many hacks in here trying to get their creatively challenged opinions spread. Stop nagging and make your own film if you think you know better. I respect Zack's work and vision, he is one of the few directors who blends intelligence and a unique creative imagery to films.


first and foremost I liked Man Of Steel a lot very different and a fresh take but good. The first act 45 minutes is the Superman we know in probably a bit more detail of the Krypton world and what it was like to live on krypton, sending him off to earth, finding is origins, going from place to place being the hero and finding the fortress and becoming Superman and the first flight was amazing! then it becomes it's own story of a emotions, loss and trying to fit in to the world and I side we've never really seen on film. I know the action was a lot but it was good movie " Superman movie" people complain about the death toll. I never noticed anyone complaining about Superman: the original when Lex Luthor set nuclear rockets and Superman saved one but couldn't save the other and the was basically every know disaster scenario happen in that third act. In the sequel it would be nice to see more of the third act side of the story Superman/Clark/Daily Planet less Smallville because that was told in the first one and more reporting from the famous two Lois and Clark that's what the second one should explore. it's a very good movie though! less complaining more enjoying because it's best superman we've had since the first one.

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Yves Orzel

Does anybody remember that moment when he complains about how alone he is as a kryptonian for the first hour and a half, then when baby kryptonian genocide happens he doesnt even notice and just turns around and kisses Lane?

Jaco Tromp

The special effects, some of the acting and the themes of the son of God< jesus Christ was everywhere, it is not bad because of these things. here is the main reason i hated it and walked out of the movie 1 and a half hours into it.
It feel slike you are on a rolercoaster. The scenes jump so much between eash other that you feel like there is no grounding to anything, not one scene or place gets a chance to realy get our teeth into the story and realy relate to the characters and the surrounding around us.
They go from the interigations scene immediatly to the surrender of Superman in the blink of an eye.
Lane discovers Superman so quickly that it makes a joke of the whole Clark Kent business. According to the original source, didnt he become a reporter in order to be part of normal life? Lets just throw that whole neccesity out of the window.
Myself, i hated the movie and hope to never see it agian, but to those that loved it, it is your right and in no way will I let your opinion not count.
i just feel that we live ina world that is so fast, we need to ubsord as much information as possible, that people have forgotten the true beauty of film, the story

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And now instead of addressing and developing those stories points, the WB decide to cram Batman in there and no doubt, have him kick the snot out of this guy with god-like abilities because "Batman is cooler"

F*&king ridiculous.


For the whole "invincible people fighting each other", Superman snaps Zod's neck, ergo, it is revealed that Kryptonians are strong enough to kill other Kryptonians, ergo, any of Zod's lackeys (or Zod himself) could do the exact same thing to Superman, ergo, Superman can be killed in those fights, making it not a "invincible people fighting each other".


Given the current state of journalism, the daily planet could justify hiring Clark Kent only when they had fired all the college journalist and Clark is willing to work for 1/20 of their payment.

What? Is realist!


Umm, am I the only one that was a bit torn up by the collateral damage to the Kryptons? I was bemused. The whole movie starts with the tragic demise of Krypton, and almost the entire purpose of conceiving Cal and sending him to Earth was to make a chance to restore the Kryptonian race. All these words about how Superman could become a bridge, not let one race or the other be destroyed, so on and so on. And yet despite his grief at killing Zod, he doesn't mourn the loss of his race! No one does! The implications are not remotely explored. Only that moment when he sees he must destroy the ship then- nothing. I do not get it! Help me out here?


Umm, am I the only one that was a bit torn up by the collateral damage to the Kryptons? I was bemused. The whole movie starts with the tragic demise of Krypton, and almost the entire purpose of conceiving Cal and sending him to Earth was to make a chance to restore the Kryptonian race. All these words about how Superman could become a bridge, not let one race or the other be destroyed, so on and so on. And yet despite his grief at killing Zod, he doesn't mourn the loss of his race! No one does! The implications are not remotely explored. Only that moment when he sees he must destroy the ship then- nothing. I do not get it! Help me out here?


As a long time Superman, I loved this film. Enjoyed it more than Avengers and have yet to meet a person in person that did not like it. Critics might have hated it but 80% of viewers liked it. This has made the Man of Steel relevant again. The movie was never boring, never dragging, or confusing. Maybe we saw a different movie but all 5 times I've seen this in theatres it received a round of applause at the end. To my surprise, even from an old couple that sat in front of me. Bring the MoS sequels!


Suddenly all over internet there is a bunch of critics, experts and losers that are not even able to create something in their own lives… Even the so-called fans are idiots… AWESOME MOVIE!!!


Mos movie=worst cast and worst story=worst reboot ever

Teru Kage

The movie had potential (I especially liked the introverted Clark and the real-world approach) but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying. As mentioned in this review, it would have been nice to see more of Clark using his years on Earth as an advantage during his fight with the Kryptonians (I can picture Clark hiding behind a structure and using his X-ray and then heat vision to attack Zod). And the wanton destruction…on the one hand, I like how this new Superman has a temper that can take control of him ("don't touch my mommy!") but his utter lack of concern for collateral damage in Smallville and in Metropolis was just appalling. He didn't even attempt to draw Zod and company away from the civilian population.

I agree with the sentiment that the movie didn't spend any time on the ramifications of discovering new alien life. At least The Avengers showed a collage of news reports to show the public's reaction.

I'm not saying that I hated the movie (I'd give it a B overall and I'm looking forward to the sequel) but I just expected a little more from the team that shepherded the Dark Knight triology.

One parting thought: how can Clark possibly keep his identity secret now? There are too many people in Smallville who have seen him in action, and now that he's working in Metropolis it'll only be a matter of time before Superman get's captured on film and everyone recognizes that it's Clark.

james bond

man of steel


I liked the fight scenes, similar to the animated series and to the JL series in terms of scope and damage, fun to watch. It's just grittier because it's 'live action'. I for one rate the MoS ones the best superhero fight scenes ever, much better than the ones that Disney/Marvel/Sony/Fox dish out, in fact. I thought, wow, Supes could take out pretty much everyone else. But that's just me being a Superman fan. Fortunately I don't watch films because of what critics say. Just sit back, relax and enjoy every movie you fancy watching. Having said that, I do find what other people have to say about the movies I watch interesting reading. Nice article.


Just because people didn't like the movie doesn't mean it was because they were expecting the Christopher Reeve version. I enjoyed the movie, but it had a lot of flaws as pointed out in the article. The main problem was that the ideas were good, just not executed well.

Wanting to explore Clark's backstory; great. Not giving him that much dialogue; not so great. It made the character feel undeveloped.

Clark having to kill Zod to protect the humans; great. Him not doing it earlier when Zod and his men were responsible for thousands dying; not great. Seeing a family of four nearly die made it necessary to kill him? Why not when thousands were dying because of the terraforming machine? You could argue that it's because Zod said he would kill all the humans because Clark stopped his plans, but Zod even told Clark earlier in the film he'd do that regardless.

The acting at times did seem stale. That I believe is mostly due to poor direction, though. The writing was corny at times. And it did seem silly that Clark would work at the Daily Planet and use that whole glasses disguise (though, I can't lie, that part does put a smile on my face).

Other than that, the movie had some good elements to it, some not so good. And please, for the people that are bashing others who didn't like the film; grow up. It's getting stupid.


Great article. I agree with this on so many levels. Very much a love hate relationship with this film. It's almost so complicated a movie that it's annoying. I thought about this film for a long time after I watched it. I still battle certain demons from my "Man of Steel" experience.

Truth Powell

Complaining about super beings fighting each other for 40 mins in the eternal struggle of good versus evil? Its a superhero movie for crying out loud! This notion that superhero movies with less superheroes is better or classier is assinine. Don't lose sight on what the genre is about.

Zack Snyder knows what he's doing. He's making a popcorn film. How are you going to inspire the kids without heroic action? The biggest failure of the new wave of superhero movies IS Christoher Nolan's vision and the overkill soap opera of Spiderman 2 & 3. All the truly great superhero movies (Tim Burton's original Batman, Raimi's Spiderman 1, Avengers, and yes Snyder's Man o Steel) are abundant in the superhero being the hero and doing his thing. If you want 2 1/2 hours of epository dialogue go watch Almodovar. Leave the superheroes to people that actually like comic books and heroic action.


Thanks GUSTAV for your reply. I completely agree. As I said before Man of Steel has its flaws but what I wanted to prove is the intention of the filmmakers. They give us a story with good ideas and depth, instead of other movies with only good cgi and jokes. The Avengers has an excelent execution but its an empty story, with the ussual stuff, conquering the world, good guys, only bad guys, and guess what, it had excellent reviews. Zod in MOS at least had his own intentions justiffied by his own believes and ideas, you can think if you want that Zod is a villain or not. What he does is not only because he is the bad guy, he does it because is his purpose in life, and he will do whatever it takes to accomplish that. Its an strange feeling that its more valuable good visuals than a good story. Goyer is a great screenwriter but I think that Nolan should have been more involved in the writing process, what he did with Batman its outstanding despite the fact that they are different characters. Nevertheless Man of Steel is a good atempt of giving an iconic superhero a fresh take. Its impossible to please everyone but I think that they are going through the right path, and its the first film, the first part of a rebooted franchise. We should wait and see. I also agree that its not neccesary to insult others, everyone has its own opinion and we should pay respect.


Kevin Jagernauth, Rodrigo Perez, Drew Taylor, Gabe Toro, Cory Everett. You guys are all shitty critics. And obviously, you now shit about films and storytelling. I bet you failed as filmmakers and decided to become shitty critics.


Missing from Man of Steel: Warmth, humor, character development, majesty, memorable dialogue, chemistry between Lois and Clark, epic music score, Marlon Brando, Terence Stamp, Christopher Reeve, Mario Puzo's story and screenplay. Made all the difference between a story and a cold, empty shell of violence and noise.

Joe Tyrrell

The only way "Man of Steel" could have been more disappointing is if it turned out to be about Stalin. As it was, the lead character has as much in common with a Soviet dictator, and more with Wolverine and Batman, than he does with Clark Kent. That is the story Snyder, Nolan and Goyer "needed" to tell, because that find it so much more interesting than Superman.
So we get an angry, marginalized superhero who judiciously declines to save his adoptive father. We get endless fistfights and continual explosions instead of a tale of a young man growing up and into his powers in a peaceful rural setting. We get product placement instead of detail, militarization instead of invention and a continual crescendo of noise that drowns out all but the most thundering chords of that purported score. While other versions of Superman tried to avert or reverse disasters and avoid bloodshed, here once again Hollywood cashes in on 9/11, a real catastrophe with real victims.
Yes, there are some pretty graphics, several good performances _ although blank-slate Cavill lets his suit do the talking _ and a few ideas that could have worked well in other hands. Overall, though, this is a movie that validates H. L. Mencken.


Great Movie, A few issues and questions do come to mind, but i think that this is just the first part of a larger story to come. Much in the way the dark knight trilogy was. Can't wait to see what's next….


Well I liked the movie, And after reading a lot of comments and reviews I can say that the main problem of the movie is to be an christian metaphor… in Hollywood… and that is hard to accept, ask Mel Gibson with his Passion and what happened to him and Caviezel afterwards. Man of Steel is not a perfect movie of course, but there are so many bad reviews and comments that makes you wonder, why the people and the critics are so divide? A lot of people hates Snyder cinematography and vision. Some plot Holes… I admit that the action was over the top but people, in Superman Returns we've complained that it was a sissy movie, and now we have a Superman more real and modern and is not good enough either, come on! Is an inspiring story, as a filmaker student i can see a story here, with heart, a character with a good arc and transformation. Is a story about sacrifice and identity, find who you are and share your best for the greater good of the people inspiring others. The visual and other shit are just ways to figure that out. Is a film with good inner content, thats my point,.


Funny how pa Kent has a british accent on planet Krypton, while everybody else speaks American.

Funny how you always know Superman's going to win the fight no matter how many cars, buildings and roads get smashed up.

Funny how EVERYONE out saving each other in superhero movies. Oh my, the humanity.


The movie was much better than most people think it really is… I mean the somewhat awkward pacing is understandable for an awkward alien-like character. Also the collateral damage is very understandable. First: He is very inexperienced, so he definitely learn to handle that better the next time. Second: It sets up Lex Luthor re-building Metropolis and finding Kryptonite in the terraformed area in the city (we have our villain). Also, I never understood people hating on CGI, when so much is CGI anways that we sometimes don't even know what is CGI or real. So just relax and look for some of these things when watching it a second time :D!!!!


The end I didn't get. The aliens went to visit Ma Kent. The NSA/CIA/FBI/NASA/Armed Services would have to have been clued into this. The "tragedy in the heartland" fight/destruction of Smallville wouldn't have been completely investigated as to why it occurred there. The stories of a young Clark Kent would have to have come out in the open (unless everyone died in the tragedy of the Smallville Battle). It is clear at the end of the movie that the government is looking for him.

But he takes on the name "Clark Kent" when he joins the Daily Planet. It felt like this made no sense, and an incredibly poor screenwriting choice.


I agree with the Zod point, to a degree; Zod isn't meant to be a one dimensional brute, and if you watch the Krypton sequences, he isn't during those. Apparently, in this continuity, the Phantom Zone makes Generals become rather unintelligent. However, Michael Shannon does do extremely well, given what he had to go with.

In regards to the Clark at the Planet end, I liked it, sans one point; we didn't get the iconic shirt rip, which the writers at DC comics have even said is "just too iconic to let go", so why was in not in this movie? It was like "Yeah, you're the Man Of Steel… but you're not Superman yet, you've not balanced the two alter egos". I'm hoping this will be addressed significantly in the sequel(s) (maybe even make 60+% of the second film revolve around Clark Kent rather than Superman, show the differences and nuances in the character, more for Henry Cavill to sink his teeth into.)

One main issue I had; Lois knowing EVERYTHING. It eliminates the best source of comic relief from the comics; the love triangle between Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Superman. Hoping that they'll find some way to wipe her memory of it in the sequel, and that he'll be smart enough to keep her unknowing. However, I did like the fact that she was more of a reporter than we've seen in some of the more recent Superman films (I refer you to the second half of Superman 2 through Superman Returns). Hopefully, this will persist and she won't fall into the "heroes girlfriend" rut we've seen good characters in other super hero movies fall into (*cough* Gwen in amazing Spider-Man *cough*).

Overall, though, it was very good; Cavill was amazing as Superman (though we didn't really see him as Clark, even when he was out of the suit), with his part at the ending being evocative of the ending of the Superman: Earth One graphic novel. Nice little nods to both of the main billionaires in Clark's life (Bruce Wayne, his best friend, and Lex Luthor, his arch Nemesis). Something of a rushed relationship between Superman and Lois Lane, but when they had a 2 and a half hour movie and wanted it established by the final act, as abhorrent as it is to rush such a thing, I understand why. Russell Crowe reminds us why he's thought of as such a great actor, and Michael Shannon does manage to do relatively well, despite not being given a great deal to work with. Faora was a nice addition, if feeling slightly under developed as a character given her screen time (was it more than Zod's? I lost track) though she was true to her sadistic persona from the comics. The one thing that I felt was a shame; a lack of scenes between the late teens Clark (though, having Cavill play that was a slight error in judgement in my honest opinion) and Jonathan Kent. I'm hoping that there were more and they'll simply appear on the DVD / Blu-Ray special features. I have other gripes, granted, but that was a true shame, especially given how well Kevin Costner played Jonathan (I won't lie, I nearly cried during the scene where he reveals Clark's origins to him, being met with "I just want to be your son" and responding with "You are my son.", beautiful scene). Hopefully, we'll see more material with Jonathan through flashbacks in the sequel(s). Yeah, I think that's it… think I might've just given massive spoilers and a review xD


There were many things about Man of Steel that I liked, a few things I didn't, a few things they could have done better, and 1 thing I absolutely abhorred. Most of the things that did the movie the most justice, were the memories that led Clark to be the man he was destined to become. Michael Shannon was great, Amy Adams was actually attractive, and Henry Cavill fit the bill perfectly. I felt that the CGI was too fast and unnatural in some cases even for super speed. I also have to say that it would take a lot more than a colonel's faith to keep the people from being upset about the billions of dollars in damage that were done to Smallville and Metropolis. But the elephant in the room was definitely the fantastically poor choice for the head of the family who is supposed to symbolize hope for the universe. The only hope I had was that Jor-El would be dead and gone early, and that I wouldn't have to see the romper stomper's nasty face again. No such luck, Russell kept popping up and deflating my suspended disbelief, and delivering the flattest lines in the movie, to be rivaled only by Zod's female general. The difference? I didn't feel her character to be a universal irony. The last thing anyone could ever expect out of Russell Crowe is to bring anyone hope. Casting, aside from Russell Crowe would have gotten an A+, but thanks to Hollywood's inability to actually consider the fans of any of their projects, I'm giving it a C-, and I won't be returning to theaters if they try to sell me Russell Crowe as a good guy, or even an actor, again.


Not agree with the complains. The final act is awesome, super climax battle! That's what the comic book lovers are waiting for years. the collateral damage is the price for a gods battle (ask to Alan Moore's Miracleman). And Krypton was a old society with robots and dragonfly, What's wrong with that? Is alien, not suppose must be logical to us. And sorry but Zod was far better than other ridiculous villains from other superhero movies (I speak Iron-Man 3 for example).


Okay, I'm not a big Superman geek, but I thought there were details that just didn't make sense and some that seemed to contradict themselves.

Like why were the Krypton refugees so immediately powerful on Earth if they were wearing gas masks? When Superman breathes their ships' air he's immediately weak, but they were just automatically strong, fast , indestructible, etc even with gas masks?? Doesn't make sense. Superman' power was supposed to be a product of weaker gravity, sure, but also of years of our young sun's radiation, years of our air, etc. To me the whole movie was a write-off from that point alone.

Why doesn't he just snap Zod's neck an hour earlier and get it over with? That would save like half the city too. So they can punch each other so unbelievably hard with no effect, but somehow their necks are vulnerable to a twist?? Laughable.

And speaking of Zod's death scene, are we to believe that Superman was finally goaded into killing Zod only after he threatened to kill that young family? Really? How about the tens of thousands that must have been killed by their city-destroying fight? Their lives didn't count I guess. Wow.

I could go on and on with these absurdities. I was rolling my eyes by the last hour or so. Lame movie. I was hoping for it to be good, but….. No.


I have to disagree with the last bit about how Superman contributed to the destruction of the city. He just saved the whole planet from being turned into another Krypton, and the city at that point was already totaled, there was almost no saving it past that point. The only part I didn't enjoy about the movie was all of the yelling on Superman's part. Also, Superman killing Zod at the end was to save more lives. Superman doesn't kill unless he has to. In that scene, he had to.


I loved the movie until the prison/portal/black hole closed. To me that should've been the death of Zod as well, because even while I'm trying to figure out "how" they're going to kill or rid themselves of multiple characters with super human powers, just breaking Zod's neck wasn't on the list of options.

Between the closing of the prison and Zod's death, it became preachy. I didn't mind Zod's message, but it really seemed contrived, almost as if Snyder wanted him alive long enough to make a speech. I felt it was commentary on the United States government, using military to dictate policy. That's fine, but make it part of the plot. Zod has to return to the prison. To me that had to be his end. Make the grand 1-on-1 between Superman and Zod in the context of returning him to the prison, saving Lois and to some extent saving himself, trying to escape the force of the black hole.

I hated the drone scene. We're to believe that Superman is going stop genocide to save the planet, but when asked how the US military will know whether or not he'll act in the US's best interest, suddenly Superman is an American? The whole struggle of Superman was an issue of humanity not nationalism. I think this could've easily been part of struggles in future movies, such as Superman stopping or hindering the plans of aggressive governments (such as a scene in X-Men First Class). Not to say it can't be part of future plots, but again, it seemed too staged.

I love that he takes the job at the Daily Planet. He explains his motivation behind it, and I don't have a problem with Lois Lane knowing his identity. It could become part of future conflict, and just like in Superman 2 and X-Men First Class (Dr. Xavier), a little light memory wipe via a kiss can cure the identity issue. After all, if you're "Superman" wouldn't you rather a woman love you as Clark Kent so you know it's real?

We can still see plot lines dealing how the world and Superman interact with each other. There can be future flashbacks dealing with how Clark came into dealing with his powers.

Sidenote: I LOVED how flashbacks were handled in Man of Steel. Now, if we can just get George Lucas to revisit how this was done, gut Episode 1 so we can get more Clone War action, it could help redefine Anakin's angst, giving us more time to see his life away from his mother, instead of him just being a spoiled brat 50% of the time, and…oh…by the way…his mother died in his arms.

Your points about how Superman and Earth relate to each other is excellent, as is your point about how we could've seen more about how Superman reacts to the realization of his powers. That can still be played out in future movies.

I agree with your takes on the devastation of those fight scenes. I wasn't bothered by them in a 9/11 sense. It just seem overdone, and the one point you had about it not being very compelling is spot on!


Good article. What I really hate is the people who say things like "It's too bad a lot of people couldn't enjoy the movie because they were such pussies when it came to the fights" or "People didn't like it because they canonize Christopher Reeve" or "People who didn't like it just don't like a different/darker take on the character". None of that is true. I love action and fights. That's why I got into comic books as a kid. But you have to do it right, which includes not overdoing it to the point of making it boring. Action is good, but too much of anything is bad.

I do love Reeve as Superman, and he did a wonderful job, but that has nothing to do with my opinion of this movie. Cavill was good enough to make it work. I also don't mind a different take on the character. What excited me about the previews was that it was a different take, and seemed to be more dramatic dealing with interesting realistic themes. What let me down was that they didn't follow through. They introduced some ideas like how the world would realistically react to someone like Superman. But, as pointed out in the article, they didn't see it through.


It's too bad a lot of people couldn't enjoy the movie because they were such pussies when it came to the fights. Meaning, superhero movies should be been preparing to gear up for wonton destruction a long time ago. 9/11 was a tragedy, sure, but damn, we can't keep quaking in our boots every time we see a building fall in a movie. The Marvel movies made everyone too soft, and the old Superman movies shouldn't be on anyone's lips anymore because they're just too campy.


General Zod's final contradiction really spoiled what could have been an adequate ending for me. His logical rant of doing anything to save the Krypton race including genocide etc painted him as patriotic and noble if still lacking all empathy. Then immediately breaking down as soon as his plan fell apart by yelling that he will kill everyone for no reason apart from petty revenge really weakened his character and the final scenes.


I am amazed at the number of people who complain the most about the destruction of Metropolis during the fight. Seriously? It's not like Superman wasn't getting his butt handed to him for the majority of the fight. It's not likely that the buildings would have been occupied anyway what with the giant spaceship destroying large parts of the city to begin with. Staying in the buildings at that point would be akin to standing in front of a large glass window and watching as the tornado comes as opposed to seeking cover.

The Lois/Superman kiss complaint is also a bit strange. He saved her life. They saved each other's life. It was more of a, "Holy crap, we almost died but we didn't and you know, you're kind of hot" kiss than a "I want to have your super babies and love you forever" kiss. It leaves room for more and, honestly, I'm ok with that now that Lois isn't a dumb groupie who thinks it's ok to be rude to anyone without a cape and who is too stupid to figure out the guy she was sucking face with is that guy because he put on a pair of glasses. The new Lois has potential to not hurt the franchise the way the old Lois did.

As to the product placement, I kind of thought it was hilarious that the guy who tormented Clark as a kid worked at IHOP as a grownup. Product placement helps pay for both tv and movies, it's not worth griping about.

Yes, Terrance Stamp was awesome and those are some mighty big shoes to fill. However, Michael Shannon does a good job and the character wasn't written so that the shoes even had to be filled.

Everything about the story in this movie changes and expands on the originals so that comparisons should not be made. Hopefully, the sequel will take this and run with it. The movie is not without flaws but it was what it was supposed to be… a good superhero summer blockbuster. It didn't have to be high art and very few movies are close to perfect.


WHY… GOD WHY should every superman movie be like Superman I and II?
I loved the modernized Man of Steel, it didnt matter to me that Supes kills Zod and i still love Christofer Reeve in the old movies. But the story didnt need a re telling, it needed a fresh reboot!
The only part i agreed with is with the music, yes they didnt use well Hans Zimmer's great score.


I've not seen it, but trying to make Superman serious and realistic in the same vein as Batman sounds like a bad idea to me. Superman is Superman. Perhaps why I never thought he was that interesting of a superhero.


i completely agree with rush of a romance between lois and superman. frankly i could have done without the kiss in this movie… it would have made something to look forward to in the next.

the next is michael shannon.. the brilliant actor that he is, they just did not write his part well. i believe there should have been more on the relationship between Zod and superman. he is one of the only surviving people of his planet and the fact that he knew Kal's father and killed him. i wish there was more

the last thing… the action was way off. i would like to see the death toll next time.. random buidings falling off and shit like that is not always necessary. Remember the final confrontation between Spider-man and Goblin, its fucking personal is what it is…. and brilliant.


"…with a complete lack of progression to the narrative."

"This man is not our enemy."
So, there. =)
There's some good points here, but most of this is overthinking it. Are people seriously still ragging on product placement? Everyone does it, that's a part of how these expensive films get paid for. Plus, you see this stuff all the time IRL, so why's it a problem for movies to have it?


The CinemaScore was A-, so "the people" liked it. The critics, I think, canonized Christopher Reeves after his death and therefore find the re-booting of the character as apostasy. Heresy. Because after Mr. Reeves death how many critics said he "will always be Superman."

Hollywood (critics included) rally around their own. The new Superman didn't do his best Chris Reeves impression ala Brandon Routhe, so he is a heretic. That's what the critical reviews are all about. Nothing more.


Mos, disappointed me, batman meet immortals=hopeman?. What a joke. only my opinion. It sucked.

The dude

Why does everyone treat this "proactive, humane Lois" like its a new thing? It's not.


Marvel is destroying DC. As a kid growing up I loved all of the DC characters more than Marvel. But when it comes to movies Marvel has got them beat. Green Latern was terrible and Superman has logic errors every two mintues, I wanted to throw my shoe at the screen it was hilarious while trying to be serious, it was overdrawn and at times felt rushed. The entire opening scene on Krypton looked great but made me question the intelligence of a suposedly more advance society.

1. "We invented space ships a long time ago but we refuse to use one to escape this planet about to explode because we have no time to evacute but there's still time for war??" – Face Palm!

2. Your telling me that a race that expanded to several planets (Which I'm assuming have cores) used it's own core for power? – Who the hell is running this planet JAR JAR BINKS??

3. There is no time to evacuate! except for insane criminals who they punish by sending them AWAY fom a planet about to explode on a bloody unguarded SPACESHIP!! – yes that will teach them.

4. "Wow! those prisoners escaped from the unguarded prison and found superman, what a suprise!!" – Said absolutely no one.

5. Superman's mom just had a baby and doesn't try to go with him to earth!!!??? She stands there and let's herself die because jorel was right it's the end??? – Mother of the year.

6. How about superman not wanting to out himself just to save his father, right after a scene that has him saying that he isn't his real father making superman look like a douche! nevermind the fact that several people already have seen him rescue people many times including all the kids on the damn bus, but he can't save his father??? what?- Superman is a douche.

7. Superman wants to save mankind but not without killing a few million people first. -WTF?

8. Let's blowup New York again! Ooops I mean Metropolis which strangely resides on a peninsula and looks exactly like New York.

9. Superman snaps zods neck! he has the strength to snap his neck but not the strength to push him away from the people. – Cool scene but I now view Superman differently.

Aside from the errors and the glaring WTF? moments Superman was very entertaining to me and my friends were laughing the whole way through it, I would give it a 6.5 to 7 out of 10.


I agree with most of this however with your "so-so" with the character of Jor-El..
Russel Crowe brought a dynamic to the character that was missing and more interesting than even on the show Smallville or in the previous versions were very stiff.. If anything they should give Russell Crowe best supporting actor because without Jor-El nothing in the film would've made sense..Also Jor-El's key was what had his soul or essence and knowledge downloaded into which worked on Zod's ship as well as all the others because Jor-El was also responsible for the building of those ships and a major part of Krypton's exploration of other planets..


Thank you for this review. It was everything that I had ever wanted to say and more, after watching the movie. I'm a Batman fan, and also a Nolan fan; which is why I decided to watch this despite never bothering with Superman before. I remember thinking, during the flashback and fight scenes, that the only real thing I can appreciate here is the musical score, firstly, and you guys are right about it not being used properly. Second, I like the premise, the retelling of the mythology, even the philosophy of the characters—but I feel like we have only seen glimpses. I would've loved to see more of that instead of the punchfest in the third act which was one of the most boring and longest minutes ever.

Mickey Paraskevas

I was excited to see this but the best and only thing that worked in this film was Kevin Costner and his relationship to his son. The rest of it was a total bore. If Nolan had anything to do with this I'd be surprised.

As for Zack Snyder. After watching Suckerpunch I can only think the studio handed this classic idea to a terrible director. I should have skipped it. Let's hope that someday, someone does this idea justice. All these movies will end up on the heap of unwatchable films years from now… I can only hope.


Paul Willis

Initially, I was completely celestialized by the idea of a Christopher-Nolan-involved Superman movie. His work with Batman (especially "The Dark Knight", obviously) was nothing short of inspiring–especially to myself as a future writer/actor/director type.
I am now hiding in the shadows of self-doubt about the film industry. Those who know movies know that Zack Snyder is in fact a powerhouse director. As much as everyone thought it was gimmicky, his fluid-form-alternating-frame-rate action sequences in "300" were simply iconic. No one will ever link that trope more accurately to another director besides him (even though he did not invent the idea). Because of the body of work he comes with into "Man of Steel", his involvement with Christopher Nolan, and the intense cast of actors he was provided, I was prepared to quietly melt into my chair from a mixture of awe and childlike excitement. What I was met with was mostly disappointment.
I agree with this article on almost all points. Michael Shannon was saddled with a role unfitting of his wealth of talent. The man can act, and Zod is–like the Joker–a character with such a unique story arc and motivation that he should be a positively redefining turn for any performer with the agency connections to land the part. Unfortunately, that is not how Zack directed him. Zod had some cool moments, and true to modern form, plenty of quiet, threatening lines recorded on a boom mic with the bass notes turned up to 3000% (I doubt viewing audiences will ever tire of baddies having gravelly, terrifying low voices). Zod also had the best line in the whole movie: something epic about "harvesting the codex" and "building Krypton on Superman's bones".
I could go on and on, but let's just leave it at this: next time, make the filmography less Marvel-y, and more grand, simply forgo any and all attempts to make a fight scene happen through the medium of CG, and please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, let the actors do their work.

yetneberk tefera

I like it your film


Couldn't agree more about the dialogue…it was cringe-worthy. It completely disengaged me from the movie..basically a buzz kill. Besides the lines mentioned in the article, another horrible line was LOIS: "What can I say?..I get writer's block when I'm not wearing a flak jacket." Ugh. Even some of Costner's lines, whcih sounded great as bites in the trailer, seemed forced and out of place in the actual film. I hope Nolan once again relegates Voyer to story man only with no hand in the screenplay.


Totally dissapointed by this. Could have been great but instead was obnoxious CGI garbage. I guess this is the future of the DC universe now. Oh well…


So sick of people complaining about the action. It was amazing to finally see Superman unleash his power in live-action. People act like there was never a disaster movie before 9/11.

And no, I'm not some mindless action fan who watches Fast & the Furious. Haven't seen a single one of them.


I expected to thoroughly enjoy this movie, because I like the genre , and Superman in particular… but I not only didn't like this movie – it was the first movie I remember wanting to leave in the middle, in a very long time. I thought the opening on Krypton was alright, and kind of interesting, although not great. I thought the acting was okay, but not great. I might have liked the music if it hadn't so continuously been going for BIG and EPIC moment type music throughout. That bothered me. It was just too constantly on high intensity mode, and had almost no other notes it seemed. But what really ruined it for me was that almost the whole film was a fight scene, and a constant level of very over the top action. That and the ridiculous amount of collateral damage that Superman caused. That's a very un-Superman thing to do. And how he kept acting out of passion and anger sort of. I much much preferred the old Superman who has such a strong moral compass and self control and dignity – a really mature and good person. I found myself trying to distract myself from the movie while I sat there. Consider what Christopher Reeve had to say about Superman: "What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. From an acting point of view, that's how I approached the part." Well, in this movie there seemed to be almost all muscle and smashing, and SO little humanity, or wisdom, or depth, or relatable content. To me superman is the supposed to be a much more human story. In this movie they went for BIG and flashy and very alien, and very grandiose. But they skipped out on dialogue that you can connect to and identify with as a person. They skipped out on the morality tale, except in very scarce moments. I just want to re-watch the original with Christopher Reeve to wash myself of this new Man of Steel film, and reconnect with what is wonderful about the Superman story.


I liked the solid script, the solid performances, the well motivated villan, but barely made it through without a fucking Gravol and a fist full of aspirin!! What the fuck is with lazy directors and shaky camera work??!! I didn't think Hunger Games could be topped until this film arrived.
I left the theater literally with a headache trying to get a solid frame to see. I liked the film a lot, but won't buy the Disc as it will not be any less watchable on home video.

Too bad too, I enjoyed the story more than I expected to!

Rosario Bennett

I watched this in IMAX and the special effects were totally insane, Russell Crowe was awesome he reminded me so much of his Gladiator days during his fight scenes. We see a different dimension of superman backed by some incredible actors. The world is facing an annihilation level event and you expect a young superman to save everybody and nobody to get killed.
Did you also mention Kevin Nash or Batista. You had to be joking there right.
I'm going to sum up what's the problem with this review and most of the comments.
You know nothing of Comic books if you did you would appreciate this movie for what it is, read up on some of the superman series and see how superman has changed. Some of you are still stuck in the seventies and superman has moved on.

Dumb article and Dumb comments (Mostly)
Quite bitching and go watch Captain America


I agree with most of the objective review here. One massive bug-bear for me was the presence of 4 or 5 stupidly corny, comic book movie lines of dialogue such as lois' "they say it's all down hill after the first kiss". Considering the whole thematic concept was re-working into the real world, the whole tone was disrupted by these. Another was Dr. Hamilton's "realisation" of what the world engine was doing, which echoed many such (albeit brilliant, but not so serious) films such as Independence Day.

I thought the same that MOS was pretty close to being a truly incredible film. I did think that the twinkly synths were put to excellent use in the flashback scenes, indeed it was these with the very matt palette which were my favourite parts. They were extremely real and touching and almost drew tears.

It was a shame really that so many parts of it were so brilliant. It almost felt like they didn't watch the whole film back themselves. If they had, maybe they would've corrected some of the flaws.


Thank you Playlist staff for the objective thorough review of Man of Steel. This is not the worst movie ever made I always thought Plan 9 From Outer Space was the worst movie. Yes the film has flaws but all films have flaws but if you like the movie's premise then the flaws get set aside. That goes for Oscar bait movies as well. MoS is a successful big studio film, Snyder made some mistakes,but the good stuff is the cast, actors with presence and experience.Crowe as Jor-el was a very good choice and Shannon and Adams and Costner and Lane…everyone. The dialogue is fine for a Super hero film, would you expect Sorkin type dialogue in a comic book hero film?Now that would be an anomaly.The movie has a good feel about it and that should last over time. Once again thank you Playlist.

Gareth Hughes

I personally think this is the best superhero film I have ever seen. It wasn't corny like I thought it would be. It was non stop awesome action. Also my partner loved it (the dragon) and if the brood loved it then its a good film because she likes very little haha.
Really though it was a brilliant film I would rate it 5/5


I thought that the movie could have been done without Lois Lane. In a city as massive as Metropolis, it just so happens that Lois is there after Zod is killed. I am not saying that they should not have had her in the movie, but she could have been more of a secondary figure who did not know who Sups was. They tried to incorporate her too much in the Sups stuff, it was annoying. The ending would have made better sense this way.


No one is bothered that Superman killed Zod? Or that he participated in destruction of property that had to have killed millions of innocents? Superman doesn't kill, and ALWAYS finds a way to prevent endangering innocent lives. That makes him super!


There's no question that it's not the best film of all time, so let's just focus on whether it's the worst.


The byline for this piece is "The Playlist Staff." Is there not a single copy editor or at least one person who made it through grammar school on the staff?

Kevin Seo

When will we get past the whole "9/11 imagery" thing? Of course it's a sensitive topic, but buildings being blown up in a metropolis isn't anything new in films. Go watch an old Godzilla movie. Also as far as characters being covered in ash, well, that's what happens when these buildings collapse. I really doubt the filmmakers were trying to exploit our emotions by reminding us of 9/11.


Sounds like Old Zack Snyder. Too bad.


The best thing about Man of Steel is Henry, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Lawrence Fishburne & Kevin Costner. THAT'S IT.

This film was a HUGE disappointment. It was a hot mess. It was more important to destroy as much stuff as possible than to concentrate on the story. This is what the 1978 version did. It was more about the CHARACTERS and not so much "How many special effects can I jam into a summer film?"

Developing Superman's background was totally disjointed. The editing was horrible. The most Out Of Place Character was Amy Adams. Who was she playing? She was no Margot Kidder who lit up the screen every time she was on it.

The Score was not memorable. I don't remember a note. There was no theme. And…

OMG where do I begin regarding Zod…now that was embarrassing. How can you even compare this Zod with the iconic version Terrance Stamp portrayed? NOT EVEN CLOSE. He wasn't scary. He wasn't creepy. He wasn't even a sexy villain. He was forgettable.

I have no idea how anyone could "love" or even "really like" this film. The "Alien-esk" ripoff of ships and decor was HORRENDOUS! They had the opportunity to set up a different world – a whole new world and all they could do was copy ALIEN?!

There's nothing more to be said. Indiewire, you just wasted a whole lot of type. I said it for you in less words. No further explanations are needed. THE FILM WAS BAD! Period.

Fire the director, the writers and find Donner and let him show you how to do it.


you contradict yourself alot especially with michael shannon criticism

you say he had a deep rooted motivation and it makes him more than a regular villain and you can see where he comes from then say he is 1 dimensional



The movie was lacking any sort of real estate scheme by Lex Luthor and is therefore terrible.

Alan B

The typically mindless Toro hate is ALL OVER this piece. I am guessing he wrote "The evoking of 9/11 in these scenes is therefore shallow and hollow, the tragedy being abused for this superhero film, but never seeming at all earned" because he is OBSESSED with being offended. Elsewhere, he was FUMING that 'Star Trek Into Darkness' was dedicated to 'The Mission Continues', an organization that helps veterans purpose after their war experiences. Bad Robot gave the organization the profits from an ancillary Star Trek product and organized with Paramount to help the charity's marketing department. However, Toro was FUMINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG, which is the appropriate response when you don't understand (or frankly give a shit) about the issues involved. To 'critics' like Toro, 9/11 is simply a cultural touchstone that needs to be utilized and exploited in order for him to be offended. if you don't know how to express your distaste for a film, it's easier to simply (and stupidly) be OFFENDED by it. You know what? I'll just allow Stephen Fry to explain why stupidly, blindly being offended by something is a problematic critical position: "It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more… than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what." So fucking what, indeed …


It always amuses me the positive spin they try to give these "too big to fail" movies: the 3-star reviews, the 69% ratings. Anymore, it's the POSITIVE reviews that tell me if something is a piece of trash or not.


Great piece, really able to pick out what worked and what didn't in a film so uneven it was hard to really sum it up. The one point that wasn't really touched on that was kind of a deal breaker for me was the awful pacing. After the prologue, we jump right into Superman as an adult, with zero context or sense of character. The childhood flashbacks, meant to provide context as almost an afterthought, made the film feel incredibly disjointed and relied too much on what audiences already know about Superman. What could have been an incredibly engaging and interesting first act was chopped up into a handful of hammy flashbacks that broke any narrative tension and spoiled any real chance of character development. By the time the ball got rolling and we were supposed to invest in the conflicts and struggles of the characters, there was no context, no sense of place or character to invest in. The film had some great ideas and certainly had me thinking about Superman in a way I never had, but in technical terms, it was a poorly made film, and in the end, that's unredeemable.


what bothered me most was how stupid everyone is…how can they not know who he is…the cop drives lois right up to superman's/ma kent's doorstep…lois lane can't possibly be the only person to put the pieces together and interview IHOP manager pete…a huge amount of destruction happened in Smallville, no one asks why the aliens went there?…hell at the end Superman himself says he's from Kansas….or just follow who lois hangs out with and you'll find your man….and the glasses as a disguise? dumb.


Critics hated this movies because snyder directed it, including The Playlisters…you guys have forgotten one thing….Movies are for entertainment….Man of Steel entertained eveyone….what you guys are talking about is that you wanted a love stroy movie like Bollywood with a superhero….Grow up and enjoy the visual treat…


Great piece. I fully agree.


End of the first paragraph, before any details are written about, "Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the film, but really, you should probably see it before you read this piece."


This d*ckhead should have said in the beginning that there are spoilers.

Good on ya mate. You just ruined it for the rest of Australia!


no mention of the overuse of the S logo in the prologue? felt like it was plastered on every available surface on Krypton.


Nolan's attempt to bring 'realism' to the superhero genre is ridiculous, contradictory and lastly ineffective although if you try to mention this (like Cronenberg) did you get crucified.


I agree with most of the points made in the article. But I have to say that I wasn't impressed by the supposedly "fresh" take on the character. Maybe for Superman, the idea of turning him into a brooding loner who was bullied as a child is different, but it's a trope that can be applied to so many other (male) superheroes. I think it would have been more interesting if they went a "Thor"-type route, where he's powerful, competent, athletic and all those traits usually attributed to the "ideal" American man but also arrogant and entitled. Overall, I found all of the characters bland and forgettable.


I so much agree with "No Payoff For What The World Will Make Of Superman" as one of the worst part.

Matt Goldberg

Out of curiosity, why does "moody kid" equal a "modern, relatable emotional context"? Why do "mistrust and fear" feel very real over trust and courage? It's important to have the former, but the film only slightly delivers on the latter.

Basically, I have trouble with the notion that moodiness means something is emotional and relatable, and that grittiness is inherently more dramatic than the "hope" Superman is meant to embody. And that's not just an old-fashioned way at looking at it. The film fails to meet the ideals it lays out. But we should really just ditch the notion that because something is darker, it is therefore more worthwhile.


sounds pretty terrible to me.

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