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
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
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.
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.
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,