Zack Snyder and the executives at DC had a complicated challenge with this movie: reboot the Superman franchise, which hasn’t had a successful movie since the eighties (even if the character still lived through TV shows like Lois & Clark and Smallville) and make a good start for a new trilogy, and perhaps a Justice League film. Up to now, DC’s only success in the last few years were the Batman movies, while Marvel made billions with superhero movies. If Man of Steel has been successful in its purposes or not is debatable, like many things in this movie.
We’re shown a different Superman in this movie, not the happy Clark Kent who works at the daily planet and is an all-around good guy. What we’re shown is a kind-of homeless person who can’t find his place and travels the world without a known destination, haunted by memories of the past, of not fitting in and troubled by his unknown origin. Then there’s big bad wolf Zod who wants to restore Krypton on earth, which is apparently a very bad thing (which is a bit confusing at first, since that is what Jor-El wanted to do sending Clark with the Codex to earth, right?). But Zod is a charismatic character and he and his minions seemed to be much more motivated than the rest of the people in this movie. If you ask me, Zod was much more charismatic than Henry Cavill’s Superman.
It feels like a Snyder has tried to make something resembling Nolan’s Batman movies (Christopher Nolan is indeed credited as a producer) but with a very different character. Superman is supposed to represent hope, be the light to Batman’s darkness. A hero of the day, not a dark knight. And truly, in this movie, even if his sigil means hope, this man brings more destruction and darkness than any superhero. The whole town of Smallville and Metropolis are basically reduced to ruins, and freaking Jonathan Kent almost advises Clark to leave a bunch of kids drown. The embodiment of a good American farmer. A bunch of kids drowning: What?
And the only reason the bad guys are here and destroy everything (if you don’t believe me look at this) was because Clark is here. What kind of superhero is that? What kind of hope can provide a man who has no job, no friends and brings destruction and death with him? Because he kills, too. While other superheroes find traps or ways to not kill the villain (Dr. Octopus drowning in the river, Magneto being imprisoned in the plastic cell, Loki falling from the Bifrost…) our beacon of hope snaps the neck of Zod. To save some people, yes, but was it really necessary to end like that?
All in all, it can be considered a good action movie and it certainly seems to be doing well in the box office (not as well as Batman, but still). It is different to other movies of the genre with so many alien elements, but it feels a bit too dark and long for a Superman movie. The two and half hours don’t fly quickly like they did in other efforts of Nolan’s, like Inception, they stretch out. Not to mention the plot holes which I won’t get into (but you might want to read a hilarious post published on i09 about them) or how forced the Lois Lane/Clark Kent couple seems to be.
Was it good? Well, it wasn’t bad; it had some good moments and a different take from the one we’re used to in Superman movies. Was it very good? No. It made me miss the tired jokes of Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. (Really, they couldn’t fit a couple of funny jokes in two and a half hours?)
It was worth the euros because it was entertaining, but doesn’t feel like the start of a new franchise. More like a standalone movie of an adopted man trying to fit in in a world that is not his.