Daniel Kendi ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
This weekend marks the release of Man of Steel, the highly anticipated Superman reboot. The origin story, directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill, is a new take on the Superman mythology that lays the path for future DC Comics films. Man of Steel is an amazing take on the Superman origin and is the film that fans have been waiting for.
The film tells Superman’s story starting with his birth on Krypton as Kal-El. The opening of the film is a large and powerful sequence following Jor-El (Russell Crowe) during Krypton’s destruction. Krypton in this film is a fully developed world that is highly detailed and thought out. The filmmakers even went as far as creating a Kryptonian alphabet for the film. In addition, each person on the planet is wearing a Kryptonian symbol on their chest that is representative of their family. Jor-El’s story on Krypton is well written and a great opening to the film.
The film then jumps forward many years to show us a grown up Kal-El, now known as Clark Kent. Clark is traveling the country to find his purpose in the world. As he travels, we see him use his superpowers to help people in danger. Clark has flashbacks of his upbringing by adoptive parents Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), and how they taught him to control his powers. When Clark finds a Kryptonian ship and speaks with a hologram of his father, he encounters Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and saves her life. Lois becomes fascinated with her mysterious savior and searches the country to find him again. Meanwhile, General Zod (Michael Shannon), a banished military general from Krypton, finds out that Kal-El is on Earth and gives him an ultimatum: “Surrender within twenty-four hours or watch this world suffer the consequences.”
Director Zack Snyder is known for his action and from the second the film starts, this is very evident. Man of Steel is filled with huge spectacle and amazing action sequences featuring Henry Cavill as Superman. Unlike other Superman films though, Man of Steel really shows off the character’s speed. A sequence of Superman fighting Zod could take place on Earth and within seconds suddenly make its way up to space. This speed is especially seen well during Superman’s early flight sequences. Despite all of this speed and action, nothing is too jarring or too fast. The action fits well and shows off how truly superhuman the character is.
The film’s story is written by David Goyer and Christopher Nolan, who are well known for their largely successful Dark Knight Trilogy. Like their Batman films, Man of Steel is a darker and more grounded take on an iconic superhero. This Superman is very different from past film versions and even the comic book version. While the film takes some liberties and changes up big parts of the Superman mythology, it all works with this interpretation of the character. By the time the credits roll, all the components of a Superman film are there, and more.
Fans will always compare Superman actors to Christopher Reeve, but Henry Cavill adds something new and exciting to the character. He plays an amazing Superman that echoes past portrayals while adding his own take on the character. While no Superman actor will ever live up to Christopher Reeve, Cavill does a great job that will define the character for the current generation. Cooper Timberline and Dylan Sprayberry were also amazing as nine-year-old and thirteen year-old Clark Kent. They both were especially believable during emotional scenes. Michael Shannon gives an intense and menacing performance as General Zod. Shannon portrays the character much differently than Terence Stamp in Superman II, but this version is a perfect foil to Cavill’s Superman and fits perfectly into the film. Antje Traue is Faora, Zod’s second in command, and is at times even more intimidating than Zod himself. Amy Adams brings her Oscar-winning talent to Lois Lane and has some great chemistry with Cavill. While her romance with Superman isn’t as memorable as it was in past films, it does fit well in the film and can be explored more in the inevitable sequels. Ayelet Zurer and Diane Lane play Clark’s mother Lara Lor-Van and his adoptive mother Martha Kent, respectively. They both serve as great role models for Clark and round out the cast really well.
The real stars of this film though, are Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. Throughout the film, Clark’s father figures give him advice and “an ideal to strive for.” They help him become the hero he will one day be. One of the biggest themes in this film is the idea that Superman is an alien. What will the world think of him when they find out what he can do? How will he adjust to humanity? Through brilliant emotional scenes with both father figures, these questions are explored as Clark learns his destiny.
The film’s score is composed by Hans Zimmer who also scored the Dark Knight Trilogy. Zimmer’s soundtrack fits perfectly with the film and helps it rise to new heights. Clark’s theme, which plays during scenes with his fathers, fits especially well and is truly memorable. The main Superman theme, “What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World?” isn’t as memorable as John Williams’ legendary tune, but is still an amazing piece of music that will represent Superman for a new generation.
Man of Steel is a perfect Superman reboot that will usher in a new era of DC Universe films. Zack Snyder and his team have modernized the character for a new generation of superhero fans and have laid the path for future DC heroes- and possibly a Justice League film. The movie is action packed, emotional, and really a great piece of cinema. DC and Warner Bros. have amazed us with their Dark Knight Trilogy, and now Man of Steel. I can’t wait to see what they do next!