Man of Steel Turns 11: Why Henry Cavill’s Superman is Still the Best Origin Movie That Will Be Hard to Surpass

Zack Snyder's bold attempt not only made for a brilliant DC origin story but also served as inspiration to projects that followed it.

henry cavill as superman

SUMMARY

  • Zack Snyder took some bold creative decisions to make Man of Steel stand apart from other movies in the superhero genre.
  • Man of Steel was unlike any other Superman films came before it and was an origin story of a grounded powerful hero.
  • The film served as an inspiration for several of the superhero projects that followed it.
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Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was released worldwide on June 14, eleven years ago. The Henry Cavill-starring film didn’t impress everyone and some hardcore DC fans were disappointed to see the dark-toned film. In fact, Snyder had no intention of satisfying all fans. From the get-go, Man of Steel proved that it wasn’t trying to play it safe in the superhero genre like the MCU films.

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Henry Cavill as Superman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel | Warner Bros
Henry Cavill as Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel | Warner Bros

Snyder aimed to bring something revolutionary not just to the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but also to the DC brand and the genre as a whole. Critics were divided over the Rebel Moon director’s bold attempt, with some even questioning Cavill’s performance in the role. However, the portrayal went on to become as iconic as Christopher Reeve’s 1978 Superman.

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel Is Not Your Usual Superman (or Superhero) Movie!

Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill behind the scenes of Man of Steel
Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill behind the scenes of Man of Steel | Warner Bros

The DC brand always made movies that had a more serious tone than its Marvel counterparts. Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight movies were a great example of the tone set by the brand. However, there were some darker comic book tones that even the Oscar-winning director refused to adapt in his movies. Zack Snyder set Man of Steel apart in this aspect.

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As soon as fans saw the color tone and visually appealing action sequences in this Superman reboot, they were sure that it wasn’t anything like the Richard Donner films. Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent was not just a goody-two-shoes powerful man living among the ordinary Earthlings. Snyder made sure that Clark was a grounded character in his movie and he too had his share of moral dilemmas and internal struggles.

The film begins on Krypton, which immediately gives off this sci-fi movie vibe. Unlike Donner’s Superman where Krypton is a planet made of white ice crystals, Russell Crowe’s Jor-El lives in a world marked by bio-organic structures and vehicles. It was Snyder’s way of portraying the planet as truly alien as he could.

During the promotion for Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver in April 2024, Snyder defended the creative decision to make Jonathan Kent a pessimistic father (via GQ). While many were furious over Kevin Costner‘s death scene, Snyder shared that it played into how Clark becomes finally ready and assumes the role of mankind’s protector as Superman.

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Sure, the decision may have its flaws but even haters couldn’t deny that it was a ballsy move from Snyder. With these small creative decisions, Man of Steel managed to challenge not just the actors and their characters but also the viewers.

Man of Steel Has Influenced The Superhero Genre Greatly

Henry Cavill showed Superman's complexity and charm of Superman with great conviction in Man of Steel | Warner Bros
Henry Cavill as Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel | Warner Bros

Man of Steel was developed with the help of Christopher Nolan’s story. The Interstellar director is a fan of the film made by Snyder, sharing that the film “will define Superman for our time”. In another statement to The Atlantic, the Oppenheimer director shared that every other superhero film coming out these days saw some influence of Snyder’s films.

You just don’t need to take it from Nolan alone, who’s close to the film. Marvel director Chloé Zhao revealed that she used Snyder’s Superman as an inspiration for her character Ikaris in Eternals. She explained to jeuxactu.com:

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Of all modern interpretations of Superman, this is Zack Snyder’s with Man Of Steel which inspired me the most because he approached this myth in an authentic and very real way.

Even Beau DeMayo’s latest hit series, X-Men ’97, took inspiration from the film. Out of the several scene inspirations that fans found out in the series, DeMayo confirmed at least one scene that was influenced by Man of Steel via his X account.

Henry Cavill Will Always Keep His Man of Steel Role Close To Heart

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel | Warner Bros
Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel | Warner Bros

Henry Cavill‘s performance may not have been satisfying for some fans and critics, but he made a name for himself in the role. It was his second attempt at a Superman audition and he immediately became Snyder’s No. 1 choice. He earlier auditioned for the canceled project, Superman: Flyby. Despite being fired from the role in 2022, Cavill still holds Superman close to his heart.

During his appearance on Lorraine, Cavill shared his gratitude for the wonderful opportunity of playing Superman. Cavill shared that even if he were to retire the next day, he would be content knowing he wore the cape and brought joy to many people. Cavill spoke highly of his Man of Steel role on Lorraine:

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You look back and you just think, what a wonderful opportunity. And even if I were to stop acting tomorrow and go live on a yacht or boat somewhere, a sailing boat, and just travel the Med… I can still look back and say I’ve worn a cape and leaped about the place and entertained some people.

Man of Steel went on to gross $668 million at the global box office (via Box Office Mojo). On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 56% rotten Tomatometer score from 343 reviews, but the audience score is an admirable 75%.

Man of Steel is now available for streaming on Max.

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Written by Hashim Asraff

Articles Published: 1456

Hashim, Entertainment Writer. With over 1000 published articles on FandomWire, he covers a wide range of topics from celebrity life to comic book movies. He holds a Masters degree in Sociology and his expertise proves invaluable in handling sensitive news. His passion for crime investigation thrillers has turned him into a detective, exploring the darkest corners of the internet during his research.