As the first film in DC’s Extended Universe, Zack Snyder kicked everything off with the incredible film Man of Steel in 2013. However, as DC attempts to match the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many of the films released have been either hits or misses. Just as this film, it has been met with a great divide with audiences criticizing it and fans applauding it. Over time it has gained a bit more of a following, but still continues to polarize people on its worth as a Superman film or failure. Which comes to the purpose at hand, as we break down ten reasons why Man of Steel is better than you remember.
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In classic Zack Snyder style, when it comes to his graphic novel adaptations such as Watchmen or 300, the man is a master at creating some of the most breathtaking scenes that make going to the movies worthwhile. Some of the most incredible scenes from this film come from the mesmerizing shots of Kal-El taking his flight. Stumbling at first, but then kneeling down, the ground beginning to rumble, then shooting off into the sky, offering audiences an epic first look at our hero soaring through the skies. However, what comes across as one of the most memorable shots arrives at the conclusion of the film. As we see a flashback of Johnathan and Martha watching their son play in the grass. Trying to put a red blanket on his shoulders, until finally places both fists on his hips and giving us that classic Superman pose. Reminding us of moments when we were children and we did the exact same thing, believing that we could be more than what we were. Proving that at one time or another, we believed in something greater to strive towards.
The Fight Scenes
Something Man of Steel provided for us in a Superman film, are action sequences that the character has always deserved. While we did get hand-to-hand in previous live-action films as seen in Superman II or Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, never has there been such a representation of carnage in a Superman battle than in Man of Steel. The battle taking place in Smallville between Superman, Faora and another Kryptonian alone is a perfect demonstration of the choreography displayed in the film. As the alien beings smash, throw and blow up the environment around them. Considering these are god-like beings, the amount of destruction and carnage is realistically displayed for what these people are capable of.
Setting up The DCEU
Just as with the comic books, the difference between Marvel and DC is apparent with their films. In this case, the approach of Man of Steel is taken differently than other comic book films such as Jon Faverau’s Iron Man. As DC continues the trend of darker and grittier storytelling into their film, with this film being a perfect representation of that. As this film is the ground work for future DC films, when the world is introduced to an alien species, leading to many other similar beings arise. As seen in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice with the arrival of Superman also comes the arrival of others attempting to harness such power. With Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller makes the decision to create a group that could battle against other threats similar to Superman. However, the darker themes of DC’s Universe continues throughout the rest of the films with the exception of adapting to specific characters such as Shazam or Wonder Woman 1984.
Of course, Christopher Reeve will always go down as the iconic man that made us believe he could fly. Cavill steps onto the screen as a worthy successor, having the perfect look of Superman that we are used to seeing from the comic books. There is a type of warmth and peace to Cavill’s performance. From the soft humble voice to the captivating eyes that comes off as calm and welcoming, which isn’t something you would have thought about from the character. But what makes the look work for Cavill as Superman, is he makes you believe he doesn’t mean any harm. Despite being an alien, he comes off as someone you can trust and will proctect you. That is what makes Cavill’s performance soar beyond Brandon Routh (Superman Returns), Tom Welling (Smallville) or Tyler Hoechlin (Superman & Lois).
Other than Cavill’s captivating performance, the film is also met with many Academy Award nominees and two winners. Oscar winner Russell Crow plays as Jor-El, the father of Superman from Krypton as he assists guiding Kal-El into the hero he is destined to become. Second winner Kevin Costner comes as Clarks earth father Johnathan Kent, helping Clark find his place in the world. Nominees include Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet chief editor Perry White, Diane Lane as Clarks Earth mother Martha Kent. Six time Oscar Nominee Amy Adams makes the role of Lois Lane into her own as the love interest of Superman. Michael Shannon is a two time nominee who plays as the tactful leader General Zod, giving a performance so compelling and powerful, you cannot help but understand the character and fear his power.
The Easter Eggs
Full of Easter Eggs, elevating the film into more than just a Superman movie but a DC movie. As the larger Easter eggs set up the future of the DCEU, there are still some here and there that establish Man of Steel as part of a larger universe. From the brief appearances of LexCorp trucks, setting up the follow up film with Lex Luthor’s role. To the purpose of a Wayne Enterprise satellite being destroyed during the battle between Zod and Superman. Smaller easter eggs are shown in brief moments including a smiley face button seen tagged on a building, paying homage to Snyder’s previous work on Watchmen. Then a giant electric sign saying “Blaze Comics” that is a reference to the DC Character Booster Gold. However, one of the funniest and fan favorite easter eggs is with the sign found in a building with a Batman logo and says “Keep Calm and Call Batman” which we know, is a interesting call to make for the follow up film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Each easter egg is what makes the film so exciting to see homage being paid to the rest of the DC Universe.
Portrayal of Superman
Rather than just coming from any other alien planet, Kal-El is the first natural birth in centuries. Straying away from the normality of Krypton into something different than intended. Snyder also reminds us just how important the character of Superman is too us, as more than a hero, but a beacon of hope. Just as we remember this heroic icon as from the comic books he originated, we are often use to seeing the character as the good ol’ American hero with an eagle on one arm and an American flag in the other. However, we are met with a realistic perspective of Superman as the alien from another planet and the real look at such an important character.
Portrayal of Clark Kent
While the premise is simply just another Superman origin story, it’s the way Snyder edits the film by combining scenes of Clark Kent as a child learning how to control his abilities and as an adult trying to figure out his place in the world. The story shows Clark interacting with dangerous incidents, and the moral choice of using his abilities for the greater good or maintaining the secrecy of his powers. While normally we are use to seeing our hero be heroic, the choice to give him an internal dilemma makes him not only a realistic but human, just like us as we struggle between what is right and what is necessary. Representing that despite his alien birthright, he is still just as human as us.
Iconic composer Hans Zimmer works together with Snyder to create an epic score for the film, with the assistance of Junkie XL. Together they craft a unique and powerful score that isn’t only a representation of the film but of the character. With big loud sounds coming from the drums featured in the song This is Madness! to the amazing strings demonstrated in Flight. Even for this who are not fans of the film, cannot deny the incredible sounds created from this score. As Zimmer managed to craft a new unique sound, without copying anything of John Williams original score from the 1978 Superman film. While that theme became iconic for its time, the theme Zimmer created for Man of Steel fits into the realm of the film and the purpose of the character.
While Richard Donner managed to give us our first look at Krypton through his 1978 film, Zack Snyder introduced us to a new take of Kal-Els home world. With a futuristic yet rustic look at the alien planet. As we watch it’s inevitable demise, we are still given a in depth look at Kryptons philosophical beliefs, powerful weaponry and beautiful landscapes. The entire sequence is mesmerizing as we are introduced to Russell Crow as Jor-El as he makes a desperate attempt to save the last piece of their home. While Michael Shannon makes an explosive entrance as General Zod, a man who believes in preserving Kryptons bloodlines who he deems worthy. Snyder’s vision of Krypton provides a new and innovative design, establishing the foreign landscape of Superman’s home world.