When it was originally announced that Zack Snyder would be helming the reboot of the Superman franchise I was pretty optimistic. Sure, he had a stumble with the style over substance Sucker Punch, derived from an original idea by him and his wife Deborah, but he had a solid comic track record. His adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300 was an astounding page to screen translation which, for me, pale substantially over time but that’s my damage really and his Watchman film is an incredible achievement given the vastness of the source material. So, things were looking up when he was put in charge with a new representation of the big blue boy scout.
Five years ago this week Man Of Steel hit theaters and, excited about the relaunch of a new DC Cinematic Universe, I had my tickets for opening night in my hot little hand. What I received was definitely not the Superman story I knew but instead, I got one from storytellers who seemed to have fundamental issues with most things that made Superman iconic. Gone were the bright colors, replaced by a muted tone filter. The beginning was epic, a real look at how Krypton fell but within that, we had Russell Crowe’s Jor-El flying some sort of random Pokemon character and then an hour into the film we would see him as an artificial intelligence program with incredibly unbelievable cognizance.
It’s almost like Snyder and writer David Goyer hated the origin lore of the character. Kevin Costner is well cast as Clark’s adoptive father Jonathan Kent but lacks any of the warmth we associate with him. Instead, he’s dark, moody and incapable of giving our hero the optimism in humanity. Amy Adams, on the other hand, is totally miscast, starting as a tough reporter with a knack for accentuating product placement but as soon as she sees Superman she is relegated to a wide-eyed giggling fanatic. There are so many character miscues that punctual this largely grim film that has weird pieces of extremely forced levity. This was the beginning of the feeling that there was a lot of creative turmoil in this DC Universe launch.
I close out my look at Man Of Steel with what worked for me and largely it is the castings of our hero and villain respectively, Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon. Cavill has all the look and ability to pull off both the Clark Kent role and Superman. I’m not afraid to say that the man is gorgeous which makes the injustice of the moustache removal that much more monstrous. In the case of Shannon’s portrayal of General Zod, the chameleon-like character actor manages to infuse him with a relatable motive of preservation of his people. His methods are what villainize him and eventually cause the 9/11 parallel that is the third act of Man Of Steel. Sorry, just wanted one last jab at this one on the way out.