I have never much cared for Superman. He's always been a rather boring superhero to me. He's good, he's patriotic, and he has the personality of a potato. That is Superman. The closest I ever came to liking him was when I watched the 1990s Superman cartoon, but the enjoyment of that series came less from the man in blue tights and more from the sarcastic Lois Lane and the variety of the villains.
I wasn't sure if I expected to like Man of Steel. On the one hand, the movie stars Henry Cavill, who currently ranks somewhere at the top of my list of men I'd like to pose for some life drawing. On the other hand, Cavill wears this unfortunate outfit in his turn as the red-caped crusader, which bodes ill for the film.
But I did like it. I like this version of Superman, who is a little less earnest and squeaky clean Boy Scout than his previous incarnations. Instead, this is a Clark who doesn't seem ready to become a symbol for humanity. Instead of bursting onto the scene as a gosh-darn happy-go-lucky newspaper reporter, as Clark often does, this is a man who has been more or less drifting ever since reaching adulthood. He's working in remote Alaska on an oil rig; when it explodes, Clark saves some of the workers and then disappears. He steals clothes and hangs out in bars and gets into fights. Not a boy scout, indeed. This is a broodier, dirtier man.
And boy, Cavill sure does look the part. Although I still wasn't completely sold on the costume, I forgot most of my objections while he was on screen. It helped that the production team digitally added the red cape after filming.
The writer/director/producers sure pile on the Christ imagery, though. At one point in the movie, they make sure to mention that Clark Kent is thirty-three as he emerges onto the world stage as Superman. There are multiple scenes in which he appear with his arms stretched out like Christ on the cross. A coincidence? I think not. Heck, they even shoot a scene of a troubled Superman consulting a priest in front of a stained glass window depicting the Garden of Gethsemene. It was over-the-top and unnecessary. We get it. He's humanity's savior. No really, movie, we got it.
Surprisingly, I didn't buy Amy Adams as Lois Lane. She's a great actress, but she just didn't seem right for the character. Lois Lane is many things, but a ginger just isn't one of her characteristic features. Adams also seemed rather old for the role; I've always though Lois Lane was a little bit older than Clark because she's the senior reporter and all, but there was too much of a gap between her and Cavill. The two of them also really didn't share much on-screen chemistry, making Superman's attachment to Lane seem very sudden and plot-contrived.
The movie spent waaaaaaay more time on Krypton than I expected. It went a little long. I guess they really wanted to build up the backstory so that the audience would care whenever Russell Crowe popped up as Superman's dad, but if that is the case it didn't work for me. This in-theater conversation sure was great, though:
Me: That's the actor they chose for Superman's dad?
Sean: Yeah, so?
Me: That's Inspector Javert.
Sean's jaw drops.
Me: Also, the gladiator.
Sean: Thanks. Thanks for ruining the movie.
One of the things I really liked about this movie is that it showcases just how destructive Superman can be. I mean, not only is he pounding the piss out of the supervillain, but Superman is tearing up
The movie definitely plays fast and loose with the Superman mythology,but given that I was never crazy about his story to begin with, I thought the changes were great. It was the perfect summer popcorn movie.