Man of Steel, the first entry in the DC Cinematic Universe, released today 4 years ago. The movie, despite its flaws, is still a very enjoyable movie, as per me, and gave a very noir-ist approach to Superman.
While critical and audience reception has been lukewarm, there are certain moments and themes in the film that made it stand out from the plethora of superhero movies at that point and released since. With that in mind, here are 5 things Man of Steel got right:
- Jonathan Kent: Now before you get up in arms, let me explain. I liked this version of Jonathan Kent for the sheer reason that he was realistic. It might seem morbid to tell a child to not save someone but you would do the same if it was your kid, if it meant your own child’s life was in danger. A lot of people tend to question the decision of Zack Snyder on whether Clark should have saved Jonathan from the tornado but it would have been highly uncharacteristic for Clark to do so, given the mindset he was in prior to finding the Fortress of Solitude. Papa Kent’s characterization helped Superman be the person he needed to be, by being the caring dad who just wanted to protect his son at all cost.
- General Zod: I think Superman II gave such an underwhelming General Zod that anything in comparison would seem better. But instead of making him a mad villain to fight Superman, Zod became an anti-hero to Superman in MoS. His motivations were clear, he just wanted to recreate Krypton and establish the world he knew and loved. His inability to do so and the destruction of the Mother Ship drove him mad and thus, brought him to a direct conflict with Clark. Michael Shannon is a good actor (Check out Boardwalk Empire and Nocturnal Animals) and he was a terrifyingly well churned out villain.
- Visual Style: One of the best parts about the DCEU movies is the incredible visuals. MoS, BvS, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman have very distinct visuals with a lot of focus on colours and contrast. The entire first flight sequence in Man of Steel is such a beautifully shot scene and there is so much importance given to the smallest things. For example, when Superman first flies and crashes into the mountain, there are rocks behind him still tumbling down from the impact as he stands up. It’s such a basic detail but it adds a lot of gravitas to the film. Even the scenes of Krypton are a visual delight and they reflect the grandiose and advanced nature of the planet. Or when Superman is flying for the first time, the camera is in perpetual motion as if to capture the urgency and the inability to contain him in a steady shot. One of the most visually stunning scene is when Superman destroys the alien ship in the Indian Ocean. That scene is truly breathtaking.
- Music: To top John Williams is no easy task. His iconic score from Superman’s first film is still considered as one of the best superhero soundtracks of all time and it gives chills anytime you hear it. Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL’s Man of Steel score is heartfelt, inspiring and energetic. From “First Flight” to “What Will You Do When You Are Not Saving The World”, the music is very memorable and gives you a beacon of hope, figuratively.
- Superman’s Arc: While I am still to see the Superman we know and love, MoS (and BvS) pose a very thematically relevant question for the audience: What would you do if you find out that aliens exist and they are in your world with powers and stuff?” From a theological perspective, it’s the whole saviour idea brought to life and it is a very important question to look into, especially for those who cite religion as a saving grace. If God did show up tomorrow, would you accept him/her for who he/she is or would you claim them to be a farce and a nuisance? The movie might not have answered that very convincingly but it is a very legitimate question. Especially since, realistically if Superman existed in the real world, we would be more afraid of him than look up to him. I mean, here’s a guy with an incredible set of powers who could destroy the earth if it so pleases him.
What was your favorite part of the film? Is there somethign you agree to or disagree on? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading 🙂