I should have seen it coming really.
Man of Steel is not Superman.
Man of Steel is a new hero; a much louder, much more violent, far less caring and far less super hero.
Don’t get me wrong, there are glimpses of the Superman beloved by pretty much everyone for the past 75 years. Zach Snyder (director) supplies us with introspective moral quandaries, thrilling flying sequences, and mind-blowing visuals.
But those glimpses are just fleeting and most of the movie seems happy to occupy the incredibly loud but really rather dull realms of the generic blockbuster.
But whose fault is this?
Some have blamed Zach Snyder for orchestrating the impressively vacuous final act. Instead, I would like to shift the blame onto everyone’s sweetheart, Christopher Nolan, and his Batman writing buddy David S. Goyer. They are credited with coming up with the story and, for me, that’s where the biggest problem lies; with the writing. For every moving father-son talk, there’s a Saturday morning cartoon exclamation from both our hero and our villain, and this imbalance is far too common.
However, there are some interesting aspects to the movie. The structure and pacing are admirably left-field for a summer blockbuster. But by opting for an episodic structure, Goyer and Nolan provide an incredible basis for a trailer, but an incredibly unforgiving feature-length picture whose lack of fluidity makes it a confusing, and rather harsh, watch. There is no time for the film to settle into any kind of rhythm and however much visual splendour Snyder dazzles us with, there’s a serious lack of humanity.
It’s Superman’s powers that people often find too much, and that is one of the main reasons the character has faded into the cultural periphery behind the behemoths of Batman and Iron Man. Superman is basically invincible and, therefore, totally unrelatable. But, the thing is, it’s Superman’s humanity that provides his weakness (a point emphasised by Snyder’s decision to not feature Kryptonite in his Superman universe). Superman can beat anybody whenever the hell he feels like it, but its Superman’s empathy and faith in the human race that stops him, that makes him give people the opportunity to change, that gives people hope.
But I, for one, didn’t take much hope from this cold-hearted take on Superman.