Man of Steel
While this retelling has all the original elements portrayed in Kal-El’s, or Clark Kent if you prefer, story, it also brings something else to the table. Old villains are given a new face, the iconic S symbol is given a back-story, and the tale of Superman takes a much more humanic turn as the storyline deals with the physiological aspects of being a superhero, and just what exactly is the price that comes with so much power.
The beginning of this film takes us back to the Superman Origins, showing us how Kal-El came to be, why his parents sent him to earth, and the tumultuous existence that was Krypton at the time of his birth. In this opening we have so many positive elements portrayed that it is hard to pick just a few to share. Both Jor-El and Laura-El sacrifice much in order to ensure their son is given not only a chance at free will, but also a chance at life. Amidst moving tears and remorse over never seeing their son walk or say their names, the parents choose to do what is best for their son, no matter how great the personal cost or how hard they will have to fight to ensure he escapes the fate planned for him. They also show that our yellow son isn’t the only thing that made Kal-El a superhero—he came by it naturally, for amidst the evil schemes of General Zod, Kal’s parents stand up and fight for what is right, regardless of the cost that will be extracted from them for it.
But the El family is not the only family Kal-El has. Upon arriving on earth he is adopted by a new kind of family. A Human family. A family that names him Clark Kent. The Kents are good people, and they impart great wisdom to their son throughout his life, making him into a good man who values life, unlike his predecessors. Jonathan Clark is often a living example for his son, and his last act on earth is spent in helping others, leaving a lasting legacy for his son. The Kents also teach their son self restraint, an attribute that Clark needs in order to survive this world. Throughout the story we see Clark demonstrate power under control. From being a bulled teenage boy resisting the urge to sock his attackers, to an adult man enduring embarrassment and insults when he comes to the defense of a young woman.
Which brings us to the character of superman himself. Clark is not only a good kid and man, but he has this innate desire to save those around him, be it literal or metaphorical. No matter how dangerous the exposure to himself is, or whether or not his actions will lead him to a new alias, Clark continually risks much in order to help the needy. And it is because of his other’s focused actions that cause human soldiers and civilians alike to unquestioningly accept the alien from outer space. It is because of the good character instilled by his parents that Clark is accepted by the world and not rejected.
Also worth noting is the fact that artificial population control is inadvertently shown as destructive and that “evolutionary advantage” isn’t what wins a fight. The heart and passion behind the warrior is.
Kryptonians, we learn, were engineered from birth to carry out whatever lot in life has been planned for them by their government, essentially denying them free will. However, while some would view this as a negative element, I challenge that it is not a negative aspect in this film because the movie clearly depicts this as an evil thing that brings great destruction and harm.
The sexual content in this film is minimal, but not nonexistent. We see Clark confront a man in a bar who is behaving inappropriately towards one of the waitress’ (it is a very brief scene), Clark and Lois kiss, and hear another woman refer to Superman ad hot. Laura-El also wears a dress that, for a brief moment, shows a fair amount of cleavage.
Language in this film was not excessive, but a couple of times when it is used, it is rather offensive in nature. There’s around four a—references, two of h—, and one of d—. There is also two crude references to the male anatomy (one as a put down, one as a feministic comment).
As for violence…. It’s a superhero movie. It’s not really optional. While the violence is not excessive or violating (it’s your average superhero violence), we do see Superman snap someone’s neck. There is much destruction and turmoil in the film (Metropolis is nearly leveled), and many characters receive some whopping hits to the abdominal region, but it is all done well in terms of filming. If you’ve watched movies like The Avengers and Iron Man, you won’t have an issue here.
This movie is not Superman Canon. Snyder and Nolan chose to do things in this film that we haven’t seen before in the Superman franchise, but to be honest, I think that was a good thing.
Origins were given to details like the Superman S (which isn’t an S, thank goodness!), Louis Lane wasn’t saddled with the idiot reporter image (I mean honestly, what woman would be fooled by a pair of glasses?), and the suit was just plain awesome (I’m sorry, but the spandex original was lame and impractical), for a Superman suit. And yet, despite these changes (and the fact that Superman does kill someone with his bare hands, something many fans will be upset over), this film still has the Superman Origins at its heart. It took a story that was good but unrelatable and made it relatable. They humanized Superman in a way that made him seem much more realistic than his earlier renditions.
Despite a few comments I could have lived without, I enjoyed Man of Steel. Superman may not be my favorite Superhero, but Snyder and Nolan did a good job in portraying a Superman that raised the bar in the Alien’s franchise.