The biggest superhero blockbuster of the year has finally landed in cinemas. So does Zack Snyder’s new take on the “Man of Steel” raise him back up to the top echelon of movie heroes? Or does the high bar set by the Dark Knight trilogy and The Avengers cast too big a shadow?
Superman is the king of all superheroes. Since his inception, he has been and will probably continue to be, the most recognisable icon in the hall of heroes. His image and ‘S’ symbol are recognised worldwide, and wherever he may be, he is the embodiment of purity and heroism.
While this writer is personally a Marvel fan, DC’s Batman is probably his favourite hero of all time.
Overall, I love the concept of heroes, super or otherwise, and it is interesting trying to analyse what makes us so continually enamoured with the idea of heroism.
With that in mind, let us go through the film with that core concept of Superman and what should make him the ideal that all other heroes strive for.
There are minor spoilers in the first half and major ones in the second half of the review so please be warned.
We first meet Kal-El (Superman) as he is being brought into the world on his home planet of Krypton, with his father Jor-El played with much grace by Russell Crowe, watching over his birth. On Krypton, it seems that they no longer reproduce by natural birth, instead now by genetic design. Everyone that exists there has been created in a lab for a purpose: to sustain their enlightened society.
Despite this, the planet is on the brink of destruction, with the Kryptonians having mined all the planet’s resources to the point of calamity, and it seems that the only two people that can see the end coming. One of these is Superman’s father Jor-El, while the other is General Zod.
Zod is the planet’s military leader, and he immediately stages a coup to attempt to salvage the Kryptonian race. It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that Zod defeats Jor-El with a cowardly move and is promptly banished to the Phantom Zone, essentially inside a black hole, to serve out his sentence. This ironically saves Zod and his crew from death as the planet explodes, while Kal-El is sent off to Earth by his mother so that he may live on with their legacy.
Far be it for us to be overly critical of actors or directors (it’s a tough profession at the best of times), but some of the performances stood out as extremely bland. Kal-El’s mother in particular barely had a shred of emotion as her only son and saviour of their race was shot off into space, while her heroic husband was murdered right in front of her.
Had she stepped in some gum, she probably would have been more emotionally affected by the situation. Sticky shoes would be a terrible, terrible thing. Even for a Kryptonian.
That aside, the visual creation of Krypton was rather cool and felt much more like an alien world than in previous iterations, with it’s own flora and fauna.