You know when movie posters have all these conservative quotes on them and all you want them to say is “Yes Kendall, it’s fucking awesome”? Man Of Steel definitely falls into the fucking awesome category being a brilliant portrayal of a story we basically know inside and out but handling it in a different way, no irony, no little jokey asides, no comedy ‘look I’m wearing glasses! I’m a different person,’ bits Alright, Snyder cannot resist a bit of that but by the time it happens you are happily ensconced in his world and you basically run with it. There are no comedy Clark scenes, no juicer squeezing scenes for example, no ‘look! I’m clumsy!’ scenes, no using Lois for comedy.
The main thing with the world Snyder has created is that it is real – of course that is strange to say for a film that features a flying man, but what I mean is that the arrival of Superman basically means a potential security risk rather than simply a modern miracle, the authorities first reaction is to chain him up, afraid of that which they don’t know. The political undercurrent bubbles with real world mirrors, whether it be the possibility of Lois being charged with treason or a Julian Assange figure putting online articles that Perry White was uncomfortable with. Yes, this Lois is very much her own woman, she lives and breathes journalism in a real life way rather than just waiting as a receptacle for Clark’s love. Even without the big man around, this version of Lois, portrayed by the simply brilliant Amy Adams, kicks ass, both figuratively and literally. She’s the star of the film.
Of course with a movie like this there is usually a bad guy actor who eats up the screen like a cinematic Pac-Man. Here that honour goes to Michael Shannon, but unlike Hackman and Spacey before him, there is no gurning, no enemy cliches, he just wants to save his world and destroys anyone who gets in his way, he wields great power but does not feel the need to add snide comments to the audience or drop quote after quote, instead he is all business. Shannon makes a great Zod, you actually believe that he could take on the Man Of Steel and win, THAT’S how good he is. Of course, if you’re a fan of The Runaways, and let’s face it, you should be, it takes a while to erase the image of Kim Fowley wearing a space suit from your brain – you expect Rodney Bingenheimer to turn up and start spinning some pop tunes with David Bowie. Luckily, Shannon’s portrayal is so brilliant that this is soon forgotten, he IS Zod and he IS one of the greatest villains of them all.
The way Snyder handles the historical elements is well done, I expected the first half of the movie to play the Origin card before the ass kicking started, but instead past events are woven around the present, keeping the movie thrusting along as well as giving you things you haven’t seen before side by side with old classics such as finding the ship, his relationship with his father (an excellent Costner) and hiding his powers from the masses.
Of course, we’ve gone this far without even mentioning Henry Cavill. This is actually a credit to the actor as he just fits naturally into the part, wearing one of the great super hero characters like an old shoe. There’s no trying to replace Reeve, nor do you need to, in the post-Watchmen world, things are different now and Cavill projects a perfect 2013 Superman and is sure to be wearing the S for a long time.
So yes, returning to the beginning, all there is to say is that Man Of Steel is fucking awesome. And that’s all anyone could ask.