Man of Steel – A Proper Origin Story

manofsteelposterAfter months of hype I finally got to see Man of Steel. I didn’t need to be sold on the acting skills of Henry Cavill, as much as I hated The Cold Light of Day I watched every single episode of The Tudors and knew he would be capable. What I was more worried about was the studio’s ability to pull this off. Green Lantern was a comedy of missteps, trying to either be the old flashy comic book movies of the early 2000’s or the newer grittier ones with lots of black. The choice to go with post conversion for 3D and IMAX again bothered me. The trailers which never show too much had me thinking this could still be great, or it could be utter madness and bullshit. I came out of Man of Steel in awe of how great it was.

This is how you do an origin story. I’m not a big Superman person. Never have been, my devotion since I was a child has always been to Batman and Wonder Woman, I will choose DC over Marvel any day without even blinking in terms of the actual characters. The studio wars have been lopsided lately with Marvel constantly hitting it out of the park. They have the chance to tell a story and boy do they ever.

Warning (spoilerish)

Superman in cuffsMan of Steel doesn’t just give us the story of Clark Kent growing up, we get a good 20 minutes of Krypton while Jor-El, General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the rest of the planet deal with the fallout. We see why Kal-El is special, why Jor-El does what he does, and you by proxy get some backstory of Zod. When we get to present day Clark we get him throughout the years of his life. When he starts to come into his powers as a child, when his random acts of heroism cause his friends and neighbors panic, as he struggles being bullied but doesn’t fight back because his dad Papa Kent (Kevin Costner) wants him to keep parts of himself secret. Clark grows up and drifts through life, he’s developed a moral compass which he fights all the time, does he hide who he is when others might die or does he do his thing and save them. Life is precious to him.

Man of Steel does a great job of showing enough backstory to make you care in a way that keeps you invested. The S on his chest is the family crest of the House of El. Perry White is played by a world weary Laurence Fishburne. Christopher Meloni plays Colonel Hardy the hardass who does not want to warm up to Supes until damn near the end of the film…Classic Stabler. Jimmy Olson is a girl. We get a real amazing 2nd in command which almost never happens in super hero films. Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) is totally badass in this film she does most of the heavy lifting here. Amy Adams plays a not clueless Lois Lane. She’s smart, she borders on story out no matter what and mindful journalism. They don’t play her for a fool, she knows Clark is Superman after her investigative journalism tracks him to Kansas. The characters have had some modernization which is necessary. Play it too strong to old time canon and you veer into the comic silliness audiences have shown you they no longer want, venture too far and purist just can’t get on board. Man of Steel plays this balance very well much like Clark’s internal struggles. Outside of some items bearing the LexCorp name there’s even no Lex Luthor and he’s not needed here. The point is to establish the story and set its course. Man of Steel delivers on all counts. There’s no place to go but up, and I have a feeling the Justice League movie will be just as amazing.

My Rating: Full price
Upgrade worthy: IMAX – yes, 3D – no
Director: Zack Synder
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release Date: June 14, 2013
Run time: 2 hours 23 minutes
Studio: Warner Brothers Pictures

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