With Zack Snyder’s Justice League just under a week away, we look back at the movie that kicked off the DCEU ,with Man of Steel.
An alien child is evacuated from his dying world and sent to Earth to live among humans. His peace is threatened, when other survivors of his home planet invade Earth.
It doesn’t seem that long ago when everyone was sitting down in the theatre to watching Christopher Nolan finish off his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. The first teaser trailer for Man of Steel was shown. Setting up what would ultimately become the infamous DCEU, showcasing a different outlook and tone of this beloved and iconic character of Superman.
Zack Snyder who had previously dipped his toe into the comic-book genre with Watchmen was now tackling arguably the hardest hero to put onto the big screen. Unlike Richard Donner’s take on the character, this seemed to go in a different direction, more thematic and stoic. Man of Steel was met with okay reviews by critics and fans all around the world were definitely divided. The world was used to a certain kind of Superman, one who smiled and saved cats from trees and was an all-around boy scout. Zack had different plans for the character and that’s what had people discussing the philosophy behind the character and is still the topic of discussion to this very day.
Man of Steel is a character-driven story that showcases what it would truly be like if someone with extraordinary powers came to Earth. Many parallels to Jesus are often brought up and Zack does really dive deep into the mythos of the character and what it would mean not just for our hero, but for humankind as well.
Times had drastically changed since the ’70s and a fresh new take on Superman was needed, but the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” really got in some people’s heads. It’s almost been a decade since this movie arrived and it has only aged more beautifully with each passing year. One of the strongest origin stories we have gotten, certainly on the DC side of things, but it’s an important movie that regardless of how you feel about it, lives in the zeitgeist, whether you like it or not.
Zack didn’t just find the perfect Clark Kent/Superman with Henry Cavill. Who is a spitting image of what Superman should look like? He brought along Amy Adams, Kevin Costner Diane Lane, and Micheal Shannon along for the ride as well. The casting was so pitch-perfect that you wonder how this movie didn’t do better at the box-office. Alongside perfectly placed Easter Eggs, some we wouldn’t find out about until years later, can you say Martian Manhunter.
One of the most difficult aspects of transitioning Superman from page to screen is just how incredibly powerful he is. Who can stop that hero who has it all? Well, you make him fight someone equally as powerful. The fight sequences are breathtaking, especially the battle of Smallville, easily one of the best action set pieces in all of the DCEU, that really started to show how awesome Superman can be. The battle of Metropolis was met with some criticism that was addressed in Batman v Superman, but what would you expect to happen with two unstoppable forces fighting in a major city?
With a beautiful Hans Zimmer score, a great script, this movie had all the makings to be such a fantastic launching pad for the DCEU, and to this day, I’m still not sure where it went wrong. Henry Cavill still hasn’t done a Superman sequel and could be on his way out the door. Which would ultimately be a crime because of just how perfect he is in that role.
Man of Steel was a groundbreaking achievement by Snyder who proved once again that he can be trusted with a comic book property and that just because his philosophy of a certain character isn’t what you think it should be, shouldn’t discredit the subject at hand. Russell Crowe who plays Jor-El, Superman’s father. Another brilliant casting decision says to Kal-El, ” But, in time, they will join you in the sun.” I think it speaks volumes to this movie. In time people will realize just how special this movie is and we all failed it by not making it a bigger deal.
I’ll never forget watching the battle of Smallville for the first time and realizing that we could have Superman movies like this for a decade. Truly a special movie theatre experience for me.