Man of Steel
by Hope Madden
Nolan produces and gets a story credit for Man of Steel, but unlike the flawed, oh-so-human Batman, Superman is hard to really care about because he isn’t human at all. He’s perfect. He’s God, basically. You can’t relate to him.
But Nolan, script writer David S. Goyer, and director Zack Snyder decide to just embrace those messianic qualities and see where that gets them. Hell, they even set the granite jawed hero in a church, a stained glass Savior over his shoulder. But in deciding to emphasize his perfect nature, they keep the audience from relating to him.
To keep fans happy, Snyder squeezes in all the necessary elements. Some, however – the Daily Planet, Lex Luthor, Metropolis, even the name Superman – get little more than a fly-by. He’s more interested in following the farm boy who was really an alien, and watching him struggle to uncover his identity and purpose.
Henry Cavill dons the red cape this time around, looking either rugged and outdoorsy (Clark Kent) or crisply matinee idol-esque (Kal-El). He looks good either way, but all he’s really asked to do as an actor is look good, exacerbating the distance between the character and the audience. For actual acting, Snyder has the rest of the cast.
The always reliable Amy Adams gives Lois Lane a much needed modernization, while Russell Crowe classes up the joint as Supe’s natural father.
A wondrously apoplectic Michael Shannon is on hand to inspire awe as the villainous General Zod. He’s after Supe because of an utterly preposterous piece of lazy screenwriting … I mean, a gift the boy took with him from Krypton. And Zod will exterminate the entire human race to get it. Well, he’ll probably exterminate us all anyway, but first things first.
Snyder and Goyer – who, incidentally, co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogy – balance the SciFi nonsense with a lot of superficial political jabs and even more comic book nerd nods. (Check the lettering on that satellite.) It’s all part and parcel of their mishmash approach, which works as often as it doesn’t, surprisingly. Unfortunately, they let the pacing bog here and there, and go into Wham! Bap! Zonk! overkill in the climax.
It’s a fresh take on the stale classic, but Snyder’s no Nolan, and Superman’s no Batman.