By Dave Campbell | June 14, 2013
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: David S. Goyer (screenplay), Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer (story), Jerry Siegel
& Joe Shuster (Superman creators)
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Russell Crowe
We begin on the dying planet of Krypton as leading scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) pleads with the high counsel to urge everyone to abandon the planet. Unconvinced that he is accurate in his expert assessment, and too stubborn to see the signs for themselves, Jor-El’s pleas fall silent on deaf ears. Almost in tandem, military leader General Zod (Michael Shannon) the leadership to demand that immediate measures be taken to save their people and terraform a new Krypton on another host planet. Zod’s violent advance for action turns murderous and results in he and his troops being imprisoned for three hundred some-odd cycles (whatever that means). As the planet enters its final stages before implosion, Jor-El and his wife Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) make the final arrangements to protect their newborn son Kal-El by sending him to the safe and compatible planet of Earth.
Discovered and raised by Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), Kal grows up as Clark in the the farmlands of Kansas. Because of the obvious differences he and his parents notice from human children, Clark is taught not to react when threatened and to conceal his superhuman abilities…even though when faced with emergencies Clark can’t suppress the urge to aide. It’s obvious to Jon and Martha that Clark is coming of age and must be told the truth. This leads Clark on a journey to find out who he is; not only in the sense of his birth identity but also in becoming the man of greatness that all of his parents knew that he would be.
Along his path for answers, Clark uncovers the secrets of his history that Jor-El also sent to Earth; all while the headstrong reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) begins to assemble the pieces of his mysterious puzzle together. With the resolve to his lifelong questions in front of him, Clark’s worlds collide as General Zod approaches Earth with demands that Earth turn over his harbored Kryptonian citizen or face a devastating punishment. And with that he must take on the words of his father Jor-El, “You can save them. You can save all of them.”.
The Superman story has always carried a messiah complex with it, and the symbols that he is the savior of Earth are even cleverly sprinkled into the film. But unlike other tales of messiahs and gods, Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman is an imperfect being with a lot of internal conflict to overcome. He may not be a human at the core, but he couldn’t be more connected to what it means to be one. At no time did I question why Henry Cavill was cast for this role, because he simply embodies the presence that the character demands. Like our main character, the film itself isn’t “perfection” and I could have used a bit more balance of story with all the action. Nevertheless, Man of Steel excels in the overall cadence of impressive performances and spectacular cinematic experience that it brings.
As a parent, what struck me the most about this film is the strong parental structure and unselfish benevolence that laid the foundation for what ultimately makes Kal/Clark a “super” man. It isn’t the powers he gets from Earth’s yellow sun, but rather the gifts of love, guidance, and sacrifice from all of his parents that make him great. This is obviously a personal story for Zack Snyder to tell along with writers Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer, and I appreciate the dynamic structure of how this Superman story is told. The visuals are rich, beautiful and plentiful with an enormous scope to capture and belong in the DC Universe; while also standing confidently on its own. Man of Steel is the modern version of Superman that I’ve been waiting for, and Henry Cavill is the last son of Krypton.