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Man of Steel

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Man of Steel
Man of Steel-ing Your Money.jpeg
Look up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane! No, It's basically one of the reasons why Zack Snyder was no super director.
Genre: Superhero
Science fiction
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Produced By: Charles Roven
Christopher Nolan
Emma Thomas
Deborah Snyder
Written By: David Goyer
Based On: Superman by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
Starring: Henry Cavill
Amy Adams
Michael Shannon
Kevin Costner
Diane Lane
Laurence Fishburne
Antje Traue
Ayelet Zurer
Christopher Meloni
Russell Crowe
Photography: Color
Cinematography: Amir Mokri
Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: June 10, 2013 (Alice Tully Hall)
June 14, 2013 (UK and US)
Runtime: 143 minutes
Country: United States
United Kingdom
Budget: $225–258 million
Box Office: $668 million
Franchise: DC Extended Universe
Sequel: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Man of Steel is a 2013 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman directed by Zack Snyder and written by David Goyer, produced by DC Entertainment, Legendary Pictures, Syncopy, Atlas Entertainment and Cruel and Unusual Films. It was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and is a British-American production and the first installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

The film premiered at Alice Tully Hall on June 10, 2013, and was released in theaters on June 14, 2013, in 2D, 3D and IMAX. A follow-up, titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, was released on March 25, 2016.

Plot

The movie opens on Planet Krypton, Kryptonians are breed artificially and genetically engineered to fulfill very specific roles in their society with no chance of being anything else, and natural births are illegal. It isn't until science leader Jor-El and his wife Lara have a natural child, whom they name Kal-El. Kryptonians have been harvesting planet Krypton's core for energy, which has destabilized the planet and will soon cause it explode. Military General Zod launches a coup d'etat against Krypton's high council, during which Jor-El steals the Codex that contains the genetic programming of all future Kryptonians and embeds it into Ka-El while Lara prepares an escape pod for Kal-El programmed to travel to Planet Earth. Zod kills Jor-El but fails to recover the Codex before the ship Kal-El is on launches, then Zod and his allies are captured and sentenced to the Phantom Zone. Krypton finally explodes exterminating the society, leaving Kal-El as the only survivor. On Earth, Kal-El is found by farmers John Kent and Martha Kent who adopt the alien, giving him the name "Clark Kent".

Growing up, Clark continually struggled with his supernatural powers that he's repeatedly told he must keep secret. Eventually John admits to Clark that he's an alien from another planet and pleads his adoptive son to find out whatever he can about his real lineage. As an adult, Clark is a wandering man who often uses his powers for good without being noticed until he hears about an alien ship in the arctic. In the arctic, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane investigates the ship and is attacked by the ship's security system. Clark arrives, saves Lois from the sentries, and takes away the ship. Using a device that was on the escape pod that Clark landed on Earth, Clark activates the spaceship and encounters his real father Jor-El; or rather, an AI based on Jor-El's image and consciousness that was inserted into the key Clark used. AI Jor-El explains Clark that his real name is Kal-El and how Kryptonians at one point tried to use terraforming machines to turn other planets into replicas of Krypton but the plan was abandoned; this spaceship was one of those scout ships. Jor-El sent Kal-El to Earth not only so he could survive Krypton's destruction, but also so Clark can grow among imperfect humans with free will so he won't be a genetically engineered drone like the rest of the Kryptonians including Jor-El were. Clark is given a special suit with the "S" symbol of the El family, which he wears proudly as he resolves to honor his father's wishes. At the same time Lois Lane tracked down her alien savior and eventually found Clark Kent but she agreed to keep his identity secret. A few days later a Kryptonian ship owned by General Zod and his goons arrive on Earth and demand that Kal-El surrenders himself to the Kryptonians otherwise they'll use more drastic measures to find him. Clark presents himself to the military, who give him the name "Superman" because of the "S" emblem on his chest.

Superman and Lois are taken to Zod's ship, there Zod explains that they have a terraforming machine ready to turn Earth into Krypton but he needs the Codex to recreate Krypton's population, however rebuilding Krypton will kill all humans. Lois uploads AI Jor-El to the ship, Jor-El helps Superman and Lois escape and teaches Lois a method they can use to get rid of Zod. Back in Earth, Zod threatens Martha for the Codex, Superman fends off the Kryptonians but wrecks Smallville. Angered, Zod deletes AI Jor-El and launches the Terraforming machine in Metropolis, the machine begins changing Earth's gravity and destroys a large chunk of the city. Meanwhile, Superman and Lois inform the military that if Kal-El's escape pod crashes into Zod's ship, it'll trigger a Phantom Zone to trap the invading Kryptonians. The plan is successful and Superman destroys the terraforming machine but Metropolis is left in ruins and Zod avoided the Phantom Zone. Zod goes insane and vows to kill Superman, the two Kryptonians have a massive fight that causes even more destruction across Metropolis. The fight culminates with Superman snapping Zod's neck, killing him instantly and leaving Kal-El as the truly last Kryptonian.

In the aftermath, Clark Kent takes a job at the Daily Planet so he can be with Lois Lane and continue to be Superman.

Bad Qualities

  1. First Off: Superman is given a very questionable characterization. While making changes to a character is to be expected in an adaptation, the changes given to this incarnation of Superman are too drastic, to the point where he doesn't really feel like he is actually the traditional Superman; whereas he was traditionally portrayed as an affectionate, joyful and warm-hearted country boy who grew up regarding himself as human and always stands for doing the right thing; in here he's a moody, brooding grump who rarely talks and actively distances himself from humanity.
    • As a child, he is treated like an outcast when he grows up as an older adult.
    • Clark becomes Superman only because... Jor-El tells him to and gives him the costume.
    • While Superman was given human emotion in the John Byrne run of comics, it was executed better there, whereas here the only human emotion Superman shows is moping, whilst lacking the aforementioned characterization described above.
    • The iconic Superman costume (minus the famous external red trunks) is conveniently already stored in a Kryptonian ship that had landed on Earth long before Kal-El ever did.
  2. There is a whole lot of talking about the relationship between Superman and humanity, even though the former never shows any real interest in humanity and once Zod arrives on Earth this subplot is completely forgotten.
    • Superman never even reveals himself publicly, only to Lois Lane and the military.
  3. It is somewhat questionable precisely as to why Zod is supposed to be the antagonist in specifically the opening sequence set on Krypton, when his intentions were to simply overthrow a corrupt council who have just destroyed their homeworld and have no intentions to evacuate; the worst he does is try to convince Jor-El to help him "sever the degenerative bloodlines that led the Kryptonians to this state," but since everyone on Krypton is established as being genetically-engineered for specific societal roles, this is something that could reasonably be objectively true, given the complete incompetence of the Kryptonian council.
  4. Emotionless and atrocious dialogue, specifically one line from Lois Lane regarding how, "You know they say it all goes downhill after the first kiss."
  5. Poor pacing, as most of the movie after the prologue on Krypton is just exposition and then three action scenes in a row with barely any breathing in-between; what adds salt to the wound is an overuse of flashbacks that either feel out-of-place or fail to relate with the plot; the fact that the climax is prolonged for an absurdly long period of time partially contributes to how tiring the destruction in the Battle of Metropolis becomes.
    • On the topic of the flashbacks, Jonathan Kent's death seems to be rather unnecessary in the context of the scene, since it is trivially easy to think of ways Clark could have saved him without revealing his abilities to the public.
      • On the topic of Jonathan Kent, he cannot seem to decide if he wants Clark to think he is the equivalent of Jesus or to do absolutely nothing with his powers.
  6. The film essentially treats Superman as an allegory of Jesus Christ with a lot of ham-fisted Christian symbolism; some obvious examples include:
    • Before turning himself over to Zod to save humanity, Superman talks with a priest while a mural of Jesus is clearly visible in the background.
    • He undergoes torment while imprisoned and is tempted by a vision (which is the least tempting temptation in history).
    • He literally makes a cross pose after escaping from the ship.
    • He reveals himself to the military... by floating slowly with a beam of sunlight behind him.
    • The allegory of Jesus was so blatant to the point where, and we are not joking, Man of Steel was at one point marketed as a Christian movie[1].
  7. Excessive product placement; it is particularly grating during the fight scene in Smallville.
  8. Superman killing Zod is supposed to be a tough and painful moment for him, but it is never established in the film that the former is against killing others himself; in fact, Clark was constantly shown actively trying to kill Zod, and that is not bringing up the thousands of casualties the Battle of Metropolis would have resulted in by this point; he also barely seemed to care about destroying Zod's ship... even though the remaining Kryptonian gestation chambers were inside it, it turns out he was effectively eradicating his entire species.
    • It also fails to help that the family Zod is menacing with his laser eyes are running into a corner for seemingly no good reason, especially considering how the laser is at a height where they can easily duck under it.
  9. Excessive amounts of collateral damage after the middle point of the film and especially during the Battle of Metropolis in the climax, to the point where it feels more like a film directed by Michael Bay; after a while, the destruction stops being shocking and instead becomes rather tiring, as stated.
    • Superman barely seems to bother with preventing any destruction and, in fact, causes more himself.
    • Even though dozens of people would have been killed in the Battle of Metropolis, almost no one else, especially Superman himself, seems to be bothered by this, though it is fair that Superman and his allies had to carefully focus on their mission to put an permanent end to the schemes of Zod and his group.
    • The argument commonly used to defend this is to ask if Superman was not supposed to fight Zod, but this assumes it is some immutable law of the universe that decided how much destruction had to result from their battle, when in actuality it was entirely the decision of the filmmakers.
    • According to some sources, the climax was supposed to end with Zod being absorbed into the Phantom Zone, but it was rewritten to include that final fight in response to Marvel's The Avengers.
    • Any prior incarnation of Superman would normally take his foes to a remote location for the safety of the civilians, but instead this incarnation of Superman just lets the city be destroyed; this reinforces the notion about this incarnation of Superman not caring about humanity, which in turn also reinforces him not feeling like the traditional Superman.
  10. There are several plot holes and inconsistencies, including but not limited to:
    • It is established that the Kryptonians have colonized other worlds, yet the destruction of their homeworld is treated as somehow destroying their entire species; it is stated by Zod that all of the other Kryptonian colonies have died out, but it is never at all clear as to why being "cut off from Krypton" would do this.
    • Jor-El claims everyone on Krypton is already dead, even though he intends to evacuating his own son, who is on Krypton at that point, and it was clearly possible for Zod and his group to leave; it is entirely unclear as to why nobody else tried to evacuate.
    • Zod intends to terraform specifically the Earth, even though it was established that any planet can be converted into a new Krypton; for that matter, there is no reason for Zod to terraform the Earth, especially considering how Kryptonians can survive in the Earth's atmosphere already and only take a few minutes to adjust to it.
    • Jor-El's logic is also inconsistent: he wants Kal-El to choose what he wants to be on his own rather than do what others tell him what to do, but then he convinces Kal of his destiny to become Superman, which Kal does without being given a choice in the matter.
  11. Similar to other 2010s films, such as Fant4stic and The Last Jedi, this film uses a rather washed-out "gritty" color pallete template typically seen in war films, instead of using bright colors; this makes the movie look faded and dull, and feels incongruous with a plot about a superhero, although the cinematography is beautiful.
  12. The film is rather pretentious, constantly talking about "deep, meaningful themes," but none of them have any relevance to the plot and is all dropped in favor of mindless destruction in the climax without any payoff.

Good Qualities

  1. Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon both make memorable performances as Jor-El and General Zod respectively, with Zod generally being considered one of the better DCEU villains.
  2. The action scenes, while overblown, are still entertaining for a while, even in the third act of the movie.
  3. Kevin Costner is a good casting choice as Jonathan "Pa" Kent.
  4. Zod's "I will find him!" yell is memorable.
  5. Hans Zimmer's score is majestic.
  6. Beautiful cinematography, especially for Zack Snyder's film standards.
  7. Henry Cavill does a pretty decent job as Superman, given the material he had to work with.
  8. Nice visuals, though it is ruined by the use of a rather washed-out color pallete template, as stated above; the planet of Krypton is also visually impressive.
  9. Despite that a common criticism towards the film is the fact that Superman killed Zod, to be fair, Zod was too dangerous to be left alive and Superman did kill Zod as well in Superman II and in a much worse fashion.
    1. Additionally, Superman in this film showed a great reaction of distraught, regret, and devastation about his hardest decision to kill Zod, unlike in Superman II where Superman showed no remorse after killing Zod.
  10. The poster looks cool.
  11. The fight in the railway yard was awesome.

Reception

Man of Steel received mixed-to-positive reviews, critics praised the film's action sequences, visuals and Hans Zimmer's score but criticized its pacing, overly dark tone, and lack of character development. Cavill's performance as Superman was also met with a polarized response, and is considered one of the weakest Syncopy Inc. films, with a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the site's consensus reads, "Man of Steel's exhilarating action and spectacle can't fully overcome its detours into generic blockbuster territory.". On Metacritic, the film received a weighted score of 55 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews.", but received positive reviews from the audience. While some welcomed the darker take on Superman's origin story, others criticized the questionable interpretation of the character and the movie's tone. A big point of criticism for the movie was the overkill collateral damage, and after Man of Steel it was noted by many that superhero movies in general were recklessly overusing destruction in their climax fights. In response, some later movies such as Captain America: Civil War addressed the damage that heroes usually cause in their battles. However, many people said it was Zack Snyder's good and underrated movie, since Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole and later become cult following. Audience polls in North America from CinemaScore for the film tallied an average grade of an "A–" on an A+ to F scale, with those under the age of 18 and older than 50 giving it an "A".

Videos

Trivia

  • Buzzfeed commissioned a disaster analysis company called Watson Technical Consulting to estimate the damage to Metropolis from the battle shown in the film. Their estimates were 129,000 dead (the same as the low-end death toll estimate for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), with another 250,000 missing. Physical damage costs would be of the order of $700 billion (13 times the damage from 9/11) with a total economic impact of $2 trillion (16 times 9/11). Overall, it would be roughly equivalent in terms of damage and death toll to detonating a 20 kiloton nuclear weapon over the city.
  • Despite the mixed reception, this film is the highest grossing Superman movie to date.


Legendary Pictures
Movies:

2000s:

Batman Begins - Superman Returns - Lady in the Water - The Ant Bully - Beerfest - We Are Marshall - 300 - Trick 'r Treat - 10,000 BC - The Dark Knight - Watchmen - Observe and Report - The Hangover - Where the Wild Things Are - Ninja Assassin

2010s:

Clash of the Titans - Jonah Hex - Inception - The Town - Due Date - Sucker Punch - The Hangover Part II - Wrath of the Titans - The Dark Knight Rises - Jack the Giant Slayer - 42 - The Hangover Part III - Man of Steel - Pacific Rim - 300: Rise of an Empire - Godzilla - As Above, So Below - Dracula Untold - Interstellar - Unbroken - Blackhat - Seventh Son - Jurassic World - Straight Outta Compton - Steve Jobs - Crimson Peak - Krampus - Warcraft - The Great Wall - Kong: Skull Island - Pacific Rim Uprising - Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Skyscraper - Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - BlacKkKlansman - Little - Pokémon Detective Pikachu - Godzilla: King of the Monsters

2020s:

Enola Holmes - Godzilla vs. Kong - ⊃∪∩⪽

Zack Snyder
Movies:

Dawn of the Dead - 300 - Watchmen - Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - Sucker Punch - Man of Steel - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition) - Justice League* - Zack Snyder's Justice League - Army of the Dead

*: Snyder was the director of Justice League during principal photography, but was replaced by Joss Whedon during post-production. Snyder retained directorial credit for the finished film, though reports have indicated Whedon reshot a significant portion of the film. Snyder later edited a director's cut of the film, removing all of Whedon's footage and restoring his own footage that was deleted in the theatrical release. Snyder also shot four to five minutes of additional footage in late 2020 for his cut, released as Zack Snyder's Justice League.

External links

References

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