Superman and the Man of Steel Review | Superman Blog

Superman and the Man of Steel Review

The New 52 Superman Action

It must be the last act of superhero revisionism: abolishing the word "super". In this new movie directed by Zack Snyder, and produced and co-written by Christopher Nolan, the letter on our hero's chest doesn't mean what we all thought it meant. This is no English S, but a Krypton symbol denoting hope. The word "Superman" is stutteringly or suspiciously pronounced, like "the bat man" in the Dark Knight movies. He is referred to by his earthling name, Clark, or his Krypton name, Kal-El, or even as the "alien", by the frowning Pentagon brass. This is a 21st-century superhero who must steel himself against the agonies of being misunderstood by the people he is trying to help.

The origin myth is perhaps the most interesting part of any superhero story; for some, the only interesting part. Snyder has created a colossal, grandiose genesis for the Man of Steel, a titanic Moses-out-of-Nietzsche tale, a planet-clashing spectacle that is seen perpetually through a glowing, lens-flaring light: the opposite of the twilight of the gods – the daybreak of the titans. We go way, way back, substantially before Clark Kent coolly makes his career leap into journalism, joining the Daily Planet as a "stringer", a move that incidentally shows that CV-faking must be one of his superpowers.

There are some striking ideas and images, and interesting casting for the chief role. To go with his gym-built, digitally assisted pecs, abs and thighs, Britain's Henry Cavill has a thin, intriguingly pale and sensitive face, with a buttock-cleft on his nose, like George Osborne, a nose that will surely make him very identifiable up close in the Planet newsroom, chunky glasses or no chunky glasses. Cavill's Clark has an fraught relationship with his tough foster-mom and troubled foster-dad: nice performances from Diane Lane and Kevin Costner. He faces off satisfyingly with his terrifying Krypton enemy, General Zod, of whom more in a moment. But this story doesn't quite have the wit of Joss Whedon's assembly of Avengers, nor the gothic seriousness of Nolan's Dark Knight, and the all-important romantic spark with Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, sadly isn't there. There's naturally a lot of swooping and flying: compulsory for 3D films.

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