In the following Man Of Steel review, I’m going to try to keep it light on spoilers, as we’ll have a more spoiler-filled review later. First, I must give my apologies to Christopher Nolan, Joss Whedon, and Jon Favreau. The Dark Knight, The Avengers, and Iron Man had been sort of in a three way tie in my mind for best comic book movie ever made. To me, Heath Ledger gave the best performance ever as a villain in The Dark Knight, Robert Downey Jr. gave the best performance ever as a superhero in Iron Man, and The Avengers overall was just a ton of fun.
While excellent, each of those three movies were missing just a little something, which is why they were stuck in a three way tie. However, what those three movies were missing, the Man Of Steel found. Man Of Steel has broken the tie, it has for me at least captured the title of the best comic book movie ever made. And this is coming from someone who has seen every comic book movie ever made, the good and the bad. I still think Nolan, Whedon, and Favreau are great, but Zack Snyder has just raised the bar. Of course, Nolan can take solace in the fact that he helped Snyder raise the bar, as a producer and writer on the film. Everything just connects perfectly in Man Of Steel.
All of the superlatives that Henry Cavill’s castmates have dished upon him are 100% deserved. In his first outing as Superman, Henry Cavill has joined the ranks of superheroes that were perfectly cast. He’s Warner Bros. answer to Marvel Studios casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Henry Cavill is a Superman that Warner Bros. can build a Justice League around. He looks the part, he acts the part, and he completely nails the role in every possible way.
While Christopher Reeve will always hold a special place in my heart and the hearts of millions of other fans, Henry Cavill has redefined Superman for a new generation. It’s kind of like how Michael Keaton was great in the first two Batman movies, but Christian Bale redefined Batman for the modern era. I remember reading early concerns that Henry Cavill might pull down the movie because he didn’t have the experience level of some of the other actors in the film. Anyone who had those concerns should rest easy, because Henry Cavill not only holds his own among several high caliber actors, but he also delivers an Oscar-worthy performance.
Much has been written of Cavill’s dedication and hard-working attitude on the set of Man Of Steel, and it shows in the movie. Cavill took the role seriously, and he put his heart into it. He gives comic book fans a Superman that they can be proud of. Cavill exceeded every expectation that I had for him in the role.
The fact that Cavill shines in Man Of Steel is very high praise indeed, when taking into consideration that his fellow castmates also delivered. One of the biggest criticisms of many a superhero movie is that the villains often fail to live up to expectations. There have been some great actors playing superheroes, who have never faced a villain truly menacing enough to be their equal.
Michael Shannon turns General Zod into the type of villain that is worthy of a Superman. Watching Zod and Superman go head-to-head in Man Of Steel is like watching the best two boxers in the world fight. It’s like what might have happened if Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson had somehow been able to step into the ring together when they were both in their prime.
Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe are also both brilliant in their roles playing two very different fathers for Superman. Costner in particular gives his best performance since Dances With Wolves. As much as Cavill defines Superman, Costner defines Jonathan Kent. Costner and Diane Lane as Martha Kent as well really make you believe that two country farmers could find an alien in a field and raise him as their own. Their values and faith are what shape the man that Superman becomes.
While there have been some murmurings that the women in the movie might take a back seat to the men in the movie, I personally didn’t find that to be the case. While it’s true that Superman is the focal point of the movie and his two fathers play an enormous role in the movie, there are some strong female characters in Man Of Steel as well.
Antje Traue gives a deliciously evil performance as Faora. If studios in the past have been reluctant to center movies around female superheroes or female supervillains, then they should just take a look at what Antje Traue does in the Man Of Steel. She proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a woman can play just as powerful of a supervillain (or by the same token superhero) in a film as any man can.
Amy Adams is also stunning as Lois Lane. While there are instances where she does fall into the damsel in distress role, there are a lot more instances where she performs heroically and moves the plot forward. If not for Lois, I don’t think Superman would have followed the path that he follows in the movie. She’s the one that helps him believe in the human race. As far as her getting rescued from time to time, Superman rescues almost everyone at one time or another in the film. After all, he’s Superman, and he’s an equal opportunity rescuer.
Even though I haven’t mentioned every cast member just to keep this review from becoming even longer, there’s not anyone who stands out as giving a bad performance. Overall, the cast of Man Of Steel gets an A+.
But it’s not just the cast that makes Man Of Steel the best overall comic book movie ever made. The visuals in the film are stunning. Right from the beginning, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Krypton look so beautiful and mesmerizing. And the fight scenes, they are simply the best superhero fight scenes ever put on film. Nothing else even comes close. If you think you’ve seen a superhero fight scene in a movie before, just wait until you see Man Of The Steel. The fight scenes are intense, brutal, and overwhelmingly destructive. Glancing around at other audience members during some of the fight scenes in the movie, they all had the same jaw-dropping, eyes-wide-open expression that I did.
When Zack Snyder did 300, he changed the way that fight scenes are shown in movies. With Man Of Steel, he has once again rewritten the rules of how to show fight scenes in movies. There’s no slow motion to be seen, it’s fast, furious, fist-flying action.
And as visually impressive as Man Of Steel is to watch, it’s also a joy to the ears. There are literally moments in the film, where I stopped and thought, “Wow, this is the most amazing movie soundtrack I’ve ever heard.” If Hans Zimmer doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for the Man Of Steel soundtrack, it will be a crime worthy of a lifetime of Phantom Zone imprisonment for the Academy members.
Visually amazing, beautifully scored, with a stellar cast, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, “Man Of Steel is the best comic book movie ever made.” Somehow, Man Of Steel takes the best parts of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Marvel Studios’ Avengers movies, and it combines them into one film, while also offering up plenty that is new and different. Man Of Steel is a movie that will both make you think and also thoroughly entertain you.
While I’ve intentionally avoided discussing the plot to keep this review spoiler free, the plot was excellent, and keep checking back, because I will be posting a spoiler-filled plot review soon. I really can’t fathom anyone not liking this movie. At the screening I attended, there was plenty of applause, laughter at just the right moments, and people literally ran when they had to get up to go to the bathroom because they didn’t want to miss a minute. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people peed in their seats just to avoid missing one second of the film. For my own part, I avoided drinks going in, because I knew it could be an issue that would lead to a difficult choice.
As far as any criticism of the film, it’s hard to find any. There are some rather shocking scenes, which are likely to create much discussion among Superman fanboys, but even the likely controversial scenes work amazingly well in the broader scope of the film. If I was forced to say one bad thing about the Man Of Steel, the only downside I can come up with is that there was no after the credits scene. A large part of the audience sat around through the credits in hopes of seeing a little something extra, but there were only credits. When the only criticism you have of a film is that there wasn’t more of it, then you know it was a truly great film. I give Man Of Steel five out of five stars, ten on a scale to ten, and a big thumbs up.