I saw Man of Steel last night. It was excellent. I might watch it again on the big screen – that was how much I enjoyed it: much much more than Star Trek or Iron Man 3 that both came out this year. I liked it a lot because I felt it was more than your average summer blockbuster * it’s definitely NOT summer in Australia – a very wet winter indeed . I felt it was a weighty movie, and there is certainly depth in the movie. Like all critics, literary or otherwise, it may very well be a case of eisegesis, but Man of Steel in my opinion did well in terms of the depth of the story.
There have been several very good articles written about Man of Steel that I had enjoyed. One of my favourites is on the morality of Superman in Man of Steel.
I do not quite understand why I liked Man of Steel. By all accounts, it is loud, explosive on the action front. I enjoyed that part, but where the movie shines really is the depiction of Krypton — how their technology differs from what we usually expect from science fiction movies — and Clark Kent’s journey to becoming Superman. It does feel like Superman Begins, despite Synder and Goyer saying it’s not .
We follow Kal-El’s growth, from his childhood — his interactions with Martha and Jonathan Kent as he grew up — to his teenage years, to adulthood, where he finally receives the mantle. Although severely panned by critics, I felt that this depiction of Jonathan Kent — not the naive whole-hearted farmer Pa Kent is as he’s usually depicted in the comics, but rather one who is rather utilitarian in morals and one who felt that protecting Clark’s secret was for the Greater Good * The greater good! is refreshing. It is realistic and does mirror’s today’s atmosphere of mass paranoia and cynicism.
And yet it is through all that, that Superman manages to break through. He broke through the layer of cynicism that envelopes society — paying a good price too — and towards the end of the movie, takes steps to become the Superman we know and love.
On the topic of utilitarianism, I think the word “utilitarian” actually does cover the whole of Man of Steel. Everywhere we see utilitarian attitudes, from Pa Kent to General Zod to Superman. We see that the ends justify the means, even though the means are quite terrible. And at the end, there is a feeling that it will all change. And that excites me.
Kal-El is particularly relatable. Superman in my opinion, has always been one of the most relatable comic book characters. Often alone, with only one or two really deep connection, and yet a deep sense of loyalty and duty to society. I like that in a super hero. But it is this depiction of Superman that is extra relatable. Henry Cavill did a fantastic job playing Clark. I’ve watched all Supermans from Reeves to Cain to Welling, I like Cavill’s intepretation of Clark Kent the best — he’s someone who doesn’t feel he belongs, and yet manages to struggle and belong.
Go watch Man of Steel. I will be watching it a second time.