I wanted to like this film, I really did. I managed to get past the fact that they blatantly re-used some of the score from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy in their trailers, and somehow forgiving this offense I thought: “Hell, why not. It’s a superhero film after all, at least it will be a good watch.”
But for me, there were three main issues:
Truthfully, I liked the start. I liked how there was no total reliance on the struggles of a young Clark Kent growing up and realising his powers– we all know the Superman Story, and for those who didn’t, it was a good introduction. I liked how it was all told through mismatched flashbacks. It wasn’t over done, and it was a nice background. However, I couldn’t help but notice that there are other films that Man of Steel borrowed from, or at least resembled in some way, and those films ultimately did it better. Perhaps the most stark similarities lie with Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012). When Superman is taking on the bad guys in Small-Town America, you could easily mistake it for the sequence in Thor when Thor and company are facing Loki, in the middle of the same Small-Town-American street, with almost the same sort of badguys. Casting our mind back to The Avengers, well what do you know? Aliens being beamed to Earth from outer space using some kind of high-tech transport? Sending them back to where they came from by reversing this capability/blowing it up? And helping to achieve this by having our hero fly up into said alien machine? “Metropolis”/New York?! Sounds strangely familiar to me.
Coupling this with the fact that the initial premise of a God-On-Earth searching for his beginnings and struggling to fit in is remarkably reminiscent of Disney’s Hercules, Man Of Steel in some ways feels like an amalgamation of many that came before. And to be fair, those that came before actually had character. Thor and the rest of the Avengers had strong personalities to support a film of full-on, long-term action. They also had another vital factor too, and that is (as mismatched or imperfect as it might be) character chemistry.
So there was none, or at least very little. It tried, it really did. But other than having underdeveloped supporting characters, the most vital chemistry of all –the whole Lois-Clark thing– was incredibly wanting. And with a lack of chemistry or character in general, the length of the film was a great problem indeed.
If the creators had intended this film to be a mortal’s-eye-view of several god-like beings fighting and battling to the death, it probably succeeded. Most of the (wholly dispensable) human characters didn’t have a clue what was going on because everything moved too fast and so unbelievably violently. So yes, if we were meant to take the point of view of confused and battered bystander, then congratulations, this film is a masterpiece.
However, high art, deep-thinking piece it was not; it’s a superhero, action movie, and therefore it mostly failed to engage. After battle sequence and then another and then another and in the end Superman still only barely wins (after what seems like half the planet and its population has been destroyed with little consequence), as a viewer I was left feeling exasperated and bored.
Im generally not the hugest DC fan to begin with, and I’ve never been a great lover of Superman, so perhaps I was always a lost cause. But I guess then, Man of Steel has failed to convert, in my case at least, those standing on the outside into dedicated fans.