When the red cape flows and whirls at his heels. When the child from Krypton saves a bus load of classmates. When his chiseled features are full and open. That’s the best of Superman in “Man of Steel”. Wait. I’ll take that back. The other “best” is the flying scenes due to some special effects magic. The other “best” isn’t Superman at all, but his fathers. It’s Kevin Costner who plays Superman’s adopted Earth father. And Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Superman’s biological father from Krypton. And one other thing I’ll give it credit for. It takes us into Superman’s childhood and the problems he might have endured being pulled by the unique forces between Earth and Krypton – problems he would necessarily have had to overcome.
As for the rest, we are treated to cardboard or two-dimensional characters. The new, and highly publicized Superman, Henry Cavill, is obviously intended to be the superstar of this film and everyone else stands in his shadow. That’s not Cavill’s fault. That’s the way the film makers wanted it. But I can’t help comparing it to the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. They may be dated as far as not having all the bells and whistles of 21st century effects, but they had everything else that “Man of Steel” did not. Character. Humor. Great acting. And great directing and writing.
Margot Kidder as Lois Lane had personality to spare. And, of course, there was Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane in the TV series “Lois and Clark”. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is a very pale comparison to these two. But I credit that to the fact that “Man of Steel” was written and directed with little attention to anything but the new Superman and the pyrotechnics of its over-developed and over-abundant special effects. I loved Amy Adams in “Enchanted”. She was definitely enchanting. That whole movie hinged on whether she was believable. She was beyond believable. She was fantastic. So we know she can definitely act.
Then there are the special effects gone wild. Like Lady GaGa on acid. Can you imagine? The fight scenes were just bam – bam back – bam – bam back. Smash through a skyscraper. Smash through a skyscraper. Smash through a skyscraper. Over and over and over till you get to the point that one more bash-bam-skyscraper scene (for about 15 minutes?) will make you hit the off button. Totally and absolutely – boring.
Now let’s get to The Man himself. The Superman costume failed to live up to its former glory. Oh, the red cape was great. But the Superman S symbol wasn’t red. It was a kind of pinkish lavender. So what’s with that? Are they tapping into his feminine side? For Pete’s sake. NOT Superman! And Henry Cavill looked a little too rugged. The chiseled features of Christopher Reeve were softer, with more of an open look. His compassion seemed to shine through. Reeve’s character had humor, he could laugh at himself, he could question himself without the dark angst of Henry Cavill’s Superman. I got so tired of seeing those brooding multiple lines between Cavill’s brows. It made him look older than his 30 years, and much more worldly and jaded. That’s not the Superman I have known and loved.
Henry Cavill’s fame started with a young role in “The Count of Monte Cristo”, and later, the role of Charles Brandon in “The Tudors”, a popular TV series that aired between 2007 and 2010. There’s no denying he’s the “hunk” everyone says he is. I just don’t think he’s right for Superman. Or maybe the director/producers should just throw this one out and start over. Get some script writers that know how to do Superman right — as a “man of steel” we can still warm up to. I hope they don’t start down the path of The Dark Knight, making Superman more and more angst ridden and positively evil as he goes along.
The makers of X-Men and the Avengers knew how to do all of the slings and arrows that flesh is heir to without depressing the hell out of us. So it can be done with Superman, too. It’s too bad he’s with DC Comics rather than Marvel. Now Stan Lee knows his superhero – how to make him human as well as superhuman. DC apparently does not. Or . . . maybe it was something more sinister than just bad movie-making. Maybe it was Kryptonite that took the steel out of “The Man of Steel”.