Man of Steel is suitably dark but overall disappointing with some miscasting and a poor script. Ellen Daniels takes a look at the film for Top 10 Films.
Superhero movies are a bit like London buses, you wait a few years then suddenly six come along in the space of 12 months. I’ve never been a huge fan of Superman but hearing that Christopher Nolan was co-producing gave me some hope that this might be a good ol’ dark, anti-heroesque movie. It turns out it is quite dark, however, my ranking for the film is really more for effort. Man of Steel is trying to be Batman Begins but is let down by the casting and script.
It starts off well enough on Krypton, explaining the context and why little Kal-El must be sent to earth, and for the first half an hour I can forgive Henry Cavill’s slightly wooden, strong but silent characterisation of Clark Kent. Then he finds out that he’s an alien, and starts to harness his powers, and even then, still strong and silent. THEN, General Zod attacks Earth, and yes, still strong and silent.
I was expecting Cavill to give Clark Kent some depth and character, and whilst we see the “man of steel” develop somewhat, he doesn’t seem to make his decisions with any sort of conviction. From childhood he’s conflicted, which you obviously would be if you were a super strong kid who would probably be the savior of the world. This continues into Zod’s invasion, where he pretty much tells Clark that he has to hand himself over or else the human race will be wiped out. I’ll leave it at that for the sake of spoilers, but I didn’t feel like his decision was this deep, life-changing choice. Maybe it’s because unlike a couple of other superheroes, he was born like that, not a “self-made” superhero, making his decision seem small in the grand scheme of things.
I don’t like to make huge sweeping negative statements, but Amy Adams as Lois Lane was so miscast. She was boring, and just seemed out of place in the film. The dialogue between her and Cavill was dreary, they didn’t bounce off each other and it felt like she was just in a lot of scenes for the sake of it.
There were some positives in Man of Steel – the special effects are impressive and Superman hasn’t got red tights and/or underwear. He looks the part of the dark hero at least, and his superpowers were explained scientifically, so when he was flying around you know that it’s because he can manipulate gravity, as opposed to “he’s flying because he stuck his arm in the air”. We jump back and forth from the present to flashbacks, which works and young Clark is actually quite impressive; he was more convincing than adult Clark at times.
Overall, Man of Steel has so much potential, and it is almost there, but there are too many lines that make me cringe, for example, one moment sees an army captain remark how Superman is “really hot”. I’d say with the bright lights and lack of depth and riveting dialogue, this movie would suit a kid. In all fairness Cavill is hot, but I don’t want this brought to my attention in the movie.
Let’s just hope the wait for a sequel is worth it.