Man of Steel (2013) Movie Review

Man of Steel (2013) Movie Image

If your biggest complaint about previous Superman movies was that they didn’t have enough super ass kicking in them, then congratulations, because it appears director Zack Snyder, along with writers David Goyer and Christopher Nolan (who gets “story by” co-credit) heard your pleas. At the risk of overselling it a little, it’s quite possible that “Man of Steel” packs in more super fights, super destruction, and Superman superheroics than all the previous Superman movies combined. Oh, screw it. Go ahead and toss in the Superman cartoons and TV shows, too. Clocking in at two and a half hours, you won’t be bored for even a second of “Man of Steel”. Wanna know why? Because Snyder isn’t going to let you be bored. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends almost entirely on what expectations you bring to the table.

At this point, Snyder and company assume you pretty much know the general gist of Superman’s origin — shot into outer space as an infant by mom and dad, planet Krypton goes boom, raised in Kansas by childless, but good-hearted country folk. All that stuff is in here, too, though Snyder doesn’t dwell on them, and accepts that you probably already know most of the high points. What the filmmakers are betting on you not knowing nearly as much about is why Kryptonian General Zod (Michael Shannon) tried to overthrow Krypton’s ruling body (eventually losing, then getting his butt shot off into the Phantom Zone for his efforts), or that Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) grew up being bullied and trying desperately to hide his powers but failing miserably. And oh yeah, Lois Lane isn’t a complete idiot, as it turns out.

Russell Crowe and Ayelet Zurer in Man of Steel (2013) Movie Image

Even before Clark Kent discovers his true destiny in “Man of Steel” — that is, to save humanity as the caped superhero — Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has uncovered his identity and visited his mom (Diane Lane) at his old Kansas homestead. If “Man of Steel” is a re-invention of Superman/Clark Kent, it also spends some effort at re-introducing Lois Lane as well. Adams is still the spunky ace reporter (with a Pulitzer Prize under her belt, natch), but it’s going to take more than glasses and the absence of a superheroic curl to fool this gal. It’s almost love at first sight for the two, and their relationship actually figures prominently into the movie’s plot, which, at the end of the day, involves the merging of two species. I wouldn’t say the chemistry between Cavill and Adams burns up the screen like out-of-control heat vision, but there’s something there.

Whereas Superman’s father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) thinks Kryptonians and humanity can one day co-exist (with Superman as the the bridge), Zod, who was genetically bred to do absolutely everything to ensure the survival of the Kryptonian way of life, would rather take the guesswork out of it and just build a new Krypton on the ashes of Earth. That, of course, doesn’t sit well with Superman, or Lois Lane, or all those bull-headed U.S. military types (led by Christopher Meloni) who are more than willing to shoot first and never you mind the questions. When you get right down to it, Superman is an alien. A potentially really dangerous one at that. Indeed, it appears Clark Kent’s human father Jonathan (an understated Kevin Costner) was right when he feared that humanity might never accept his adopted space son if they knew his true origins and what he can do.

Antje Traue and Michael Shannon in Man of Steel (2013) Movie Image

“Man of Steel” opens with Clark Kent wandering the wilderness in an attempt to find himself. Although he goes from town to town, and job to job, Clark still finds time for heroics. He saves workers on an oil rig, revenges a waitress’s honor, and saves a school bus full of kids. Eventually, though, reports of possible UFO activity in the frozen Tundras of Alaska leads him to an encounter with Lois Lane, the U.S. military, and probably more importantly for the desperately aimless Clark, his Kryptonian father. Although his character dies early in the film, Crowe’s Jor-El continues to appear to Clark throughout the movie, filling him in on his past and even acting as a guardian angel. Lois Lane certainly comes to appreciate him, that’s for sure. Jor-El, as it turns out, isn’t just some egghead alien scientist, he could throw down when he needed to.

But you’re probably plopping down your hard-earned money for the action. That, my friends, is something you’re going to get. A lot. Zack Snyder doesn’t allow a sequence in the entire movie to go by without something blowing up, lives dangled in the jaws of death, or Superman leaping to the rescue. The entire two and a half hour running time is chock full of action. And that’s before Clark Kent slips on the red and blue tights. Once he dons the familiar outfit, it’s action, action, and more action. Zod has shown up by now, demanding Superman or else he’s going to do something terrible to Earth. Obviously everyone agrees to hand him over; after all, dude’s an undocumented alien! Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a movie if everything ended there. It doesn’t, and Zod launches a plan that is guaranteed to wipe out Earth’s populace. The lesson here, kids? Never, ever trust an alien General whose own people banished him.

Henry Cavill and Amy Adams in Man of Steel (2013) Movie Image

Directed by Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”), “Man of Steel” is not new territory for the director, but he seems to be making a real effort to shake things up. Literally. Because this new take is being sold as a grittier version of the character, we get plenty of gratuitous handheld camerawork and moments where the camera zooms in and out for no apparent reason. Think the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” TV show, but less depressing. There’s a good chance you might also leave the theater completely exhausted. For those who don’t think there is such a thing as too much comic book action, “Man of Steel’s” second half will surely test that theory. Once Zod launches his attack, it’s almost non-stop punching, kicking, shooting, and exploding. Lots and lots of exploding. The property damage in “Man of Steel” is on a ridiculous scale. There is a prolonged attack on Metropolis that, if you were to take the film with any grain of seriousness, must have claimed at least a few million lives. Easily. I think it’s safe to say that if you thought the previous Superman films didn’t have enough action, that has now been rectified.

Is “Man of Steel” the best Superman movie ever made? Honestly, that’s open to interpretation. It’s certainly a different take on the character, and how Superman resolves his conflict with Zod might leave a bad taste in the mouths of some longtime comic book fans. Henry Cavill’s Superman is brooding and thoughtful, which I liked, but this is also something a lot of people hated about Bryan Singer’s 2006 “Superman Returns” (another Superman outing that I appreciated more than the average critic). I still haven’t a clue why they changed Perry White’s race or Jimmy Olsen’s sex, but considering that the two are barely in the movie, I guess it doesn’t really matter. The problem is, once you’ve almost destroyed the planet, where do you go from here? Is Superman going to be confronted with the ridiculous, capitalist menace of Lex Luthor next? God, I hope not. The only thing worse than Lex Luthor as a villain is Lex Luthor engaged in another damn land scheme.

Zack Snyder (director) / David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan (screenplay)
CAST: Henry Cavill … Clark Kent / Kal-El
Amy Adams … Lois Lane
Michael Shannon … General Zod
Diane Lane … Martha Kent
Russell Crowe … Jor-El
Antje Traue … Faora-Ul
Harry Lennix … General Swanwick
Richard Schiff … Dr. Emil Hamilton
Christopher Meloni … Colonel Nathan Hardy
Kevin Costner … Jonathan Kent
Ayelet Zurer … Lara Lor-Van
Laurence Fishburne … Perry White

Buy Man of Steel on DVD or Blu-ray



About Nix

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Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.

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  • hardrockhaven

    I’m sure with Synder directing, this is probably the best Superman movie ever made. However, I still have about zero interest in watching this. I’m not a big superhero fan and even less of a Superman fan. Never got into him as a cool character. I’m more of a rated R superhero fan ala Blade, Punisher, Walking Dead, or Scalped which they need to make into a movie.

  • Kal-El-1983

    I didn’t hate this film, but it was missing alot that could have made it great. Lex is a great villain when handled right

  • ErickKwon

    Enjoyed the hell out of it. We finally get the kind of amped up superheroics that you got a taste of in sci-fi action movies like “The Matrix Revolutions”, “Hancock”, and “Chronicle”. Sure, I can see where the second half may seem TOO actioney, but it isn’t the numbing sensory assault that you’d get in something from Michael Bay. As for the Zod resolution, I have to give the movie credit for having the balls to go there and showing Superman reacting honestly to it. And despite being covered almost entirely in unflattering alien armor, Antje Traue was fucking stunning; just wanted to point that out.

  • Romeo Garcia.

    It’s the best comic book movie of all time?…No!!,…Is one of the best?…Yes!!!—A lot of people complain that the movie don’t have enough footage of Clark in smallvile and i say:so???..I mean we have for 10 seasons of “smallvile” so i think we all really know everything about “young clark” right?…The action in this movie is awesome….Is like a fight between GOKU and VEGETA….simple like that!!..Don’t read the critics reviews..Go and see it and enjoy!!!..superman is back for great!!!

  • sin isfree

    THIS is how you make Superman Movie !!

    Good Origin, No Bullshit right to the point Story, No idiotic fire breath iron man BS & SUPER AWESOME SUPER FIGHT !!

    & please don’t compare this with previous faggy superman returns.

  • Juggernaut

    It was absolutely terrific on every level. Definately top five superhero movies of all time in my opinion. Finally a Superman that we wanted.
    Cavill was great in all three levels of his character. Russell Crowe was phenomenal as Jor-Ell. Kevin Costner was excellent as Johnathan Kent.
    However the best thing that this movie did was make Lois Lane an actual character. Not a drooling dumb ass. Not a career driven bitch. A real, actual character with depth. Her and Clark’s relationship is a bit forced but they do have good chemistry.
    Overall, I give it a four stars out of four. Really excellent.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      POTENTIAL SPOILERS!

      I’m curious what you thought about the ending, the Superman-Zod ending, I mean? From a comic book reader’s POV.

      • Juggernaut

        I know that traditionally as a character Superman has been portrayed as a perpetual do-gooder. That needed to change in my opinion. The corny acts of sending the bad guy to jail or whatever is dumb by today’s standards. What he did was neccessary. He was forced to do what he did. It also was a way for the movie to stand apart from all other interpertations. If they had treated the character the same way and had him the stalward hero and not gone where they did it would have been out of place within the confines of this movie’s version of the character. I think that we as an audience are mostly adults now. I didn’t see any children AT ALL in the audience. Therefore adult material like that was okay. It was way more realistic in my opinion. What is your take?

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

          I was kind of shocked by it, to be perfectly honest with you. I didn’t see it coming at all. Especially considering that Nolan co-wrote the script, and even his “dark” Batman was, for the most part, non-lethal.

          • Juggernaut

            Someone made an article about how un-Superman it was of him. I just disagree. I really liked every decision that they made with the script. It made sense. He also didn’t do it without remorse. The only real problem I had was the ending was…

            ***SPOILERS***

            It’s odd, I liked it and hated it at the same time I don’t know.On one hand I was extremely exited to see the culmination of him becoming the Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet and all, the Clark that we all know and love. On the other hand, they had him come in contact with so many characters and then they just have him put on a pair of glasses I just didn’t buy it. Perry saw him, JennyOlsen or whoever she was saw him, Steve Lombard saw him. Also Pete Ross knows his identity. Too many people know who he is. Especially the Daily Planet guys. They were feet from him! They can’t tell that it’s him?! I suppose I should be using some suspended disbelief.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            Comic Fan-boy moment!!!! Okay here’s my two cents on the whole ending thing. More to come on full movie later. It works and is actually a nod to the comics. In the original version of the comics Zod and his hencment were actually killed by Superman. He was anguished over it of course. And later it was retconned out. So in my eyes it was a nod to that. As for his identity. The only person that saw him up close was Lois. Perry, Jenny, and Steve all were like 50+ yards away, not feet. Pete Ross knowing is par for the course though.

          • venom_aa

            You are forgetting that lois was screaming his freaking name in front of the policeman when she arrived at the farm.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            Not really. Smallville should pretty much be exempt I feel LOL.

          • Juggernaut

            I suppose you have a point. I guess Perry, Jenny and Steve were about 20 yards or so away. Plus there was a lot of dust and debris in the air, okay, okay, I’ll allow that. You’re also right about Pete Ross. Clark saved his life, he is in his debt for life and will more thatn likely keep his secret. Lois I get. I’m actually glad that they handled their relationship the way that they did. I could have used two lines of dialogue in there though. One would have them explaining Metropolis being rebuilt. I just accepted that a good chunk of time had passed but I wish that they had touched on it. How are they going to top this one? Doomsday? There were a few things that I caught that could be potentilal plot points for the next one.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            I agree about the way they handled Lois and Clark definitely makes more sense. As for the rebuilding of Metroplois, I don’t think the city has been completely rebuilt.

          • LL COOL NATE

            I guarantee that Lex Luther will be spearheading the rebuilding of Metropolis.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

            The Donald Trump of villainy.

          • LL COOL NATE

            Thanks Singer

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            Agreed and makes sense he can get the whole city behind him, get all his secret labs and projects underway and no one would be the wiser. He should also be behind any project that creates a villain like Metallo, Conduit, Parasite etc.

          • LL COOL NATE

            I think Lex world make good channel for these future characters, indeed…. I’m partial to Brainiac, myself

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            As for a sequel I’d say Brainiac, or Metallo, or maybe even Bizarro would work. Parasite is another good one. Actually either Parasite or Metallo would be the best. Save brainiac or Bozarro for a third film.

          • Kal-El-1983

            Conduit needs to be in a film

        • venom_aa

          I just don’t see it. Movie wise the Zod thing doesn’t even fit the character development in the movie. All those teachings the Pa Kent were gone in a second. Was he being forced, yes. Had he other options that required a lot of work, probably, hes freaking Superman. I have seen him lobotomize the powers out of other characters in the comic.
          Comic wise like Mark Waid said this is a good action sci fi movie. Is it the greatest superman movie, No way in hell!
          To me is not the fact of what he actually does, but what he does after. Superman has been devastated before for taking that decision. We see it as if nothing has happened after that, like he had just had a day in the park.
          i did like the how the rest of the movie handles the superman myth but that single action makes the movie utter crap.
          Groger failed to see why Superman doesnt do that, its not to be just a big blue boy scout, it’s because for him doing that is the easiest thing to do. Not doing that, going to the extend to allow others to beat the crap out of him just to protect that thing is what makes him Superman, not his powers. And from a logical perspective, what stops him from doing that again and again? Every villain is going to get kryptonite to defend themselves? He has the power set to level the entire DCU universe. Doing that should take a toll on the character, it didn’t and thats why i dont like it. Groger was lazy when scripting the movie and Znyder didnt do his homework and didn’t rework that scene.
          If this how they are going to make JL im going to stick to Marvel and the DC animated movies.

      • Lexavi80

        SPOILERS *** DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM YET!!!!!!!

        Superman doing what he did at the end, is not Superman.

        That being said, let’s say I can live with it.

        Superman killed Zod… but.. why the pain after he did it? Why he scream and cry when nowhere in the entire film is anything about any moral value or non-killing code? I just don’t get it.

        Is not like with Batman Begins, in which is stated he won’t take any life and he won’t user fire weapons to kill because that would make him the same as Joe Chill or even Carmine Falcone.

        Sorry to say, The Man of Steel didn’t fill my expectations.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          Read my response to this question. It may not be what we’ve come to know, but it happened pretty similarly in history of the character.

        • Juggernaut

          I think that it was more of Kal losing the only other living person from his planet (that we know about). He is truly alone now. I don’t think that he was pained by the fact that he killed Zod as much as he killed the last Kryptonian besides himself of course. Just my opinion.

          • Kal-El-1983

            Perhaps, but his actions up to that don’t mesh with it. He said “Krypton had its chance” Destroyed hundreds of unborn kryptonians and sent the rest to the phantom zone.

        • venom_aa

          You know what? You just gave another thing to think about this movie. At first i thought he had screamed out of remorse for what he has done but yeah, he didn’t do it for that. There’s no way that fits into that scene. Juggernaut could be right, hes pained for killing the only other kryptonian in Earth, and that makes that scene much much worst that i originally thought.

          • Juggernaut

            He may have also been letting out his anger and frustration along with the horror of the lives taken to stop Zod, a man who was esentially only there because of him.
            That would effect him given the fact that Jor-El made it such a point earlier in the film that he is a true “human” as well as his real reason for stepping up, to be a hero for mankind, and thus would be horrified at the loss of all of those human lives and the destuction of the places that he had made his home for the last 33 years, including the destruction of his Mother’s house. All of that plus the loss of the only other living tie to his home planet would be enough for him to become emotional. It was a rough few days for the dude! LOL.
            I do think that a few scenes of the rebuild and Clark at home remorseful would have went a long way. Then into the scene of him at Johnathan’s grave/meeting the Daily Planet gang, etc. It would have brought a bit more of a serious tone that would have made sense.

  • clarkspark

    This is the best DC movie I’ve seen. Faora ‘marry me!’ was amazing and easily my favorite character in the movie. I like the scifi element and direction. Makes more sense the way it was done. Plot moved along nicely and it took its time telling the story. The action was like watching Superman fighting in the Justice League animated series. I went to see it twice and was glad I did. Definitely buying on bluray.

    • ErickKwon

      I was kind of surprised that Michael Shannon’s Zod didn’t really stick with me like I thought an intense actor like him would and I think the reason is the impression that Faora leaves. She was badass, beautiful but gender neutral, and her action scenes may have been more interesting (the fight in Smallville is the first smackdown between Kryptionians, and her scuffles against the soldiers felt like proper Kryptonian beatdowns, way better than the stuff in “Superman II”).

      • clarkspark

        Zod was great but your right it didn’t feel like he stole the show. I have always believe that in order to make a proper superhero movie, the villain has to steal the show. Like Benedict Cumberbatch did for Star Trek Into Darkness. I felt Faora had more screen presence. I was glad to hear she was the same chick from Pandorum, another movie I liked.

  • Kal-El-1983

    I was severely disappointed in this film. Just…very disappointed. I made the mistake of going into it with very high hopes. Heartbreaking really.

    • Juggernaut

      You are definately entitled to your opinion I’m just wondering what specifically you didn’t like.

      • Kal-El-1983

        Johnathan’s “Lessons” I felt were bullshit, letting people suffer and or die just because the world “wasn’t ready” is just not a good lesson. Johnathan Dying of a heart attack, something Clark can not stop, is a better lesson in that he isn’t God, he can’t save everyone. Amy Adams, while a fine actress, wasn’t very convincing as Lois. I honestly did see her as a strong character and she seemed to sleepwalk through the role. I did not mind what he did to Zod, he showed anguish at his action and Superman has killed before so it is not unprecedented. As long as they bring it up in a sequel otherwise it was wasted. Him basically killing a ship full of unborn children was a major WTF though. and overall the plot felt really rushed, not as in it was unfinished but that they were rushing through all of it just so they could get closer to a JLA film. Which was basically confirmed by Goyer.

  • LL COOL NATE

    You know what I can’t stop thinking about with ‘Man Of Steel’? …. why couldn’t Snyder have them speak their native language while on Krypton? It’s REALLY f*cking with me more than I wanna admit. I would’ve loved that kind of authenticity. It f*cks with me that they speak English….and so well, at that.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      Kryptonian is still a new language. It was only first spoken in the “Superman/Batman Apocalypse” animated film and it sounded like backwards speak. The actual alphabet just got created a decade ago or so. I think it was spoken on Smallville too but can’t remember. I think had they been speaking it, it may have taken the audience out or th experience. They didn’t speak Vulcan on Vulcan in Star Trek (’09) and no one had an issue. I get where you’re coming from though.

      • LL COOL NATE

        No matter when it was created concept wise, it would stand to reason that an ancient alien race would speak something more native. It only makes the better sense….and Vulcan’s have a reason for adapting earth languages due to their history with earth and learning culture.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          Yeah that’s true but on their home planet with no other humans, why speak English? In the presence of humans sure, but there weren’t any around except Spock’s mon and they wouldn’t have cared about her. The point is that it’s been that way for decades. It’s only in certain situations do we see them speaking their own languages. I do find it funny that it bothers you so much here but not in sci-fi flicks like Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.

          • LL COOL NATE

            Believe me, it bother’s me in every movie that does it… sci-fi or not… I’d like to think in this day and age they could do what ‘District 9′ did and be accurate with the representation of languages. I could even deal with how Bryan Singer got away with it in ‘Valkyrie’ (beginning the movie in native tongue, then in mid-sentence fading into English to blatantly illustrate translating). BUT ultimately, I would’ve preferred an attempt at a ‘native’ language with subtitles for our viewing pleasure.

          • LL COOL NATE

            And also, yes, I see your point about the Vulcan example… and in retrospect, it f*cks with me when they do it also. I would like movie studios (more accurately the film makers) to not dumb down little details like that for the sake of effort and/or saving us the ‘burden’ of reading subtitles…. movies with attention to detail have longer replay value. Especially after the umpteenth viewing you’d probably even appreciate Snyder for opening up the Superman universe even that much more. Kryptonian could’ve been the new Klingon….I think they dropped the ball on this one.

    • Juggernaut

      Hahahaha, now we’re nitpicking.

      • LL COOL NATE

        I can’t help it! …. it really irks me! …. I refuse to believe that Snyder, Goyer, and/or Nolan didn’t ask these questions.

  • LL COOL NATE

    Also, how did Kal-el shave his beard off?

    • Kal-El-1983

      probably the way the comics, the animated series and Lois & Clark showed..he bounced his heat vision off of a piece of kryptonian metal

      • LL COOL NATE

        Here’s hoping that’s a deleted scene….

    • Juggernaut

      LOL. That was my wife’s one complaint. Does the argument of “He’s Superman” apply like “He’s Batman” does?

      • Kal-El-1983

        like i said before he shaves by bouncing his heat vision off of kryptonian metal…was shown many times in the comic, cartoon and lois and clark

        • LL COOL NATE

          I feel ya bro….but it just sounds ridiculous the way you describe it…. I’m sure there’s a more obviously simple solution that we’re not considering.

      • LL COOL NATE

        But don’t you hate that? That you have to chalk it up to suspended disbelief…. but like @Kal-El-1983 keeps pointing out it’s an issue that’s been touched on. And when there’s a will, there’s a way, I guess… and I’m sure Clark didn’t wanna rock the scruff look the rest of his life so…..bam! Heat vision against ‘Kryptonian metal’ it is….at least until a better idea presents itself.