For this movie, we get a complete story reset with an all new cast which I felt was pretty solid. The movie starts off on the planet Krypton where we get to see the planet’s final days, very similar to the original Superman movie. However, we see a lot more of Krypton and Superman’s father Jor-El now played by Russell Crowe. Crowe did a good job and had a much larger role in this film compared to Marlon Brando’s role in the original Superman.
Like in the original Superman movie, Jor-El has foreseen that the days of Krypton and its people are numbered and is trying to convince the planet’s leaders that they need to act immediately to prevent their people’s extinction. In this version of the story, Jor-El isn’t the only one who has come to this conclusion; Krypton’s military leader Zod (Michael Shannon) has come to a similar conclusion. However, Zod and Jor-El have very different ideas on how to proceed. Jor-El wants to send his newborn son into space while Zod launches a military coup to overthrow the current government and take charge himself. Why he wants to spend time taking over a doomed planet is unclear; it’s just one of the many logic flaws to be found in the movie plot.
Zod is eventually stopped and put on trial for his crimes where he and his people are sentenced to the Phantom Zone, which in this version seems to mean they are placed in suspended animation and sent into space on some kind of ship. I know, the perfect punishment for criminals on a planet days from annihilation is to freeze them and send them off-planet. The plot must be pushed forward.
A baby Superman makes his way to Earth where he is discovered by Kansas farmers, Jonathan (Kevin Cosner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent who raise him as their own son. Eventually, Clark learns of his origins, Zod and company come to Earth, and Superman emerges.
I had high hopes that Man of Steel would succeed where Superman Returns failed. After all, the creative team for this one includes Christopher Nolan, David Goyer who brought us Batman Begins (which I loved), and Zack Snyder directing. You even have Hans Zimmer doing the movie soundtrack which is the next best thing to John Williams in my opinion. So what happened?
You definitely have a visually appealing movie a la Watchman with quite a bit of action and destruction. Unfortunately, the story just seems rushed and not well thought out. I think part of the problem is that it tried to do too much in one movie. Though this movie’s story differs quite a bit from the original two Superman movies, it essentially tries to do in one film what those films did in two: establish Superman as a character, tell his origins, and create an intriguing conflict with one of the best on-screen Superman villains to date, General Zod.
I also was disappointed that no real groundwork was laid for future DC Comics movies like Justice League. If DC Comics and Warner Bros. are planning to create an elaborate connecting DC movie-verse similar to what Marvel has done, the contents of this movie have me fooled. We do get to see some Lexcorp trucks in Metropolis, so I guess we will eventually see the evil manipulative corporate CEO Lex Luthor rather than the bumbling criminal seen in past movies. Don’t expect any kind of after credit scenes or mention of other characters in the DC Universe in this one, not even a Batman reference or Gotham joke.
The movie has lots of action, buildings falling over, nice visual effects, even Kryptonian-like flying creatures which I am sure the kids will love. If that is all you want or expect from these kind of movies, then you should love this one. If you are looking for a well-developed plot that possibly starts to lay the groundwork for a larger DC movie experience, then I think you will be pretty disappointed.