After the huge success of critic and public obtained by the Dark Knight trilogy (Christopher Nolan, 2005, 2008 and 2012), it was just a matter of time for the other DC’s star to suffer its reboot: Superman would fly… again.
It was very well received that Nolan himself would work as creative consultant, because of his work with the Batman character: he made him more realistic, darker, more human. There were very few voices, nearly unaudible, that sayd that those things were precisely what Superman didn’t need. More so, after ‘Superman Returns’ (Bryan Singer, 2006) tried to walk that path, too.
As counterweight (and relief to many) came Zack Snyder to direct. If anything characterizes this man films, it would be his powerful visual style, his sense of show and his ability to take into the screen what everybody thought was impossible to take: ‘300’ (F. Miller, 1998). and ‘Watchmen’ (A. Moore, 1986).
So, with Nolan as creative consultant and Snyder directing, the last son of Krypton couldn’t be in better hands.
The level of hype reached by this film was very high. The first teasers were powerful, intense, epic, promising… They were wonderful because they had what the film doesn’t: mesure. Man of Steel is an extravagance of spectacle, a roller-coaster without pause or truce, a steamroller that crushes the spectators with mountains of special effects, action and more unstoppable action. It seems as if the people responsible had the goal of not letting anyone think very much. Because if we think about it… the fireworks castle appears as what it really is: a void delusion.
An aspect that worked very well in the Batman trilogy was the novelty of what it told. Even with four previous movies, there were still fragments of Bruce Wayne’s story that remained untold. And on those pieces focused Batman Begins (C. Nolan, 2005), to fully develop the character over those foundations in the next installments. In this sense, Man of Steel started with a disadvantage, because the origins and development of the character are well known. However, instead of looking for a new point of view, inexplicably Snyder starts the film employing twenty minutes of film in telling exactly the same thing that Richar Donner had told us in half the time in ‘Superman’ (R. Donner, 1978).
Then comes a more interesting second part of the movie. Not because it’s new, because it tells again the youth of Clark Kent, his relationship with his adoptive parents, the slow assumption of his powers, until his meeting in the Fortress of Solitude with Jor-El and his transformation in the hero of the red cape. By the way, Donner dared to hire Marlon Brando for merely 10 minutes of screen time, and I guess they didn’t dare to do the same with Russell Crowe. At least in this part of the movie the editing structure changes (I would bet it was Nolan’s idea to have flashbacks), and they delve a bit (just a bit, don’t forget this is not a Malick’s film) in the worries and fears of this alien. And there are dialogues! They also get to introduce (with shoehorn) the Lois Lane character and her relation with Clark Kent/Superman.
And after that… the disaster. Snyder uses the extremely long third act to tell us the same that Donner and Lester had told us in ‘Superman II’ (R. Lester, 1980). Yes, it’s the myth, the fight with Zod would define the character in the future, and it had to be told (again?), but without the element of surprise, there’s only one way to win the battle: numeric superiority. And here the troops are minutes and minutes of spectacular action. Very spectacular and very well done, because Snyder isn’t Bay, but after ten minutes of massive destruction of buildings, more action simply tires. One just lets himself go, stops thinking about the plot holes, stop worrying about the characters, gets out of the story and, in the end, commits deathly sin in this type of films: gets bored.
And, is there anything worst than getting bored with a Supeman movie? Yes: being unable to get out of the cinema humming any music.