#616 – Review: Man of Steel

man-of-steel

Man of Steel finally made its way into theaters this past weekend and fans of boring super heroes everywhere rejoiced. On this blog I’ve done my fair share of piling on Superman. Plenty of you have let me know through the comments that I’m wrong about Superman and I just haven’t read the right comics or watched the right seasons of Smallville. To be fair I haven’t read that many Superman comics; I’ve always been a Marvel man. I’m no fan of Superman but, in spite of that, I thought Man of Steel was a great movie.

From the trailers I thought Man of Steel had a chance to be a good movie. Under the guidance of producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder, though, Man of Steel exceeded my expectations and made me more of a fan of Krypton’s last son. The movie didn’t waste too much time on Superman’s origins, the movie logically explained kryptonite and its effects on Superman and the movie had Superman punching dudes all over the place. Man of Steel had almost everything I wanted in a Superman movie and almost nothing I didn’t want.

Here are some thoughts I had while watching Man of Steel. I’ll do my best to keep things spoiler-free but, you’ll be happy to know, Man of Steel Superman knows how to fly, unlike Smallville Superman.

Messiah Figure

As David pointed out in last week’s post, #614 – Biblical Superman, Superman is very much a messiah figure. Kal-El is sent to earth in order to save us from ourselves and lead us into the light. Again, my limited knowledge of Superman probably blinded me to this aspect to his character, but it is front and center in Man of Steel. One of the best parts about Man of Steel was Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Jor-El, Superman’s Kryptonian father. I was moved by Jor-El’s speeches and his vision for what Kal-El could be for humanity. Superman is one of our culture’s strongest symbols, enduring for almost 80 years. Perhaps he fascinates our culture because we all know we need a messiah, and we prefer one with a cape across his back instead of a cross.

Father Figure

Most of us would love to have even one great father figure, but in Man of Steel Superman had two. Both Jor-El and Jonathan Kent were tremendous role models for their son Kal-El/Clark. Jor-El gave his son a vision for what he could be and Jonathan Kent gave his son the character necessary to live up to that vision. I heard from a number of friends and family members that pastors used Man of Steel illustrations in their Father’s Day sermons. I’m not a father yet but hope to be some day. If I can cast a vision for my children like Jor-El did for Kal-El and if I can train up my children like Jonathan Kent did for Clark, then I’ll feel pretty good about myself as a father. I want my children to know that God can use them to do something greater than anything Superman could ever do. I want to model the type of faith and surrender that makes that fruitfulness possible.

Super Punches

While I loved the messiah and father figure aspects of Man of Steel, my favorite part was the exciting action. Zack Snyder’s 300 was extremely violent and action-filled. While Man of Steel isn’t filled with over-the-top violence like 300, it had its fair share of super punches and super-powered action sequences. My biggest problem with Superman Returns and even the Christopher Reeve Superman movies is that they were pretty boring. Superman is the most powerful super hero and, in movies, he spent his time fighting bank robbers, Gene Hackman, Richard Pryor and Kevin Spacey. I know Superman 2 had General Zod, but the limitations in special effects kept those action sequences from reaching an epic level. Zack Snyder had no such limitations in Man of Steel and Superman’s fights with his fellow Kryptonians are everything I wanted them to be. They were massive, violent and full of super punches. Superman needs some super villains in order to have some super fights. Man of Steel did not pull the punches on any of those fronts.

Man of Steel was a great movie and has seemingly made me a fan of Superman himself. Superman isn’t going to supplant the X-Men as my favorite super heroes any time soon, but Man of Steel definitely pushed him up a couple levels. I’m looking forward to the eventual sequel and may bide my time by reading some Superman comics.

What did you think about Man of Steel?

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5 Responses to “#616 – Review: Man of Steel”

  1. I am interested to hear you say that you saw Costner’s Jonathan Kent giving Clark the necessary character to be Superman, because I felt that was far less present here than in any other telling of the tale. Mostly I saw a father worried and scared about keeping his son secret and safe.

    • Jonathan was interested in protecting Clark but he knew he couldn’t forever. Jonathan knew that Clark was going to change the world, for good or for bad. I think Jonathan helped Clark see the gravity of his decision to use his powers, to make it worthwhile and not to waste it on beating up a bully. And most importantly Jonathan modeled what it meant to place the needs of others above his own, even at the highest cost.

      • Eh, ok, I’ll buy that. I liked the movie a lot, but am still processing some of the finer points. I’m glad it was a Superman you can enjoy!

      • Also, I really liked how Jonathan left the decision up to Clark for the path he wanted to take. I’m sure you know from your old children, as I know from my students, we can’t choose for them. We just have to lead them in the right direction and hope they choose correctly.

  2. A really interesting take:

    The Plato reference completely passed me by in the movie.

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