Man of Steel: My movie review on Superman’s search for an identity

Superman as you have never seen him before.

Superman as you have never seen him before.

Throw out everything you knew about Superman. What you’ll see in Man of Steel will take you to a journey of Superman you have never seen before.

No longer is the story of Superman a fantasy seen through the eyes of gazing admirers. Instead, for the first time in a major motion film, we see into the soul of an outsider, longing to find a place called home. We see for the first time his ultimate pain.

For so long Superman has been a fantasy to us. We see how wonderful he is, the charm in his protection of the world and ultimately his love for the planet he calls home. In this rendition of the caped wonder, we see the struggle of the outsider. He questions his place on earth. He wonders why he exists and if he does reveal to the world his true identity, would they accept him?

In this film, there are flashbacks here and there of Clark Kent and his troubled past. He recalls his struggles as a youth, trying to hone in his powers and wondering why he was so different from the world. Despite all the abilities, he still wonders if he belongs in a world like this. His earth father Jonathan (portrayed wonderfully by Kevin Costner) tells his son that he is not from this world, that he is not like the people of this earth. But Jonathan reaffirms that no matter what, he still loved him. It was for the first time we see Clark as vulnerable as he is, comforted by the words of his earth father’s confidence in him.

Costner plays an amazing Jonathan and Diane Lane plays an equally amazing Martha Kent, the mother. And in all honesty, I think these two make the film that special. What we get to understand is how Clark was raised and how despite all his pain growing up, it all started with the first people who loved him, encouraged him and believed in him.

That upbringing gives us the Superman we see in this film. His longing to find his place in this world is encouraged by Jonathan and is ultimately re-confirmed in the Fortress of Solitude when he meets his birth father Jor-el. Superman understands who he is and why he belongs on this earth. His only question is whether or not the people of this earth views him the same way. With the help of Lois Lane (played by the amazing Amy Adams), he finally has some clarity to that question.

The internal struggle of Superman is something we all can identify with. Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder understands that. This is why their take on this version of Superman hits home so much. They dig deep into the soul of a man lost, looking for a place to belong. And in doing so, they reach into our souls and remind us of a time when we felt the exact same way.

They made Superman human. Superman wanted to be human. We felt it.

There was a lot of symbolism throughout the film, mainly surrounding Superman’s search for his place. Henry Cavill gave us a gritty, tough Kal-el and Michael Shannon’s rendition of General Zod gave us a glimpse of a fear of reality that we often hope to never encounter.

Every pain that Superman felt, we felt with him. His battle with Zod embodied an internal battle within for Superman and for a split moment, we got a chance to walk a step in Superman’s red boots. The story was told in a way where the actual super power of Superman wasn’t the focus. Instead, it was the core of Superman’s will and desire that was tested. That was what made me love Superman as a kid. That’s why this movie spoke to me.

I can’t go too much into detail about this film, but I want to restate that this is a different kind of Superman. This is the Superman we can relate to. This is the kind of Superman that isn’t perfect. This is the kind of Superman that is very human.

It’s not the kind of Superman we’re used to but that’s the story that Snyder and Nolan wanted to tell. It’s never always peachy and crystal clear with our heroes. Many times they’re lost, looking for a place to belong. This is that story for our beloved hero from another planet. For the first time in seemingly an eternity, we’re welcomed into the pain and struggle of a man we all thought was invincible.

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There are some notes that I couldn’t fit into my movie review, but I wanted to share.

  • Hans Zimmer’s work for the score was outstanding. The heavy use of drums matched the racing heartbeats I had throughout the film. He captured so well the emotion and tension of each and every moment. 
  • Kevin Costner was the best actor in the movie. His Pa Kent to me was so simple, yet so powerful. The way he treated his son, giving him hope was what every father should strive to do for their children.
  • Diane Lane was an amazing Ma Kent too. Her undying love for her son truly was a masterpiece on the silver screen.
  • Amy Adams was a different kind of Lois Lane, but it worked so well for this film. She made you believe that there is good in the outsider nobody understood. Well done.
  • Michael Shannon was a great Zod. Not as good as Terence Stamp, but this version of Zod was a new form of evil that I think worked well with the film.
  • Seriously, Kevin Costner made me tear up in this film. He hasn’t done that to me since Field of Dreams.
  • You can see the pain and suffering in the eyes of Henry Cavill. Despite his rugged good looks, he captured this Superman so well.
  • Symbolism was great and a little cheesy. But hey, it worked well.
  • Great fight scenes. Not epic, but that’s not what made it great.
  • The ending isn’t your typical ending of course. But after seeing the entire film and experiencing the journey of it, I think the ending was fittingly perfect.
  • Link to photos I took watching the world premiere.

I plan to watch this again. Mainly because I loved it. But more importantly, because it connected me closer to Superman than any other versions of him.

This review might be a little bias because of my fascination with Superman, but in all honesty, I don’t think I have seen any Superman this raw and real ever. That’s powerful.

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I wrote a second review for my sports blog. A little bit of the same theme, but a different way of viewing it.

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