"Man of Steel" First Impressions

[Date: June 15, 2013]

By Marc Pritchard

Man of Steel "Joyless," Mark Waid said. And I guess he'd be one to know, right, given the great things he's done with our boy over the years, some of it mined for this movie? Still, in this case I don't see things the way he does.

No, there isn't a lot of overt joy in this film, but that seems to me entirely the point. And it's not darkness, either. No, this movie is about loneliness, sadness, alienation and the raw impulse toward freedom. If it is joyless and dark, it is only to the extent that joy's absence is the hole that must be filled - nay, that will be filled.

Man of Steel, in other words, is about why joy and love and trust matter, and why they are hard-won and worth the tragedy of death. It is not some wanton celebration of joy's disappearance into nostalgia. There is death and destruction, yes, but there would have to be. That's what "serious" and "realistic" look like if you take those ideas... well, seriously. Battles to the death between beings with this magnitude of power would not confine themselves to a few city blocks and do little more damage than blowing out a few windows, popping open a few manholes, and knocking over a single Coca-Cola billboard.

I'm sorry, but those days are over.

And so lament that, I say, but not the mood and tone of this film. Lament the loss of our innocence, not Superman's. Because Superman doesn't need to be "innocent," he just needs to be aware. Responsible. Accountable.

And this Superman is all of that.

And so I say this film is the product of a reverence to this character and the ideals he embodies, not a betrayal, as some are saying - a reverence, moreover, that may make its first move on faith (which never impresses me) but doesn't let it end there. A film with the courage of its convictions, and those, I find, are in short supply.

So, yeah, I remain, after two showings now, thoroughly favourable to Zack Snyder's and David Goyer's interpretation and presentation of Superman. To some extent, I can echo a lot of what my Homepage colleagues have already said:

    Shawn Morrissey (aka Slo-Mo): There is a sombre tone, to be honest, and this was something that worried many fans. While there is a melancholy, it's suitably well-measured and unfolds to reveal a heroic centerpiece.

    Scotty V (aka Scotty V): The jaw-dropping action scenes are nothing short of awe-inspiring at every turn. [...] Man of Steel grabs you from it's [sic] first fade-in and doesn't let go until the credits roll.

    Steve Younis (aka Chief): Henry is Superman! He embodies the role so well. He too takes us on a journey of so many emotions. [...] He's able to deliver so much in just the smallest of glances.

Indeed, boys, indeed.

Do I think there were problems? I do, especially with the editing, but if we're still avoiding the details, then let's avoid them. Right? We'll get to them. Meanwhile, if it's gotta be in numbers, as of today I give Man of Steel an 8/10, but, believe me, I haven't said my last on this and a second review absolutely stuffed with spoilers and other goodies should be ready in another week or so.

Meet you here.