The last feature film on the most famous & beloved superhero of all time was in 2006 with Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman in Superman Returns, which was a homage sequel to Superman I & II and ignores the events of III & IV. 2013 sees the franchise rebooting itself with a lot of changes done to the origin story as well as events shown in Superman II. Man Of Steel is directed by Zack Snyder, produced by Christopher Nolan, and written by David S. Goyer. Henry Cavill stars as Clark Kent / Kal El / Superman with Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner,Laurence Fishburne and Russell Crowe in main roles. Other notable actors Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni are also featured while scifi regulars Ian Tracey, Tamoah Pennikett & David Paetkau have small roles.
Since the story of Clark Kent & Superman are universally known I’ll focus more on the differences in storyline here rather than do my usual review. Krypton is a wholly awesome looking planet and the Kryptonians are at all kinds of technologically advanced but the planet faces imminent destruction due to its unstable core, the result of years of depleting Krypton’s natural resources. The ruling council is deposed by the military leader General Zod and his followers and before they can get to him, eminent scientist Jor El and his wife Lara launch their newborn son Kal-El on a spacecraft to Earth after infusing his cells with a genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race. Zod needs the codex to restart the Krytonian population on another planet which he plans to terraform to suit their requirements. Zod kills Jor El but he & his followers are captured and banished to the Phantom Zone – but when Krypton later explodes, they are freed. This not like in the original movie. Kal El’s craft lands on earth and is found by Kansas farmer Jonathan Kent and his wife Martha who hide the craft under their barn and raise Kal El as their son, naming him Clark. The differences in Superman’s life is also to be noted – he is treated as a freak and his strength & powers are noticed, when he saves his classmates and bus driver from drowning in a river. Jonathan reveals to a teenage Clark that he is an alien and advises him not to use his powers publicly, fearing that society will reject him.
Jonathan is killed in a twister Clark lives a nomadic life, unable to cope with the death of his adoptive father. Working different jobs from place to place he is noticed for his feats but his identity remains unknown as people only know him as Joe. When a Kryptonian scout vessel is unearthed (being on our planet for 18,000 years) on Ellesmere Island in Canada, a joint US/Canadian military mission is launched to investigate it. Clark having infiltrated the mission enters the the alien ship, it allows him to communicate with the preserved consciousness of Jor-El in the form of a hologram. Jor-El reveals Clark’s origins, his story, and the extinction of his race, and tells Clark that he was sent to Earth to bring hope to mankind for a better future. Lois Lane, an award winning Daily Planet journalist is also in the area and follows Clark into the ship. She gets injured by a sentry robot and is saved by Clark. Her story of a superhero rescuer is rejected by her editor Perry White so she investigates on her own and traces Clark back to the Kent farm in Kansas. After Clark tells him his story she decides not to write about it to protect his identity and returns back to Metropolis. This is when General Zod and his crew, having searched the various worlds that his people had colonized and finding that none survived the destruction of Kryton eventually pick up a signal from the unearthed vessel and reaches earth. Zod demands that the humans deliver Kal El to him and that he will leave them alone if they do so within 24 hours.Failure to do so will mean the destruction of earth and all life on it.
The FBI catches up to Lois and bring her to the military base and Clark, now in his Superman outfit which his father had made for him, also willingly gives himself up. The military hand him and Lois over to Zod’s second-in-command, Faora, at Zod’s request. Once in their vessel Zod that he plans to terraform earth to suit the climate situations of Krypton and use the codex to bring forth a new generation of Kryptonians. However, the terraforming process would result in the extinction of humanity due to numerous ecological changes, rendering the planet uninhabitable to those native to Earth. With the help of Jor El’s AI Clark & Lois escape from their vessel and Clark defeats Faora and the others while Zod deploys the world engine and initiates the process in Metropolis and over the Indian Ocean, increasing the planet’s mass and atmosphere. After Clark destroys the world engine, the military uses the spacecraft that brought him to Earth in an aerial strike on Zod’s ship over Metropolis, sending Zod’s forces back into the Phantom Zone. Superman destroys the ship that carries the Genesis Chamber, the pivotal technology to restore the Kryptonian race with the codex. With only Zod now remaining, Clark & the general battle it out in the air and on the land and when Zod threatens to kill innocent human bystanders, Clark is forced to kill his enemy by snapping his neck. Having convinced the military that he is a friend, Superman as he is now called warns the government that, if it wants his help, it will be on his terms. The movie ends with Clark creating a false identity of a reporter and joining Lois at the offices of the Daily Planet.
Lots of changes and using the origin story from Superman 1 with the battle against Zod and forces in Superman II, Man Of Steel is an epic exciting run that never lets up. The movie is fast paced and energetic but that also makes it lose some of the charm that we come to know with Superman. The special effects and action sequences are impressive, although I’m not sure I like the fact that Superman’s take off is so powerful that the ground cracks each time he does it. Impressive CGI, space ships and fight scenes are all great but I miss the charm of Christopher Reeve. I’ll give it an 8 outta 10!