I came into the cinema with one thought; Please, Christ be better than Superman Returns. I’m happy to say it was much better than Bryan Singer’s ill fated love letter to the 1978 classic. However, if you’ve seen Returns you’ll know that really isn’t saying much at all.
Man of Steel succeeds because it acts like Richard Donner’s Superman (the film that made superhero movies what they are today) never existed. This is a fresh take on a seventy fiver year old character and it succeeds in reintroducing Supes to a modern audience. The only thing you’ll really miss from the original is that beautiful John William’s score, but Hans Zimmer does a pretty good job himself.
Does it take itself too seriously? Maybe. It could do with a little (well, a lot) more humour but it’s hardly The Dark Knight. This is still Superman. This character is absolutely the same as from 1978 and if it feels different it’s because the world around has changed, not because he has.
That ending has caused some debate among the die hard fans and while I won’t spoil it here, it is completely a logical and justified move and not something that has been tacked on for the sake of grit.
The action sequences are properly impressive. We get to see Superman punching bad guys through buildings and out into space. It feels like the kind of thing you’ve always wanted to see in a comic book movie. A fight that reminds you these people have super powers, and the city looks like it’s been nuked by the end of it, as it should.
The cast is solid. Cavill is pitch perfect as both Clark and Superman while Amy Adams gives us a cracking Lois Lane. Zod was a genuinely unsettling villain with a believable agenda for wanting to lay a bitch slap on Earth. My only gripes were the absence of Jimmy Olsen and the proper, bespectacled Clark Kent (although the latter finally appears at the very end, making me fanboy harder than seeing him in costume).
Man of Steel is a strong reboot, packed with action and tense moments. The sequel will doubtless improve if only because we don’t have to go through all the origin stuff again, but then, if I do have to sit through an origin story I know like the back of my hand, at least Zack Snyder was kind enough to add in Russel Crowe riding dragons for me.