My Reactions to Man of Steel

I’ve just seen Man of Steel at the cinema and wanted to share a few thoughts.

This isn’t intended as a review exactly, more a record of my reaction. There are spoilers.

And before we begin, I'd like to say that I am one of the few people that liked Superman Returns (don't hate me).

There were lots of things I liked and didn't like about the film although overall I enjoyed it while I was watching.

Some good things…

First off, let’s get this out of the way right now: Henry Cavill looks amazing! I say this partly to appreciate his magnificent sculptured body and partly so you keep it in mind for when I talk about the ending.

The alien angle. This film felt like a very different beast and an actual fresh take on Superman.

The fact that Lois knows who he is. It always bugged me that an ace reporter wouldn’t notice the similarities between her hero and the guy she works with every day.

The artificial intelligence action sequence.

The way they used flashbacks rather than a linear story to tell his past. I’m getting quite bored of origin stories and this helped a little bit.

The thing he did to the truck. That was brilliant.

Showing men in positions of power who aren’t white. One day we might see people who are important in a global crisis who aren’t American but one thing at a time I suppose.

The idea of individual’s being programmed for roles on Krypton (helped to explain why Zod was such a psycho)

The line about the ‘S’. It made me smile.

Making Superman make tough choices often dodged in the comics.

Some not so good things…

The whole DNA database plotline. What? Eh? If Jor-El is so against it, why not destroy it? If he wants to keep it, why not put it on a memory stick? Maybe I missed the point but something about that didn’t click for me. If you could explain what Superman was supposed to do with it, I'd be grateful.

CGI fights that go on a bit too long. I saw Superman 2 recently. Reeve aside, it is in many ways an awful film. But the fight sequence is still enjoyable for me because the characters are seen reacting and telegraphing the action. A lot of modern films have such fast sequences that it’s harder to see the narrative in them. I don’t think the final fight with Zod was even necessary, although the way it ended was interesting.


This deserves a special slot of its own. It’s a bit father centric for a start. And why do women on Krypton need to wear lipstick when fighting? And why aren’t there more female soldiers? And why is it that when we do see females in the military their role is to either (a) ask stupid questions, or (b) comment on how sexy Superman is?

And worst of all, the female intern needs Lawrence Fishburne (who is playing a chunkyish Perry White) to help her run away? And why is she the one trapped later? Is it so that she needs the two men to save her?

Come on Hollywood, you can do better than this.

The ending (SPOILER!)

At the end, he cuddles Lois when his super senses must have been humming with the sounds of hundreds of people trapped, in pain and dying. There's no Superman helping the survivors sequence. In fact there's no suggestion he's even noticed.

After everything that’s happened he decides to get a job. Given how distinctive Cavill looks (see above) and given that the whole world is interested in him and given that they know he has a ‘thing’ going on with Lois Lane. The idea that he can put on a pair of glasses and go and work for the Daily Planet is so stupid I want to use the caps lock.

*willpower check*





I actually quite liked it that they hadn’t gone for the secret identity thing and then at the end, bang! In with the stupid.

Okay, thanks for letting me get that out.

Other things

Superman isn't as heroic as he is in previous films. Many people die. This does fit with the movie but made me a little sad.

The music is dramatic and there’s nothing wrong with it but there’s no John Williams to be heard. That makes me sad too.

Oh, and he doesn’t give you that little smile to camera at the end. That will make my mum (and Em) sad.


6 responses to “My Reactions to Man of Steel

  1. And the winner for "Photo I never in a billion years thought I'd see on Pete's blog goes to…"

    It's interesting how the sexism plays out in this film. Lately I've been giving films a pass if they do something, anything, that shows women in a remotely non-sexist way. Man of Steel has Lara being a council member and scientist in her own right, Lois Lane showing she actually deserves that Pulitzer (and for the most part, keeping her cool — she only screams when it really would be painful/scary). The one major slip-up for me was that absolutely ridiculous "he's kind of hot" line at the end. By that point, I think the audience members have made up their own minds. I think your sexism points are bang-on, though.

    The Daily Planet thing didn't bother me as much as it did you, but that's because I've had people not recognise me when I'm wearing my glasses, or just a different outfit from what they normally see me in. I think people will see Clark Kent because they're expecting to see Clark Kent.
    Katherine Hajer recently posted..#fridayflash: beigeMy Profile

    • Oh yes, the "he's kind of hot" line. *shakes head*

      I think the argument that people only see what they're expecting is a valid one but I suspect it doesn't work as well when government agencies and journalists and police and, well, pretty much everyone is actively looking for Superman. Especially when Lois Lane is their best lead. And…wait a minute! Did you just confess to a secret identity?

  2. I also rolled my eyes at the "he's kind of hot" line. I honestly thought she was just going to agree with Superman's opinion on the conflict until she read her line.

    There's a theory about the Daily Planet staffer girl. Apparently her name is "Jenny," and she may be a genderswap for Jimmy Olsen. What she does in the movie is entirely Olsen – be overwhelmed, eventually trapped and in need of being saved. What's funny is that when you change the gender of Olsen, that's really problematic.
    John Wiswell recently posted..Happy Urban Legend 2: Chain LettersMy Profile

    • I've heard other people bemoan the absence of Olsen. Perhaps not the best character to gender swap. To be honest, the original character did very little for me.

  3. I had the choice between this and World War Z and in the end, I just couldn't bring myself to see Man of Steel. I absolutely hated Superman Returns and Nolan's involvement massively put me off (given I also hated The Dark Knight). Maybe Hollywood should just give superheroes a rest – or, do what Arrow does, and give them a TV series instead.
    Icy Sedgwick recently posted..[Book Review] The Angel of ShadwellMy Profile

    • I suspect that Hollywood is rather pleased with Superhero franchises right now. For what its worth I've loved what Marvel have done so far (though I worry about dead horses being flogged soon) and Man of Steel wasn't bad overall. By the sounds of it you probably made the right call. If you don't like Nolan's suff (which I do) and you hated Superman Returns (which I loved, Dark Knight Rises aside) then I reckon this really isn't for you.

      I think I'm going to do a post about the challenges of super hero films and fandom. But not today!

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