WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Warner Bros.’ Justice League, in theaters now.
In the DC Extended Universe, one of the biggest criticisms has been how Zack Snyder portrayed Superman for a new generation of fans. They were divided on how rash and aggressive Henry Cavill was as an inexperienced Man of Steel in 2013, a far cry from the virtuous depictions we saw from the likes of Christoper Reeve, Dean Cain, and Smallville’s Tom Welling. His impetuous and confrontational nature in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t really help things two years later.
When Superman eventually died at the hands of Doomsday, despite the glimmer of heroism we saw, there was a clear opening for Warner Bros. to course correct the lukewarm reception to him so far. As more and more details from Justice League began to roll out, it then became very clear that Snyder, Geoff Johns and the rest of the creative team were duly obliging calls to make the universe lighter and more inspirational, and they were indeed ready to start with Superman.
Snyder’s third chapter, flaws aside, hits the nail on the head, acting as a rebirth for the character, literally and metaphorically, giving us Superman as a smiling and optimistic beacon of hope. The director achieves this by acknowledging that while Kal-El of Krypton may have the external abilities of a god, his true power comes from within.
It takes just about an hour for Snyder to get into Superman’s resurrection, with Batman insisting to his fellow heroes that they need him back to thwart Steppenwolf. As Cyborg and Batman explore what the Mother Box can do, the Dark Knight realizes that it has the ability to rebuild genetic material. The team then reluctantly goes along with his plan to use the fallen Kryptonian amniotic chamber that created Doomsday and Flash’s electric energy to repurpose the Box as a cosmic defibrillator to revive him.
And so they do. However, Snyder cleverly paces his comeback. When Superman returns it’s not immediately triumphant as he finds himself facing the Batman who tried to kill him and new faces he perceives to be threats. Superman pummels the League only for Lois Lane to show up and kickstart his journey back to the light. He flies off with her to Smallville, reconnecting with home and the people he loves, and at this juncture, we can safely say we’re not just looking at a hero, but a son and husband. Seeing him basking in Earth’s yellow sun, recharging not just physically, but mentally as well, leaves the impression that Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely crafted on All-Star Superman, with a mature Clark that seems at peace, and appreciative of everyone in his life. Simply put, he’s whole again. This is why, when Lois reminds him of his higher calling to help Batman save the world, it’s believable that he’s much more ready for the job at hand.
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