2013's "Man of Steel" was the beginning of Zack Snyder's vision for DC's films and it proved to be one of the most divisive comic book movies ever. Its gritty take differed from the lighthearted and altruistic movies of old, namely the Christopher Reeve films and Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns." This movie focused on big spectacles, with Superman discovering his heritage only to be thrown into a baptism of fire against General Zod.
This relentless action is what drew most of the criticism, as many felt the movie was too violent and unbecoming of the character, who unleashed his powers like never before. Snyder's depiction of our favorite alien boy-scout, as well as how it shaped the overall dark tone of the DC filmverse, remains a hot topic to this very day. That said, CBR decided to detail 15 reasons why this reboot didn't suckas much as so many of you think it did!
SPOILER WARNING: Major Spoilers ahead for "Man of Steel"
15 THE DEATH OF ZOD
After escaping the Phantom Zone, Zod wanted to terraform Earth and turn it into the new Krypton for the remaining survivors. Superman stood in his way and opposed him while Earth's army took care of the despot's soldiers. The remaining two Kryptonians then had a brawl for the ages, leaving a massive trail of destruction in their wake. As the godlike entities took the battle from the skies back to the ground, Superman restrained Zod, who was trying to incinerate an innocent family.
With no choice left, Superman broke the villain's neck, leaving him as Krypton's last survivor. Many found this a shocking move, even though Superman killed in the comics before, but what made it work was that it showed how Zod really was his equal, stopping at nothing to eradicate humanity. Superman chose mankind over his own people, and in this Doomsday-like rampage, he knew there was one way to protect them. Even though it was a desperate move, it was clearly Superman's last resort, as evidenced with his screams of anguish afterwards.
14 HOT-HEADED SUPERMAN
Many said that an uncharacteristically hot-headed Superman ruined Zack Snyder's reintroduction of the character. Sure, he was flawed, immature and inconsiderate, causing major destruction by not taking the Zod fight elsewhere, but let's consider that it wasn't long before this happened that he was literally discovering his lineage and understanding the true potential of his powers. He hadn't even really had time to become Superman before he fought Zod, which is why the movie is titled "Man of Steel" and doesn't have Superman in it.
In other words, it's not a "Superman" movie! It was a story about an alien with godlike abilities. He was making the same mistakes that we'd make if we were suddenly throwing down against an army without having any form of military experience. These were war dogs he was fighting, so of course he'd use anything at his disposal to tackle them, and any means to cause a cease fire, as seen with how he ended Zod. This would lead to the "Batman v Superman" sequel, where we saw that Superman learned from his past brashness.
13 MINIMAL EASTER EGGS
Keeping this film as self-contained as possible was smart. Snyder gave the impression that he was taking his time and focusing on developing the character, although that would lead to a "Justice League" convergence point in "BvS." However, in mapping this first chapter, he featured a few Smallville cameos (Pete Ross, Lana Lang) from the DCU, and in terms of easter eggs, he kept them to a minimum, and subtly at that.
When Superman fought Zod in space, we saw a Wayne Industries satellite being destroyed. There was also a Ferris airspace jacket worn (nodding to Carol Ferris in the "Green Lantern" mythos), a LexCorp truck taken as collateral damage in the battlefield, and lastly, when Clark was finding out about the House of El in a Kryptonian ship, a pod was visibly open, which prequel comics positioned to be Kara (Supergirl). None of these, apart from the Wayne one, impacted the franchise since and at that time, Snyder was clearly staying clear of the Marvel Studios model of direct assembly of Earth's mightiest heroes.
12 NO LANA ROMANCE
Clark and Lana's romance was thoroughly dragged out in the "Smallville" television series. Fans got their love affair detailed like never before, which made sense given the angst and mood of the show were geared for teens. "MoS" was more angled towards mature adults and, given that Snyder didn't want to spend too much time on Clark's formative school years, the Lana romance was axed. Instead, the focus was on the young adult in Clark, and that's why Lois made more sense.
The saga of Clark and Lana is meant for young doe-eyed audiences, who want to lap up cheesy high-school stories of love. Nothing's wrong with that, but it wouldn't have fit into Snyder's scope of work, which was moving at a fast pace so that we could get Clark on the way to being a city boy. There wasn't room for that puppy love, especially with all the emotions of his youth already invested in his parents trying to shelter him from the world.
11 THE KRYPTONIAN TECH
The Kryptonian technology in the movie gave us insight into the alien race like never before. We saw this on Earth with their ships, with a the Genesis Chambers now adding to the mythos, offering a new way of genetically breeding Kryptonians as if it were a production line. This added a cold dimension to the aliens, but one that made sense given how scientifically astute and practical they were, especially with how they stocked their Guilds and caste system.
The drone that was protecting the ship in the Arctic (which ended up being similar to the Fortress of Solitude) also showed how far advanced they were. It was a clever update on the concept of Kryptonian crystals and the Fortress seen in the old movies. Having the latter as a ship where Clark was learning about his people helped make things impermanent, and this helped reiterate his personality as a nomad. Despite all of this, his people's tech, while still being of the future, still managed to appear as within the reach of humanity.
10 HUMANITY: THE MAIN THEME
There's no doubt humanity was the main theme here. Snyder played up the allegory of Superman being a Jesus-like savior, but it was done in a more human, and yes, grounded manner. You felt that turmoil and inner-conflict in Clark, at all times, because there was that emotive thread to save people, since childhood. It was embedded in him by his parents, who while dispensing other cynical advice many saw as selfish, were just trying to protect him from a world that fears what it doesn't understand.
It was an unconventional route, as we know Jonathan (Pa Kent) as a pie-eating do-gooder, but it resonated because his wisdom was raw and relatable. This transcended later on when we saw Superman choosing humanity over his own race. He begged Zod to stop but eventually he had to kill him in order to save Earth. He also had to help destroy the other minions, and this selflessness, particularly in destroying the Genesis Chamber, could all be traced back to the movie's famous (and comic-loyal) church scene, where Clark knew he'd have to sacrifice a people in this invasion.
9 SMALLVILLE SECRET
In the comics, some of Superman's Justice League counterparts knew his secret identity over the years. This has been kept relatively mum in all other mediums and adaptations, except for "Smallville," where the focus was on his teen years. Thus, it was easy to understand why more than a few people would end up finding out the hero's secret. "Man of Steel" dealt with this too after a school bus went into the river and Clark had to push it out, and rescue Pete, who was a bully.
It was definitely homage to the television show, as his secret was spilt in these heroic actions. Pete's mother visited the Kent household and revealed that her son saw Clark's ability, which his parents vehemently denied. Pete would befriend Clark and we'd see him recognizing him as Superman in battle later on. Snyder was wise to let this slip a bit because, let's face it, a kid growing up in Kansas can't really keep such a secret, especially if he's as sincere as Clark. It was cute and endearing.
8 HANS ZIMMER SOUNDTRACK
Geeks were ecstatic that producer Christopher Nolan brought Hans Zimmer on board to score this film fresh off the heels of outstanding collaborations on the "Batman" reboot and "Inception." He tried to keep it mum, but word leaked in 2012. Zimmer proceeded to give the entire Superman brand a new lease on life as he moved away from the iconic "Superman March" by John Williams and placed his own signature on the iconic hero. His orchestral approach had the same essence but felt fresher, more unique and contemporary.
It gave the movie the aura of being a new generation's Superman. Zimmer's sprawl went from "Goodbye My Son," shooting Kal-El away from Krypton, to "You Die or I Do," which saw Zod at his most maniacal. "Flight" summed up the movie's vibe as inspirational in the face of defeat, and established Zimmer's ambition, which was to take all compositions from the highs and lows of being an aspiring hero, in the most cathartic manner. Even if you didn't enjoy the film, Zimmer still kept a you glued to your seats.
7 CHAOS & DESTRUCTION
The chaos, destruction and collateral damage that this alien invasion left was phenomenal. Zod and Superman contributed to a lot and many fans chastised how Snyder lacked respect for innocents in the heat of the fights. However, the stakes rightfully felt high (a la the "Birthright" and "Earth One" books) and Zod's stance was non-negotiable, as seen with his World Engines terraforming Earth to sustain Kryptonians.
It was obvious that this destruction was down to Superman handling the violent Kryptonians. He couldn't see to civilians while tussling with such warriors, so we didn't mind what was ensuing because it was a great contrast to Joss Whedon's campy Chitauri invasion, which had a lighter tone. Snyder went for something different and it was to show an inexperienced hero who would have to deal with the repercussions of war later on. It was obvious that him being a loose cannon would be part of how Superman would have to evolve and mature. This chaos led to a sense of distrust, which was clear with the government at movie's end, and further addressed in "BvS."
6 THE JOURNALIST
Throughout the film, we saw Lois as a rabid journalist investigating the hero. Clark eventually met up with her and saved her life after a Kryptonian drone nearly killed her. Their friendship grew and it was clear how much she imprint on him, not just romantically, but because of how dogged she was to find truths in the world. As the movie ended, the final sequence was exhilarating as we saw him moving through Metropolis, up the elevator and into the Daily Planet.
When Lois uttered the line, "Welcome to the Planet," and we saw his baby blues beneath the glasses, admit it: we all lit up! It was the first real look at his smiling journalist persona. The line also had a double meaning, as now he had someone else he adored welcoming him to Earth. The fact that he realized he needed to be on the ground, sifting through world news, so that he could fly from country to country, shows Clark was dedicated to setting things right and making amends for Zod's invasion.
5 PROPER ORIGINS
When it comes to Superman's origins of being lampooned as a refugee from Krypton to Earth, it's hard to muck it up. Snyder didn't subvert much here as he showed us the civil war and planetary woes that drove Jor-El and Lara to send their son to Earth, where he'd be picked up by the Kents. Snyder did leave out bits and pieces, and let our imaginations do the rest because such additional storytelling would have taken up valuable time. Also, it was done to death on "Smallville."
The quick execution worked here, as we also got to see Clark go through the motions of discovering his powers, struggling in school, facing bullies, making friends, trying to hide his identity, question his fate, and go through the rite of passage in roaming the world. All with the aim of understanding and better grasping his alien destiny. The movie was spot on in how it depicted the curious nature of Clark in these phases of growing up, with his origins perfectly prefacing a coming-of-age story.
4 LOIS LANE
Lois Lane was aggressive, filled with intent and wasn't the damsel in distress we were accustomed to. She was a strong journalist, but also very genuine in how human she was. Her pursuit of finding out the secret of Kal-El, as well as how she helped take up arms against Zod's army, added an extra dimension as well. Snyder made it clear off the bat that she was going to be one he wanted to make a tentpole in his vision for DC's films.
Amy Adams brought strong conviction to the role, and you could feel the chemistry between her and Henry Cavill as Superman. The scenes of her standing up to Zod summed up her performance as well, and when she embraced Superman after he killed Zod, it showed the tremendous compassion she had. Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher and Erica Durance were great in their roles, but this Lois was very much a modern day badass, but a sentimental one at that.
3 ZOD'S ARMY
Zod's army wasn't one to mess with. He really showed why he was a General! He pushed Superman to his limit, but it's the manner in which his devoted and loyal followers acted that really left fans stunned. Early on, we saw them like a cult, doing anything and everything he said. By the time the climax hit, Faora (played by Antje Traue) almost managed to steal the show. She wowed us when she leapt from fighter jet to fighter jet, and then took it to Superman on the ground.
The way the Kryptonians also attacked in packs showed that they were an extensively coordinated unit. This was a big step up from Terrance Stamp's Zod and his team that invaded Earth in "Superman II." There, they felt whimsical, but here, Snyder brought a terrorist vision to the screen. Even when we saw the civil war on Krypton, it was clear that as smart as they were, almost everyone was bred to be a soldier of some sort.
2 THE MAJESTIC KRYPTON
The spectacle was delivered from minute one with Krypton brought to life like we couldn't have imagined. The technology was one aspect, but the architecture, costumes, different guilts, internal conflicts, and overall chaos of the planet self-destructing, all kept things so intense. Seeing the raid on Jor-El showed us how cutthroat things were too, as we witnessed how militant Zod and his followers represented themselves. The warships, the World Engines, and the alien species that Jor-El flew on added further layers that many didn't expect.
It felt like an alien civilization, but still had a prehistoric vibe to them. Seeing things like this really sets the bar high for SyFy's "Krypton" series (which is slated to be a prequel to "Man of Steel") because in just about 20 minutes, we stared big time into how the planet works. By the time it folded, and beautifully so in a blaze of glory, we also understood the various people on the planet, and how they factored in to the overall aesthetic. Snyder set out to paint a majestic alien world, and he succeeded in that goal.
1 ALL-OUT WAR
This flick felt like a big event, plucked straight from the comic pages and translated to the big screen. This was how it would really be if godlike aliens invaded: end-to-end action, with no mercy shown and everything on the line. In 2013, the sense of gravity in "Man of Steel" surpassed what Marvel Studios did with their movie properties, thus giving the illusion that stakes were as high as ever for DC. After all, Zod's invasion did feel primal and deadly.
From the terraforming to his lust for genocide, Zod was as brutal and unforgiving as one could wish their leader to be. He and Faora brought the terror with them in lightning-fast action sequences, pummeling Superman, while Earth's army suffered major losses. Infrastructure and lives were dissipating, but that's what war and terrorism is: innocent bystanders taking risks alongside heroes to try to fight back in war zones. Snyder shaped Zod's team as a bunch of hyenas who really needed to be taught a lesson and, as the war ended, an outnumbered Superman still managed to prevail. However, it would be at a tiring cost, as everyone still remained cynical about Superman.
Let us know in the comments what redeeming factors you found in Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel!"