Old and New: Superman

Sep 2, 2014 | Posted by in Movies

Hello everyone, welcome to my website. The old blog will still be sitting open because of the traffic it’s had since it was created back in March but it will no longer be used. Instead I have this new and shiny website that’s going to serve as my outlet on the internet. Thanks to Dayne De Kock for building it for me and making it look so slick.

You may or may not have noticed that my domain name is a play on a famous quote from Superman II (thanks to my flatmate Katie Siwek for suggesting a domain name to use) so I feel it’s only fitting to make my first post here a comparison between Superman/Superman II and Man of Steel. I’ll be using the extended version of Superman and the Richard Donner cut of Superman II for my comparison because those are the definitive versions as far as I’m concerned. The format this will take is a look at several aspects of the two versions and deciding which does it better overall then at the end I’ll do a summary and point out which version I think is the best. It’s actually fairly similar to the format the Nostalgia Critic uses in a similar feature but hey, a good idea is a good idea so thank you Doug Walker for the inspiration.

I chose to compare these films because Man of Steel actually bears a lot of similarities to those two films. Both versions show the final days of Superman’s home planet Krypton, both deal with the origin of Superman which includes finding out about his alien origins, each of them has him face off against Zod and other Kryptonians and so on. These similarities make a compare and contrast really easy so here goes.

Characters & Cast

Naturally I can’t cover every character in both versions since there are far too many; not to mention there are some who have less to do than others as well as the characters that don’t actually appear in both versions -Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen for instance- so I’ve just chosen what I feel are the most important characters and decided to cover those


Christopher Reeve                       Henry Cavill

Clark Kent/Superman

A Superman franchise lives or dies on the portrayal of the lead character and both versions have very strong leading men in the roles. Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill are both great choices for the character who put their own stamp on the character.

The late Christopher Reeve plays Superman (or Kal’El) with complete sincerity. Even though he’s a hugely powerful person he carries himself in such a gentle way giving a stark contrast between his power level and demeanor. He’s always quick to offer a smile and wisecrack while fighting crime showing that he enjoys helping people and doing good in general. He clearly doesn’t feel obligated to be a hero and does it because he enjoys it as well as feeling that it’s fundamentally the right thing to do, also he cares about the people he’s helping. Put simply he’s just a nice guy and avoids being cheesy because of how confidently he projects his morality. He plainly states what he stands for and observes those values in practice; everything he says or does is informed by his morality and that is never compromised (except at the end of Superman II but we’ll get to that).

Reeve’s Clark Kent is designed to be precisely the opposite of Superman (except from the nice guy part, that’s true of both sides). Superman is confident; Clark Kent is nervous and awkward. Superman is outgoing; Clark Kent is shy and retiring and so on. These contrasting personas are designed to conceal his secret identity since his disguise is only a pair of glasses. Much debate has been had about this disguise but to my mind it works because most people don’t pay much attention to Clark Kent and those that do find him to be a bit of a joke. Once someone starts paying attention to him the disguise fails as shown by Lois in Superman II. Whatever way you want to look at it Christopher Reeve does an excellent job of portraying the Clark Kent disguise, it’s easy to believe that they are two different people because they act nothing alike. In Superman II when Reeve flips between Clark Kent and Superman within seconds it’s an astonishing shift that truly shows how different the two personas are.

Henry Cavill’s Superman (or Kal’El) is very different. In Man of Steel the fact that he’s an alien is the thematic focus of the film. Cavill plays Superman as a much more tortured figure manifested through his feelings of confusion and abandonment concerning his origins. This version projects a more aggressive confidence which is necessary as he is living in a paranoid and cynical world so has to be more resolute in how he conducts himself. There’s less of an indication over what he stands for but it is clear that he wants to help people but he seems to do that more out of obligation than desire since he always looks regretful before having to step in and save someone. He is clearly a good person but his values are much more of a question mark, it’s unclear what he really believes in but I get the impression that he’s still finding that out about himself.

Man of Steel doesn’t cover the differences between the two personas in detail so the version of Clark Kent we see is very much the Superman persona. He does blend into society by doing various jobs like a waiter or fisherman but not enough time is spent exploring his personality in these occupations to really notice any difference. The prevailing impression is that he works hard, blends in and doesn’t really get to know anyone which meshes with his nomadic tendencies in these sequences.


For me, the point goes to the Christopher Reeve version of the character. It may be personal bias on my part but that’s just the version of Superman that I really want to see. I like his morality and values are transparently on display. His Superman announces himself to the world and sets an example for people to follow. I love his optimism, the twinkle in his eye as he enjoys helping people and I like how much fun he clearly has while still taking what he does very seriously. The contrast between Superman and Clark Kent is played to perfection. That’s not to say Cavill is bad it’s just that his character isn’t established as well as he should be. For one thing I never feel like I know what he stands for or what his values are, he doesn’t seem to care about the destruction being caused and only shows remorse when he’s forced to kill Zod. Sadly the film doesn’t establish that killing is something this Superman doesn’t do. He’s a new version, that might be something he does. Similarly if it’s supposed to inform a promise to never kill again, that is never made clear.

Lois Lane

Margot Kidder                       Amy Adams

Lois Lane

This character is almost as important as Superman when telling a Superman story. She’s been around since the beginning and serves as a character who interacts with the Superman and Clark Kent personas in different ways. Margot Kidder and Amy Adams are both excellent performers and fit the mold of Lois Lane really well.

Margot Kidder plays Lois in Superman and Superman II. Kidder portrays Lois as fiercely intelligent, strong willed, passionate and confident almost to the point of arrogance. She is also a little selfish but never in a profoundly unlikeable way. Margot Kidder is more than charming enough to make her likeable through all these traits that could easy make an audience hate her. She proves herself to be worthy of Superman’s interest when he meets her as Clark Kent but she treats both of them quite differently. Superman she treats with awe and respect while making her attraction to him clear. She is also clearly fascinated by this strange visitor from another planet. She treats Clark really poorly by essentially ignoring him until she wants or needs something from him, much of the time she makes fun of him and takes advantage of his generosity without doing him any favours in return. Sounds kind of horrible when you spell it out like that but she does it in such a likeable way and it also works because the joke is pretty much on her since Clark/Superman is clearly aware of this and has some fun with it.

Amy Adams is one of the best actresses around at the moment and a great choice to play this character. Her Lois spends most of her screen time chasing the Superman story, through this we can tell that she is laser focused on whatever has her current attention. She’s clearly very intelligent and follows leads logically but her curiosity gets the better of her and she finds herself out of her depth in this instance. Integrity is something that is very important to her -or at least her own definition of it- and she has a rebellious streak. Her character is also very confident, having full awareness of just how good she is and how valuable she is to the Daily Planet. Superman is someone she regards very curiously but she’s never has cause to fear him so tries to understand him. At no point does she ever seem overwhelmed by all of the strange things going on around her despite the fact that she’s completely out of her depth.


Point goes to the new girl here; I like the Margot Kidder Lois lane but something about her always personally irritated me. The way she treats the Clark Kent persona bothers me and I feel that she treats other people the same way. Adams’ Lois Lane is someone I like a lot more for many reasons. I’m really impressed by her personal integrity shown when she abandons the Superman story once she actually finds out the trust. Despite what a story like that could do for her career she feels that protecting his identity is far more important. The several examples of how she stands up for herself and establishes herself as someone not to be messed with are a testament to how strong she is as a character. Ultimately I really like how she comes across and at no point in the film does she irritate me to any massive degree.

Jonathan Kent

Glenn Ford                          Kevin Costner

Jonathan Kent

This is sort of a tough one because the Donner movie version only has a small amount of screen time where the Zack Snyder version has a more prominent presence. Both make enough of an impression to be written about though.

Glenn Ford plays the Richard Donner version of Jonathan Kent. Upon first meeting him he is apprehensive to adopt this strange child they found at the start of the road but at his wife Martha’s insistence they take him in and raise him as their own. It’s clear from his short appearance that he’s a good man with very strong values that he has passed onto his son. Clark being an alien obviously doesn’t bother him because he considers him to be his own flesh and blood. We also see him imparting advice to Clark who is frustrated at being unable to use his powers to impress people at school; that advice helping Clark to put things in perspective. Jonathan believes that Clark is on Earth for some kind of higher reason and it’s not his place to interfere nor does he want to, he very much wants Clark to be his own man. Despite minimal screen time it’s clear that he has a profound influence on the man Clark grows up to be. Ford portrays Jonathan with wisdom and sincerity that informs Superman’s own sincerity. He gives off a sense of understanding and respect to what his son is feeling and conducts himself with a kind yet stern demeanor that makes him feel like a real person.

Kevin Costner plays the Zack Snyder version and is gifted with a lot more screen time. Much of his screen time is devoted to giving Clark advice and trying to muddle through life with an adopted super powered alien son. He doesn’t have all the answers but doesn’t pretend to. He presents his advice to Clark in a way that encourages him to think about what has been said and come to his own conclusion. Costner does a great job of playing the uncertainty associated with this version of the character; particularly exemplified when he’s telling Clark he needs to be more careful and Clark asks if he should have let people die followed by Jonathan not actually having a definitive answer to that. He appears more cautious and scared than the Glenn Ford version which fits with the more paranoid modern world that he inhabits. The way Jonathan acts generally implies that he’s a world wearied individual which might be associated with being a farmer but it is clear that raising Clark has been a strain on him; albeit a strain that he’s been happy to bear.


Very close one but point goes to the old here; like with Superman I like the more optimistic view of the world that this Jonathan Kent projects. His screen time may be less than Kevin Costner but he makes a profound impression while he is there. In his limited interaction with the young Clark Kent it is clear that they have a deep and respectful father/son relationship and that Jonathan has sent Clark out into the world with as much knowledge he can. While this is also true for the Costner version I find that Ford’s portrayal is more real; much of Costner’s dialogue comes in the form of morality speeches that never quite feel natural which brings him down slightly.

Marlon Brando Russell Crowe

Marlon Brando                     Russell Crowe


Clark’s biological father is very prominent in both versions and in each case he has a profound impact on the development of Superman.

Donner’s version is played by the late Marlon Brando who is still one of the greatest actors of all time. Brando’s mere presence lends such gravitas to the role. He conducts himself with such pride and confidence that it’s hard not to look up to him. This is only enhanced by Brando’s performance elevating the dialogue  to a more profound level. In the trial scene at the beginning of the first film there is no doubt over who is in charge of the situation. He is portrayed as being intelligent and compassionate, being the only one who sees the destruction of Krypton coming all he wants to do is save the planet and his race. When that becomes impossible he settles for his son whom he regards with love and tenderness. The recording he leaves for his son speaks calmly and clearly with a tone that betrays no emotion as he presents the bare facts allowing Clark to come to his own conclusions. It’s amazing that he’s managed to anticipate almost every question that might be asked by his son and has an answer for it. His role in Superman’s development is mostly an educational one, he gives his son the tools and knowledge to do with as he pleases but he outlines a series of rules that should be followed such as not solving all human problems and meddling with time.

In Man of Steel Russell Crowe takes up this role; this version is very similar to the Brando version in that he is a scientist who sees the destruction of Krypton coming but he has no intention of saving his race because he feels that it is already too late. He believes that Krypton is too far gone because of the population control measures that have been implemented. He is a strong believer in freedom and self determination which is directly opposed to how Krypton exists at the point of its destruction. He too has left an interactive recording of himself to interact with his son whom he also regards with love, it’s clear that sending his son to Earth causes him great pain but he also understands the necessity of it. In terms of the impact he has on Superman’s development he continually tells him that he needs to be a force for good and a symbol for hope as well as encouraging him to test the limits of his abilities so that he can continue to survive.


Point in this case goes to the new. Brando’s version is iconic but the disconnect he has from the story by being a semi-interactive recording limits his character potential in a lot of ways. I’m always fully aware that he’s a recording selecting the correct answer to a question and not not really talking to his son. Crowe’s Jor’El feels so much more complete as a character and even though he’s also a recording interacting with his son, it feels like a very natural interaction. I really like the nature of the advice he imparts to his son even though it seems a little strange that a man so concerned with self determination would give his son advice about his destiny being to inspire others though I take it to mean that he believes that people should be whatever they want as long as they’re the best version of themselves, ultimately he wants his son to be a good man and hopes he’s done enough to enable that.


Terence Stamp                     Michael Shannon


Every good hero needs an equally good villain and historically Zod has delivered that. Both versions of this character are formidable and challenge the man of steel in many different ways.

Richard Donner’s version of the character is played by Terence Stamp who delivers a singularly iconic villain performance. This version is so well remembered in pop culture for his catchphrase “Kneel before Zod!” which has become a popular internet meme in the years since. A good catchphrase can help a character be remembered but there’s more to Zod than that. Stamp plays him with a great sense of detached boredom after be manages to conquer Earth in a short space of time. He is clearly a man who enjoys a challenge and to feel like he’s earned victory; something that conquering Earth does not give him. The only time he seems excited is when the prospect of a challenge presents itself in the form of Superman. Zod’s mere presence commands the respect of those around him, even eliciting such a reaction from Jor’El who identifies him as incredibly dangerous and in need of being locked away. Being a general on Krypton affords him extensive tactical and strategic knowledge and instincts, something that he uses in his battle against Superman once he exploits his true -non Kryptonite- weakness.

Michael Shannon’s Zod is similarly cold and calculating, bred to be a warrior and general by Kryptonian eugenics he is fully committed to the safety of Krypton which he interpreted as him taking over from the council who were driving it to ruination. In many ways he’s a victim of his societal programming but it doesn’t seem to be something that bothers him too much. He will stop at nothing to ensure his race survives and doesn’t care who or what he destroys along the way. He clearly respects Jor’El but even that respect doesn’t slow him down from killing him to accomplish his ultimate goal. Shannon’s Zod has no catchphrases but he is memorable in other ways with his bloodthirsty attitude and passionate appetite for destruction and his own version of justice.


As good as Michael Shannon is he simply doesn’t hold a candle to Terence Stamp’s Zod. Shannon’s version comes across as fairly one dimensional which does seem to be the point of his character but it makes him less interesting dramatically. Stamp’s Zod is a far more layered character who doesn’t settle for simply winning giving him a sense of honour in his villainy. Terence Stamp is far more charismatic in the role and is more fun to watch as well. His boredom at achieving his goals will be a villain trait long remembered but not easily replicated.

Overall Winner

The best collection of characters overall goes to the old movies. It’s true that some of the characters in Man of Steel are better versions than in the Donner films but as an ensemble the older films work better. There isn’t a single actor in those films that Christopher Reeve doesn’t play well against. He and Margot Kidder have great chemistry together, much better than Cavill and Adams and they feel like Clark and Lois through their natural interaction where the modern version feels slightly forced. The older films have a far better hero/villain relationship too and a clearer structured paternal relationship structure. All told the older cast are just so much more fun to watch where the more modern versions are missing something.


Both versions have the same basic idea when it comes to telling the story of Superman; Each of them starts off on Krypton immediately before it is destroyed then follow Clark Kent on Earth as he grows up in Smallville, learns about his alien origins and what that all means then becomes a hero.

Superman and Superman II follow a very linear story structure that starts on Krypton, spends some time with a young Clark Kent growing up on Smallville followed by him discovering his origins and learning what these mean before he reaches adulthood and becomes Superman while maintaining a secret identity as Clark Kent working for the Daily Planet. The villain in the first film is Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) who has bought up a lot of worthless desert land so that when he uses missiles to disrupt the fault line and make his land valuable he’ll be holding all of the cards and be able to charge whatever he likes to people who need land to build on. In the original story idea Superman stopping these missiles causes Zod, Ursa and Non to be released from the Phantom Zone prison and wreak havoc on Earth (The Richard Donner cut of Superman II assumes that ending to the first film and begins from there). As this is happening Superman gives up his powers so that he can be with Lois Lane and has to beg for them back once he realises that Zod has taken over the planet. After defeating them Superman reverses time to undo the damage caused by Zod and those that follow him. The two films taken together form a complete story which makes sense as they were originally one film and were being filmed at the same time. Unfortunately Richard Donner was let go before completing his work on the second film, hence why we didn’t see the definitive -as it gets- version until 2006.

Man of Steel takes more liberties with the story structure. The film opens on Krypton and then from there we are thrown into the present day where Clark Kent is traveling from place to place trying to learn more about his origins in any way he can. Periodically relevant flashbacks are given to inform the audience of Clark Kent’s upbringing and to show what life lessons he has learned as a result of this. Clark discovers an old Kryptonian ship that lets him interact with a holographic recreation of his father Jor’El who gives him the answers that he’s looking for and inspires him to be more proactively heroic. The activation of the ship draws general Zod and his crew of Kryptonians who come to Earth looking to colonise it as a New Krypton at the expense of the current residents. Superman has to stop this from happening and is forced to kill Zod to do it. The film ends with Clark starting work as a reporter for the Daily Planet and setting up a more traditional Superman status quo.


Upon looking at both examples, both have their problems but I have to say that the Richard Donner version has a better story overall. This might be a benefit of telling the story over two films and thus becomes a little bit of a cheat but as a Superman origin story it works very well. The films give us Clark Kent growing up, coming to terms with his alien heritage, learning to use his powers for good and dealing with a foe formidable enough to test his resolve. Dramatically it’s a very good arc to follow through. The end of the second film is a complete cop out though, reversing time is pretty much the worst way to end a story because it negates what came before pretty much entirely.

Man of Steel does better in that regard by the story having consequences where Superman II doesn’t. In fact there’s a scene at the end of Superman II that qualifies as outright character assassination. Earlier in the film when Clark has given up his powers he is beaten up by a violent trucker in a diner for trying to defend Lois’ honour against his advances. After reversing time he goes back to the diner as Clark Kent and picks a fight with him that is -from the trucker’s perspective- unprovoked. Even if it was provoked then it still flies in the face of everything Superman is supposed to stand for. He’s supposed to be above petty revenge. I do prefer the portrayal of Krypton in Man of Steel; in the Donner films Krypton looks like an icy wasteland and it’s fairly impossible to work out how their science actually works which is fine for forging the plot forward but I never get an impression of how the society works. In Man of Steel Krypton follows Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World as a model where people are bred and programmed to do a specific job and never transcend that. Krypton in this film is the end result of such a static society with a lack of ambition causing their own destruction through lack of innovation. I would really have liked to see that explored in more detail and have the thematic difference between your average Kryptonian and Superman who was a natural birth give more weight to the choice/destiny contrast featured in this story. Given those things, the Donner Superman films still tell a stronger story that is more thought out than the counterpart in Man of Steel. I firmly believe that Man of Steel was a couple of drafts away from true greatness which is a shame.


Both films have a very unique musical style that makes them stand out in different ways. John Williams and Hans Zimmer bring a unique style to the score of their respective versions.

Richard Donner’s Superman films have nothing short of an iconic score. Most people that think of Superman associate the image with that familiar fanfare and why wouldn’t they? It’s loud, it sounds heroic and it practically says Superman in the music. It’s remembered as one of the best film scores of all time for good reason. Williams consistently nails it in the other music from the film such as the Planet Krypton suite; a piece of music that sounds mysterious, grand and a little haunting. It associates itself with Superman’s doomed/long dead homeworld perfectly.

Hans Zimmer does a good job with Man of Steel as well, choosing not to rely on the iconic music from the Donner films and going his own way. Much of the music sounds melancholy which fits with the tone of the film and the attitude of the characters. There are some tracks that inspire an emotional response due to how powerful they are. The music used at the destruction of Krypton is a particularly powerful piece and the theme associated with Superman sounds like it’s building to something incredible. During the action scenes, the music is really exciting.


Now, I know what people will be thinking here and you might be right. For me, there’s no contest and trying to match the iconic nature of the classic Williams score is an uphill struggle that you’re bound to lose before you start. You just can’t beat a theme that almost says the characters name from the music. When I hear the Williams score I feel excited and uplifted. It truly inspires optimism in the same way that the character is supposed to. I also enjoyed Zimmer’s score and I don’t normally like his music but I felt like it was far too morbid and none of it made me feel especially uplifted. Even Superman’s theme that sounds like it’s building to an incredible climax never quite reaches it.

Visuals & Action

Both versions have a distinct visual style as they present a very different version of the character. Similarly they have different ways of presenting action.

superman-the-movie-hd-dvd-caps-example-altx380Richard Donner is one of the best action directors around and he brings his skills to Superman wonderfully. What we get is a realistic looking world with normal looking car chases and gunfights that happens to have Superman in it. Visually he sticks out like a sore thumb and that is exactly the point. He brings colour to a dark world riddled with crime and makes things better. It sounds cheesy but he is literally a light in the darkness. Subconsciously this makes Superman as a character more believable since the world he lives in is a recognisable one. The action sequences are somewhat dated by today’s standards but still somewhat hold up. Superman’s battle with Zod and the other two Kryptonians is still impressive from a visual and strategic point of view. Zod exploits Superman’s compassion by harming the humans which forces Superman to struggle with multiple things at once making him less effective. He basically gets demolished because he’s fighting three people with the same powers as him too.Man_of_Steel_37011

Zack Snyder is a director who has his own visual style, nearly every shot in Man of Steel could be a poster due to how beautiful the composition is. Superman blends into the world around him with the more muted colours on the costume matching the muted colours of the world around him. It all suggests an undercurrent of hopelessness in this world that needs to be fixed. The world is somewhat hyper-real which I think is deliberate as this is essentially a science fiction film about first contact with a hostile alien race, having it look slightly unrealistic makes this easier to accept. The action sequences are designed to suggest what a battle might be like between two or more Godlike beings. We feel the impact of every punch, feel the collateral damage caused by the strong blows and see the destruction wrought in their path.


Going to cheat slightly here and call this a tie. I’ve tried to resolve in my mind which visual style and action sequences work for me best but truthfully both of them do for different reasons. I really like how Donner’s Superman films look generally and I like that Superman sticks out in a real looking world that needs him to save it. I like how the action is more strategic and focuses more on how Superman uses his powers to deal with a situation, they are just great looking movies even today.

I also like how Man of Steel‘s washed out aesthetic presents a bleak world that is in need of saving. I do wish Superman’s costume was more colourful but not to the extent that it really bothers me. Snyder’s visual style is nothing short of beautiful, if the film were being judged purely on visual composition then it would be a masterpiece, there’s no doubt about that for me. It might be my inner 12 year old talking but I love the action in this movie, I love how it’s all built around showing how powerful Superman is and a big part of the fighting is Superman’s lack of military training putting him at a disadvantage. The sheer scale of destruction is just breathtaking even if I do think it’s overdone in places but in general I love seeing these powerful beings knocking lumps out of each other. I’ve always wanted to see a Superman movie where he really cuts loose and now I’ve had my wish granted.


Both versions of Superman hold a vastly different tone which makes them very distinct from one another.

Donner’s movies have an overwhelmingly optimistic tone as we see the world react positively to the emergence of Superman. There are moments of darkness but the film never feels bleak at any point. Jonathan Kent’s death is dealt with quickly and acknowledged as a part of life that is tragic but has to be dealt with. Clark Kent doesn’t mope about it for the rest of the film. Krypton’s destruction is juxtaposed with the infant Kal’El’s escape turning something as dark as the destruction of an entire species to the optimistic knowledge that it will live on through this escaped child. It’s clear that this world was in desperate need of something to give them hope and they finally get that with Superman. The film never fails to lighten up and have some fun with itself, there are lots of moments of comedy in the two films that never feel like they’re out of place. Even when Zod has conquered the world in Superman II there are funny moments that never seem at odds with the rest of the film. In general the films manage their tone very well.

Snyder’s movie is nearly the opposite of that. In general the tone is a very bleak one to evoke a world that is almost entirely without hope at this point. People are more mistrustful and more cynical so Superman’s arrival is far from welcomed by all, he’s met with fear and uncertainty which makes sense as the modern world is very different to the way it was in the 70s. There are intermittent moments of humour but they are few and far between, any more than that would feel out of place in this world.  At certain moments the tone descends into all out melancholy creating scenes that are nearly depressing to watch in service of a world without hope.


Unsurprisingly I have to go with the Donner version here. For me, Superman’s always been the paragon of virtue in the world, inspiring humanity to be something better and the Donner version has that in spades. Like the music, the films are uplifting and inspiring, we’re truly given a hero that is worth looking up to and is a good role model. Man of Steel is far too bleak to inspire anything. The dark and humourless setting is just too unpleasant to inspire any kind of optimism; the film says much about Superman being a force for good and giving people “an ideal to strive towards” but it never quite gets there. Maybe the sequel will but not for now.

Overall Winner

Donner’s Superman and Superman II take the crown for me here for all of the above reasons. I love the cast as an ensemble, they all work well together and feel natural when watching. When the films are over I want to see more of them. Superman’s characterisation is spot on for what I expect from the character with his morality, optimism and friendly nature completely in tact.

The story has some problems but in general it’s a fantastic superhero romp that covers the character origin beats beautifully. The villains are great, the stakes feel realistic and the story never feels overblown with unnecessary padding. John Williams’ score is beautifully iconic becoming associated with the character for decades to come and the tone is just light hearted enough to not betray the fun nature of it being a superhero movie. There’s a reason these became the template for everything that followed.

That’s not to say that Man of Steel is bad, it does many things very well and lays the groundwork for an enduring franchise nicely. With a couple more drafts the film could have been great but it doesn’t quite make it there unfortunately. Snyder’s visual style is beautiful and the story is pretty good but it has some fairly significant problems that could easily have been overcome.