Why ‘Man of Steel’ is the Best Superhero Movie of 2013

Published 1 year ago by , Updated March 18th, 2014 at 10:14 am,

Man of Steel Fan Art Poster 570x294 Why Man of Steel is the Best Superhero Movie of 2013

[The following article represents the sole views of Kofi Outlaw. They do NOT represent the views of the entire Screen Rant staff, owners, or subsidiaries. -  "The Management"]

As another year in movies draws to a close it’s once again time for the usual annual debates, ranking movies released in 2013 according to various criteria of consideration. While every critic and awards show will be arguing over which movie ranks as overall best, or which actor or actress did best, we here at Screen Rant would rather take on a more specific – and more volatile – debate: which superhero movie was the best of the year.

2013 brought us a group of sequels - Kick-Ass 2Iron Man 3and Thor: The Dark World – and a semi-sequel thingy (Wolverine), but the biggest story was no doubt the world being reintroduced to the character of Superman on film. It was a long and hard road to get the character back into theaters, but for all intents and purposes, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel has indeed secured a place in the zeitgeist for a new vision of Superman.

 Why Man of Steel is the Best Superhero Movie of 2013

My praise of the film should come as  no surprise to any longtime readers of Screen Rant; I gave Man of Steel a four-star review, whereas so many other critics (and viewers) were harsher. I’m not ignorant of the  many objections to the film (if you listen to our Man of Steel podcast, I even support a lot of them) – it’s just that there’s been such deafening debate about what all is wrong with the Superman reboot, it’s drowned out a lot of the discussion about just how much was done right.

Here is why – in my opinion –  Man of Steel is actually the best superhero film of the year – maybe of the last few years.


It Has Something to Say

Man of Steel Superman Arrested Why Man of Steel is the Best Superhero Movie of 2013

Thor 2Iron Man 3 and Kick-Ass 2 were all fun times at the theater – but all three were also short on substance when it came to any real themes or messages. That distinction is often the difference between comic book movies that make a deep impression on the cultural consciousness, and ones that are cast eventually off and forgotten for being silly, shallow, or generally ill-conceived.

Man of Steel is a different story. Literally. Chris Nolan and David S. Goyer – whatever you want to say about their dialogue or narrative structure choices – crafted a very substantive and multi-layered examination of who Superman is, and why he is an icon. Director Zack Snyder only compounded those ideas with some keen and insightful visual iconography and visual metaphor.

Whereas Superman Returns tried to repackage the world’s greatest superhero in a familiar (read: dated) package of Richard Donner nostalgia, Man of Steel posited ideas that are wholly relevant to the here and now. By way of the reboot, Superman is made a symbol to any kid who feels closeted, ostracized, unsure of their identity or is simply impatient for a greater purpose in life that awaits them. He’s a reminder that basic salt-and-earth principles and values never go out of style, that righteousness is a choice one must make – I could go on…

Superman Man of Steel Icon Why Man of Steel is the Best Superhero Movie of 2013

People have centered in on the “Fall of Metropolis” climatic battle or Superman’s killing of Zod as evidence that MoS has “ruined Superman,” but not only are these specious assertions  - Zod wanted to level Metropolis and far outclassed Superman as a warrior; Superman also killed Zod in the comics as well as in Superman II - they are also views of narrow focus that totally discount the aspects of the character and mythos which Man of Steel highlighted in ways no other movie has before (Superman’s  youth spent (sometimes literally) “in the closet,” his ethnic identity struggles, his faith, etc.).

The reboot offered real and timely messages about the world, by way of one of its biggest icons. No other piece of superhero escapist entertainment this year even came close to such an accomplishment. Very few superhero films ever have, if I’m being truthful.


NEXT PAGE: Faithful to Character


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  1. if you take the original superman movie and use today’s cgi, it would crush man of steel…it already does but most of you are to young to remember how dramatic some of the scenes where in a theater. Reeves delivered a realistic character without all the effects people rely on today….better actor period.
    but in saying that i enjoyed man of steel because it was an upgrade from return….glade they didn’t try to emulate reeves superman again.

    • Haha.. your comments made me LMAO…… I am old enough to remember seeing Superman in Theaters and how in awe I was…..I have probably seen Superman 1, 2 and 3 more than 30 times each…… none of them get even close to MOS. Turning back time by flying backwards? throwing his saran wrap chest shield around?, kiss of amnesia? rebuilding a wall with your eyes? And the whole better actor thing? well.. as we go into 3 and 4 you might start questioning that as well…. I don’t let nostalgia cloud reality. Cavill IS Superman.

      • Ditto, DITTO!!!! Thank you.

    • Reeves is a piece of Americana himself, as opposed to a British Superman, and it is damned hard to beat Marlon Brando in anything. I will say that Michael Shannon is a better Zod than Terrance Stamp though.

    • HAHA Really? Superman Returns WAS a modern take on the same story that Donner did and it was BORING, so boring in fact that it changed WB’s plan to connect it with Batman Begins and made them wait 7 years to reboot the franchise. I love the Donner films and grew up in the 80′s when they were the best thing in the world, but times change and so does the character and MOS was a great example of how the world has changed, it was true to its own story and true to the characters roots, anyone who has read a comic of Superman or/and watch any of the numerous shows, cartoons and films know that Superman is more than just a man who saves cats in trees

  2. I agree with quite a number of good points in the article. I loved Man of Steel and I am actually watching it in the background right now, and have re-watched it many, many times. I am trying to figure out exactly why this movie got slammed as hard as it did. The rotten tomatoes don’t make any sense to me… this movie was great!

    Thank you Kofi for writing an article that was actually against the grain and also helped me to see that there are other people who actually DID enjoy this movie. I especially liked your point that DC has a different voice than the Marvel movies. THe thing that gets me is when people just say DC should go the Marvel route… why can’t there be a different flavor of superhero film?

    (The action sequences in this movie alone trumped alot of action sequences in many superhero movies!)

    • I think the reason Rotten Tomatoes gets the official reviews score wrong so often is because of the criteria of how they decide if a review is “rotten” or “fresh”. Oftentimes, a review they chalk up as rotten, you will read it and find it maybe is 40% negative and 60% positive, but RT chalks it up as a rotten review.

  3. After a year has passed, I have to agree with this review’s premise, even say that this is the best superhero film of the last couple of years. This review is not saying that the original film was better or worse, only that they are two different takes on the story. And with the other films of this time as a basis for comparison, Man of Steel is leaps and bounds (pun intended) above the rest.

    The only place I saw the film lacking was in the development of the relationship between Superman and Lois, which truthfully I thought removed a part of the soul from the character that was important. The scene in the original film where Lois is buried in the earthquake, the scene when he flew her from her apartment, all play pretty cheesy nowadays, but there could have been ways to develop scenes for MoS that enhanced the chemistry of their relationship and gave it more substance, made it feel more real. We never really see them fall in love, it’s just somehow assumed.

    Also the score was better than any other superhero film of it’s time. :)

    • Though I do get where ppl are coming from vis-a-vis Lois & Clark’s dynamic, I truly felt their connection to each other & how it grew & developed every time they saw each other. Their nascent feelings bled thru The Silence(s) they share together, especially towards the film’s last act. I felt this intensely quiet approach to showing 2 ppl fall in love in contrast to much of the bombast which the film used to ground their feelings for each other by way of their processing the way they are both taken aback by how they’re affecting each other against the backdrop of all this very insane stuff happening to them & each other.

      You can tell by how they are together (admittedly within & wrapped in quietude), by how they look at each other, that what the other is going through is more important to them than what they themselves are experiencing. And what is first love & infatuation about more than that? To me, seeing two peoples’ affection for each other blossom in such a way that the roar can only be appreciated in almost complete silence, save for their breathing, is great cinema!

      It’s all in the breath. Their breathing in the last few scenes, the quiet intensity of their feelings for each other, can be heard loud & clear. All you have to do is listen.

  4. This is the best and most accurate critique on the new man of steel film and i totally agree. The film effectively brough the whole package to theatres and i think it was a fantastic movie. Very good article