Why Man of Steel is the Best Superhero Movie of 2013


It's Faithful to the Core

Man of Steel Illegal Alien

In truth (as someone who followed the long process), Man of Steel was nitpicked to death long before it ever reached the theater. The changes to the character being made - in origin, depiction, or those controversial costume updates (no red briefs on the outside?!) - were given such heavy spotlight that very little discussion has been heard about what Snyder and Co. got right about Superman's character.

It's hard (for me at least) to look at Man of Steel and not recognize the reverence for the character being displayed. Not just reverence for Superman himself, but also reverence for just about every other character in his world and mythos. Jor-El (Russell Crowe) was more badass than ever; Pa Kent was as wise and moving as ever; Perry White (now black) was just as much the stern-but-compassionate father figure that he's always been.

Best of all, the ladies in Superman's life (Lois, Ma Kent, Lara - even the evil Faora) were depicted as being stronger and smarter in some ways than their male counterparts. (Seriously, count the times that Superman relies on or draws from a woman's strength in this film; behind the Man of Steel are some iron ladies.)

Henry Cavill Talks Superman and Lois Lane in Man of Steel 2

People make jokes about heavy-handed religious iconography, an Avatar-style Krypton or those modern-day updates (NO RED BRIEFS????), but really what gets ignored is the fact that Nolan, Goyer and Snyder actually highlighted the fundamental truth about Superman: That a child of two worlds, with all the power in the world, is forever transformed by the simple power of loving parents and down-home, all-American values. Superman is a god that views humanity (in all its imperfection) as an ideal - which is what that climatic battle with Zod (and that controversial train station execution) are really all about.

Never before has the Superman story had to exist in a modern world as complex as this one; Man of Steel dove headlong into those complicated waters (sexuality, immigration, ethnic identity, foreign politics - all issues this movie alludes to or touches upon) and still managed to present a strong argument for why Superman is the man (not the "Super") that he is.

In a storm of modern complications, Man of Steel never lost sight of its character, distinguishing and defining him better than any other one of the 2013 superhero films -  each of which had character-defining story arcs - ever did.

Pa Kent wisdom trumps General Zod-style dogma every time - the core of any authentic Superman lore.


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