Why Man of Steel is the Best Superhero Movie of 2013


It Has Superior Action & Visuals

New Man of Steel featurettes and poster

While Iron Man 3 was throwing away decades of iconic Iron Man suits on generic action sequencing - while Thor: The Dark World was trying to offer its best Star Wars prequels imitation - while Kick-Ass 2 was just wishing it could keep up with the rest of its blockbuster brethren - Zack Snyder was once again making visual milestones in the comic book movie genre.

Some people complain that there was "shaky-cam" - but come on, this film wasn't Green Zone or Cloverfield. The hand-held Cinéma vérité style, juxtaposed to the extensive digital effects, created a Superman film experience that felt grounded and intimate, yet extraordinary at the same time. And when it came to the action sequences... well it's hard to look at any other comic book film released this year and say with a straight face that it equaled the level of THIS:

Was Krypton a little Avatar-y? Sure. Was the Battle of Metropolis over-the-top by the time the 39th building came crashing down? Sure. But too much impressive action is a unique problem to have in the superhero movie genre, where climatic "boss battles" are so often disappointments, and action is typically limited to a three-part progression of small, medium, then large sequences. Man of Steel kept the action quotient high - Krypton war, oil rig fire, spaceship battle, Smallville battle, terraformer sabotage sequence, Supes vs. Zod boss battle - and kept it pretty spectacular, throughout.

The man behind 300 and Watchmen did it again, and in much different style than many expected. Not only was the action good, Man of Steel is also an all-around superior piece of visual storytelling, even in its calmer moments. That early shot of a seagull hovering in a hard wind? Metaphor for Clark's fight to spread his wings and fly, so to speak. That shot of a butterfly on the Kent farm, later on? Metaphor for that point in the story where Clark is transitioning into being Superman. Let's not even start with the emotion the came with that final shot of a young Clark Kent playing in the yard with a red cape tied around his neck; what little boy (or girl) didn't feel a pang of precious nostalgia from that piece of visual iconography?

Man of Steel - Young Clark Kent Superman

You could break this film down on a film school level and most of it would hold up as artistically sound and purposed. Please don't try the same trick with Kick-Ass 2... Man of Steel is not superhero moviemaking on a blockbuster level - thanks to Snyder's ingenuity (plus bonuses likes Hans Zimmer's epic score and catchy new Superman theme song) it's superhero moviemaking on a truly cinematic level, and deserves more respect for being so.


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