There’s no denying that the DC Extended Universe is a polarizing film franchise with far more critical misses than hits. However, the movie that helped launch the DCEU, Man of Steel, tends to get lumped in with the misses, and unfairly so.
While it’s hardly the masterpiece Zack Snyder loyalists claim, here are five reasons Man of Steel is better than you remember:
Hans Zimmer’s Score
Hans Zimmer has an impressive resume when it comes to composing movies scores. From The Lion King to the Dark Knight trilogy to Inception, he’s scored some of the best films of all time, and his work on Man of Steel certainly doesn’t disappoint either. It’s instantly memorable and appropriately heroic, perfectly encapsulating Clark’s journey from innocent newborn to young outcast to (finally) the fully realized… well, Man of Steel.Advertisement
It's a True Standalone Film
Yes, Man of Steel is technically the launching pad for the DCEU, and yes, there are certainly Easter eggs, such as nods to LexCorp and Wayne Enterprises. Nevertheless, at no point does Man of Steel feel like it’s simply moving pieces into place in preparation for the next franchise installment, which is something of a rarity in this day and age. There were no DCEU films before it, so it isn’t weighed down by needing to acknowledge the past, and even though it does set up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, much of that setup is done retroactively so it doesn’t feel shoehorned in. It’s actually a refreshing change of pace from today’s cinematic behemoths.
It Gives Us a Fully Realized Krypton
Although the aptly titled Krypton series on SyFy is currently giving viewers a deep dive into the history of Superman’s homeworld, Man of Steel was the first to do it not only in live action but also on the big screen. Earlier Superman films talked about the destruction of Krypton, but none of them took the time to truly show viewers how those events unfolded. In fact, the Krypton scene is one of the overall highlights of Man of Steel. That other Superman films thought it wasn’t worthwhile to explore this crucial element of Kal-El’s backstory is absolutely puzzling.
It Takes a Realistic Approach to Superman’s Perception
What do you think would happen if Superman actually showed up on Earth? Would the world greet him with open arms, no questions asked? Of course not. Sure, some people would blindly accept him as the new protector of the planet, but the majority of mankind would be skeptical, to say the least, about putting trust in an alien who possessed the power to destroy them with ease if he was having a bad day. Man of Steel, unlike previous Superman movies, reallygets this, and it makes a conscious effort to show a grounded take on humanity’s reaction to the Krypton native. Obviously, there are those who feel that sort of portrayal doesn’t work for Superman, but you have to admit, it’s far easier to suspend your disbelief in a superhero movie when the everyday citizens react exactly like that – everyday citizens.
Superman is Actually Relatable
In the same vein as the previous entry, one of the things that helps ground Man of Steel is that the film addresses one of readers’ primary concerns with the character, which is that he isn’t all that relatable. Superman, in most forms of media, is generally portrayed as a patriotic, morally righteous, super-powered being, and while those first two qualities are certainly attainable for the average person, Supes manages to dial them up to 11. Meanwhile, in Man of Steel, we see a Kal-El who has to deal with growing pains that we’ve all experienced – most notably, feeling like an outcast (and if you’ve never felt like that at any point in your life, congratulations).
All things considered, Man of Steel was a bold film that actually had the guts to give viewers what they’d been asking for in the past, and it’s unfortunate that it isn’t looked back at as fondly as it deserves to be. If you’re one of the ones who was left disappointed, perhaps you’ll consider giving it another chance.