EDITORIAL: Why MAN OF STEEL Is One of The Greatest CBMs Of All Time

EDITORIAL: Why MAN OF STEEL Is One of The Greatest CBMs Of All Time

There is no doubt that 2013 was a great year for comic book movies, but to me one of them stands head and shoulders above the rest. Read on to hear my thoughts on why, and then take it to the comments with your own opinions.

Welcome readers! I have heard many things about recent DC comics film called Man of Steel. Many things including love, hate, mixed feelings and the like. I've heard it bashed and trashed and called things like "destruction porn" and "Superman for emos" all of which are untrue and over exaggerated reasons to hate. People struggle to come up with reasons to hate this movie, and most of the arguments don't make any sense. The following is why I feel it is truly a fantastic movie and one of the best comic book movies of all time. Please keep an open mind when reading, thank you for reading!

1) An excellent character arc for the titular hero.

The first and most important reason why Man of Steel is one of the best CBMs ever is the way it had such a strong character arc for Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent. One of the main complaints I've heard regarding this movie is "it has no character development" I feel that statement is absolute untruth. However,  I do understand that for some the character development might be hard to see. So I shall explain it in detail. The character arc is about Clark accepting the fact that he is of Earth, not Krypton. You see all the way from when we first see Clark as a child he has been wondering, pondering and asking about who he is and where he came from. He knows he is not of this world, but he yearns to know and discover his "true" home, family and people. However we view his truly human nature when we see him save the bus, and also when we see him save the oil rig. These events prove his humanity to US, the audience but not to Clark...yet. When he grows up he continues to search the world looking for answers, when he finally finds some in the ship he still seeks more. We see his humanizing relationship with his parents as well as Lois Lane. But when Zod finally shows up and attacks his mother, Clark is enraged and fights him. We then hear Zod's speech to Clark about rebuilding Krypton on Earth. Clark realizes Zod intends to destroy humanity in the process of rebuilding Krypton. He is then forced to make a choice, he must choose Earth or Krypton. He must decide whether he is going to defend the world he has known, or join the world he has wanted to know. He now finally knows where he came from, but he realizes that everything he was looking for was everything he already had. He realizes that the home, family, people, planet and everything he was trying to find was what was already here on Earth. He chooses to be human, and accepts the fact that although he was born elsewhere. He "is the most human of us all" (courtesy, Batman). I don't see how there is a lack of character development at all. Maybe you guys just aren't seeing it, but it is there. It is excellent, and it sets up a great heroic Superman for future outings. 

2) The villain was one of greatest comic book movie villains of all time.

The second primary reason I feel this movie is one of the best in the genre is the outstanding villain. General Zod is one of my favorite DC villains from the comics, and I felt that this depiction of the character was excellent. Michael Shannon is a real show stealer in this movie, I felt he brought a more menacing, more dangerous presence to screen. Something we had yet to see in a Superman film. Having a great actor in the part is half the battle, the other half is a mix between having good story behind him and good writing. Zod's story is a tale of a Kryptonian supreme general, who is wiling go to all extents to insure the protection and survival of his kind. But not because he believes this is right in any way, or because he loves his people. He does this because it's his duty, because he is who he was born to be. That part of the character translates well on to the screen because it creates a contrast for Clark. Clark is a man choosing who he wants to be, Zod is a man born into who he is. Nothing will ever change Zod, Clark undergoes transformation. The other piece of the puzzle that makes him a great villain was his dialogue. Zod had so many great lines "We could've rebuilt Krypton in this squalor." is the best of the bunch in my opinion. Zod is also a visual bad-***, the climax fight against Superman is one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen. Also, recently I've the silly argument that Zod sucks because he is a warrior that lost to Jor-El who is a scientist. People will stop at nothing trying find reasons to hate. Jor-El is obviously a warrior as well, just look at what he did in the film, look at the armor and the way he fights. He has obviously had a ton of training. Besides, Zod defeats him and kills him the second time. I really do feel Zod is among the greatest comic book movie villains of all time. Not quite as good as The Joker, Ock, Magneto and MAYBE Green Goblin. But I would say that Zod at least deserves to be top 6 or 7, most likely top 5. The film's other notable antagonist was one of Zod's henchmen called Faora, a character I thought was one of the most bad*** female characters of all time. So sexy, so beast, flat character but awesome anyhow.

3) The story was great.

My third major reason is the strong story this movie had going for it. Some seem to view it as "non-existent" or "very thin" I respect those opinions but those are in no way true. The story may be simple, it could be even be called generic. But in my opinion it is truly great. The story starts with the planet Krypton, the people of that planet have been incubating and essentially growing their babies for hundreds of years now. Until recently, when planetary scientist  Jor-El has a son, who is the planet's first natural birth in years. But at the same time, Jor-El knows that the planet is doomed and will soon be destroyed. He attempts to warn the planet's council but his efforts are in vain. Enter Zod, who also knows the truth about the doomed planet. He knows that the council is doing nothing to try and save their race so he uses his armies to try and overthrow them while he tries to set up a temporary military government to save their species. How? He wants the codex which all of the generic make-up of the Kryptonian race. He feels he needs it in order to save his race. But Jor-El knows what Zod will do, and that he cannot be trusted. Jor-El puts the codex inside his son's genetic material and jettisons him to the closest planet with a yellow sun. Which will cause him to grow stronger every day. When Zod is stopped by the Kryptonians and sentenced to life in the phantom zone he kills Jor-El. Then the planet's inevitable fate comes to be...but only Jor-El's little baby Kal-El escapes to Earth. On Earth he is adopted by a human family and spends most of his years attempting to find out who he is. He eventually does find out. But when Zod returns from the phantom zone to steal the codex from Kal's genes and destroy humanity to rebuild Krypton on this new planet. Kal is forced to choose who he wants to be, want more on that read point #1. In my opinion this story was well written and well portrayed.

4) The visuals and action are absolutely stunning.

The fourth major support for my love of Man of Steel is the outstanding, no beyond outstanding visuals and action. People have called it "a video game movie" and frankly nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there are tons of eye dazzling action sequences. But those are balanced out by emotional depth to the characters and plot. That is why I feel that this movie is most definitely superior to the 2012 blockbuster The Avengers. Because while Avengers does have an excellent villain, soundtrack and even better action. The movie has no depth to it. Sure maybe I just painted a gigantic target on my back, but it's just the truth. The contrast between the two is that The Avengers is a great movie with a lot of fantastic action scenes, while Man of Steel is a great movie with a lot of fantastic action scenes that also manages to be deep, personal and thought provoking. The over the top fight scenes are balanced out by the depth brought by the characters and the story. I will say this though, that great action isn't the only thing that makes a movie great. Some comic book movies are amazing but lack good or great action scenes, it doesn't make them any less excellent. To me, action in a film is not a necessity it is more or less a bonus, "icing on the cake" if you get what I mean. Having great action scenes doesn't make a movie great. But with that said, almost no movie does action quite as well as Man of Steel does. Maybe The Avengers, but even that is debatable. The film's greatest point in my opinion was the climax. The final fight between Superman and General Zod was nothing short of pure excellence. Yes the visuals were spot on and the fighting was among the most dazzling I've ever seen. But that's not the only thing, the context of the situation was so deep and connected personally to both of the characters. That's why I feel the action in this movie is superior to The Avengers, because it is of equal quality effects wise but the context of the situation is so much better. In Man of Steel the battle is so personal and they have reasons directly related to the plot and to themselves why they are fighting. To me Avengers felt like a Transformers movie except I actually give half a {frick} about the heroes in Avengers unlike the Transformers whom I have never been a fan of, even remotely. The film has a whole slew of other fantastic action scenes as well, like the battle against Faora in Smallville or the opening sequences with Jor-El. Which leads me to another point, I cannot believe that Man of Steel didn't get on this top 10 greatest visuals of 2013 thing. I mean just look at the Coruscant-esque opening sequence on Krypton. That scene ALONE deserves a nomination. Overall I'd say Man of Steel is tied with The Avengers for greatest pure action CBM of all time. Even though my favorite action scene is the clock tower/train fight in Spider-Man 2, the other two films have better action as a whole. 

5) It found the perfect tone and owned it.

Reason number five up my list is the way it found what it wanted to be early on and lived it out to the fullest. One of my biggest problems with the recent films Thor: The Dark World but more so Iron Man 3. Is the constant identity crisis the film had from start to finish. They really struggled to find what they really wanted to be, and even though they are both good movies it is true that they were struggling to figure themselves out. With those movies they go from one moment trying to be completely serious, to the next being overly comedic, sarcastic and cheesy. It comes off as really stupid in my opinion. The conflicting tones did not mix well at all in those movies. One argument I've heard against Man of Steel is that it was overly "Dark and gritty", it is not in any way. If someone asked me about a comic book movie that was "dark and gritty" I would point to Watchmen first. (great movie by the way) Then I would bring up each of the Dark Knight films, both Punisher films, both Wolverine movies, the first two classic Batman films, 300 and Spider-Man 3 long before I would even think
about Man of Steel. It may have been serious, but hardly what I'd call dark. Some films find what they want to be and own it. Like on one side Watchmen and The Dark Knight figure out that they want to be dark crime dramas and live that through, movies like Avengers and Fantastic Four figure that they want to be gloriously cheesy and fun superhero flicks. Some movies attempt to have both and it ends in conflicting tones that make it difficult to keep up with. Then, there are the best. The films that find a perfect balance between serious drama and fun, the movies that blend them together beautifully into one and the same. The poster boy of this method is Spider-Man 2, however the film Iron Man and now Man of Steel do it quite well too. Films like Dark Knight Trilogy, X-Men 1 & 2, Wolverine, Incredible Hulk, First Class and Watchmen are mostly serious and drama based. Films like Avengers, Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer, Superman, Red and Red 2 are most driven by fun. Some films like Iron Man 3, Spider-Man 3 and Thor attempt to crudely mash the two together which ultimately results in conflicting tones and an identity crisis. Films like Spider-Man 1 & 2, Man of Steel and Iron Man find a beautiful balance between drama and fun. Man of Steel figured out it's tone early on in the film and lived it all the way through. For that I give it praise!

6) Outstanding performances.

Sixth reason is one of the main elements that brings so much passion and heart to the characters and film. I think the casting was dead on in every aspect with the exception of Amy Adams as Lois Lane who wasn't bad but just okay. I would've preferred a different take on the character but what we got was decent enough. But that minor flaw doesn't change the fact that the movie had brilliant casting as a whole. Henry Cavill was an excellent Clark/Kal/Superman, although I still do feel that Christopher Reeve is the definitive version of Superman. That said, I still loved Cavill in the role and felt that he nailed the all American country boy that defines Clark Kent. While at the same time perfectly portrayed the conflicted side of Superman in his early days. But that's not even mentioning Michael Shannon, this version was much better than the Terrence Stamp version which I actually loved. Shannon got the character so right, and gave us one of the finest film adaptations of a comic book villain of all time. Lawrence Fishburne is a great Perry White. Russell Crowe rocks as Jor-El so does Antje Traue as Faora. Overall, Man of Steel had excellent casting and all of then delivered quite magnificently. 

7) The soundtrack was epic.

Last reason is relatively minor, but it still adds a lot of emotion to an already passion filled movie. As aforementioned I feel this movie is full of heart and emotion from the characters. But all of that is amplified with a damn near perfect score for the film. Hans Zimmer was definitely the way to go. The score is so magnificent, in places where it starts with that slow piano playing makes it feel so deep and emotional. Then it picks up into a glorious, epic main theme. The scenes with this are so amazing, it feels so heroic sounding. Then there are the parts with Zod, where it goes dark and is driven mainly by the woodwind instruments. So great, overall this film has a great score. In my opinion the soundtrack of the original Superman is still the greatest CBM score of all time, but this one certainly can give that a run for it's money. 

In conclusion, I absolutely love Man of Steel. It had wonderful heart, passion, emotion, story, action, villains, acting and characters. It had everything a great Superman movie should have and so much more. I understand it gets hated, but on THIS site? Any movie related to Superman and/or X-Men gets unfair amounts of hate so can't say much there. In my opinion Man of Steel is the best Superman movie of all time, and completely destroyed all the competition. To me it blew every MCU film outta the water, and most of the Spider-Man and X-Men movies too. My favorite CBM list always changes but for a while now Man of Steel has been fifth behind Nolan's first two Dark Knight films, Spider-Man 2 and First Class. In my opinion Man of Steel was excellence and nothing but.

Thanks for reading! Sound off in the usual place!
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