I was incredibly excited for Man of Steel. I've always been more of a Marvel fan, but I’m pumped for any comic book film. As is the case with many fans, I was somewhat disappointed. The trailers made it seem amazing, but seeing the actual clips tempered my enthusiasm.
And seeing the film in theaters on opening day, I quickly realized the film would fail to live up to its potential. The film isn't bad per se, but could have been so much greater. Man of Steel has a great cast, but they have little to work with here. I was most interested in seeing Michael Shannon’s portrayal of General Zod. Shannon is mesmerizing as the disturbed prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He also delivers a brilliant performance in the Werner Herzog film My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?
Unfortunately, Shannon’s Zod has little depth. I don’t blame him, but rather the script. Laurence Fishburne is similarly wasted as newspaper editor Perry White, who has little to do.
One of the most discussed aspects of the film is the end where Superman snaps Zod’s neck, killing him. Many comic book fans took issue with this, stating that Superman doesn't kill. This is only somewhat true. In the comics, Superman does have a strong aversion to killing, but he has taken lives in extreme circumstances.
According to comicvine.com, in the 1940s Superman didn't have a problem with killing and had “little regard for the collateral damage he inflicts.” By the end of the 1940s, Superman was banned from taking lives by a new editor. Later on in the comics, Superman killed the villain Doomsday as well as Zod. Superman also killed in the climax of Superman II. He knocks a depowered Zod down a deep chasm, seemingly leading to his death.
My problem with it was not the fact that Superman kills, but rather the execution of the scene. It just didn't have the necessary emotional weight. This was partly because the acting and dialogue in the scene could have been much better. I understand what they were going for. They were trying to show that Superman had no choice but to kill Zod and that he chose humanity over Krypton. The problem is that the previous fight scene that lasted about 18 hours kind of goes against this. I mean they were just punching each other through skyscrapers and into space. Couldn't Superman have just flung Zod back a thousand miles away or something?
That fight must have killed quite a few people and Superman didn't seem too broken up about it. Heck, he even had to time to make out with Amy Adams in the aftermath. Surely, there were some people that needed saving? It would have been better to show Superman desperately trying to avoid casualties and trying to save people while fighting Zod. It’s also kind of odd that Superman could just kill Zod by snapping his neck. Zod survived the vacuum of space and some insanely powerful punches, but apparently a neck snapping will do it.
I will say there were a lot of things Man of Steel did right. In my opinion, it’s the best Superman film yet. However that’s not saying much, as I was never a big fan of any of the previous movies. I haven’t seen Superman 3 or 4, but from what I've heard, I highly doubt watching them would change my opinion.