Heroic Retrospective: ‘Man Of Steel’

Man Of Steel Retrospective

This Friday, one of the most discussed and highly anticipated films of the year will finally be out in theaters as Warner Bros. Pictures’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will bring the Last Son of Krypton and the Caped Crusader of Gotham City together for the first time on the big screen. But before we get to the second chapter of the DC Extended Universe that will start to flesh out their world and eventually bring together the Justice League, there was Man of Steel that came out in June 2013. Out of all the Superman movies that we have had in this generation, Man of Steel is by far the one that is still today being heavily discussed about as the reception was and still today is divided.

Heroic Hollywood had yet to be created back in 2013 and as the week has finally arrived for Batman v Superman, we wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the film that set up the DCEU. To do that, we brought together many of our staff writers together and let each of them give their thoughts about the film, the birth of this interpretation of the Man of Tomorrow and more. While it has been three years, we do warn those who have yet to see Man of Steel that there will be spoilers brought up in some of the thoughts on the next pages.


Andy Behbakht

Andy Behbakht

Andy Behbakht is an online entertainment journalist who has been covering television and movies since 2010. In addition, he is also a podcast producer.

  • breakerbaker

    My initial reaction for MoS was actually really positive. I literally came out of it thinking “Okay, that’s the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen.” That perception hasn’t quite held up over repeat viewings, as quirks that I initially ignored about the script (e.g., the ambiguous purpose and power of the Codex McGuffin, the kiss and quip near the end of the movie, the fact that the movie is kind of light on character developing dialogue and is much more in favor of the tonal exposition I’ve grown to hate about Christopher Nolan movies, and the fact that they probably laid the Christ symbolism on a little thick–with two separate scenes of Christ imagery) gnawed at me more as time passed. Despite it’s flaws, though, I still think of it as a top 3 or 4 superhero movie (other movies in that list, in chronological order: Superman: The Movie; Hulk, the Ang Lee one; MoS; and one of the two Captain America movies).

    • SonOfKrpton

      I personally feel that it was the second time I saw Man of Steel that I found it to be one of the greatest CBMs I had seen.

  • Thanostic

    Loved it. I don’t want a pious Superman, especially in an origin story. I thought the way they showed him struggling with who he was going to become was great, and added depth to the character, because a character who’s almost too powerful and is exclusively a paragon of truth and justice is actually pretty boring. And for the “Superman doesn’t kill” crowd, within this (more, at least) realistic depiction of a demigod superhero among us, I have yet to hear a plausible explanation of how he could have stopped Zod without killing him, especially without a great deal more death and destruction; nor have I heard a plausible explanation for how he (or humans) would have kept him safely contained once all the other Kryptonians and their tech were back in the phantom zone.

  • Carl

    “it didn’t seem to have a clear sense of what it wanted to be or what message it wanted to send. Clark Kent’s parents didn’t seem like great people, and Clark himself didn’t have as clearly defined a set of morals”

    “I found that there were certain moments that didn’t quite work, especially in certain scenes with Jonathan Kent. Kevin Costner’s performance was great, but I found the use of his character to be a little heavy handed.”

    “when Man of Steel presented a Superman who was brought up to resent his powers, to think only of himself, who reluctantly answers the call to action only when it personally affects him, and who causes destruction and death on a massive scale, I revolted.”

    “it’s ultimately hollow and cruel. It betrays every ideal the last son of Krypton ever stood for”

    “shifts the focus away from the purpose of Superman’s existence – as a paragon of “Truth, Justice and the American Way”

    “Henry Cavill also makes for an uninspiring Clark Kent, augmenting the perception of it not being a good Superman movie.”

    All choice quotes that mirror my feelings about Man of Steel. Hopefully BvS can turn a lot of this around.

  • saso

    I love Man of Steel, it gets better every time I see it. I think it’s very underrated and I find some of the arguments against it ridiculous and nit picky.

  • Darthmanwe

    This was the most faithful Superman adaptation from comic books. He had complexity, darkness but ultimately, a very good person forced into a very bad situation. Man of Steel was a success in my opinion. Gave me that complex Superman we see in the comics, instead of the outdated, one note version of old movies, which had their own charm.

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  • Comicsguy

    I think the movie was a massive disappointment because of the things it got right but completely missed the boat on. Here are my issues….

    Krypton was amazing. It was everything I thought Krypton would look like and much better than the weird ice/crystal planet from the originals. I was all set to love this movie and then the dildo ships came in and then I knew things were going to go down hill. Why does nobody mention the dildo ships that Zod and his cohorts are trapped in? How did these designs pass anybody? I’m a professional Illustrator, I know what it takes to design something like this. Those ships likely went through about thirty different designs and you’re telling me nobody noticed they look like huge penises?

    Okay, that was weird but not a deal breaker to the actual story. Well now the Kents come in…

    I’ve read from multiple people that this is an origin story and Superman is still just learning. I agree, which is why I loved that he wandered the world in search for a place to belong. What is wrong about the character is that although he was new to being a superhero, he SHOULD have had the moral compass that his parents instilled in him. Unlike Batman who uses Bruce wayne as a mask, Superman is Clark because he grew up on that farm with two loving parents that taught him and raised him to be that good of a person. That is not part of the learning process of becoming a person with powers. Now because his parents kinda sucked, especially his dad…(maybe he shoulda let that bus go and kids die?) he didn’t have that same upbringing to know to take the fight elsewhere or to attempt to save people. This is all fine and dandy if it were someone else, but it’s not Superman. Superman is hope, and light. It’s why it’s such a fun contrast when him and Batman are together. It’s called contrast.

    On world building. It’s hard for me to accept that (and I haven’t seen the movie yet so I admit I may be off base and they may explain it perfectly) in BvS there is suddenly a world full of superpowered beings and vigilantes. Man of Steel did nothing to set that up. Yes there were easter eggs like a satellite, but the reactions to everyone in metropolis to Superman was so extreme that it felt like a world where someone with these powers is completely new. An alien may have been new to them, but really, if you have the flash, aquaman, wonder woman, batman, etc. running around already…wouldn’t they be like…oh shit…here’s another? Yet theres no reaction like that which leads me to believe that this was never meant to set up a universe. That in its self is no big deal until they do try to make a universe after that movie because it makes the original make less sense.

    Man of Steel is a Zac Snyder movie. It’s gorgeous. The action is great and intense. The characters and the story fall apart. I’ll be in the theater hoping BvS is amazing. I want it and the little boy in me wants it.

  • ArtimusGG

    Man of Steel is a master piece, one of the best comic book films of our generation. People holding onto Mr. Reeves’ Superman who are disappointed with Man of Steel fail to see that times have changed, Superman has changed, but the overall message is still the same. To pretend that Superman announcing himself to the world would be all kisses and smiles is folly. Like Costner as Jonathan Kent said in the film, some people would be scared, and you even saw the mother of a child in the bus accident say it was God who did it.

    Very mature themes that brings our Superman into a new age. I personally thought Jor-El telling Superman he can “save them, save all of them” was one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever seen in film. And Superman rising to destroy the terraforming machine in the Indian Ocean had me physically smiling (also they threw in Mr. Reeves face in that scene for a frame, wonderful tribute). Man of Steel challenges people to be patient with a new Superman for our generation. I think we will see him develop into the iconic hero for hope, justice, and the American way in the coming films. Watching B v S tonight, can’t wait :)