In his current film incarnation, “Man of Steel,” he’s unhappy about having superpowers. Thanks to his fathers (biological and adoptive); young Supe grows up with low self-esteem, an actual bully victim, because he can’t reveal who he is. That attitude of super restraint makes “Man of Steel,” a bore for the first 100 minutes. Then, when he finally launches into action, it’s a video-game bash up with the baddies for the last 44 minutes. Yawn. Not a laugh or celebration or moment of suspense in the whole mess.
And a mess is what is made of Metropolis after Superman (hunky Henry Cavill) is finished slamming equally-invincible General Zod (toothy Michael Shannon). Hopefully, the city has good insurance, because after the big battle, the place looks post 9/11 multiplied by ten. Metropolians must be wishing Supe and his Kryptonian adversaries had stayed away from Earth entirely.
“Man of Steel” is directed by Zach Snyder (“300”), but the real influence here is co-producer/co-story writer Christopher Nolan, who has brought his “Dark Knight” negative sensibility to what was always been a positive force for Truth, Justice and the American Way.
We get to see a lot of the Superman back-story for the umpteenth time. His biological dad, Jor-El is now played by Russell Crowe, filling Marlon Brando’s sizable shoes from 1978. However, the most difficult shoes, and Superman outfit, to fill are those which perfectly suited the late great Christopher Reeve. What Reeve did so well was the Clark Kent nerd, so comically goofy that he was easily not mistaken for the Man of Steel.
Cavill is as comical as a piece of steel. Why ace reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) doesn’t see him as Supe is a bigger mystery than the Bermuda Triangle…particularly since she follows him to the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic and even to the Kent farm in Kansas, where she meets Clark and his adoptive parents, Martha (Diane Lane) and Jonathan (Kevin Costner).
Clark drifts around doing odd jobs for most of the movie, where he makes a few rescues, but mostly broods.
Poor serious Supe. Maybe in the “Man of Steel” sequel he will learn to smile and have some fun. That would be super!