‘Man of Steel’ (2013) is the reboot, as they like to call it in these computer literate times, of the endlessly fascinating myth of Superman. Zack Snyder directs, with Christopher Nolan producing, and Henry Cavill starring as Kal El .
Amy Adams co-stars as Lois Lane. Michael Shannon as General Zod. Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Russell Crowe as Jor-El.
The planet Krypton is dying, mostly due to poor environmental maintenance. Jor-El decides on a radical move to save his people, the people of Krypton. All the other species on the planet seem to have been forgotten, which seems a tad strange for a scientist with environmental concerns.
He steals an artefact which contains the genetic heritage of the Kryptonian race, and without taking a backup gives it to his son Kal-El, the first non-genetically programmed naturally born child in centuries, a risky undertaking which seems to have worked out well.
Imbued with the genetic heritage of his race, Kal El is put on a tiny life pod and journeys to earth to be raised as a farm boy in Kansas by good people and grows up to save the world. Jor-El has already decided that it really is not best option for his boy’s future stability to have the love and support of his birth family on his son’s journey to Earth, or indeed his new life on Earth. He ignores his wife’s pleas about not wanting to leave the boy, does little or nothing in the line of seriously arming himself or having some type of preparatory escape pod for the family ready when being attacked by the angry rather one dimensional General Zod and his cohorts, and finally in a moment of the most ludicrous self immolation, allows himself to be killed by Zod, whom he must know, being a super smart very limber scientist, he hasn’t a hope against in battle. Furthermore I wonder if Jor-El had thought through the consequences of his son being brought up by psychopath or someone hell bent on world domination on Earth. Imagine if some imperialistically minded politician had found him and saw Kal-El’s powers and sheer potential . Kal- El was a lucky baby to be found by the Kents. It’s also quite amazing Jor El, an extraordinary person with an extraordinary mind by any standards, manages to fuse his people’s genetic heritage in seconds into the baby’s DNA, with no side effects whatever, plot a course for earth, and yet leaves the boy’s fate literally to the vicissitudes of space, with a genetically trained army gunning for the child that is the key to Krypton’s future. Kal El calls Earth a planet with intelligent life, a planet where his boy, so Jor El says, will be a god to the earthlings. This is not what one would call optimal parenting thinking on Jor El’s part. Being a god comes with serious problems, sometimes of the insoluble kind. Its a life sentence of misery and Atlas like obligation.
At this stage the movie is hardly ten minutes running, and I have this sinking feeling that the producers, directors and screenwriters have opted for a movie that looks great but is devoid of even the merest simulacrum of a coherent plot. The worst part of this movie storytelling disaster is the fact that the Superman myth is probably the most high concept one can work on. If there is any myth (more than that of the myth of Jesus – which I agree with only to an extent) the myth of the Golem is the myth of the golem. The word means ‘formless mass’, literally matter – something not yet imbued with form, the golem is designed by man and imbued with the power of god and designed for a purpose. Kal-El is imbued with the powers of godlike strength, immense beauty, and has within him the future of his race, literally the genetic code of life, truly a gift of God. Interestingly Kal-el, despite his father’s brilliance (his mother seems to serve the purpose only of bearing him in her womb in this rather phallocentric movie) does not have a divine intellect, has no interest in art, science, music, politics, or thinking about the meaning of life. One doesn’t see him out with an easel and paints drawing the beauties of Kansas, mind you he does like Plato, which is probably the only moment of contemplation one gets in this hyper violent movie. Zod inevitably tacks Kal-El to Earth and threatens genocide to get back the key to Krypton’s future.This is an entirely Americano centric movie, despite the plot being about the fate of the Earth. A horrific battle ensues and in scenes that made my stomach turn Zod is defeated. In imagery that reminded me rather too closely of the twin towers, thousands lose their lives as Zod and Kal-El fight it out till the inevitable predictable end arrives. An awful movie, and the kind of movie that makes one wonder how so much money and so much talent can be wasted so wantonly