Since then we've seen the continued rise of the Marvel universe, with each successive movie delivering a coherent and satisfying superhero who makes sense; the Marvel Comics sensibility comes through in each picture: we know the rules, we believe. But now that we've seen Hulk smash and Captain America fight and Thor pound and Spider-Man swoosh and soar and bounce off skyscrapers, why would we want to see Superman do the same thing?
The debate has raged on about what Warner Bros. should do with the 75-year-old DC Comics superhero. The fanboys objected to the relatively smart and sophisticated Superman played by Brandon Routh, and so this iteration, written by David S. Goyer and supervised by Batman auteur Christopher Nolan, returns us to an action-packed comic book movie that is, unfortunately, all over the place and compares unfavorably to "Superman Returns," which actually earned upbeat reviews and delivered decent box office in its day-- $391 million worldwide. The problem was that it cost more than $232 million (probably closer to $300 million). Warners felt it could have performed better with more action and a powerful villain--and no Superman kid. So Singer was taken off the franchise.
Going into my screening Monday night, the buzz on "Man of Steel" was strong. Warners and Legendary Pictures have fashioned a new model Superman for the fanboy demo, bringing us a stalwart American superhero (Brit actor Henry Cavill as Kal-El), two robust father figures (Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent), Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and a powerful villain in General Zod (Michael Shannon). These actors are all remarkable considering the reams of expositional, flat and lame dialogue they have to utter, along the lines of "initiate," "the fate of your planet rests in your hands," and "leave the building now!"
But a return to form for the DC side of the comics universe this is not. This movie errs so far on the side of "Whiz!" "Bang!" "Pow!" that it makes me long for Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay, who would have done a far better job with the action pyrotechnics. Scene after scene devolves to soul-crushingly dull man on man combat.
Inevitably the women come up far short, as Diane Lane and Amy Adams try to somehow bring life to the sketchily written middle-aged farmwife Martha Kent and ace Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter Lois Lane, whose work for the Daily Planet and romance with Superman bring the movie to a thudding halt.
And so the debate continues. Early reviews are below: