DCEU Retrospective: Man of Steel
After having done a complete re-watch of the MCU, the next logical step is to move on to DC and their stuff. Despite it being called the DC Universe, or Worlds of DC, or whatever the fuck they want to call it now, I’m going to stick with the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). This will thankfully be a much shorter endeavor compared to Marvel as the DCEU only comprises 8 movies to date, with the 9th, Wonder Woman 1984, releasing later this year (hopefully). So without further ado, let’s jump into this trainwreck!
First up on the docket is Man of Steel, the Superman movie from 2013 that wasn’t intended to be a jumping off point for an extended universe yet here we are anyway. Fans of the site and podcast will know that I have very little love for Superman (and Supergirl). He’s so overpowered that he becomes a bit of a boring character. I don’t dislike Superman, I just prefer other heroes much, much more. The one thing that I will applaud this movie for doing is taking this literal god of a character and bringing him down to the human level. It gives the character the opportunity to have so much more depth and resonate more with the audience.
Notice though how I said that it gives them the opportunity to do that. But did they? No. No they did not. The writing in this movie was dull, flat, and overall bad. The acting didn’t help matters either. Every single character sounded so bored and like they would rather be anywhere else but in that moment filming that movie. Combine that with the really poor characterization of Superman and this movie is just filled with head-scratching moments. I’ve said it before but I’m no purist when it comes to Superhero movies/TV shows/video games. The writers of these things should be allowed to shape the character to the story they want to tell, even if it means deviating from the source material. But the writers in the movie didn’t just deviate from the source material, they fundamentally changed who Superman was as a character.
I will give the movie credit for its score though. Hans Zimmer once again provides a brilliant and bombastic score to accompany the key moments of the movie. The blaring horns and sense of hope that he conveys in the music is just amazing.
The visuals in this movie weren’t terrible. Some scenes actually looked really good. But then there were other moments that just were so jarringly bad that I physically recoiled a little from them. At the time it seemed like this was just a weak point of the movie. But unfortunately for the naive selves we were in 2013, this was evidence of larger issues to come…
One other thing that I will give this movie credit for (and this might be the last thing) is that despite how boring the execution of it was, the writing for Lois was alright. They actually made Lois a strong character that didn’t just stand by helplessly as Clark swooped in to save the day. One of the biggest issues that the MCU had, especially in the early days, was that most of the love interests in those movies were simply these damsels in distress that had to rely on the hero to save them. Lois took one look at that and said fuck that, turning into an integral player in the events of the movie.
The ending to this movie is also just so confusing. Between the severe amount of destruction done to Metropolis and loss of life incurred by not only Zodd but the fight between Superman and Zodd and the decision to have Clark straight-up murder Zodd, this movie’s ending was just so incredibly bad and out of character. Especially with the Zodd moment, Superman had so many options besides snap his neck. Yeah I get that Zodd wouldn’t have stopped otherwise, but in that exact moment he could have done literally anything else. He literally had Zodd in a choke-hold, he could have just moved the guy’s head out of the way of the people.
Like I had done with the MCU, I’m ranking the DCEU movies on the same merits and writing up this review has actually made me realize that I scored it too high initially. I actually just went back and lowered the scores in some of the categories. This movie is pretty subpar on its own merits but turns into a completely awful movie when you consider that this was turned into the jumping off point for the greater DC universe. Even I, who doesn’t really care for Superman, felt that they did him so wrong in this movie and that he deserved so much better.