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The One Thing Critics Are Getting Wrong About 'Man Of Steel'


henry cavill superman man of steel

Warning: There are some minor spoilers ahead.

As early reviews for "Man of Steel" are coming out, while most are positive, many critics are calling it the gloomiest version to date.

Specifically, many reviews are using one word to describe the film and its lead Henry Cavill.  

Associated Press:

"Cavill’s performance is less memorable for his introspective brooding than for his six-pack (a fetish for Snyder, the director of ‘‘300")."

Time Out:

"… It forgets to give the new Kal-El (muscle-bound Henry Cavill) a single recognizable emotion, save The Dark Knight’s all-purpose brood—which isn’t going to cut it when our S-clad hero, more than any other, has to inspire a gushing citywide love (so well-captured in the Koch-era original)."

Entertainment Weekly:

"But he's been transformed into the latest in a long line of soul-searching super-brooders, trapped between his devastated birth planet of Krypton and his adopted new home on Earth. He's just another haunted outsider grappling with issues."


"Blessed with the most classically chiseled jawline of any actor who’s yet donned the red cape, Cavill is also the most dour and brooding, lacking even the sardonic self-amusement of Christian Bale in Bruce Wayne mode."

This simply isn't the case.  It's not a depressing, dark film at all. 

We were able to see a screening of Warner Bros. reboot Tuesday evening, and we enjoyed it a lot.

Director Zack Snyder's take on Superman isn't perfect — we'll get to that later — but it's definitely entertaining and should hit the projected $100 million number opening weekend.

Rather, it's a coming-of-age story about a man trying to come to grips with being different and it's executed well.

"Man of Steel" delivers a fresh take on the rehashed Superman story about an altruistic, do-gooder who is the ultimate force for good. 

cavill man of steelThis is the story about Clark Kent getting to be that person, and guess what? It's not all rainbows and sunshine.

Being an alien among humans is scary and director Zack Snyder drives this point home showing the world through a young Kent's eyes. 

We know Superman has X-ray vision, super strength, heat vision, and supersonic hearing and that all sounds cool.

In reality, it's not.

According to Snyder, Superman doesn't see skeletons when seeing others. He sees people's muscular systems.

That's terrifying.

The simplest sounds — the opening of a door, getting out of a chair, and placing a coffee pot down are deafening.

Snyder has said in countless interviews his goal with "Man of Steel" was to make a superhero who was relateable. He  explains this in the production notes for the film:

"He's [Clark Kent] wondering, 'What is my purpose?' We all ask that of ourselves, but it's harder for Clark because the things that he's best at are also the things that are most frightening about him to others; knowledge of his existence would cc all into question everything we know about who we are. So he's on his own, trying to find out what his place is in the world, where he belongs, what is his destiny. I think the audience will relate because most of us share those same questions and insecurities when we are starting out in life."

The story line's resonance with real-world issues comes across while listening to the sage wisdom of Superman's dad (Kevin Costner) who forces Clark to hide his powers — and true self — from the people of Earth.

man of steel kevin costner"People are afraid of what they can't understand," Kent preaches to son Clark.

Though we know papa Kent is doing his fatherly duties to protect his adopted son, his controlling presence in Clark's life comes across as if he's slightly embarrassed by the repercussions of people knowing about his son's differences.

In many ways it reminded us of Spider-Man and the whole "with great power comes great responsibility" mantra. 

However, it's this that makes it difficult to watch the film and not think about parallels to bullying and gay-marriage rights as well.

Is Henry Cavill  the cheeriest Man of Steel? At the start of the film, no. 

But when your adopted parents are telling you to hide the special attribute that makes you unique, and subsequently you can't answer back to the bullies who constantly refer to you as a freak — who could blame him? 

Still, Kent's not shuffling around like an angsty, angry superhero with a vendetta.

Before becoming Supes, Kent uses his powers for random acts of kindness — saving strangers and school children in his youth. 

By the end of the nearly two-and-a-half hour film, after he gets the iconic Superman suit and assimilates, Cavill looks closer to the Superman figure we're more familiar with as he tosses some clever asides to generals and Lois Lane (Amy Adams).

A fitting alternate title for the film would be Superman Begins.

Of course, that was already taken.

"Man of Steel" is in theaters Friday with evening showings Thursday.

More Superman:  The incredible 75-year evolution of the Superman logo

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