“The thing about expectations is that they’re supposed to drive you to do more with you life, not stop you from living it.” — Chloe Sullivan, Smallville, 4.19 Spirit
I am going to talk to you about Superman a whole bunch here and if you are a person who has known me for a bit then you are not in the least surprised at my ability to do so cause I’ve probably done it a few times previously in your presence. Since I was introduced at the age of six to the world of Superman I’ve never stopped being a fan and being increasingly in love with it. My first meeting was with Dean Cain and Terri Hatcher as my Clark and Lois on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and I was hooked almost immediately. I’ve always loved Clark’s story and idolized Lois, for seventeen years. Funny enough I never got into the comics though, it just wasn’t something that was readily available to me then and by the time I could have I was so immersed in shows and movies and reading about the history I never felt the need to read them. So it’s not a big surprise I was highly anticipating this weekend with the opening of The Man of Steel but it was different from Superman Returns in 2006. Then I was still in the momentum of wrapped up in Smallville and I devoured any and all information I could get about casting and story plots and director that I had built the movie up to this huge thing. And it wasn’t that I was disappointed in the film, I actually enjoy it for the film that it is while recognizing it made some not great choices overall, but it was that I had allowed my expectations to stop me from fully enjoying it the way I could/should have. Which is why this time around I made an effort to do none of those things and to just walk in knowing I love the story at its core and interested in how Snyder and his team were going to tell it this time around.
And I have to say I came away actually blown away. I was honestly so impressed and invested in the movie that for a moment I thought to myself, “this is almost like watching the original Reeves version for the first time.” Now granted that is a hell of a statement and truly nothing compares to watching Reeves in that first movie being the total epitome of Superman/Clark Kent, but I was similarly moved. Now it was not a movie without its flaws, no they were there and I’ll be totally willing to acknowledge them but for the most part I think the review that had said this was the Superman movie we had been waiting for was pretty accurate. It surpasses the 2006 movie and definitely raised the bar for any future reincarnations (or possible sequels which I am totally hoping for).
Henry did a great job, I constantly found myself just so shocked by how much he felt like Clark to me. He looked the part, even if I would have died for a little more forehead curl, and really he carried himself so effortlessly like Clark. I was most fond of his portrayal of a young Clark, when he interacted with Jonathan and Martha cause being that version of Clark and the one we were confronted with for the majority of the movie are two vastly different mindsets and attitudes and Henry didn’t showcase a single ounce of doubt or insecurity at either junction. Making him so believable in both moments as well as the growth he must have experienced between them. The interaction with Lois was great cause the found the trust and confidence in her as well as you could tell how important it was he protect her. Particularly the part where he allows her to console him is a big one for me cause it relays his dependence on her at times, bringing out that need for human interaction and care that helps to balance Clark out as an individual, which for me is essential.
Speaking of Lois; it’s important for me to mention how great Amy Adams was as one of my biggest role models. I never necessarily doubted Amy’s ability to do the character well cause I am aware of her acting ability but for her to so aptly get Lois I was really floored. Her version might be my favorite live action version of Lois to date if I am being honest. In a way Terri will always be my Lois cause that is the woman I first watched, loved, and looked up to, but I think that what Amy did with her time in the shoes could easily do the same for some young girl watching this movie. She struck that balance of Lois where she is the hard-hitting, take no shit Pulitzer prize-winning journalist but capable of caring and feeling a connection to Superman and trusting he is a symbol of hope and good. Amy brought forth all the things I admire and love about Lois and I’ll always be thankful that more people were exposed to a Lois like that.
The rest of the cast was equally impressive; Russel Crow especially. I came from last seeing him in Les Mis as Javert and it’s an adjustment for sure to see him as Jor-El but I think he did an excellent job. I liked how they used him throughout the film and how he was the other side of Jonathan’s coin, being capable to teach Clark things and help him through major struggles. Kevin Costner was equally great as Jonathan too, he always seemed like a great fit for the role from the moment it was announced and I was glad that he lived up to that idea. The speeches from both of Clark’s fathers were some of the more emotional and moving parts of the film for me, I recall crying during both. Diane Lane made a lovely Martha as well, I think Annette will always be *my* Martha but I was pleased with what Diane brought to the movie and she interacted with Henry very well. Even the actors of Zod and Faora were incredibly strong and brought great dynamics to the film. My only small nit-pick with casting was Laurence Fishburne as Perry, he was too stoic and in control for me. I am used to Perry being over the top and vocal and just a bit off his rocker but incredibly passionate. See Frank Longella or Michael McKean for good examples of Perry White. But all in all I was incredibly satisfied with the casting.
Story wise I was equally happy. I think starting on Krypton and showing the fall of the planet as well as Jor-El an Zod’s interactions and separate ideas for saving Krypton set up a nice conflict and back story. The progression from the time we meet Clark to him finding the Fortress and becoming Superman was a bit rushed and awkward, but not totally bad. I feel if more had been saved to that piece of the story and a little bit cut down on the action/fighting/destruction the movie would have benefited. It was just a lot to deal with those long fighting sequences and to watch Smallville and Metropolis be destroyed so drastically was hard when we know the point of taking on Zod was to protect Earth and its people. However, the final battle scene with Clark and Zod was the right kind of intense and dramatic, plus it brought forth such a turning point for Clark that allowed Henry to really shine in that moment.
I’ll always support and give those that take on Superman cause it is daunting. To try to figure out a new and fresh way to tell a story that has been around for so long and told so many times is a heavy task. You have to figure out at what point in Clark’s life do you want to focus? What villans do you want to bring in? How much back story and life on Krypton do you use? How much of Smallville? The variables are endless and to try to balance that not only with comic canon but other movie canon or TV show canon, it is just so freaking much. And the small easter eggs and nods to the comics, movies, and Smallville the show were subtle but greatly appreciated. I personally loved the Sullivan shout out the most given that Chloe Sullivan was my favorite character from the show and love the universe embracing her so much.
Initially I was a little sad to not see Clark in the newsroom at the Daily Planet or interacting with Lois then as well as Perry and Jimmy and Cat. But the last few minutes took away that disappointment, those last few minutes where Clark tells Martha about his plans to get a job to keep him close to news and the action and we see him biking and entering the Planet and in his iconic classes and dorky hair I was rewarded. That part of Clark’s story/life is always such a major chunk and important to me because of how much I gravitated to Lois and the Planet so I appreciate seeing it acknowledged and not totally forgotten. Not to mention I thought it left open the option for a sequel (one that includes more time in the bullpen at the Planet, more time with Clark and Lois interacting as opposed to Superman/Lois, more time for Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olson [maybe even a Chloe Sullivan?!] to pop up, etc) so wide open.
The tl;dr version of this is that I loved the movie. I was reunited with that feeling that Superman has always brought to me and I give a lot of that to the fact that I walked in with few to none expectations. I allowed myself to move towards the movie without worry how they were going to present this story I care so much about. And by doing that I opened myself up to the chance to be wowed and awed by a story I know and love so much. I hope to see it again in theaters and plan to buy it right away when it comes out. The growth in the Superman family and world for this movie and it’s cast is a good one for me. It’s been a large part of my life for so long and I know it will continue to be for years to come so to be so enthusiastic about a new version makes me giddy and so happy in my heart.