A little old fashioned
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If the objective of Man Of Steel was to introduce a new Superman...
Henry Cavill IS Superman. He is Clark Kent. And it totally makes sense now why Zack Snyder only screentested one person -- because there was no need for anyone else. Please, Joe Manganiello. Even Joe Manganiello would have to agree.
The movie looks great. It’s visually impressive, as Snyder movies generally are. The story... the story’s not bad. They say it’s “darker”. That this is a more introspective Clark Kent Kal-El Superman (I don’t know what to call him, he has so many names, and all those names are used so many times!), a loner with an identity crisis who struggles with his strength, searching for something he can’t name until his legacy comes to find him.
Ok, sure. But ...we’re not dealing with Bruce Wayne here. Clark Kal isn’t your aw shucks corn boy, no, but he’s also not an angsty mess. He will never drink too much, smoke too much, curse too much, f-ck too much, and drop attitude. He will always be polite and humble and sweet.
He’s a little old fashioned.
It reminds me of that great line from Agent Coulson in The Avengers last year, when he was fangirling at Captain America about his uniform and Cap was like, isn’t that a little old fashioned and Coulson replied:
“With everything that's happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned.”
This is exactly what Man Of Steel is: unapologetically old fashioned.
It took me a while to process. To turn off the snark and the cynicism, to forget about Tony Stark, to appreciate the idea of Superman as it was always intended to be: he’s the good guy. Sometimes we just need an uncomplicated good guy. Sometimes we just need a little old fashioned.
This is what you have to keep in mind then for some of the dialogue. Like this:
Bad guy: I’m gonna do bad sh-t!
Superman: I’m gonna stop you!
Seriously, some of the dialogue is actually that corny. But then again, you really don’t expect Superman to be quippy. Even when he’s having fun with his powers, it’s done in a way that’s so fundamentally earnest, it’s not so much “cool” as it is... endearing. Endearing, transparent, old fashioned.
Maybe the old fashioned could be shorter though. The movie is too long. And I know I complain about movie length all the time but in this case, it’s because it’s repetitive, particularly as it relates to Superman’s flying. Flying is his thing, I get it. But the flying rescue -- always in the knick of time! -- gets tired rather quickly. You can see it, can’t you?
Victim is about to get attacked. Superman swoops in, faster than a bullet, and saves his mother/an innocent bystander/Lois Lane/whoever. At a certain point, it lacks imagination, you know?
As for the supporting cast -- the standouts are definitely Russell Crowe and Amy Adams. Russell Crowe looks great in costume, particularly his I Am Your Father robe. And he has a such a great voice, he’s perfect as the supernatural dad, guiding his son from inside. Amy Adams is the one who surprised me. I LOVED her Lois Lane. I loved that Lois loves her job. That she is serious about her job. That she is good at her job. It seems so obvious. But how often do you see this in the movies? Not enough. And that’s also why Scarlett Johansson has been so effective as Black Widow. She has a job. She is really good at her JOB.
And Henry Cavill is very, very good at his. More than good enough for a reset. More than good enough so that the Superman geeks who were at my screening skipped up the aisle at the end. More than good enough so that people with a Superman childhood attachment had tears in their eyes on the shuttle back to the hotel. More than good enough to justify a sequel, easily. Look for a key word when a couple of trucks explode. It’s the name of a company. Now what company do you think that could possibly be?
Attached -- Henry Cavill at various events promoting Superman. I promise you, he is so much more beautiful in the film than he is in photographs. Like you can’t even believe it how crazy goodlooking he is.