What I thought of Man of Steel after my initial viewing: I was impressed, and that means something, because I cannot stand Superman. I never cared for the ’80’s movies, he was a total weenie in the 1970s cartoon I watched as a kid, I’ve avoided the comic books altogether and the few seasons of Smallville I watched were all over the place. Henry Cavill was a worthy son of Krypton, and I thought Michael Shannon was menacing, if a bit stiff, as Zod. I’ve never understood the fascination with Russell Crowe, but he was serviceable as Jor-El. Really enjoyed Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the Kents.
What I think of Man of Steel after my latest viewing: My opinion has changed little, but I think what really sets Man of Steel apart for me is that, finally, we get to see the true destructive capacity of Superman. The 1980s flicks don’t have the technology to pull it off, the 1970s cartoon avoided any true violence and Smallville, again, was all over the place. In Man of Steel, Kal-El’s battle with Zod is essentially a fist fight, yet they tear apart an entire city. Smaller moments – when he’s first trying to fly and crashes into a mountaintop on the rough landing – show that, even unintentionally, Superman is a powerful force that can’t be contained, possibly even by Superman himself. We’ve seen some of that power in The Avengers/Marvel flicks, but the common thread is there really are no consequences to Iron Man’s, Captain America’s, Thor’s, etc. destructive actions. And while I have my concerns about Batman V. Superman, the idea that Superman’s power cannot be trusted and that Earth’s less-powerful superheroes may have to step up to face the threat of Kal-El is a rich vein to mine. If handled correctly, this is really DC’s opportunity to set itself apart from the Marvel steamroller.
Final thought: Even if Batman V. Superman is a tire fire – we’re throwing Batfleck with Aquaman into the mix, so my hopes are not high – I am interested to see where Zach Snyder and company go from here. Done right, the Superman crew could do what I would have perceived as the impossible less than a year ago: Upstage Marvel.