You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. 

Russell Crow as Jor-El in Man of Steel, © 2013 DC.

Russell Crow as Jor-El in Man of Steel, © 2013 DC.

****

No kneeling before Zod?

Do people get that reference? It was from before my time, but I was torn while watching this film. When General Zod–Michael Shannon–makes his agonizing speech about he was born with one function in life, to protect Krypton, and how since Krypton was gone…I wanted to hear him tell Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman–Henry Cavill–to kneel before Zod! But I knew it would probably elicit laughter, which would have been wholly inappropriate.

Michael Shannon as General Zod in Man Of Steel, © 2013 WB & DC.

Michael Shannon as General Zod in Man Of Steel, © 2013 WB & DC.

I mention this because the director, Zack Snyder, probably had to make that choice dozens of times throughout this film. With a character like Superman, there is baggage unlike any other. With so many opportunities to reference the cheesiest nuggets from its past. There are literally thousands of comic books on which to base this Superman. There have been multiple television shows. And even a series of movies, one of which actually featured General Zod. And Snyder deserves credit for managing to tell a story without using Superman’s personal kryptonite, which is actually kryptonite. How hard it must have been to avoid that!

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel, © 2103 WB.

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel, © 2103 WB.

This is best blockbuster of the year because it has coherent end of the world stakes, twice. Because it has the best fight scenes of the year. Because it has the best action sequences as well. It has a villain on par with Star Trek Into Darkness‘ Khan. Its score is on par with John Williams’ excellent Superman theme. Its supporting cast includes Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Antje Traue, Christopher Meloni, Kevin Costner, and the underrated Harry Lennix!

Now there are just two things I would like to address: 1. the Jesus-y side of the Man of Steel; and 2. Zack Snyder is the best comic book adapter of all-time.

1. I remember reading an article in “Reformed Judaism,” about Superman and his creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. While this may not be that particular article, scroll down to The Golem and Superman. Hopefully that link works, since it is to the cached article as the website has a broken link to the original. I believe that many Americans, the majority of whom are Christian, see a Jesus allegory because of their frame of reference. I do not know if this was Zack Snyder’s intention or not, but if people see it then I feel that is as valid as my viewing Superman, in the historical context more than just here, as a Jewish character placed into two tales of potential genocide.

2. Zack Snyder has directed the following three comic book movies: 300, Watchmen, and Man of Steel. This is the first of those not based on a specific work. Clearly his success on those films, and the critical beating he took on Sucker Punch, prepared him to excel on this feature. Henceforth as long as the source material has anything of merit in it, I am ready to watch it. Even if it a sequel to that atrocious Green Lantern, or something as daunting as adapting the Age of Apocalypse. This makes me wish that Brett Ratner–X-Men: United–or Michael Bay–Transformers– were 1/3 the director that Snyder is.

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