Director Zack Snyder — director of “300” and “Watchmen” — tackles the story of Superman, and he does it so well that Snyder should be a defensive lineman.   Of course, a movie’s success and quality depends upon more than just the director, and “Man of Steel” has the talented cast and screenwriter that helped this movie to be a hit.

“Man of Steel” takes us from the birth of Superman (played by Henry Cavill) all the way to when Cavill wears the famous red and blue suit, accepting his role as Earth’s protector.  But the story is told in a non-linear way, meaning there are lots of flashbacks to key moments of Cavill’s life as a boy, a teen, and a young man.   I believe the reason Snyder did this was to move the story along at a faster pace, without sacrificing important elements of the backstory.   But what is sacrificed is the wonder we feel as we watch Cavill go through an awkward and emotionally painful childhood, the emotions in him — and in us — building up if  we were to see him grow up in a linear way, from a scared boy to a confident superhero.  Jumping around in the storyline, as “Man of Steel” does, takes away a lot of that wonder and emotional buildup.   Watch “Superman” after you watch “Man of Steel,” and I’m sure you will have a stronger connection with Superman in the 1978 movie.

That said, this is still a very good movie.  I’ve got $10 waiting to buy this when it comes out on BD for that price (yeah, I know, it’ll be a while before that happens, but I can wait).   Superman purists may be upset about a few things, such as: the lack of red briefs in Superman’s suit, there is no kryptonite (at least in this first movie), Cavill has a beard, and Perry White is played by a black guy (Laurence Fishburne).  Well, there’s no point in rebooting the Superman story if you’re just going to leave everything the same.   Whatever changes Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer made to the Superman story, they do not significantly alter what we know of the Superman world.  Watch and see for yourself.

And should you do that, you will see a Krypton that is grittier, like a “Star Wars” planet where large beasts roam the skies with spaceships.  You will see Cavill aimlessly going from job to job, travelling all over the world as he figures out his purpose and place on Earth, waiting for the right time when he can reveal himself to the world and hope that he will be accepted.  And you will see Michael Shannon — who plays Kryptonian General Zod — seek and find Cavill, not to kill him, but to ask for his help to create a new Krypton, founded upon the destruction of Earth.

And speaking of Shannon, one of my memorable, movie moments of “Man of Steel” is the scene when Shannon passionately explains to Cavill why Shannon does what he does.  Shannon was raised to be a soldier; his sole purpose is to protect Krypton and its inhabitants, by any means necessary.  And by extension, he has the obligation to find a new world to terraform into a new Krypton for the last remaining Kryptonians who still live, including the unborn, Kryptonian babies that are harbored in Cavill’s cells.  “What!” you yell out.  “What was that?”  That’s right, Spartacus, you heard me.  And some guy took a vial of Cavill’s blood.  Where that vial is, we don’t know.  But I think it will be used somehow in the next 2 sequels.

Now, my most memorable, movie moment of “Man of Steel” is the scene when Kevin Costner (who plays Cavill’s human father) finds himself on the path of a tornado.  SPOILER ALERT here.  Costner had already instructed Cavill and Diane Lane (who plays Cavill’s human mother) to seek shelter under an overpass as Costner helps others who are in harm’s way.  Costner has no time to escape as the tornado is upon him.  He looks at Cavill, and puts his hand out signaling Cavill to not use his powers to save him, because that would mean exposing Cavill’s superhuman abilities to the whole world, as there are many witnesses around.   We see Costner quickly swallowed up by the twister, and he is gone.  Why did Costner sacrifice his life in order to keep his son’s secret?  Because he felt the world wasn’t ready — as well as his son — for the upheaval that the revelation would bring.

Screw that.  If I had the powers of Superman, no way in hell I would allow my father to die in front of me when I could easily save him.  Damn the world and its small-mindedness, its fears and its prejudices.  The world would just have to deal with me being an alien with powers to destroy the Earth.  Deal with it.  And if you can’t…well, what are you going to do about it?

M

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