I avoided reading any reviews of Man of Steel before going into the theater because I didn’t want to have my opinions influenced. I also wanted to write my own review before reading any others for similar reasons.
After seeing the movie, though, I went back and read reviews from a couple of sources I respect, namely Mark Waid, writer of Birthright, a Superman story that influenced MoS greatly, and Brian Michael Bendis, one of Marvel Comics’ top writers. Both of these men are much smarter than I am, understand good writing, and Superman. As it turns out, we shared a lot of the same opinions. Am I trying to bolster my own opinions by saying, “Look, these guys thought the same thing”? Probably. But I also appreciate the way they communicated their thoughts.
Any way, here are their reviews:
My favorite writer, Matt Fraction, didn’t write a review, but did link to this interview with Glen Weldon, writer of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
The whole interview is interesting and an insightful look at Superman and the film. I highly recommend reading it after you’ve seen the movie. Especially for the bits about how every generation gets the Superman it deserves. Here’s a bit from the end:
“So Cavill (who, we should really mention, looks great in the role) will come to be how millions of people—not just kids—envision Superman. The nature of the engagement these non-comics readers have to characters like this isn’t deep, but it is astonishingly wide. Global, in point of fact.
So: What will their Superman be like, specificallly? Well, he’ll be different than mine. Oh, he’ll have the same motivation (1. Puts the needs of others over those of himself, 2. Never gives up), because that’s the character’s essence. But he’ll smile a lot less. Because Man Of Steel tweaks the 75-year-old formula in a way that likely seems subtle, but really, really isn’t: My Superman has a duty; theirs struggles with a burden.
It’s different, and the difference matters hugely, I think. Not least because their Superman will find himself trapped in a chilly, gunmetal-gray, Nolanesque existence for years—an existence that will not suffer bold, colorful, gleefully goofy conceits like Krypto, the Super Dog Who Is Awesome.
Basically? He’s gonna be a lot less fun”.
This isn’t a crusade against the film for me, I hope it doesn’t seem that way. I enjoyed a lot of things about it, but, at it’s heart, it just wasn’t Superman for me. I want everyone to see it, though, and then go buy comics about Superman, then comics about other super heroes, then comics about whatever looks the most interesting to them. And I want them to flood the internet having civil, thoughtful conversations about the movies, books, and characters, ushering in a new golden age of comic book love.
We can do that, right?