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Zack Snyder Gave Me The Right To Change My Mind About Superman

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The Scout Ship

We begin with Clark entering the Kryptonian ship for the first time. He wonders around until he stumbles upon a familiar looking shape. It looks similar to his ‘S’ key he’s had since his Pa Kent gave it to him. At this same time, Lois is curiously following him, discovering the same alien-like structures within the ship.

Kal-El discovers pods that have deceased remains in them. There’s also one that is open, left for the viewer to make up their own mind about who it belonged too. This is when Lois comes into contact with the Kryptonian security system. She is severely wounded and Kal-El displays his heat vision to stop her internal bleeding. This is the first time he is shown helping someone directly and not hiding what he is capable of doing. This sequence of scenes ends with a beautiful shot of the Kryptonian ship leaving the ice structure it had been trapped in for close to 20,000 years.

What Lois Saw

As Lois explains what happened, we learn that this is an article she wants to be published. She wants the world to know there is someone like Clark out there. And this is where it becomes a First Contact film. Lois, hellbent on getting the word out, allows her story to be published on a blog known for publishing anything and everything. Unbeknownst to her editor, she is willing to risk everything because she believes in what she witnessed.

That brings me to my point of loving the portrayal of Lois in Man of Steel. She is unapologetic and relentless that I’m very happy my 11-year-old daughter is lucky to witness. By the way, Henry Cavill is her Superman so I may have to warn her that we will see another Superman in the future.

Clark Discovers Who He Is

We are brought back to Clark, as he sees a figure. He learns that this figure is actually his father, Jor-El. Imagine not knowing what you are or why you were sent somewhere you had no control over. So when Clark hears his father call him by his Kryptonian name, Kal, he simply smiles. He now knows that he has just discovered his real name and who his father is.

Kal is finally introduced to who he is as a person, as well as his heritage in a personal way. It’s at this point we are shown just what Jor-El believes is his purposes. “Your mother and I believed Krypton lost something precious. The element of choice; of chance. What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society intended for him or her? What if a child aspired to something greater? You were the embodiment of that belief Kal, Krypton’s first natural birth in centuries.” Kal learns that he may be alone on Earth, to which Jor-El explains: “No. You’re as much a child of Earth now, as you are of Krypton. You can embody the best of both worlds. The dream your mother and I dedicated our lives to preserve.”

The Suit

As a pod opens and reveals the Superman Suit, you start to see that Kal-El can finally embrace who he is as a Human as well as a Kryptonian. We hear the rising of the Zimmer score and begins what I feel is one of the best Superhero reveals in all of film voiced with some of the best dialogue. “That’s what this symbol means. The symbol of the House of El means hope. Embodied within that Hope is the fundamental belief in the potential of every person to be a force for good. That’s what you can bring them.”

First Flight

The doors open from the Kryptonian ship and out walks Superman. As he listens to his father’s words, he starts pushing his abilities to the limit. I feel this is the greatest capture of what Superman represents. Taking one giant leap in the air and landing. Then smiling and laughing as he discovers, for the first time, that he can actually fly. It’s at this moment that he realizes that he’s falling down back to earth faster than anticipated.

Crashing into the mountaintop, he hears his fathers last words echo in his ear. This allows him to embrace his true reasons for being who he is: “You will give the people of Earth 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 Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

The score plays “Flight” from Zimmer and we finally see Kal-El fly into the sky, smiles and learning how to control his aerodynamics. I absolutely love seeing him figure out how to control his aerodynamics. That by moving one arm in front of the other, he can create his own turns and change his direction quickly.

Superman

If you had a huge smile on your face while watching Superman fly, then you can understand what happened to me. It was at this moment I started to notice my feelings for Superman shift from Batman. For the first time, I felt that if I had Superman’s power set, this was exactly how I would feel and experience things. It made me see Superman as one of us; as a Human having the ability to fly.

Now if you were like me as a kid, you always imagined you could fly. But this was the first time I actually felt connected to someone experiencing flight for the first time. Add the score and visuals of everything happening, and I was hooked.

Clark Finally Meets Lois

You can’t have Superman without Lois Lane. So I feel it was perfect that we finally see Superman and then return to Lois actively searching for him. She manages to track him down by, ironically, the bus accident his father told him could happen. Lucky for Clark, she wasn’t the government.

Now knowing who he is, Lois does what she does best: Getting to the bottom of her story. We hear Clark explain what his father instilled in him. That if the world found out who he really was, we would reject him out of fear. It’s brilliant that we get to see Clark, who just figured out who he really was, explain what happened to his earth father.

The Tornado

In the next flashback, we see a tornado approaching and the Kent’s make their way to an overpass. Clark witnesses his father leading everyone to safety and is then told to get a child to her mother. With their dog stuck in the car, Clark tells his father he’ll get him. Jonathan making sure his son is safe like any father would, tells him he will do it. Clark can only watch as he sees his father live the lesson he told him about when the bus accident happened. Now you have to remember, this is Clark before learning he has super speed. That’s why this scene happens after Clark learns he can fly.

Jonathan once told Clark that there was more at stake than just their lives and he truly believed it. Trapped and immobile to get to safety, he looks at his son one last time. He knows that his son, if fast enough, could save him. But that would risk being exposed to the dozens of witnesses. So he makes the only decision any parent would make. He tells Clark no. This is the moment for Clark where he fully understands and trusts what his father was trying to teach him all those years.

The Invasion

We’re brought back to the present where most probably looked the same as Lois. Teary-eyed knowing why Clark allowed his father to die. He truly believed that the world wouldn’t except someone like Clark just yet. Again, this is that raw emotion I mentioned earlier where you really understand what Clark has gone through. He knows the world isn’t ready to find out about him. General Zod has different plans.

This is where the film begins to feel like a First Encounter film and in the best way possible. After visiting with Ma, he shares the good news of discovering who his real parents are. This is when the film becomes a grander scale. The military is introduced to us when we see the first sign of General Zod’s ship orbiting the moon. Just like in the real world, the moment people realize what it is, it’s shown everywhere.

General Zod creates the perfect opportunity to share with the entire world what he’s after. When you see his message broadcast all over the world, it becomes very evident the entire world finds out about Kal-El. It feels like a horror film as we hear General Zod request for Kal-El to be returned to him.

What We Have So Far

Within the first hour of the film, Zack has given us: A Sci-Fi film at the beginning. A film of self-discovery in the middle. A Superhero film on a journey. And now, a Close Encounters film mixed with Horror. This should show you his ability to create a real-world setting with the most out of this world character. One of my favorite lines from Perry, Lois’ editor, asks her if she knows where Kal-El is since everyone now knows about him. When she says she doesn’t know, he simply replies “The entire world is being threatened here Lois. This isn’t the time to fall back on journalistic integrity here.” That line puts the situation at the forefront. Especially as Lois is arrested by the FBI.

I have seen people ask the question: Why didn’t Clark just fly back to the ship? So I always ask: Why would he? Simple logic would say that it was the ship he was in, that General Zod has shown up. That could mean General Zod might have control of the ship now. Since his father explained to him about what General Zod did on Krypton, he’s not willing to just agree to show up to him.

Character Growth

This brings us to another flashback, and this time it’s one where Clark is being bullied into a fight. I imagine he thinks about this because it’s exactly what is happening at the current moment. Only the bully this time is General Zod. He remembers the words Jonathan Kent told him when he wanted to punch the kid picking on him: “I know you did. I mean, even a part of me wanted you to but then what? Make you feel any better? You just have to decide what kind of man you want to be when you grow up Clark because, whoever that man is, good character or bad, he’s going to change the world.” If that’s not life lessons then I don’t know what is.

Smallville

Superman agrees to meet with the Government, but only if they allow Lois to be set free. We then get our first interaction of Sub Commander Faora-Ul and Superman. I’m not one to usually enjoy the villain, but Faora handles her own without the need to feel forced. Superman is then introduced to General Zod and the conflict is realized. Aboard the Kryptonian ship, Superman becomes weak in the atmospherics, giving us the first sign that his weakness involves anything organic from Krypton. In a coma-like state, Zod tells Clark that he has the codex that can restore his race and people’s survival, but at the cost of the Human population.

This part of the film is where it becomes a full-fledged Superhero film. After General Zod discovers where Kal grew up, he joins Faora and Nam-Ek to retrieve it. When Zod realizes the codex isn’t at the Kent farm, he threatens Martha. Superman flies to save her and it’s at this time we see Superman actually throwing the first punch of his life; defending his mother.

Kryptonians v Superman

We then see Clark and Zod blast through a gas station, causing a massive explosion. Again, we are shown a Petroleum based explosion causing Superman to be dazed. Zod also gets affected by the blast when his helmet is damaged. He begins to experience what Kal did when he was a child. A ship arrives to pick him up and that’s when Superman sees Faora and Nam-Ek walking towards him. I won’t even bother describing the fight that ensues because to do so, would only be a disservice of the incredible music and choreography displayed. It still remains one of my favorite scenes Snyder has ever filmed.

This Man Is Not Our Enemy

After everything settles, we see another iconic shot of Superman. While walking out of the destruction, the military, with guns pointed at him, begin to lower as they start to realize he isn’t like the other Kryptonians. And one of the last men to see him is Col. Hardy who, during the Smallville battle, was insistent on Superman being targeted as well. He now sees him as an ally. “This man is not our enemy”. A line that becomes even more important in Batman v Superman by Alfred, but that’s for another time.

Lois explains to Clark that she knows how to stop the Kryptonians but we learn that may be too late. General Zod is brought to his scientist on the ship and is told the codex is actually in Supermans blood. He asks if Kal-El needs to be alive extract it. Jax-Ur simply answers: No. Zod releases a terraforming device to begin to rebuild Krypton on Earth. The visuals of seeing normal people witness an alien ship descend upon their city give the feeling you’re not just watching a Superhero film. This could be a real-life expose on what it would look like seeing this in real-time.

My Final Thoughts

I just want to say the fact Snyder used the entire Black Zero Event as the basis for the next film is pure genius. From here it becomes a comic book film. We realize Superman has to stop a device in the southern Indian Ocean while the military tries to prevent things in Metropolis. It truly feels like the world is involved with doing what they can to help, just like Superman is. I emphasize that because it’s a shame we weren’t given that same type of feeling in Justice League. I actually felt the threat of General Zod was more intimidating than Steppenwolf, but that wasn’t necessarily Snyder’s fault.

Now, to one of the most controversial decisions of the film. This is when Superman makes the ultimate decision and snaps General Zod’s neck. Some people felt this was unnecessary, but to those people, I always ask: what else could he have done?

If Humans found out someone like Superman existed in the real world, we wouldn’t be able to build anything to hold him. We don’t have the material of making a red sun or quantifying synthetic kryptonite. This is a real world he lives in and MacGuffins, though easy to write in, are not real-world solutions. General Zod tells Superman that either he will die, or that Superman will. That is pretty clear that he has no intention of letting up and that he will take out as many Humans as he can.

Zods Snapped Neck

Before the moment happens, Superman pleads with Zod to stop his heat vision before harming more innocent people. Zod says “Never”. Now if you’re thinking that Superman could have just covered his eyes, remember: Superman had just ONE eye covered by Faora. Once he used his laser vision, she couldn’t hold her hand over his eye anymore. But even if that was the case and he covers the eyes, then what? Does he ask politely for Zod to stop committing murder? I’m sure that wouldn’t work. So, with his last plea to stop it, he does what he has to in order to prevent more Human life from ending. He takes Zod out.

Now you have to remember that Clark was just Clark 24 hours prior before he put on the Superman Suit. He is the FNG. He doesn’t have any predetermined rules of being Superman. Also, this establishes the WHY of Superman never taking a life again. You can see his pain and agony of doing something that final. You can also see him come to the realization that he just took out the last remaining member of his race.

Zack Knew What He Was Doing.

Remember when I talked about the literally birth of Kal-El at the beginning of the film? In almost the exact same way, the film cuts to see Lois, right after we see Zod fall. Then it cuts to Superman falling to his knees when he lets out a loud cry. It is done with the exact same mannerisms as his birth on Krypton, symbolizing the birth of Superman here on Earth. It was this moment that I truly became a fan of Superman over Batman in terms of film. Snyder changed what I thought would never happen after The Dark Knight. That was, of course, until Batman v Superman came out and I saw how Batman took out Superman.

Back to the final moments in the film and we see Clark talking with his mother. She asks him what he’s going to do when he’s not saving the world. I wrote that out because it’s also the name of one of the best-composed tracks from Zimmer on the Man of Steel soundtrack. The film ends with Clark starting his new job as a journalist, being formally introduced to Lois at the Daily Planet.  With a huge smile, her final words to him are “Welcome to the Planet“. With the famous Superman smile, Clark replies “Glad to be here Lois.“. Cue title card and the film ends.

Enjoy The Film

I hope this makes you want to enjoy and celebrate Superman as much as I do when I watch Man of Steel. Watching it with an open mind allowed me to see just how much thought and care Zack Snyder put into the making of this film. I am so thankful I was able to witness this in theaters and that my daughter is growing up with this version of Superman.

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Rating 9/10

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Father // Senior Editor // Co-Host for the DC Films Hub Podcast @DCFilmsHubPod // Male Feminist // Unapologetic Snyder Enthusiast // Xbox

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