This movie changed things for me.
I hope you’ll indulge me as I explain why Man of Steel is one of the most important superhero films I’ve ever seen.
I grew up in a household in which Batman was the prominent comic book figure. He was someone I could grab hold of. I knew that the darkness that followed him mirrored my own, so his heroism inspired me.
I never needed a Superman.
The Supermen (Supermans?) that I had been exposed to were Christopher Reeves and Dean Cain. They portrayed lightness incarnate, you know? There were no issues for them. All they needed to do was act, and they’d always win.
Their light was almost blinding, to the point where I wondered if they really were heroes or just parodies of them.
The world that I lived in wasn’t all sunshine and fruit loops.
My world was whole grain and foggy woods (northern Scandinavia).
It was Frodo carrying the ring up Mount Doom.
It was Crime Alley.
It was Link fighting Shadow Link and then Ganondorf.
There was never a place in my childhood that was 100% lightness.
The light and the dark coexisted. One didn’t exist without the other.
Like Clark Kent says in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016):
“Superman was never real. Just the dream of a farmer from Kansas.”
But then, back in 2013, I asked my sister, nonchalantly, if she wanted to go see the new Superman movie. I didn’t really care about it, I was simply entertaining the idea out of boredom. Luckily, my sister really wanted to see it, due to her crush in Henry Cavill.
So, we went.
Row 4. Seat 44. June 26th, 2013.
This was different.
It changed everything I had ever thought about the character. It was like a switch was turned on inside of me and this boring, dusty, old apartment had been renovated and turned into a penthouse. I went home and I immediately started reading.
Man of Steel.
I wanted to know everything about him, because Snyder had now introduced me to a side of Superman that I hadn’t been exposed to before. He wasn’t perfect. He never wanted to be. He just wanted to BE. He wasn’t walking around acting as if everything in the world was fine. But he would do whatever he had to to make sure that people didn’t suffer. Clark Kent was bullied as a child as well as an adult.
He was pushed around and treated horribly, but that never changed him. He was still good. As good as any of us could hope to be. This was shown to me without being forced down my throat like previous incarnations had done. I observed how he acted and how he spoke and I just knew. Nobody had to tell me, I just KNEW how good he was.
The focus of this film wasn’t to create some hero that would solve everything and make us believe that the world was perfect because of one symbol. The film doesn’t hide away from the existing issues that all of us have to deal with. It faces them head on.
It doesn’t lie to me. It tells me straight up, that everyone, even the strongest of us, have issues. It gave me a hero that inspired me to face my issues head on.
Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill, together, made Clark Kent my hero.