The 2006 film Superman Returns scored respectable box office numbers, but the Brandon Routh-led reboot couldn’t revive the dormant superhero franchise.
Blame the film’s fidelity to the previous Superman films, a lackluster ending or the fact that Routh looked so much like the late Christopher Reeve it was mildly unnerving.
Some simply blasted the movie for uncoupling the iconic hero from his native land. The film famously twisted the classic Superman line, “truth, justice and the American way” to leave out the last two words.
Man of Steel did no such thing.
In fact, the summer reboot embraced the hero’s adopted homeland, with Superman himself officially declaring his allegiance to the U.S.
“I grew up in Kansas. I’m about as American as it gets,” Henry Cavill’s Superman tells a suspicious military official in the film’s final act.
It’s one of five reasons why Man of Steel, available now on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and HD Digital Download with nearly four hours of extra features, emerged as a summer blockbuster. The film performed so well Warner Bros. is scrambling to make a sequel to co-star The Dark Knight himself (to be played by Ben Affleck).
Here are four other reasons why Man of Steel soared:
- It’s the Cast, Stupid: Talk about a murderer’s row of supporting players. Russell Crowe brought the gravitas as Superman’s pappy, while Diane Lane dialed down her earthy beauty to play Ma Kent. Amy Adams radiates pluck to spare as Lois Lane and Kevin Costner epitomized flyover country greatness as the man who shaped young Superman’s world view. Of course, nothing mattered if Cavill came up short, and while he couldn’t match what Reeve brought to the character his physical gifts and humble demeanor served him well.
- Reboot, not Extreme Makeover: Yes, Man of Steel has little in common with the first Superman film from a tonal perspective. It’s grittier, darker and more introspective. The core Super-elements remain unchanged, which is why audiences were able to connect to the movie while embracing the new wrinkles.
- American Gothic: Not only did director Zack Snyder not shy away from the character’s American roots, his camera captured aspects of Kansas in a way that intensified the state’s essential beauty. Those atmospheric shots also gave audiences a break from the abundant CGI work at hand.
- Morality Matters: General Zod (Michael Shannon) let his love for a doomed home planet warp his soul, making him a tragic figure and not just a muscle-bound brute. Superman, in comparison, understood the tragic rationale behind his enemy’s plan. The film’s final battle between the two ends on a pragmatic note that, oddly enough, leaves little room for interpretation. Sometimes evil men must be stopped. Period.