In 2013 we were introduced to a new Superman… the Man of Steel. Much different to the characters previous iterations Henry Cavill’s Superman has become the staple Superman for this generation. Now within the 4 years since this new Superman first graced the big screen we have already witnessed his Birth (Man of Steel), Death (BvS) and Return (Justice League). That is some journey that this Superman has already been on in the space of 4 years! To some it has been an amazing journey and to others like myself it has been more of a bumpy ride with both highs and lows. So in this article we will be looking at the journey of Superman across these three films and the development of the character in completing one of the biggest comic book story arcs ever.
Man of steel (2013)
This is where my love for the character of Superman started back in 2013 with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. I finally had a Superman that I could relate to! This was a bold and new take on the character compared to its iconic portrayal by the legendary Christopher Reeve. While I have gone back and watched films such as Superman: The Movie and Superman II which I love by the way. I just found Henry Cavill’s Superman more interesting and most importantly most relatable. We now had a Superman that wasn’t perfect, someone that was going to make mistakes and someone that was conflicted by being the most powerful being in the world. This was a different Superhero movie and Superman altogether. We weren’t going to see scenes of this Superman saving a cat out of tree doing all of your stereotypical superhero acts from the comics. Now don’t get me wrong Christopher Reeve’s Superman made sense for that time and now I can confidently say Henry Cavill’s Superman was a much needed take for this generation. Times have changed and the character went through a much needed change with Man of Steel in my opinion.
Man of Steel focuses heavily on Superman’s relationship with humanity with both its highs and lows. Throughout this film Clark Kent struggles to find a place in the world from being bullied at a young age to moving from place to place taking on numerous jobs after failing to find a place to settle down as a adult in the beginning of the film. However this all changes when General Zod invades Earth and gives Kal-El the option to join him in turning Earth into a new Krypton. But Superman can’t bring himself to join Zod on his objective which will end up wiping out the entire human race. In the short time of being Superman Kal-El has finally realised why he was sent here. His purpose was to be that leader that Earth needed and he was there to set an example to the people who would eventually join him in the sun.
By the end of the film Clark has finally found his place in the world. Not only has he just saved the world but he now finally settled down with the love of his life Lois Lane. He found a job which allowed him to live somewhat of a normal life. The line that Lois says to Clark at the end of the film “Welcome to the Planet” isn’t just a cliche line, no this line has much greater significance in that an alien who has been struggling to find their way for 30 plus years has finally been accepted by the world and is no longer seen as an outsider.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
What’s it like to save the world and then become a huge figure of controversy being both loved and hated by those same people who’s lives you just saved? Well the answer lies here in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While Man of Steel built on Superman’s relationship with humanity Dawn of Justice tears that down as well as Superman’s character who throughout the film is even questioning his role in the world. There is this underlying theme throughout the film about whether the world actually needs a Superman or not. Not only is he blamed for the destruction of Metropolis but behind the scenes Lex Luthor is plotting away framing Superman for horrific acts which he did not commit fuelling to the hatred of this omnipotent figure.
The treatment of Superman in this film is something that can be described as a social commentary on issues today in the world such as immigration and racism. It can even be compared to stories of the past, the most obvious being the story of Christ. Again this doubles down on the reliability of the character for me. I mean who can’t relate to Superman in this film? I for one can. Doing all you can to the best of your abilities but at the end of the day you get demonised for your efforts. Now granted I haven’t experienced anything like the type of backlash Superman experienced in this film but I couldn’t help myself from feeling sorry for the character. Lets also get one thing straight of course this Superman isn’t going to be smiling throughout this film. Would you if you felt like the whole world was against you? I mean Jonathan Kent in man of steel did warn Clark what would happened to him if people really found out who he truly was and he was right. That’s one thing that has always annoyed me the way people criticise Jonathan Kent for wanting Clark to keep his powers a secret which ultimately led to his death. Look at how they treated him in Dawn of Justice and now imagine that same reaction but this time to a Superman that was basically a teenager in Man of Steel.
The world’s reaction to Superman again has him questioning his place in the world. This is shown in scenes where he is talking to Martha where she tells him that he has the choice to be their monument or be nothing because he owes them nothing. This whole film is built up to the moment when Doomsday is created and Superman realises he is the only one who is capable of taking this monster. I think it’s powerful how with everything he’s gone through in this movie he says the line “This is my world” making the ultimate sacrifice while saving a world that contained many people who wanted to see him dead or in jail. Here is where Superman’s relationship with humanity is restored and in fact made stronger. We see the world mourning him in the streets, the people realise that Superman not only saved the world once but twice now at the cost of his own life this time. Most importantly Superman left his mark on the world with the idea of hope in which he inspired others with his sacrifice just like he did with Batman.
Justice League (2017)
While I enjoyed Superman in Justice League I can’t help myself from pointing out the major issues I had with the character as a whole in this film. I’m not even going to talk about the whole CGI debacle with Henry Cavill’s moustache. This is more to do with the change in character of Superman once he returns in the film. Superman comes back and all of a sudden he is saying lines such as “I’m a big fan of justice” and “Is this guy still bothering you?”. While I loved a lot of what he done in the third act it just didn’t make sense to me. Superman’s character done a 180° turn from Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice. This change in the character is fine in my opinion but it didn’t seem natural, it all felt forced. I would argue that the studio was responding to the criticisms surrounding this Superman as one that wasn’t hopeful enough and didn’t smile at all. I’m fine with them wanting to take the character in this direction but it felt rushed to me and in the process we missed out on probably the most crucial part of this character’s development. I feel like we were missing a scene of Clark having a vision talking to Jor-El or Jonathan Kent where they were telling him how the world needs him now more than ever.
With that being said Justice League as a whole was a film that was riddled with issues that not only affected Superman but all of the members of the Justice League. I guess what Justice League solidified for me was my issue with killing Superman in the first place. At the time I still felt it was too early to kill him in his second movie and I 100% stand by that now. The death of Superman should have happened in the third Superman film or at least at the end of the first Justice League movie and. Part of me feels like they knew they made a mistake with his death because of the way they handled his return in Justice League. They didn’t even show the world’s reaction to Superman’s return which was a huge disappointment for me. The relationship between Superman and the public has been one of the most interesting aspects of this character but it was completely ignored in Justice League. When he actually returns, there’s no crowd of people cheering him on or anything. It’s just sad to see how we started off so well in Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice the character’s arc isn’t done justice (pun intended) in the end with Justice League.
So where does this leave us now with Superman? Well Justice League ends with Clark Kent running down the street revealing the iconic ‘S’ just like Christopher Reeve’s Superman. Is the Superman from Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice gone now? Will the next Superman film see a return to the more classic image of the character? In my opinion I’ll be happy either way all I ask from the future creators is that they treat the character with the respect and care that it deserves.
Let me know what you think down below
For huge Superman fans like myself the return of the Man of Steel was one of the most anticipated moments in this year’s Justice League film. Looking back at the comic book history of the character with the death and return of Superman fans were expecting to see him return in a black suit. This was also heavily teased by Henry Cavill on Instagram who shortly after the release of Dawn of Justice posted what looked to be a close up of a black Superman suit with the hashtag #Superman. One year later to the fans dismay there was no black suit to be seen when Superman eventually returned in Justice League. Shortly after the release of the film a lot of information started to leak about storylines that were changed/scrapped. One of those leaks which I was particularly interested in was the claims of there not being a black suit in the script at all from the start. Now granted a lot of this information at the time came from a Reddit user so we have to take it with a grain of salt. However just yesterday it was confirmed by Fabian Wagner (Director of photography for Justice League) that there was scenes of Superman shot with the black suit which were eventually cut.
Fabian Wagner told Inverse in a interview:
Wagner on the black suit: “There were [scenes shot],” Wagner said. “It’s a cool looking costume. Sadly, we didn’t see that either in the final cut.”
Wagner on scenes that were cut in general: “Zack takes his time with telling the stories, and I’ve always liked that about his movies. There are a few scenes that I was very much looking forward to seeing which unfortunately got cut.”
For some this new information will further frustrate fans who were already calling for a Zack Snyder cut of this film to be released in the future. Personally as a huge Superman fan although I would have loved to have seen the black suit these are just small issues to me. A huge part of me has just accepted what we were given and it is what it is. Maybe the use of the black suit and the beard would have allowed the studio to avoid the whole moustache fiasco. At the end of the day I’m just a fan and I have no idea of what type of pressure and stress comes with the making of a project of this size.
All I ask from Warner Bros. is in the future to learn from their mistakes and just let their selected director finish their vision of the project.
Let me know what you think of these recent developments below.
Did you want to see Superman return in the black suit? Were you let down?
Earlier today Henry Cavill’s interview with The Rake surfaced online and it’s fair to say it caused quite the stir on the internet. With the upcoming Justice League film Cavill was questioned on his thoughts about the past DCEU projects and the heavy criticism they received.
On the criticism and tone of the past DC projects Cavill stated:
“Even if Marvel didn’t exist, we’d struggle. There was a style they [DC] were going for, an attempt to be different and look at things from a slightly different perspective, which hasn’t necessarily worked. Yes, it has made money but it has not been a critical success; it hasn’t given everyone that sensation which superheroes should give the viewer.”
He would would then go on to talk about the so called ‘mistakes’ of the past DCEU projects:
“I feel like now the right mistakes have been made and they haven’t been pandered [to], and we can start telling the stories in the way they need to be told. It is even better to come back from a mistake or stylistic error into the correct vein because it will make it seem that much stronger. Wonder Woman was the first step in the right direction.”
Now as a huge DC and Superman fan what did I make of Henry Cavill’s comments? Did I tweet about Cavill being a backstabber to the DCEU? Did I call him a ‘snake’ like some did? The opposite actually, in fact I agree with him one hundred percent here. Let’s be honest regardless of how much you loved recent DC projects (apart from Wonder Woman) such as Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Man of Steel although they made a lot money critically these films were slated. Look as much as I loved Man of Steel I can totally see why some people have an issue with that film especially the tone of it. Dawn of Justice in my opinion is one of the most polarising films ever. For every person that I see who praises the film I feel like there are just as many people who are quick to announce how much they hated the film. The biggest criticism that came from films such as Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice was their tone which is Cavill’s main focus here. Now were these films ‘mistakes’? I feel like this is what a lot of people took out of context as they felt Cavill was attacking fans for liking these films.
At the end of the day Cavill’s acknowledging the criticism that was thrown at these films and he seems agrees with the criticism too. He’s not telling you that if you loved Dawn of Justice or Man of Steel you’re wrong for liking these films. Just by looking at what we have seen so far of Justice League it’s fair to say that the creators of the film also acknowledge the mistakes of the past too. Hence the reason Cavill says ‘right mistakes‘ of the past which look like they’re are being fixed with Justice League. So while some will attack Cavill for speaking out I hate to break it to you but I’m pretty sure he’s not the only one who feels like this about the previous DCEU projects.
Henry Cavill ended the interview praising the most recent DCEU project Wonder Woman which starred his fellow Justice League member Gal Gadot:
I think it is a wonderful time for the female hero. It is the perfect setting in social politics right now, we need it, we want that perspective, and Wonder Woman has struck at the ideal time and has become a phenomenal success, which is fantastic. Any success within the superhero universe, especially within the DC Universe, is wonderful, because I want to keep telling the Superman story; selfishly, that works for me.
What I took away from this interview was it gave us an insight into Henry Cavill’s character. I came away from this interview respecting him even more. He could have easily with this interview given a safe and political answer. This interview showed that he is someone that actually cares about the characters and projects of the DC universe. It’s actually refreshing to see, I mean shouldn’t we want of this type of honesty from actors who play these iconic roles?
Let me know what you thought of Henry Cavill’s interview
Did you agree or disagree with his views?
One thing I will always be thankful to Zack Snyder is for introducing me to a new Superman with his 2013 blockbuster film Man of Steel.