“Can you imagine how people would react if beings like that actually existed?”
Daily Planet editor Perry White’s question to reporter Lois Lane about half way through Man of Steel neatly encapsulates the key question that the movie tries to answer. In examining this question, the movie becomes as much a study of the mortals living with gods among them as it is about those gods and their awe-inspiring powers. By taking the focus off of the “super” and putting it on the “men,” Man of Steel effectively sets itself apart from most run-of-the-mill superhero flicks to become a thoughtful, touching, and exceedingly human story.
It takes a while for the film to begin to find its groove in these strong suits, though. First, audiences have to suffer through 20 minutes or so of plodding backstory focused on Superman’s parents and the last days of his birth planet, Krypton. While there’s a tiny bit of necessary exposition here, as a whole the opening seems like an unnecessary effort to show that super-dad Jor-El (played by actor Russel Crowe) was actually a bad-ass fighter and dragon-rider (yes, he has a tiny dragon for some reason) in addition to being a prescient scientist that predicted Krypton’s explosion.