So I got my hands on the Blu-Ray of Man of Steel last night and watched it while I tried to keep the baby asleep for a few hours. A couple of thoughts.
Okay, so the final fight with Zod: a point of contention for many fans, including myself... at first. On my second run-through, however, it suddenly becomes clear that Zod wanted Kal to kill him.
At any time, he could have simply turned his eyes and fried that family. There are multiple close-ups on his face and we can see that he is purposely not looking directly at the people he's menacing. He WANTS Kal to snap his neck, because he has nothing to live for and because he knows that Kal is a moral man and that it will wound him worse than anything else Zod could do to him.
Suddenly, the film is a little bit more brilliant for that revelation.
Considering all the property damage and loss of life that Kal could have prevented throughout the movie, by the time he fights Zod he's already lost anyway.
The movie had MASSIVE flaws when it came to characterization and responsibility issues, but then again, it is only one interpretation of the Superman mythos, and as an action blockbuster it does its job. It tells a compelling story and doesn't skimp on the consequences of pissed off gods showing up on your doorstep.
As I get older I find it harder and harder to watch scenes of mass loss of life and city destruction, and this movie definitely set my teeth on edge during the World Engine sequence... but then again, that sort of thing regularly happened in the comics as well. I can't even begin to count the number of times buildings got flattened in Metropolis or the damn globe fell off of the top of the Daily Planet building.
What I liked about Man of Steel is that it both humanized Superman into an emotionally vulnerable individual (even moreso than the Christopher Reeve films,) and that it managed to sell the fact that he's an alien on Earth. It's actually somewhat refreshing to see an origin story where the character not only doesn't find his sea legs by the end of the movie, but also has pretty much wrecked the world around him in the process. I think it'll make the sequel more interesting, give weight to the inevitable Lex Luthor storyline that follows. Why should we trust this alien being? Did you see what he and his kind did to Metropolis? It's like 9/11 times a million. Really gives him a challenge towards becoming the Superman we all know and love, the sort of challenge that he can't just punch his way out of... which is, of course, when Superman is written his best.
I'm hoping that the sequels will flesh out his humanity and his sense of responsibility a little bit more; maybe Batman will set him straight. I mean, here's a great chance to bring Batman, a character who is extremely morally upright, and Wonder Woman, a character who is a warrior by birth but who knows how to control her great power, to show up and show Superman what it means to be a true superhero. What better way to make him into the Superman we need than to establish those famous friendships from the comics so that we're invested in those characters as well for when DC finally gets the lead out and figures out how to make a Justice League movie?