“Man of Steel”
This is the prequel, really. We
begin on the planet Krypton, with Jor-El (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Ayelet
Zurer), Superman’s parents, reluctantly sending off their infant son, Kal-El,
on a spaceship to the planet Earth. Krypton,
once home to a proud race of explorers and colonizers, has steadily descended
into a squabbling, in-fighting techno-obsessed breed of artificial breeders:
that is, fetuses are kept and harvested by the State, each injected
with the DNA attributes the
society feels is needed. It may
be efficient, but no longer is there any randomness, chance, or ambition to
become something other than everyone else’s expectations.
Jor-El and Lara produced the first natural-born child in centuries, and
Jor-El also injected his son with all the attributes available, knowing that
Krypton was going to literally implode, because the greedy government had
begun harvesting the core’s energy. (Yes,
the prophecies for our society are apparent.)
The infant’s spaceship lands somewhere in the middle of Kansas, where
two doting parents, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane) Kent,
raise the boy they name Clark, well aware of his extraordinary abilities, but
they teach him to filter his senses, concentrate his attention, be reluctant
to show off, help when he can, and figure out what kind of man he’s going to
become, and how he’s going to use his otherworldly powers. (The believing
Christian imagines Joseph and Mary raising Jesus in a similar fashion).
Predictably, there’s some rebelliousness, but not much.
Clark doesn’t really want to be the world’s savior, but his parents
gently nudge him in that direction (see Jesus’ retort to Mary at the wedding
, discovering the technology left behind by his Dad on his spaceship, is able
to communicate with the spirit of his Dad, and be assured about his identity
and origin. (Yes, the human Jesus
spent considerable time communicating with the Spirit of His Father, too.)
, as a young adult, becomes a kind of wandering nomad, taking odd jobs here
and there, and moving on when people begin to take notice of him.
He doesn’t really reveal himself to the world until he’s 33 (Hmmm).
Evil has visited the planet Earth in the form of a political refugee
from the now-extinct planet of Krypton, General Zod (Michael Shannon), who was
imprisoned in a space pod for insurrection, but freed when the planet
exploded. General Zod wants the
equipment that Jor-El left behind on Kal-El’s spaceship, the energy field
and DNA insignias that will re-start his native population, of course at the
expense of the hapless earthlings, who would be summarily removed and
must now decide whether he’s going to try to save the earth, even if he has
to sacrifice himself in the effort. He’s
helped by some of the humans he’s encountered along the way, most noticeably
(Amy Adams), a reporter for “The Daily Planet,” the primary newspaper of
the huge metropolis called….Metropolis.
Here’s where we seriously play with our CGI and 3-D toys, as the epic
struggle between General Zod and Superman (but the “S” on my shirt really
means “hope” in my language) involves lots of crashes, explosions, chases,
and earth-shaking firepower. The
humans’ puny weapons have no effect on Zod or his minions; Superman must
fight this battle alone (just as Jesus was very alone in the
, and Mel Gibson was the one who, in “The Passion of the Christ,” showed
Him struggling against the power of evil).
Of course we all know how it’s going to turn out, even down to Clark
getting a job as a reporter on “The Daily Planet,” and only
knows who he is because of his big horn-rimmed glasses (one of those places
where you just have to play along).
Romance? Just a hint.
But our comic book superhero has never been as strong, charming, and
resilient as in the slick updated epic called “Man of Steel.” Fantasy
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,