Guns blazing, fireballs glaring, smoke rising, people dying. Such is the first 20 minutes of Man of Steel, the latest reboot of the Superman/Clark Kent story, and also most of the rest of the film. If you like your superhero stories full of death and destruction, you will be delighted by director Zach Snyder’s take on the legendary man of steel who is faster than a speeding bullet.
The story begins, as it did back in 1978 in Richard Donner’s Superman and in the earlier comic book, on the planet Krypton, where Jor-El’s wife, Lara, has just given birth to a baby boy, Kal. But the planet is on the verge of a meltdown. The council of leaders is slow to decide how to proceed, and when General Zod (Michael Shannon) stages a mutiny against them for not being more firm, he is banished to “the phantom zone” for treason, shortly before the planet explodes.
But the main event of the first act is the launch of a space pod containing the baby Kal-El, who is sent to Earth in the hope he will somehow carry on the proud legacy of the Kryptonians. We know the rest of the story, so it’s not necessary to show how he crash-lands in a Kansan farm and is found by a childless couple called Jonathan and Martha Kent.
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