The real war in superhero movieland isn’t between good and bad guys; it’s between Marvel and DC Comics. So far Marvel, with Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, et al., has been winning the tussle. Now DC’s “Man of Steel,” the umpteenth reboot of the "Superman" franchise, leaps into the fray. Taking a cue from the “Batman” series, the film is dark and thudding and overlong, not surprising since the film was written by "Dark Knight"'s David S. Goyer from a story he concocted with Christoper Nolan, who also co-produced. It’s also in 3-D, to no great effect. (A 2-D version is also in theaters.)
Anybody attracted to the Superman of olden days will be alienated by this gargantuan drearfest that pits our hero, played a bit too blankly by Henry Cavill, against Michael Shannon’s General Zod, a survivor of the planet Krypton’s catastrophic extinction. Zod and his minions sport the latest in Kryptonian leatherware while Superman, back on Earth, takes forever to don his suit and cape.
Director Zack Snyder pays lip service to the Superman mythos – Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is here, Ma and Pa Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner), Perry White (Laurence Fishburne), and Jor-El (Russell Crowe) – but you get the feeling he would rather have chucked the entire back story, not to mention the front story, and just delivered up nonstop bashing. Which he sort of does anyway.
If Superman and Batman team up for a sequel, you might want to bring earplugs and night-vision goggles. Come to think of it, those items might come in handy here, too. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language.)