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10 years of Man of Steel: The Greatest Superman Adaptation Ever Made!

The Zack Snyder film celebrates its 10th anniversary a day before The Flash releases – the film that is set to reboot the universe that began with Man of Steel.

10 years of Man of Steel: The Greatest Superman Adaptation Ever Made!
  • Ryan Gomez

Last Updated: 10.46 AM, Jun 15, 2023


The last decade at DC Films and Warner Bros. has been ‘eventful’ to say the least. The DC franchise may have had more changes in management than English football club Watford – a club that has gone through 18 managers in 10 years. Of course, that number is an obvious exaggeration concerning DC, but the impact has been far greater, potentially costing them hundreds of millions. DC’s efforts to compete with Marvel and Disney have failed spectacularly, at least from a commercial perspective. The common perception is that Zack Snyder is to be blamed for the well-publicised debacle at Warner Bros. and DC. Snyder is often accused of not ‘understanding’ DC’s flagship heroes Batman and Superman. But a closer examination of Snyder’s 2013 film Man of Steel tells a very different story about Snyder’s understanding of the world’s original superhero – Superman.


DC’s first film of their expanded universe was meant to obliterate Marvel’s success with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Man of Steel made a commendable box-office collection of $668 million, there was a sentiment that the Superman reboot should’ve at the very least come close to Marvel’s Avengers in 2012, which raked in a whopping $1.5 billion. The consensus was that a Superman film should’ve been the most successful film of the year, even more so considering Christopher Nolan wrote the script, Hans Zimmer composed the music, they cast the perfect Superman with Henry Cavill, and offered Snyder’s trademark visual aesthetic. So why was the film deemed a relative failure, despite ticking all the right boxes for being the perfect superhero origin story?


One can only speculate that Joss Whedon’s take on the Avengers, rife with comedy and action, redefined the very construct of an ‘ideal superhero’. Snyder’s Man of Steel was a more grounded and darker take on the iconic character, featuring themes of free will, casteism, and self-discovery. The most common criticism aimed at the film was that Superman was not as cheerful and light-hearted as Christopher Reeve's Superman from the ‘70s. This is ironic considering the 2006 film, Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh, was criticised for being too similar to Reeve's Superman. In many ways, Man of Steel was ahead of its time. The highly successful Avengers has aged relatively poorly, while Man of Steel will stand the test of time. However, when the film’s sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was met with negative reactions Warner Bros decided for a course correction and unceremoniously replaced Snyder with Joss Whedon before the post-production of 2017’s Justice League. And the aftermath of this decision has resulted in a mess that the studio has been attempting to fix ever since.


James Gunn and Peter Safran’s appointments as the new heads of DC Films in 2022 were met with mixed responses. The Snyder faithful were up in arms when the decision was announced, and those vehemently opposed to Snyder rejoiced at the announcement. There should be no concerns about Gunn's ability as a filmmaker, as he has proved time and again that he is among the best in the business. But he ended up alienating a few more fans when he announced that Henry Cavill will be replaced as Superman, just weeks after Cavill publicly announced that he would be returning. To make matters worse, Gunn hinted that not all the characters from the ill-fated Snyderverse would be recast – an aspect which Gunn has failed to be transparent about. However, he did confirm that The Flash will reset or reboot the existing universe and that the new rebooted Superman film titled, Superman: Legacy, written and directed by himself, will be the first film of the newly rebranded DC Universe (DCU). And to further complicate things, he also recently announced that Blue Beetle, played by Cobra Kai star Xolo Maridueña, in the upcoming 2023 film Blue Beetle will be the first character of the new DCU.


It is a cruel irony that Man of Steel turns 10, just a day before it is erased from DC’s continuity. In other words, the universe which began with Man of Steel, is effectively ending almost exactly 10 years after it was launched. If Andy Muschietti’s The Flash, starring the controversial Ezra Miller, does not manage to come close to the enviable $1 billion mark at the box office, Gunn will come under further scrutiny – long before his new universe has even hit the ground running. History will judge Man of Steel more kindly than the reception it garnered when it was released 10 years ago. The film is a nuanced exploration of how the world would react if a God-like being walked among humans. It is arguably the most compelling superhero origin story ever created, and the ‘First Flight' scene alone is greater than most superhero films that have come out since. And it will go down in history as an underappreciated masterpiece.