While I was not as resistant to Man of Steel as many of my comic book-sniffing peers have been, the film did have its flaws in my eyes. I found the visuals and action to be amazingly epic, but after two hours of extended visual awesomeness, I did find myself slightly numb to some of the extended special effect-laden action scenes. I also took issue, as did many, with Superman’s rampant destruction of Metropolis and what I interpreted as lack of concern for the nameless casualties that would surely occur during such destruction. That said, I did think it was a decent beginning for a new DC film universe that could eventually featuring the Justice League, and that Man of Steel could be tweaked slightly to make it into an incredibly strong (maybe even steel-like?) film.
Well, author Greg Cox must “stand for hope,” because he’s delivered an adaptation of Man of Steel that uses the literary medium to strengthen the weak elements in David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan’s Superman story. Cox has previously written the official novelizations of Infinite Crisis, Countdown, Final Crisis, as well as authoring numerous bestselling adaptations and original novels based on film’s like Terminator: Salvation, Warehouse 13, Star Trek, Underworld, The Dark Knight Rises, and more. Here are a few particularly interesting elements from the book that may convince you to take a second flight (in print form) with the Man of Steel:
- The Superman fan base has been up in arms over Man of Steel due to many elements that they consider to not represent the Superman they know and love. Cox’s adaptation solves many of these issues, including the moment Clark Kent decides to steal a set of clothes off a clothesline after being washed to shore in tattered rags. While we only have Kent’s facial reactions to go off in the film, Cox aptly uses the hero’s inner monologue to address his remorse at doing something he considers immoral. Giving the necessities of Kent’s situation, it’s a moment that plays well for Kent during his rather aimless, pre-Superman state.
- Another strong issue many fans had with the film was the rampant destruction caused by Superman during his various battles. Given that there seemed to be little concern from the hero about the lives that could be lost with every demolished building, many fans felt that the key component of Superman striving to keep people out of harm’s way was missing from Man of Steel. Well, like Jor-El and his manipulation of the Kryptonian codex, Cox has inserted the inner thoughts of Kal-El that we could only have guessed at on the silver screen. Almost every moment of destruction is considered by and mourned by our hero, even tearing “as his soul” at moments. As a result, Cox’s Superman comes off much more sympathetic and heroic, and probably more like the depiction fans expected to see in the film version.
- The ability to play with inner monologue also allows Cox to weave a much stronger bond between Lois Lane and Clark Kent. While the film did a great job of setting up this key relationship and depicting the tough and plucky reporter, Cox enhances this story element by painting the instant attraction between the two characters and allowing it to play out with a sense of destiny in the characters‘ innermost thoughts. Given Cox’s depiction, there’s no mistaking the romance as a simplistic “crush,” and Man of Steel only benefits from this.
While there were one or two things I think could have improved Cox’s novelization (It would have been a neat trick to make the book 33 chapters instead of 37, and I disagree with the decision to not include Lois Lane’s ballsy “d--k measuring contest” line.), the adaptation is an excellent version of the latest tale of DC’s lead superhero. If you’re a Man of Steel fan, don’t miss this chance to relive the film in a different medium - you’re sure to enjoy it! And, if you’re one who feels that the Man of Steel film just barely missed the mark, then do yourself a favor and take a second look at this tale of Kal-El by reading Cox’s excellent take on Snyder’s film!
Man of Steel by Greg Cox should be available now at your local bookstore.