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The Most Pause-Worthy Moments From Man Of Steel

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Well, according to "Man of Steel," a significant portion of Metropolis gets leveled. Whether you're a fan of DC's 2013 live-action adaptation of Superman or not, there's no denying that "Man of Steel" is a visual feast for the eyes. Director Zack Snyder is known for slick action sequences and heavy use of CGI and special effects. Stylistically, most fans of Snyder's work know it when they see it. Henry Cavill's turn as the Big Blue Boy Scout offered a fresh take on the character that audiences have never seen before in live-action.

At times, "Man of Steel" is more of a sci-fi adventure than it is a mainline superhero action film. Thematically, Snyder and company endeavored to depict Superman in a real-world setting giving him a more grounded origin. Additionally, the filmmakers wanted the movie to show how humanity would really react if someone like Superman actually existed. It's a bold question to ask in a world rife with the turmoil that stems from racism, bigotry, and xenophobia. 

While fans of the hero were split over the newest interpretation of the beloved Kryptonian, the film has managed to stay a part of the discussion since its release in 2013. However, most fans can't deny, that the movie contained some breathtaking imagery and adrenaline-pumping action sequences. There are plenty of scenes that might cause viewers to tap the pause button for a closer look. 

The Kryptonian landscape

Sunny vistas, lush green vegetation, flourishing wildlife; none of these phrases are apt descriptors of planet Krypton. After all, it's a planet devoid of natural resources thanks to the greed and imperialism of its own people. Even still, the landscape is a sight to behold as there are plenty of peculiar details for fans to take in during this sequence in the film.

The intro to "Man of Steel" plays out like otherworldly sci-fi. That's thanks to the alien architecture, the strange apparel of the Kryptonian people, and the few dinosaur-like creatures that apparently inhabit the planet's surface. As Jor-El rushes outside following his escape from Zod's subordinates, the skyline is filled with warring ships depicting a clash between Zod's forces and that of Krypton's reigning council. 

The underbelly of the planet's surface where the genesis chamber resides feels like something out of modern fantasy. It's a cavern that might feel at home in Middle Earth. But, perhaps, the most peculiar element of Krypton's landscape is the destroyed moon that can be seen in the Kryptonian skyline in shambles as Jor-El races back home. This imagery is actually a direct reference to the comic book history of the planet. A mad scientist by the name of Jax-Ur, who is also under Zod's command in this film, destroyed one of Krypton's moons with an experimental nuclear rocket. It's clear that the age of the destructive Kryptonian people is coming to an end.

A trucker's reward

Clark's adult story begins as he journeys to find himself. More precisely, he's searching for answers regarding his lineage and where he came from. Along the way, he takes on all kinds of random jobs to support his life on the road. At one point, he finds himself as kitchen help at a roadside bar. Of course, a few ruffian truckers enter the bar and one harasses a waitress. Knowing only decency and compassion from his upbringing, Clark steps into the middle of the affair and politely asks the man to leave. The man leading the trucker crew doesn't take too kindly to Clark's suggestion. After the man realizes he can't rough up this strangely statuesque individual, he chucks a beer can at Clark as he walks out of the bar. Clark's restraint is admirable. But he still gets the last word in.

When the man walks outside that night, clearly being a stooge and drinking all day long, he sees that his 18-wheeler is in major disrepair — completely totaled with logs penetrating the body of the vehicle like a pin cushion. It's really an impressive work of art when you think about it. One can't help but imagine what the clean-up effort for that messy display might've been like. A crane would probably be required. 

What's even more impressive is that this shot was created with practical effects. No CGI work is done here.

The derelict Kryptonian ship

Eventually, Clark finds his way to a research site in the Canadian Arctic. Here, researchers have found a massive object beneath the ice that is thousands of years old. Clark has an inkling as to what it could possibly be. One blustery night, Clark heads out to the ice and burns a tunnel down to the object below with his heat vision. Intrepid investigative journalist Lois Lane — who also happens to be in the area at the time — manages to spot Clark in the act and decides to tail the mystery man.

While aboard the ship, Clark admires the craftsmanship and details that obviously reflect an alien world, including the nearly mummified corpse inside of one of the pods. Who could this particular Kryptonian have been? Is it anyone of consequence? Right next to the corpse is an open pod signifying that someone survived the trip and disembarked. 

Given that there are no other corpses on the ship, perhaps, the Kryptonian is still on Earth. In fact, this Easter Egg was further fleshed out in "Man of Steel: The Prequel" comic book, where the passenger was revealed to be Kara Zor-El. She, of course, is traditionally known as Superman's cousin, Supergirl. This version of the character, however, is likely not tied into the version that we will see in live-action with the upcoming film, "The Flash."

X-ray vision

Just like past iterations of Superman, such as the TV series "Smallville," Clark gains his abilities bit by bit. It's not like he had the capability of flight as an infant. If that were the case, being a parent would be a total nightmare. However, the film endeavors to explain Clark's powers as a product of his physiological reaction to the sun's radiation and the Earth's atmosphere, both of which are drastically different from Clark's home planet. As his body grows in strength and stature, so do his capabilities. In one particular scene, a young Clark is depicted experiencing his ability for X-ray vision and super hearing in the middle of an average school day.

It's completely understandable that a youngster like Clark would be frightened by the relatively sudden appearance of these superhuman abilities. Being able to see what lies beneath everyone's skin isn't for the faint of heart. The movie delivers a shocking set of visuals to show viewers first-hand what Clark experiences as his abilities surface. 

Later in the film, when Zod makes his antagonistic intentions clear Superman sends the militant zealot into a gas station causing an explosion. Zod's mask — which had been protecting him from the sun's rays and Earth's atmosphere until then — begins to fade, and he starts suffering through all the same growing pains Clark suffered as a young boy. Once again, we're treated to a view of his X-ray vision, this time showing the innards of Superman himself.

The first flight

You'll believe a man can fly. The tagline for the Donner-directed film, "Superman" has always captured imaginations far and wide. With the way effects are treated now in modern cinema, however, taking a trip back to the Christopher Reeves heyday of Superman might change your opinion of that tagline a little bit. The green screens and cables are far more apparent. But "Man of Steel" endeavored to give viewers that rich, high-flying experience once again.

After gaining his Kryptonian suit, Clark takes his biological father's advice and begins to push the limits of his power. At first, Clark can leap and bound as high as a mountain as he jumps across the landscape. What's insanely cool about this element of his growth is that it's a direct callback to the earliest days of Superman in comic books. Originally, he couldn't fly. He could jump ridiculously far and wide — the gift of flight was just a future dream. 

The character was eventually reimagined with new abilities. Clark jumping like a kangaroo on steroids is a cool homage to comic book history. But eventually, he manages to jump into the air and stay there. As a man capable of breaking the sound barrier, it's thrilling to see all the cool locales Clark zips across during his first flight. From the glacial mountains of the Arctic to the savanna of the African plains, Superman buzzes across the world in one thrilling sequence.

Superman's nightmare

As a nearly invincible being, there's not much that can scare Superman. It's easy to go up against bullies or tyrants when sharp objects shatter just from being plunged into his unbreakable skin. However, Superman is still vulnerable. And we're not just talking about kryptonite, magic, or any other weakness brought about in the history of the Man of Steel. His biggest vulnerability is his soul. The fear of failing those around him is ever-present. He was raised to be selfless. As such, he only cares about the well-being of those around him, especially his loved ones.

When Zod brings Superman aboard his ship, Superman passes out from the effects of the Kryptonian atmosphere on his Earth-adapted body. While slumbering, Zod induces a mental sequence where he shares his plans with Kal-El asking him to join their crusade. Of course, the catch is that Zod's dream of rebuilding Krypton involves the genocide of humanity. Superman is horrified, and rightfully so. The nightmare sequence, however, is one rife with exquisite detail. 

Clark awakens at home in Kansas but under the glow of a Kryptonian sun and atmosphere. Little by little, Zod's world engine emerges symbolizing the conversion of Earth into a new Krypton. This terraforming sequence includes a sea of human skulls. What's even more intriguing is that our moon is also shattered much like the Kryptonian moon before it. Does this imply Jax-Ur goes back to his wild military experimentations? Under Zod's rule, that seems likely. In fact, it appears Zod plans to recreate the destructive attitudes of Krypton — the very same attitudes that led to the planet's demise.

Becoming a savior

While aboard Zod's ship, Lois manages to meet Jor-El, or at least his consciousness. He helps her escape while sharing with her a plan to imprison Zod and his forces in the phantom zone once again. After he leads her to an escape pod, one trigger-happy Kryptonian damages the vessel as she launches into the Earth's atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Jor-El rejoins his son, Kal, and instructs to him break a wall through the hull of the ship. Here, he tells Kal that he can save Lois and that he can save the entire world from Zod's tyranny. These are the words Superman needs to hear, the words that push him forward into fulfilling his destiny as the hero of humankind. As Superman effortlessly floats backward out in the cold vacuum of space, we can admire the beauty of the moment. The camera work is crisp and stunning as Henry Cavill's Superman slowly turns to focus on Lois's pod before racing after her. It's incredible imagery that ultimately defines Superman's journey as a savior for those who stand in need.

Rumble in Smallville

The real clash between Zod's forces and Superman begins in Clark's hometown of Smallville. After rushing Zod for his confrontation with Martha Kent, Clark throws the Kryptonian General into a gas tank that explodes and damages the villain's mask. Other Kryptonians step into to take Zod back aboard the ship after he succumbs to the stresses of his heightened senses.

Meanwhile, Faora and Nam-Ek prowl the streets and fight Superman in hand-to-hand combat. The scenery is chock full of destruction and heavy special effects to portray the weight and power behind the might of the Kryptonians' attacks. It's unreal, and unlike any live-action Superman fight we've seen before. Soon, the military support swoops in targeting all of the Kyrptonians including Superman. At this point, the American military is unsure whether to consider him a threat. Being an alien, he's lumped in with the rest until he demonstrates that he is trustworthy by saving several military personnel during the fight. 

The hulking Nam-Ek rips apart one of the planes with his bare hands while in flight. It's a visceral display of power and a scene that might require a few pauses to really appreciate. Of course, pausing may also show some of the cracks in the CGI handiwork here. But ultimately, Snyder and company did stellar work with polished scenes that convey the level of destruction Kryptonian power is capable of.

A city of Easter eggs

"Man of Steel" is, of course, just the start of something greater. This film is the basis for the emergence of the DC Extended Universe. Metropolis and the other locations included in this movie deliver hints of the countless stories of epic clashes told throughout the Man of Steel's history. It'd be odd if Snyder's film didn't reference an expansive world outside of Superman's struggle with Zod and Lois's stomping grounds at the Daily Planet.

During a blink-and-you'll-miss moment, Zod and Superman rush at each other along the side of a skyscraper. At the bottom of the screen, fans can see a sign for Blaze Comics. DC fans know that this fictional comic book publisher is the one who printed stories about the famous Booster Gold – a superhero from the future. When Zod and Superman are inside a skyscraper just before Zod unleashes his heat vision for the first time, a poster can be seen on the back wall that reads "Keep Calm And Call Batman" complete with a Batman symbol.

Later in Zod's clash with Superman, he grabs the hero by the cape and spins him around before tossing him into buildings. In this scene, viewers can spot Utopia Casino. This establishment is owned and operated by Tony Gallo a prominent socialite who helped introduce Kryptonite into Superman's world in DC comics. The Lexcorp building and truck seen in the streets below are two of the most obvious Easter Eggs of the bunch.

The Waynes in space

While Metropolis is home to many Easter eggs signaling a rich history for the Man of Steel and the DC universe at large, there is one particular detail just outside of the Earth's atmosphere that is even more interesting. At the time of the film's release, viewers had no idea that Superman and Batman would come together in the film's sequel. However, that didn't stop Zack Snyder from teasing the potential meeting by inserting an Easter egg letting us know that Bruce Wayne was alive and well in this world.

As Superman and Zod enter space, they come to blows atop a satellite that with the Wayne Enterprises logo emblazoned on its hull. What fans might notice about this particular logo is that it's the same logo used for the company in the Dark Knight Trilogy. While the Batman of the DCEU was not Christian Bale's version, it was a nice homage to Christopher Nolan and the legacy he created with his trilogy of films. Nolan was also an executive producer for "Man of Steel" helping Snyder usher in the DCEU.

Superman versus Zod

At this point in the film, you've probably been pausing an abundance of times just to check out all those cool Easter eggs we've just mentioned. But it's also hard to not focus on the action that's unfolding on screen. Zod has just had his entire planned future shattered after Superman destroyed the Kryptonian ship containing the genesis chamber. Reviving the Kryptonian race is no longer a possibility — at least when it comes to making it happen with the ol' go-to method of artificial birth and genetic engineering. Zod's rage is now the only thing he knows, and the despot attacks Superman with all the brute force he can muster.

This fight sequence is absolutely devastating. In fact, the level of destruction became a sore spot for some fans at the time of the film's release. Some saw the collateral damage as Superman's carelessness. One could also argue that the villain he was facing did not give Superman the opportunity to redirect the fight to an environment devoid of collapsable buildings. Still, many might want to further examine the scope of the battle to understand just how much of Metropolis was decimated during this epic clash. One could even go so far as to compare this battle with scenes in "Batman v Superman" to see the true toll exacted as it unfolds.