UNCLEAR WHETHER STRONGER THAN IRON: I wanted to talk a little about Man of Steel and give folks a place to talk about it. I think there are a few parts that it nails, and a big one that it doesn't. First, I think the film's take on Lois Lane is interesting and smart--for the first time in recent memory, Lois isn't a helpless love interest, not do we get told that she's a great journalist while all we see is her as a borderline incompetent--she's two steps ahead of Superman the entire time, which is a great refreshment in a genre that generally hasn't been all that great for women.
Second, I think a big piece of the film's reconception of Superman really works--the idea that Clark/Kal-El is an outsider coming to grips with who and what he is rather than simply springing fully formed is an interesting one, as is how Jonathan Kent is used--without spoiling anything, there are notes of (of all things) Dexter in this conception of Superman, with an adoptive father trying to steer his "different" child to live according to a code and to hide his "talents" from the general public. Indeed, I would have happily watched a two hour movie that ended with Superman "revealing himself" to the general public, and let the sequels explore what happens next.
The problem is, that's not the movie we get. We get a supervillain, and given the breadth and scope of Superman's powers, it's very hard to come up with a villain that challenges him. Either you have to go with a Kryptonite-based plot (which isn't mentioned at all in this version of the mythos, and may not even play a role) or you have to go with an alien threat of some sort. We opt for the latter here, and as much fun as it is to watch Michael Shannon bellow as General Zod (who does what he can with the material), it ultimately degrades into two guys punching each other, which isn't terribly exciting to watch, particularly when preceded by cosmic action nonsense (I am skeptical that opening a black hole in the middle of Metropolis would not have done more damage).
Much debate in the film revolves around the final resolution of the Superman/Zod conflict, which drew applause (though not from me) in the theatre I saw it in this afternoon. I'm not sure it's in keeping with the ideals of Superman as established in the comic mythos, but it does establish some things about Superman in this universe going forward, and I'll be interesting to see where they take things, particularly given that they may finally find a problem that Superman can't address just by punching it really hard.