Is Man of Steel Appropriate for Children?

Posted June 12, 2013 by Wendy Wright in Movie

Is Man of Steel appropriate for children?

Man of Steel premieres on Friday and as a Superman fan I was excited to attend a preview of the movie at Harkins Theatres but one question remains for parents. Is Man of Steel appropriate for children?

Man of Steel is a refreshing look at the familiar Superman story line but in a different version than seen before. Kal-El, as he is known on Krypton, is the first natural birth in many years and his parents go to great lengths to protect him. While his mother is shown briefly, his father is a key figure in the entire movie. This will delight Russell Crowe fans.

Questions about Krypton’s existence and demise are answered with a lengthy beginning of the movie. If your familiar Superman movie left you wanting more, then Man of Steel will certainly provided more for you.

Once Kal-El’s pod is launched from Krypton, it makes it’s way to planet Earth. In the very next scene we see Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavill, as a grown man on a fishing boat. From there we see his life in a series of flashbacks and his childhood is pieced together with current events triggering the memories.

Overall the film was good and one that will certainly sell out at the box office; however there are many features making it not a film worthy to see again.

You will probably love Man of Steel if:

  • You like highly INTENSE long, drawn out action scenes
  • You leave movies saying that was a great movie, but I would like to see more action.
  • You are a superhero fan, no matter what.
  • You want a movie with strong 3D effects.

You probably will not like Man of Steel if:

  • You think Christopher Reeve is the ultimate Superman.
  • You want to see Superman as the hero.
  • Flashbacks bother you. Not just a few, but jumping around continuously.
  • You get seasick.
  • You want to hear Superman’s theme song. You won’t hear it in Man of Steel. Not even once.
  • You want to see Lex Luthor.

I suspect many movie theatres will need puke buckets for movie goers who are sensitive to movement. Many scenes are filmed like someone is walking with a camera, creating a bounce effect even though none is needed for the scene.

Instead of spreading out the action throughout the movie, there are long periods of drama filled with even longer periods of action that are over the top. The movie is too long at 148 minutes.

Amy Adams plays a great Lois Lane but there is no chemistry between her and Superman and their relationship does not take any of the usually expected encounters. At least in Man of Steel, Lois Lane is portrayed as an intelligent and articulate reporter who is essential to the story.

Colonel Nathan Hardy is expertly portrayed by Christopher Meloni but I have been a fan of his since Law and Order SVU. Kevin Coster plays Jonathan Kent, Superman’s Earth father, and there needed to be more of him. With the extensive addition of information about Krypton I expected his father’s role to be expanded but was disappointed when his character was abrutly removed. Perry White, portrayed by Laurence Fishburne, is seen briefly and his confident demeanor would calm anyone in a horrific position.

Is Man of Steel appropriate for children?

This is an important question asked when movies are rated PG-13 and young children are eager to see their superhero. There really is not an answer that fits all families, since we all have different values. What I can do is share my thoughts for you to make your own judgement call.

Spoiling a movie before you see it is definitely not something I like to encounter; however, in order to provide parents a full review of the movie when deciding whether or not to take your children, please read on. You still will not know what happens, but you will be informed.


Man of Steel is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language. A strong word of caution is advised for parents. The sci-fi violence is INTENSE. If you have seen other superhero movies this summer such as Iron Man 3, Man of Steel ranks higher in intensity. There are long, and I mean long, periods of destruction and demolition that honestly is overdrawn and taken to an extreme. The movie was simply created for scenes of carnage and then added in the filler to justify the film.

Why Superman may not be appropriate for children:

  • There were multiple instances of explicit language. I lost count when it reached the double digits. During the movie my child laughed, leaned over to me and repeated “Go to hell.” Words he never heard before.
  • One scene has a school bus full of children that crashes into a bridge, goes over the side, and falls into the water. The school bus is completely submerged and children are seen gasping for their last breath as the water fills the entire bus. Superman does save them but if you have a child that rides the school bus, this scene maybe particularly disturbing.
  • Airplanes blown up while flying, careening out of control through New York City and demolishing tall skyscrapers is eerily reminiscent of 9/11 with clouds of smoke and people running and screaming as the buildings literally implode on them. This is not just shown once, but multiple times over.
  • Train yards are blown up, with one train flying straight into a Sears department store.
  • I believed there was an unwritten rule for Superman that he did not kill. Perhaps I am mistaken but seeing Superman kill on screen is not something I wanted my child to witness. Added to that is how it was done. Clearly with the method chosen we could have skipped 1/3 of the movie and gone on with our life.
  • Lois Lane is injured and Superman uses his lasers to heal her. She screams intensely and can be confusing to children as to whether he is helping or hurting her.
  • As a child, Superman is bullied in several scenes. For a child who has been bullied, watching Superman not defend himself and just take the injuries can be upsetting.
  • A tornado plays an important part in the film. If you were effected by the recent tornadoes this summer it will hit way too close to home. I have never been in a tornado and it was too intense for me.
  • The opening scene shows a woman dramatically screaming in labor as she delivers who will eventually become Superman.
  • Superman is arrested and beaten to a pulp many times and show as completely weak for much of the movie.

Would I take my child to see Man of Steel?

I took my son to the movie premiere and I regret it. I would have left in the middle of the movie, but I know he would have been focused purely on why we left instead of him understanding Superman is a hero. Will my other son be seeing this movie in the theatre? Absolutely not. They just saw Avengers and this has absolutely no comparison. A more appropriate rating for the film would be R instead of PG-13 due to the extended violence.

Perhaps a better question to ask is this. Is Man of Steel appropriate?

While the film provides a different view of Superman, the needless destruction eerily reflects both natural and unnatural events occurring on our soil which are still so sensitive to many Americans.

Man of Steel is not a movie about saving the Earth, but destruction and demolition where bullies rule the school yard, New York is completely destroyed, and Superman fans will be disappointed.

I received two passes to attend the advanced screening of Man of Steel. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Wendy Wright

Wendy is the founder of Arizona Moms Network. Almost a native of the Valley of the Sun, she learned to walk and talk in Arizona. She shares her heart through words and photography on her personal blog when she is not dreaming of becoming a Disneyland photographer.



    Wow! Thanks for your honesty! I am so looking forward to this movie. I am thinking twice about taking the kiddos.


      You are welcome, Janice. I would definitely think long and hard before taking your kiddos. One option is to preview the movie first and then decide for yourself if you want your children to see it.


    Sooo glad you posted about this Wendy. I was wondering and after reading your review, I am not going to spend the money to go see it.


      Many will love the film because director Zack Snyder took the familiar story in a different way and gave General Zod a pivotal role but it just goes too far. Jennifer, I fully know I may be in the minority with my opinion but as painful as this was to write, parents need to know before they go.


    Thanks for the honesty Wendy not sure I even want to see it now!!


    WOW, Wendy, thank you for letting me know about this. I’m glad you mentioned that you took your boys to see Avengers and that this doesn’t compare. Guess I’ll take this one off the list…


      My boys just saw Avengers for the first time a few days before Man of Steel and there is a huge difference between the two. Interesting to compare them so close together. Man of Steel is very dark. Thank you for reading, Lauren.

Leave a Response