Man of Steel has mid-tier and lower reviews from a lot of sources and the aggregate score on Rottentomatoes ain't great. But I think it boils down to a few things:
1. Unlike Batman, who has been redone so many ways since 1966 in the public eye, and the Marvel heroes who, let's be honest, nobody had heard of before the movies, everybody's got an opinion on who they think Superman is. And if the movie doesn't match that, it's going to cause problems. Rex Reed (who is IN Superman: The Movie for 2 seconds) seems to not get who this Superman is and can't get past that. And declares "Mr. Nolan already ruined Batman" with a straight face. I'm not sure "this isn't what I was expecting!" is a legitimate complaint, and seems to miss the pop-culture conversation on superheroes that's been going on since the mid-80's and around superhero movies since 2000 in favor of nostalgia.
I LOVE the nostalgia. But I also know Superman leaps forward every once in a while. Its been almost 40 years since Christopher Reeve put on the cape. You kind of need to expect things will be different this go-round.
2. It's Zack Snyder. We always knew that meant this wasn't going to be the Superman movie of my dreams the minute he was put behind the camera/ CGI supercomputer/ fast-slow-fast machine, but I've had a long, long time to get used to that idea. Usually when I say "I hope this doesn't suck" walking into a movie, I'm kind of being snarky. With Snyder, I've seen 3.5 of his movies and have sort of suffered through all of them except for Sucker Punch, which I watched the second half of on HBO, and it's ridiculously, relentlessly not good. The idea that this isn't going to totally suck is hard for me to imagine in a lot of ways.
Snyder has his issues and isn't a strong storyteller. I can be open to the idea that maybe this just doesn't work as a tightly run piece of clockwork.
3. I've already got tickets for two showings, so I'm seeing this sucker whether I like it or not. And its Superman. Of COURSE I'm seeing it, no matter how awful. I sat through all four Batman movies on the big screen before the Nolan reboot, and three of those. Of course I'm watching a new Superman movie. And in this one Ma Kent is Diane Lane!* And Lois is Amy Adams!
4. I've seen John Carter like 5 times now. I'm a grown man, and if I decide I'm totally cool with a movie that isn't jiving with Rex Reed or whomever, I don't need to get too defensive. I just enjoy it. Hell, before all this legitimacy for superhero movies, part of the game was just ignoring the reviews and seeing the stuff you liked, knowing the tweedy guy who was enjoying a movie about a weeping clown symbolically losing a balloon had his thing, and you had yours.
5. That doesn't mean we defend the movie if it actually sucks, by the way, but I suspect no matter what, I'll still just be jazzed from being there on opening night at midnight. Hopefully a second screening will bring clarity.
In about 26-27 hours, I'll have an initial verdict on the movie and the wait will be over. Hoping now for more good than bad. That the movie does Superman some kind of service and it's a version of Superman that at least lays the groundwork for the kind of Superman I'd like to see on screen one day.
*I am glad I had several seasons of Annette O'Toole to steel me for the idea that Ma Kent could be a looker