Battle of the Supermen

(CBS News) "Man of Steel," opening in theatres this week, is the latest reboot of a movie and TV icon going back more than 60 years.

British actor Henry Cavill ("The Tudors") is the latest actor in the role of Superman. So how does he -- and the new movie -- stack up?

Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel."
Warner Brothers
On "CBS This Morning: Saturday," film critic Matt Singer of indiewire.com offered his take on "Man of Steel."

"It's got a great cast, got great effects. I didn't think it was a great movie," Singer said. "Superman is kind of the guy caught between two worlds; he's the farm boy from Kansas, he's the alien from Krypton. The movie itself is kind of caught between a character drama and a big superhero movie. I found the character drama actually pretty compelling, and the superhero stuff kind of tiresome -- which is crazy because I'm a big comic book fan, but I kind of lost the 'man' in all the 'super' of this one.

Singer did have high praise for Cavill: "He's actually really good. I think he's a really great Superman, and one of the best parts of the movie.

"Superman is this kind of very conflicted guy. He's got to be both otherworldly and incredibly ordinary. And this guy pulls that off. When he flies, he really does have that superheroic stature, and when he's sitting on a porch in Smallville, he kind of looks like a guy you would have gone to high school with -- a guy who would have been more popular than you in high school, I admit, but he has kind of a regular-guy charm."

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Singer also rated some of the previous actors who played Superman, including the previous big-screen incarnation, from 2006's "Superman Returns."

"Brandon Routh was a victim of circumstance," Singer said. "Bryan Singer, the director, really wanted to make a Superman movie that paid homage to the superman he loved, which was Christopher Reeve. So he made 'Superman Returns' as a direct continuation of those previous movies."

The result, for Routh, was that "he had to kind of not only play Superman, he had to play Christopher Reeve playing Superman, which he did a pretty respectful job of, but he's more doing an imitation than a performance."

Is Christopher Reeve the Superman to beat?

"For me he is. The thing about Superman is, he's kind of like James Bond. He's an icon that spans generations. Whoever you grew up watching, that's your guy. And for me, that's Christopher Reeve.

"What I love about him, he was a great Superman and a great Clark Kent -- and he convinced you, that ridiculous thing, you take off the glasses, you fuss with your hair a little, and nobody recognizes you! He actually convinced you with the posture, with the gestures, everything he did, he convinced you that people might actually think they're two different people."

Singer was also asked about baby boomer icon George Reeves, from the 1950s TV series "The Adventures of Superman."

"He's being Superman before special effects, basically -- before computer graphics, before green screens. Maybe some wires there? I don't know! Before weight training, before dieting, you know? This poor guy had to be Superman on charisma alone. He pulled it off.

"There's something that endures about that Superman, I think, something very moral. It may not be the most super of body, but maybe super of spirit."

Singer also admitted to a soft spot for Dean Cain, of the 1990s TV series, "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." "Not the greatest show. But when you were 13 years old and watching it, there was something there."

Photo gallery: Superman on screen

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