It is no secret that superhero stories are formulaic. They all have a backstory explaining where the character is from and how they came to be more than average.
They are then are introduced to an adversary who is also more than average, and they defeat the adversary while getting the girl that is attracted to good looking men with superpowers (weird, right?). Many films have tried to turn this formula on its head in order to be original, with little success, and then there are films that follow the formula and make incredible films. Man of Steel is not the average humdrum superhero film, but it is not incredible either. In baseball terms, Man of Steel is a solid base hit.
The aspect of this film that makes it better than the average superhero film is the cinematography in several sequences. Whenever Superman is fighting someone, the shots are quick and cinema verite, which has become commonplace in big budget action films of late, but the way in which many of the flashback scenes are shot are incredibly artistic and tasteful giving the viewer an emotional connection to memory, almost as if it were one of our own. It simply show the action or individuals in the scene, but attempts to connect the viewer to all of the sense experience of a memory. Had the whole film been shot in this way the rating would have been much higher.
Another thing Man of Steel has going for it is the role of General Zod played by Michael Shannon. This one casting call was enough to convince me to go watch this film when I normally would just wait until I could rent it. Shannon plays the role well, but anyone familiar with his performances in Boardwalk Empire or Take Shelter can recognize the fact that his full potential in this role was not realized. To put it simply, Michael Shannon is a far better actor than his character in this film.
Overall, the film was enjoyable and better than most superhero movies mostly due to the flashback sequences and the brilliant Michael Shannon, even if he was not utilized fully.