Superman II: The Man of Steel is a 2015 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman. It is a sequel to the 2012 film Superman Reborn which began the DC Movie Universe and was directed by Matthew Vaughn. The film stars Armie Hammer and Cobie Smulders, reprising their roles from the first film as Superman and Lois Lane respectively, and also features Peter Weller, Billy Zane and Charlize Theron in new roles alongside other returning cast members. Superman II was again scored by Danny Elfman.
The film begins LexCorp officials experimenting with new technology during a deep sea dive, and accidentally stumble across the wreckage of a large Kryptonian space craft (General Zod's ship, having been dumped there by Superman at the end of Superman Reborn). Rather than take it to the military, it is brought before Luthor himself, who discovers a cache of Kryptonian stored in the ship.
At the same time, an air force squadron is deployed to destroyed a mysterious drone which has entered US airspace. The drone easily outmaneuvers the squadron however and lands outside of the White House in Washington DC. Superman flies there to assess the situation, and approaches the drone, which then projects an image of a robot-like humanoid.
This mysterious being identifies itself as Brainiac, an artificial intelligence created on Krypton by Superman's father, Jor-El. After spending many years wandering deep space, he has found his way to Earth and wishes to teach Superman more about their home planet as well as bring hope to mankind.
The government quickly welcomes Brainiac in, while Superman remains weary. He visits the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic to consult his father's preserved consciousness, who warns him not to trust Brainiac, although he does state that he doesn't believe Brainiac to be evil.
Meanwhile, Superman's alter ego Clark Kent is struggling to balance his work as a Daily Planet reporter with his life as a superhero. His workmate and love interest, Lois Lane, and his young photographer friend Jimmy Olsen are trying to get a scoop on LexCorp, believing that they are dumping radioactive waste somewhere and severely damaging the environment. Luthor himself however is squeaky clean and Lois has a hard time finding evidence to back up her claims.
Luthor then starts a smear campaign against Superman and Brainiac, saying that they are a danger to humanity and reminding people that it was Superman that brought General Zod to Earth in the first place. Luthor is also trying to create a robotic suit which can perform tasks such as walking of the ocean floor. However, he is secretly trying to turn it into a weapon in order to obtain a multi-million dollar government contract.
Over the course of the film, Clark struggles to balance his dual lives as well as the public's opinion of him, and how Brainiac's arrival affects him and his place among men. Brainiac reveals to Clark that he has recorded memories of Krypton, and is willing to let Clark see them if he joins him, but Clark refuses, citing that his father warned him about Brainiac. Brainiac becomes curious as to how Clark was able to speak with Jor-El and Lara, and Clark reveals that his consciousness was preserved in the ships he built.
Soon, Brainiac's nefarious true intentions are revealed. It is shown that during the last days of Krypton, Brainiac detected the rising pressure and unstable core, but chose not to warn anyone and instead saved all the information that he could about the planet before escaping hours before Krypton exploded. Now, he plans to do the same to Earth, but as it is not in imminent danger, he plans to annihilate it himself.
Lois comes close to finally getting the dirt on Luthor, so his personal chauffeur Mercy Graves kidnaps her. Brainiac then hacks into the White House and reveals that he has infected the entire network and is going to launch America's entire nuclear arsenal at various other countries in order to start a nuclear war which will plunge the planet into a nuclear winter. As the countdown begins, Brainiac goes to the Fortress of Solitude to confront Jor-El and Lara
Superman arrives to rescue Lois from Luthor, but he attacks Superman in his robot suit. When Superman seemingly gains the upper hand, Luthor reveals a chunk of Kryptonite is his chest and blasts Superman. The hero does not relent however and manages to rip it out before punching Luthor out. Superman flies Lois back to the roof of the Daily Planet building, where they almost kiss before he must race off to disable Brainiac's countdown. He manages to deactivate most of the missiles, but in the end three are still fired. However, Superman manages to fly around the globe and stop each of them mid-air before flying them out into Earth's atmosphere and safely destroying them there.
Superman then flies around the world again, this time flying straight into the Fortress of Solitude and punching Brainiac, sending him crashing through a wall. Brainiac falls into the water and becomes frozen in a block of ice.
The film ends with Luthor being arrested while Superman flies out into Earth's atmosphere and looks down on the planet. In a mid-credits scene, Brainiac is shown frozen beneath the Arctic, when he eyes begin to move, indicating that he is still alive.
Armie Hammer - Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Cobie Smulders - Lois Lane
Harrison Ford - Johnathan Kent
Meryl Streep - Martha Kent
Joel Courtney - Jimmy Olsen
Tommy Lee Jones - Perry White
Peter Weller - Brainiac
Jon Hamm - Jor-El
Jennifer Connelly - Lara Vor-An
Billy Zane - Lex Luthor
Charlize Theron - Mercy Graves
Superman II: The Man of Steel was followed by Superman Doomsday in which Superman does battle with Doomsday. The character also appeared in World's Finest, a crossover with The Batman and in the Justice League film.
A legend returns.