Before I saw it, MAN OF STEEL was positioned in my head as an antidote to IRON MAN 3. IRON MAN 3, that annoying, mediocre, poorly-plotted superhero film that hated being a superhero film. You could really feel the change in behind-the-camera talent as they leaned hard on the charm of Robert Downey Jr.'s banter to the point of breaking. They constantly undercut themselves, defating suspense in order to shoehorn psueod-witty back-and-forth at every unnatural opportunity.
It reminded me of a class clown who uses humor as a defense mechanism to avoid being vulnerable or opening up. Like a school bully who had accidentally revealed something deeply personal and serious, and upon noticing this, slams it shut by immediately giving a kid a wedgie. Like, dude. You can take yourself seriously sometimes, it's cool. No one's going to judge you.
Instead, we have Tony Stark & James Rhodes forcing some Seinfeld-ian banter about ammunition or whatever before they storm the enemy base. Or, a defeated and worn Tony Stark must rely on the kindness of a kid he just ran into — except because that kind of sincerity is lame to someone, let's make them both sarcastic assholes because we think that's all people like about Iron Man. Flimsy facades of personality for everyone!