There are some standard ways to retell a classic story. One of them is to stay faithful to the vision of its original author(s). Another is to retell it using a secondary character as protagonist. Yet another is to explore variations on the core theme, such as reinterpreting the story to be in tune with modern times or with a different cultural context.
The core premise of Superman II was what would happen if Superman lost (or voluntarily gave up) his superpowers. Although he did get them back in the end, the premise caused him to be humanised to an even greater extent. The scene where he is thoroughly beaten in a bar fight and is shocked to see his own blood is the emotional high point of this movie.
The third movie explored what would happen if Superman were to lose his goodness while retaining his superpowers. It was a chilling sight to see an unshaven Superman getting drunk in a bar, distorting a mirror with his heat vision and breaking bottles by flicking nuts at them. And when good finally triumphed over evil, it was in the form of the Clark Kent persona in civilian clothes who succeeded in vanquishing his evil costumed side. That scene proved that Superman really is Clark Kent, rather than the other way around. Richard Pryor's presence also ensured that this movie was more comic than either of its predecessors.
There was also a very touching conversation that brought out the nobility of Superman, and this was when Lois tracks him down.
Lois Lane: I figured if I turned over enough stones you'd eventually find me. Where are you from? What are you doing here? Let me tell your story.
Clark Kent: What if I don't want my story told?
Lois Lane: It's going to come out eventually. Somebody's going to get a photograph or figure out where you live.
Clark Kent: Well, then I'll just disappear again.
Lois Lane: The only way you could disappear for good is to stop helping altogether and I sense that's not an option for you.
That last line brought tears to my eyes. That's who Superman is! He can't stop helping people even if it affects him.
But apart from those two sparks of brilliance, "Man of Steel" serves as a useful reminder that no amount of special effects magic will help a movie with a weak storyline. The violence and destruction put me off totally. Superman's story is a noble one, and doesn't deserve to be reduced to an extended street brawl. [And we really should stop destroying buildings wholesale with every superhero movie. Between DC Comics and Marvel Comics, Manhattan will soon be reduced to rubble.]