Dissecting The New Man Of Steel Trailer

The release of a brand new Superman movie is a big deal for an uber-Superman fan like myself. This movie is a big deal because for there to be a DC universe equivalent of Marvel’s multi-movie universe, it is essential for Superman to succeed (especially after the Green Lantern movie deservedly flopped thanks to it being a piece of garbage). Superman Returns did okay at the box office, but I feel like I’m one of the few people out there who liked it despite its flaws and it is generally viewed as a failed attempt.

Ok, so here’s the Man of Steel trailer:

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First off, this is a very dark trailer, particularly for Superman. This is far and away my biggest concern. You can do “dark” versions of most comic characters, and the execution works quite well for a character like Batman. Similarly the movie versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and X-Men were “dark” as well and it worked. By contrast, Captain America and Superman have to be lighter fare to stay true to the sunny optimism of the characters.

In this execution, director Zack Snyder appears to be tapping into the idea of Clark’s powers manifesting at a young age and the responsibility that quickly foists upon him.

That leads to the biggest WHAT in the whole trailer, but first some history.

The Kents – Jonathan and Martha – are the key to Superman’s entire identity. They are the only parents he truly knows. They are the ones who give the character his traditionalist midwestern outlook on the world and they are the ones responsible for his moral compass. There have been several alternate reality stories that take advantage of this to point out just how different and possibly amoral Superman could have become without the influence of the Kents in his life (the closest parallel is Spider-Man and the influence of Uncle Ben and Aunt May).

So my jaw hit the ground in the exchange where Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent appears to make the argument that Clark should have let an entire bus of children die, apparently elevating his fear of how the world will react to someone with Superman’s powers over the lives of innocent children. I seriously hope this is just a bad impression left by editing because otherwise it is a very serious perversion of what Jonathan Kent has been for the 74 years of Superman’s existence.

I’m hoping I’m wrong here.

Otherwise, there’s a lot to like here.

The open of the trailer seems to be about Clark’s powers manifesting at the beginning of his puberty, as his mom explains to him how to block out the rest of the world — a skill that comes in handy when you can see and hear for miles.

Here’s Superman in some sort of hangar, apparently with other alien (Kryptonian?) ships.

When he asks about his legacy, we see the “S” insignia, which means that this version of Superman appears to be following in the footsteps of the original Superman movie where the “S” was some sort of crest for the El family back on Krypton (in some versions, Martha Kent comes up with the logo and stitches it on his uniform).

I love that we’re going to get the Fortress of Solitude (there’s no other reason for Superman to be in an arctic setting).

Superman flying around the curvature of the earth? That’s basically every imagination session from my childhood. Ask my Mom, she gave up so many of her perfectly good towels to the exploits of Superman.

Giant explosion in downtown Metropolis? Sounds like a hero-villain fight. If it is half as good as the fight in downtown Metropolis from Superman 2 (minus the giant ad for Marlboro), it will be epic.

Russell Crowe IS Jor-El, which is about as good as you can get short of Marlon Brando as Jor-El.

Why are there alien ships in Smallville? Kryptonian invasion? Or Braniac? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm????

Here’s Michael Shannon looking badass as General Zod, and apparently he and Superman will be punching the crap out of each other, which is epic.

Christopher Meloni is credited as “Colonel Hardy” but I have a feeling he may end up being Metallo (cyborg powered by a Kryptonite heart) down the line. Richard Schiff is Dr. Emil Hamilton, who is Superman’s scientific right-hand man and I believe this will be his character’s first time on the big screen.

Superman and his mom. This is key. Depending on the moment, if one of Superman’s parents lives to his adulthood it’s his mom. I personally prefer when both of them are alive, but I like the idea of grounding him with this relationship. Alien invasion got you down? Fly to Kansas and get some pie from Mom.

And now this. Lois. This, more than almost everything else, is the key to Superman. In Superman Returns, Kate Bosworth was unfortunately miscast as Lois Lane. The key to Lois Lane is a hard-nosed award-winning reporter who is thrown by how she feels about Superman. The best big screen Lois was Margot Kidder, particularly in the first two movies. I know Amy Adams has the acting chops for this, though I think she looks too young.

Lois, besides his parents, is what keeps Superman connected to the real world and away from being a god disconnected from Metropolis. This movie will have to bring them together, hint at romance and simultaneously create mythology’s greatest (in my opinion) love triangle: Clark – Lois – Superman. This was where Christopher Reeve excelled. Look at this scene from the original Superman, when Clark completely changes into Superman and considers revealing his identity to Lois, only to chicken out. ITS SO GOOD.

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In the new movie, we’ve got them holding hands and there’s the hint of the essential Superman – Lois romance. I hope they can pull it off, because without it the movie will never work.

Other things I’m hoping to see in this movie are a fully developed set of characters at the Daily Planet, at least including Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Similary, I want some allusions/hints of the wider DC Universe. They don’t have to be on the nose, but I’d like mentions of Gotham City, maybe a line about “that weirdo in Gotham,” or some other clues that Superman is just the first of this new class of being to inhabit this new world.

And maybe some Lex Luthor.

I’m excited about the possibility for this movie, and hopeful that the caveats I’ve noticed are just fanboy anxiety.

Up, up, and away!

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  • db

    Marco,

    Above. Superman has always been one of the “lightest” characters. Good clean fun. Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman all have much “darker” aspects. I’m not sure how you turn Superman “dark” but I’m not sure I want to see.

    Thor is one of Marvel’s least conflicted character. The movie was good.

    Oliver,

    As a Green Lantern fan from pre-teen years; the movie wasn’t a piece of garbage. It tried to do too much & was too enamored of the CG effects; but garbage is too strong.

  • Christopher Foxx

    OW: I seriously hope this is just a bad impression left by editing because otherwise it is a very serious perversion of what Jonathan Kent has been for the 74 years of Superman’s existence.

    It’s a snippet of what is no doubt a much longer scene in the context of what happened in other scenes. I’d refrain from hand wringing based on a few seconds in a trailer.

    In any event, I much prefer a Jonathan Kent who wrestles with a moral dilemma himself and struggles with how to advise his son. The moral compass who never struggles for an answer is unrealistic and boring. And what real parent wouldn’t struggle with protecting their child over what may be a greater good?

  • M2

    I am not the biggest DC comics fan or even a comics fan for the matter (or graphic novels – whatevs, they’re comics) but I loved the first two Reeve Superman films so I was intrigued to see if Superman reboot V2 would prove as good. Sigh. All I have to say is damn you Christopher Nolan.

    It seems every superhero movie thanks to his Batman series will be a dark, introspective, brooding sad-fest with amazing special effects here and there. Don’t get me wrong, I like an adult take on superheroes, but this trailer seems heavy on tragic lesson-learning pathos and light on, well, light.

    The first two SM movies balanced the fun and Superman inner turmoil perfectly. This one’s trailer seems like heavier than Darren Arronofsy’s (sp) Requiem for a Dream. Superman even has a hipster beard. Spare me. And onto points Oliver mentioned…

    I couldn’t believe I heard Kevin Costner say that about letting kids drown, either. Really? Talk about shitty parenting.

    I don’t find Amy Adams too young looking – she’s actually 9 year older than our Superman here – but I will always love raspy smoker voice Kidder as Lois. Amy is going to do us good though way better than Bosworth in whatever that Superman movie was supposed to be. She doesn’t have three Oscar noms for nothing.

    I love Michael Shannon and I am sure his Zod is going to be great, but I wish he brought his two sidekicks back from SM II.

    I guess that’s about it. I am just not excited to see another superhero with a super inner struggle for 3 hours. I mean, they’re men in funny costumes any way you look at it. Lighten up a little.

    Looks like a rental to me at this point.

    • Christopher Foxx

      This one’s trailer seems like heavier than Darren Arronofsy’s (sp) Requiem for a Dream.

      Overstating it quite a lot.

      “dark, introspective, brooding sad-fest”? That’s an awful lot to get from a single trailer with glimpses of around 50 scenes packed into a bit over 120 seconds.

      Fact is, there hasn’t been a single trailer for any comic-based movie that hasn’t been met with “I definitely can tell from the trailer they’ve got this all wrong” comments. “Beetlejuice as Batman? You f—in’ kidding me? Gonna suck.” “Have you seen the X-Men uniforms? They’re all dark. Where’s the yellow? And Wolverine is a 6′ 2″ Australian? Gonna suck big time.”

      • M2

        Not an overstatement to me. That trailer was a heavy-handed pummeling if there ever was one. I thought I was watching The Tree of Life staring Superman.

        As for the dark sad fest, I was speaking about the trend of Nolanizing superhero movies. The recent Spiderman suffered form the same heavy cloud, but the Avengers seemed free of it come to think of it, and Thor had none of it, and was horrible anyway. Maybe it’s not as much a trend but sticks out like a sore thumb every time it’s done.

        • Christopher Foxx

          Sorry, confused. So is it a trend, or not as much a trend?

          Personally, I take trailers with large grains of salt. They far too often are not accurate representations of what the movie is actually like. If anything they give a good indication of the look of the movie, a maybe indication of the plot, and a pathetic indication of the acting or overall quality of the movie. Which isn’t surprising, given that they’re a marketing device designed to pique interest and get butts in seats and not intended to be accurate representations of the movie.

          Best you could say from most trailers, is “It looks like it could be good” or “I dunno, looks iffy”. More is an overstatement.

          • M2

            Yeah, I kinda changed my mind mid-post, but then googled Nolainizing and other forms of it and it seems to be a discussed trend or meme or whatever you’d like to call it. Pro and con for the Nolanization of comics and superheroes.

            As Christopher produced the film, I expect nothing less than full metal Nolan, just like the trailer.

    • Christopher Foxx

      I mean, they’re men in funny costumes any way you look at it.

      Well, as least you come with an open mind and left the condescension at home.

      • M2

        Sorry. Perhaps you enjoy Lucha Libre for the seriousness of the sport and its uniforms. I, however, laugh.

        • Christopher Foxx

          As I’m sure you enjoy apples for their vitamin C. Or was that oranges? Wouldn’t want to get those two confused.

          • M2

            But I am condescending. I see.

            Enjoy the show, Christopher.

          • Christopher Foxx

            Well, dismissive at least. “they’re men in funny costumes any way you look at it.” is certainly a dismissive attitude that suggests a mind closed to the possibility that comic books characters can’t be used to tell any meaningful, mature stories.