I love Superman. Really, I do. Next to Batman, he’s probably my favorite superhero. Some people make fun of him because he’s seemingly omnipotent (except for that pesky Kryptonite) or because he’s an overgrown boy scout. But that’s what makes him so great. He’s capable of all kinds of destruction, yet he has a simple, honorable moral code that keeps him innocent and human (ironic, I know). He could be a god if he wanted, but instead he chooses to walk among us, keeping us safe from those who seek to harm us. He’s not cynical or brooding or snobbish, he’s small town charm and wise kindness rolled into one.
So naturally, Hollywood decided to give him a gritty reboot, because Batman. At first I thought, “This is a horrible idea. The first two Christopher Reeve movies portrayed Superman as well as he can be portrayed. There’s no need for a reboot, much less one that turns Kal-El Kal-Emo.” But since the first few trailers came out, I’ve become more optimistic about the film. I especially liked the Nokia trailer; almost no dialogue, but the images speak for themselves. But today, we’re going to be looking at “Man of Steel – Official Trailer 3 [HD]” to see whether this movie leaps tall buildings in a single bound or face-plants in the dirt.
So who stars in this film? Clark Kent/Superman is played by Henry Cavill, known for his roles in Immortals, Stardust, and the television series The Tudors. Lois Lane is played by Amy Adams, who has also been in Enchanted, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and The Muppets. I’m kind of on the fence about this casting choice because while she’s one of my favorite actresses and she can definitely pull off the character, she has red hair and Lois’s hair is black. It’s nitpicky, I know, but I just can’t get past that irksome fact. Anyway, we’ve also got Michael Shannon as General Zod, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, who is now ironically black. And that still doesn’t bother me as much as Lois’s hair color.
The director is Zack Snyder, who has previously directed 300, Sucker Punch, and Watchmen. So we know he has what it takes when it comes to producing an action film. We also know that his films have a distinctive visual quality. I can’t speak to the quality of character development in his movies, not having seen them myself, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s also worth noting that Christopher Nolan of Dark Knight fame is one of the producers. How much influence he has over the movie itself I can’t say, but it’ll definitely have an impact.
We start with the fireworks show of Krypton . . . er, destruction of Krypton, as Russell Crowe looks on. All of a sudden, a giant dragonfly flies by. Because Krypton has those now. Although admittedly, it’s more realistic that the prism planet Krypton was during the seventies. Anyway, Russell says goodbye to his literally newborn son (express baby, straight from the womb to the starship). His wife says the people of Earth will kill Superman, but Russell asks how since he’ll be a god to them. Which turns out to be truer than he predicts since these days, everyone in every medium tries to make Superman into Jesus.
Superman lands on Earth, and we see little Clark Kent’s playthings scattered across the lawn as well as a butterfly with its wing caught in the chain of a swing. Since it’s keeping perfectly still, I’m not sure how that’s physically possible. Russell asks, “What would happen if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society intended?” Then we would lock him away as a menace, because our society wants to make our children contributors to the common welfare, and someone who was something other would most likely be a criminal. We also get a glimpse of Krypto the Superdog and little Clark wearing a red cape. Foreshadowing!
A school bus filled with children plunges into a river, but Clark plucks it out again. Of course, all the children on the bus witness it, and at least one tells his parents. Great, Superman’s not even an adult and he’s already blowing his secret identity. Jonathan Kent reveals the starship to his adopted son, not bothering to explain how he kept the bulky thing hidden from a curious young farm boy for years. “You’re the answer to are we alone in the universe,” he says. In other words, Clark, you are No. Doesn’t that make you feel good? “Can’t I just keep pretending I’m your son?” Clark asks. “You are my son,” Jonathan replies, holding his boy close. It’s a genuine heartwarming moment, much better than the last trailer in which Jonathan Kent says Clark might should have let all those children on the bus die. Grr.
Years later, grown-up Clark sets out to find the reason he was sent to Earth. He does this by hitchhiking to what appears to be a giant frozen clam. Meanwhile, a mystery woman examines a tunnel of ice, asking, “How do you find someone who’s spent a lifetime covering their tracks?” Ask the CIA. They’ll have him in five minutes. But the frozen seafood has told Clark his purpose, which is why he is now working on a fishing trawler. Maybe the clam joke was more accurate than I thought.
But his real purpose becomes apparent when he saves people from a giant explosion: he must lift really heavy things while shirtless! Clearly he has found his calling. Between that, hanging out with Krypto, and studying a pewter Superman logo (most likely purchased from his local comic store), he has a full schedule.But no, Russell reveals his son’s true purpose: to give us Earthlings an ideal to strive towards. So we should all aspire to wear blue Spandex and red capes. Superman gives the ground a vibrating massage with his knuckles before bursting up, up, and away, circling the Earth and forgetting to smile at the camera.
We cut to the action montage, and . . . um, I really have no idea what’s going on here. There seems to be a giant squid, and then Superman holds back an alien ray and a tsunami at the same time, and then the army comes out as General Zod swears to hunt down Superman. Flaming debris smashes into a skyscraper, fighter jets shoot at Superman, and army men walk him down a hall in handcuffs, all while Superman talks about how Jonathan Kent thought the world would reject him if they knew who he was. “What do you think?” I think he was right. The army shooting at you would seem to prove that.
Anyway, there’s a lot more running and explosions and Superman flying, and then we see Superman having a conversation with Lana Lang, I mean Lois Lane. The red hair threw me off. Lois asks what the S stands for. Superman says it’s not an S, it’s a symbol of hope. Lois insists it’s an S and makes a suggestion . . . which is drowned out by squealing feedback. Superman says, “Excuse me.” So apparently, when Superman burps, the belch is on such a high frequency that it causes feedback in sound systems. I miss memory-wiping kisses. But seriously, it seems cheap when they won’t even let them say the name “Superman” in the trailers. We all know that’s who he is. And the trailer ends with Superman punching a guy through the air just to nail down how awesome he is.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Yeah, I’d say so. It looks like it really respects the character of Superman, wanting to do his mythos justice. The film is visually impressive, and the action is intense, but they still have honest, human moments. So in a lot of ways, Man of Steel is a lot like Superman himself, only darker. Therefore, I’d say to teen and adult fans of Superman, go see this movie. I sure plan to. True, it’ll never take the place of Christopher Reeve’s early films, but look on the bright side: it can’t be any worse than Superman III-IV.
Man of Steel is owned by Warner Bros.