Yes, the rueful "Superman Returns" was kind of a washout, with its emo Superman stalking Lois Lane, the weird fidelity to "Superman II" and that annoying kid, but director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan want to erase all thoughts of that debacle with their franchise reboot, "Man of Steel."
The start of a new era of DC Comics movies begins next summer with this radical new take on the legend of Kal-El as he is hurtled from the ruins of Krypton to an unsuspecting little blue world called Scrigldybum… just kidding, it's Earth. This new Superman promises more action, more fighting and 100 percent more punching than the last movie.
You will believe a Superman can punch somebody.
June 14, 2013
Superman may have his Fortress of Solitude, but he's also surrounded by stars of the A-list variety this time out. Three-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams fills the high heels of intrepid Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (while keeping those trademark ginger locks of hers), while her editor Perry White commands his minions to all buy Cadillacs in the velvety voice and visage of Lawrence Fishburne. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner play Kal-El's adoptive Earth parents Ma and Pa Kent, while Russell Crowe is his Kryptonian paterfamilias Jor-El. Finally, walking in the big black boots originally filled by Terrence Stamp in "Superman II" is Michael Shannon as the evil General Zod. Even with all that star wattage, one question remains: Who's gonna be the big blue boy scout?
Caster Than a Speeding Bullet
Faster than you can say "Routh is out" comes dashing 29-year-old Brit Henry Cavill, taking over the role of Clark Kent/Superman in this reimagining of the world's first and greatest superhero. This is something of a validation for "The Tudors" star Cavill, who was nearly cast by Bryan Singer as Supes six years ago for "Superman Returns" but lost out to Brandon What's-his-name? Though he's already fairly known for his period TV series and headlining last year's epic bloodbath "Immortals," "Man of Steel" is the kind of big break most fledgling stars only dream of — getting to play a pop culture icon recognizable in every country in the world. Yes, he's British, but being a non-American didn't stop Christian Bale from acing his Bat exams, so we'll give this Redcoat the benefit of the doubt. Dylan Sprayberry, the young talent who portrays Clark Kent at age 13, could also get a career boost from following in Cavill's capetails — that is, if his role is substantial enough in the final cut.
Who Watches the Supermen?
"THIS IS SPARTA… I mean, SUPERMAN!" That must have happened at least a couple times on set, what with "300" helmer Zack Snyder leading his troops. Though the director deconstructed superhero mythology brilliantly in "Watchmen," don't expect to see any blue penises or other such flourishes here. "Man of Steel" is a straight-up comic book movie, and the first from Snyder to take place in mostly contemporary, naturalistic environments since his debut on "Dawn of the Dead." We can feel the strong hand of producer/co-writer Christopher Nolan in the first trailer, complete with the lyrical shots straight out of the Terrence Malick poetic playbook. Don't be surprised if you don't see any of Snyder's patented speed-ramps, since word on the street is he's abandoned his usual bag of tricks to deliver a more practical style, which is welcome after the slow-motion catastrophe that was "Sucker Punch."
"Superman Returns" – extreme suckage ÷ "300" abs = "Man of Steel"
Even back when this was going to be a direct sequel to "Superman Returns," Bryan Singer was already referring to it as "Man of Steel." When the powers that be decided to eighty-six Singer and Routh from the equation, Christopher Nolan and "Dark Knight" writer David S. Goyer sold the studio on their contemporary revamp of the character. Several high profile directors were approached, including Robert Zemeckis, Darren Aronofsky and Ben Affleck, before Warner Bros. and DC Comics entrusted their crown jewel to Snyder. Coming in at $175 million (or more), this is the biggest budget of Zack Snyder's career, but the choice to proceed quickly also had to do with Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel's family getting the rights to the character's origins, and a ruling that they can sue if a film wasn't in production by 2011. So, essentially, this is a court-ordered film. Frequent Nolan collaborator Hans Zimmer was chosen for the lofty task of one-upping John Williams' highly recognizable 1978 score with his own, most likely synth-y, theme music. The hope at the studio is that "Man of Steel" will be the jump-start it needs to begin crafting a more unified DC cinematic universe after previous stabs at Supes and Green Lantern backfired badly.
"Action Comics" #1 … 2012-Style
Details are scarce on plot specifics, but we know that there will be glimpses of Krypton and General Zod figuring into the proceedings, with Comic-Con privy to footage of a teenage Clark in Smallville saving a busload of school children. The major thrust is twentysomething Clark Kent trying to make his way in our world as a journalist for the Daily Planet before a threat to the Earth forces him to don those famous blue-and-red pajamas of his. Other bits and pieces from Comic-Con involve the military firing on Supes, a shot of him walking down a hallway in handcuffs escorted by armed guards, and being shirtless and on fire. Sounds like any random day at the NextMovie office.
Truth, Reboots and the American Way
The big hunk of footage at Comic-Con had fans giving this early glimpse rapturous applause, and in some cases crying over what unspooled in Hall H. A shorter teaser trailer debuted the following week in front of "The Dark Knight Rises" in theaters, which emphasized the more grounded, almost Terrence Malick-esque look and overall tone of alienation, set to music from "Lord of the Rings." Fan response has been almost unanimously positive so far, with male YouTube users like TheMarcussky posting reactions to the trailer just as effusive as those of their female counterparts for "Twilight." Film School Rejects reported on FX artist Jonathan Rothbart seeing finished effects footage from the film: "It was incredible, it really was. And absolutely visually stunning, with a more clean cut, colorful look. Like Thor, or Iron Man."
Does the World Need Superman? Yes.
Hardcore comic book geeks can complain all day about how Henry Cavill doesn't wear any red underwear (and thus the film is ruined), but here's the real deal: We dig his vacuum-sealed suit, the medieval Kryptonian armor, the glimpses of goatee-wearing General Zod, and the whole "Tree of Life" vibe from the trailer. This movie has everything going for it and is prompting fanboy boners you can see from space. Will it live up to all this hype? Who knows? But when "Man of Steel" punches its way into theaters next summer it will be THE film to beat.