The Flickering Myth writing team share their thoughts on the Man of Steel teaser trailers...
Christopher Nolan's (Memento, Inception) beloved Batman trilogy is finally finished. For many fans of the director, and the character of the Caped Crusader, the end is hard to take. Our reviewers here at Flickering Myth are proclaiming The Dark Knight trilogy as their favourite of all time. Presumably however, the money men at various Hollywood studios have been thinking about filling the void left vacant by the departure of Nolan's vision for a few years already. The huge box office figures demand similar comic book adaptations.
One hero ripe for redevelopment is Superman. His last cinematic outing, 2006's Superman Returns, failed to make a significant impression with fans or the general public. Helmed by X-Men director Bryan Singer, the film did not really attempt anything new and the end product was mediocre, familiar and forgettable. As a result many would surely welcome a fresh interpretation of the good natured, America-loving alien from Krypton.
Man of Steel will arrive in 2013, trying to provide that definitive 21st century take on such a classic superhero. We got our first glimpse of this new origins story with two teasers attached to the release of The Dark Knight Rises. Zack Snyder, of Watchmen, 300 and Sucker Punch, will direct, with Christopher Nolan himself offering creative input in a 'godfather' role.
So what did out writing team make of the snippets of footage? Are there already promising signs of potential? Could Man of Steel establish the foundations for the next all conquering superhero franchise? Or is Superman simply an outdated hero in the modern world?
Chris Cooper: If you didn't know what this trailer was, it would only occur to you once you see the red towel on young Clark, which is great, if on the nose imagery. Though you can't really see much, the short flying scene looks very nice. I'm really looking forward to seeing a non-Donner inspired Superman film.
Gary Collinson: For a first look, I think it's great. Not much footage obviously, but the final shot of Superman flying really is impressive. Like any good teaser, it has left me very keen to see more... especially the one featuring the voiceover from Kevin Costner.
Tom Jolliffe: I like the look of it. It's a bit murky, monochrome, and very much taking a leaf out of Nolan's gritty world for Batman. Costner's voice just seems right too. I'm still unconvinced come the final piece that Snyder can rein in some of his heavy handed direction and overuse of slow-motion. I'm also not a huge fan of Goyer despite being part of Nolan's Batman trilogy. The thing is, as a huge fan of Donner's Superman and particularly Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, there's a lot for this film to live up to. This is going to have to be fantastic. Snyder can't afford to deliver something sub-standard like Bryan Singer did with Superman Returns, and in my book Singer's hands are more capable than Snyder's. We'll see.
Liam Trim: From these teasers it certainly seems that Man of Steel is taking the path of the realistic reboot. We're not shown much action at all but the style is clear. Given Snyder's track record I'm surprised by the tone and the vivid visuals...it will indeed be interesting to see if the final product manages to be an emotionally charged origin story, not just a loud blockbuster. On the whole I'm pleasantly surprised and very keen to see more.
Oliver Davis: It was almost a Terrence Malick film at the beginning with the shaky shots of nature and voiceover. I really didn't like that last shot, though. It would've been perfect if it didn't have that tiny reframing crash zoom. Unless there's a diegetic reason for it (perhaps it was filmed by Jimmy Olsen in an aeroplane), then it's style-for-style's sake. But then again, that's Snyder's stock in trade.
Simon Moore: I'm all for a new take on Superman, but this teaser trailer is raising all the wrong questions for me; namely, why is Snyder using Howard Shore's 'Gandalf Is Dead' music cue from The Fellowship of the Ring? Was Superman as heartbroken as we were to see Gandalf cop it on the Bridge of Khazad-Dum? If so, why didn't he save him, the heartless scoundrel?
As to the rest of it, that 'decide what kind of man you want to be' speech sounds more like a high school Careers Advisor talking than a father sending his only son into the depths of space to escape an exploding planet. Pick up the slack, Zack. Nobody's forgotten the half-hearted effort you turned in last time. Must. Try. Harder.
Luke Owen: From first appearance? I just had four words - Dark Knight with Superman. Nolan's influence is quite clear on the presentation and tone of the trailer which I expect to carry over into the movie itself. Not that this is a bad thing, it's not like The Dark Knight was a flop or anything but we've just seen these movies with Batman. Do we need to see them again with Superman?Also, not liking bearded Clark Kent trying to hitchhike down the road. I was almost expecting "The Lonely Man" from The Incredible Hulk TV show to be playing in the background. Having said all that, this is just a 20 second teaser so we can't really judge the film on anything just yet. But with this small glimpse and the pantsless Supes, I'm not holding my breath.
Scott Davis: Huge fan on Superman anyhow, but these trailers do have me salivating, mainly because the tone looks so different to any previous incarnation. Superman Returns, and to some extent The Amazing Spider-Man, have left some people cold, as they both seemed to regurgitate the same ideas, same stories and same imagery as we had seen before. Man of Steel looks like the Superman for a new generation, joining the likes of The Dark Knight Trilogy and X-Men: First Class with something "old", done new....
Love the voiceovers, both have some neat lines, and the imagery looks stunning, very different for Superman. Still not sure on Cavill, as his accent in Cold Light of Day was terrible, but he certainly looks the part. But with Nolan and Goyer's obvious footprints over it, as well as the stellar likes of Adams, Crowe, Costner, Lane and Fishburne, this looks like being my "interest" piece for 2013. Can't wait...
Luke Graham: A restrained Zack Snyder? Perish the thought. Looks good. I like the idea of Smallville being a fishing village instead of a mid-west farming town. Maybe it'll link to the fortress of solitude, like he sails too far north and ends up shipwrecked at the foot of a giant ice palace. The voiceover is effective and I definitely got chills when I saw Superman sonic boom.
Jake Wardle: Pleasantly surprised with these, as even with Nolan and David S. Goyer's involvement, Snyder's appointment was enough to completely dampen my anticipation. The strength of these trailers essentially lies in how un-Snyderish they are, much more restrained and sombre, and in keeping with the Nolan universe. If he can maintain the really nice tone achieved in these teasers throughout the film then it could be very good indeed. I really hope they succeed with this, Superman Returns wasn't bad as a sort of alternate Superman III, but if any property deserves a full reboot, it's Superman. One complaint - the (admittedly impressive) flight shot at the end just feels tacked on and a bit out of place, and should probably have been saved for a more action-heavy full length trailer later in the year. Otherwise a happy surprise - I'm cautiously excited.
Matt Smith: The sombre mood, despite Snyder's involvement, didn't shock me so much because Warner Bros. (I'm guessing) want a Justice League movie within the next decade.So they've gotta keep everything in a similar universe, so hopefully they can pull influences and themes from the Superman universe and transfer that to the realistic tone in a similar way that they did with Batman, where they treated him as a super serious, super guilty detective ninja. Remember: realism. The shot of the boy in the towel seemed to go on a little too long for my taste. I would've liked to not know what the trailer was for a little longer. But it still works to an extent.I'm not a fan of the voiceovers purely because they became background noise as I took in all the images. I don't know if the lines'll work when it comes to the finished film, but hopefully it doesn't become a stylistic-but-empty project.Overall, despite not being a huge fan of the character (he's either a powerful, invincible Superman or de-powered, making it the exciting adventures of Man) this teaser's got me a little interested.
Luke Graham: I would just like to defend Snyder quickly. I think there is a place for his style-over-substance excess and visual aesthetic. I really liked Dawn of the Dead, I loved Watchmen. I wasn't impressed with 300 (though many liked it) and I have not seen Sucker Punch, but heard it's bad. So 2 to 2. Personally, Snyder's involvement is still a big plus.
Martin Deer: Luke Graham - I can't imagine Kansas is no longer a mid west town, that would be like changing Gotham to a mid west town. I think the fishing village he goes to is when he goes off traveling around the world in search of his purpose (Batman Begins 2.0 anyone?).
A mixed bag, as always, from our writers then. But again, as always, there are some clear points of agreement. It would be a major surprise for most of us if Snyder managed to maintain this relatively quiet and thoughtful tone for an entire movie, given his tendency to blow stuff up and parade female flesh in our faces. Having said this, it would also be a shock if Christopher Nolan's influence wasn't noticeable in the final product, given the current fashion for realism and emotional introspection.
There is also a concern that a dark and gritty aesthetic might not be right for the character of Superman, given his super strength and somewhat ridiculous underwear choice. Is it really possible to deliver something grounded for a character that, as Matt Smith pointed out, is either on top of the world and unstoppable or crippled in the gutter by his only weakness, a green, and usually glowing, piece of rock?
Overall though, we're pleasantly surprised and keen to see how this pans out. Are you intrigued or repulsed by the sight of Clark Kent with pecs rather than specs? Let us know in your comments below.
Man of Steel is currently scheduled for release in the summer of 2013.