Martin Deer rounds up all the latest talking points from Man of Steel as we count down to the return of Superman this summer…
Today is the first of what will hopefully be five ‘Countdown to Man of Steel‘ articles published every 2 weeks in the build up to the return of Superman. This week we’ve had some pretty big news on the Zack Snyder-directed reboot via the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, which has given us some further insight in to how Superman will now be portrayed on screen…
Little Green Rock
First, let’s start with the least important piece of news which has actually caused the most outrage: Man of Steel will not feature Kryptonite. This has caused some to proclaim that Man of Steel will be more of the ‘real world nonsense’ that Chris Nolan brought to The Dark Knight Trilogy, and that not featuring Kryptonite is some form of sacrilege. To tell a great Superman story, or an origin story, you do not need Kryptonite. Kryptonite is simply a tool to bring vulnerability to the character given his god-like abilities, and it was first introduced in the Superman radio series in 1943 and didn’t appear in the comics until 1949. Secondly, and most importantly, Superman is going to be dealing with two other Kryptonians with equal powers – not to mention rumours of a robotic army – and thus a device which makes Superman weaker is not needed. Snyder’s comment simply states that it won’t be in this movie, and I am sure that once Lex Luthor enters the picture (hopefully) in a future sequel, we’ll see the little green rock. For now, I’m very happy that we won’t be seeing it – it’s a device which has been used ad nausea in the movies and in the TV series Smallville. We need a break from it, especially so after the way that Bryan Singer completely mishandled its use in Superman Returns. There’s no issue here for me.
Choosing Your Own Destiny
The EW report also went on to reveal a pretty major plot element in that Kryptonian children aren’t born, but rather they are engineered. Engineered how their society requires – to be warriors or scientists, and that Kal-El is a cause for alarm on his home world as he is a natural birth, ‘Free to choose his own destiny’. I love this angle. Coupled with David S. Goyer’s comments that a theme of the movie will be ‘nature vs nurture’, which is a huge part of the Superman character that is not often explored (see Mark Millar’s Red Son for a great Superman story that deals with this). In the San Diego Comic Con trailer there was a piece of dialogue from Jor-El which had him state: “What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society had intended. What if a child aspired to something greater” – a line which had great impact before this reveal, but which now has depth on new levels that will take the exploration of the Superman character even further.
Adding to this train of thought is a comment from Hans Zimmer who is composing the score. Speaking with CNN, Zimmer talked about how he approached the creation of the score, stating; “I kept thinking of the story as, what if you are extraordinary, and your entire ambition is to join humanity? To become human? What does it mean to become human? What does it mean to be an ousider who really wants to join the human race?” Aside from the fact that this is again a wonderful example of a man who brings the utmost dedication to his work, and who thinks about his work in the most creative of ways, this is very revealing about the story, especially when coupled when the EW article info. If Kal-El is not your usual Kryptonian, if he is of that race but ‘not one of them’, and on Earth is a part of that race but not ‘one of them’, it opens the doors to some very interesting character exploration and asking the question, what makes us human? Are people inherently good? Who would Kal-El be without the Kents? It’s a very interesting take, and certainly isn’t just different for the sake of being different. It has substance.
The EW article also revealed that, at first, Superman and Zod are not enemies and Zod just wants Superman to be ‘patriotic’. I suspected this to be the case, and I am happy to find out that it will be. From what we’ve heard, it seems as though Zod will try and enlist Superman to his cause, whatever that may be – presumably building a new Kryptonian race on Earth. With Superman II dealing with the revenge fueled General, taking things in a different route which sees Zod potentially being a friend, or at least not a threat initially ,again opens new doors to explore the humanity within Kal-El: his compassion for people and his desire to the right thing and to help others. It will also give depth to the eventual hostilities that takes place between them, as when the fellow Kryptonians ideals clash and conflict ensues, there will be emotional stakes between them, as Kal-El will see the last of his breed turn against him.
Suited For Battle
Superman’s costume it appears is the undergarment of Kryptonian battle armour, and what Zod will be wearing, initially, is the full on armour as he has yet to realise he doesn’t require it on Earth. We have also seen pictures of Jor-El in this armour, which makes me very hopeful that we will see Jor-El involved in battle with Zod. Given that Zod will not be seeking to destroy Kal-El initially, this raises many a question about the exact specifics of that relationship. As we get each new picture of the suit the more I fall in love with it; regal in its look and ever so Superman, it’s a beauty to behold.
A World Made For Heroes
After all the things that got me excited even further for this film, the comments that Man of Steel could potentially indicate that there are other heroes in this film universe left me troubled. When Man of Steel was initially conceived, pitched and written, Nolan and Goyer stated that Superman would be the only hero of his world – exactly as Batman was in The Dark Knight Trilogy. In recent months however, stances have changed as Warner Bros. has pursued a Justice League movie. Man of Steel finished shooting quite some time ago now, and at that time Zack Snyder and company were still towing the ‘it is its own thing’ line, so, does that mean that when Warners went back on its word to the creative team and stated that Man of Steel would now be setting up a DC movie world, extra scenes were filmed to hint at a larger universe? Or were changes made during filming and it was kept quiet until plans were concrete? Either way, we know Nolan has walked away and that Snyder was courting Disney as a potential employer, so just how far has Warner Bros. taken this longing for a Justice League film? Are there going to be some moments in Man of Steel which feel completely out of place? What troubles me is the film is being approached as a ‘first contact’ scenario, portraying Superman as the hope for the world. If there are hints at other heroes existing, this will absolutely undermine these themes, and that will only be bad for the film. I want films for DC’s other heroes, but I want them to be stand alone. Even if there’s a team up movie, keep them out of each other’s franchise. We’ll obviously have to see how this plays out, but this is a cause for concern for me.
Well that’s it for this week, I’ll be rounding up the latest news to fall from Man of Steel in two weeks time. I’ll be giving my thoughts on the new theatrical trailer next week, which we believe will be online Monday or Tuesday, so watch out for that. Hopefully we’ll get to see some of this incredible action they’ve teased us with, but not too much of course – let’s save some surprises for June 14th.
Up, Up and Away, I’ll see you next week.