Lately, it seems like nothing of interest is being made. So what’s become more interesting is watching the debacles of mediocre movies, i.e. rumors that circulate over costume design, directors or actors throwing tantrums, and scripts that have to be rewritten for being subpar. Once a movie hits a theater it should be the high point of the conversation, what all that work and embarrassment was leading up to. If talking about how an actor stormed back to their trailer is more interesting than the movie itself, then something is very wrong. Seriously, what do you remember more, the movie Terminator: Salvation or how Christian Bale erupted on that guy on set? That said, it’s nice to finally see the recently released trailer for Man of Steel looking to be offering something more substantial than what would be more likely to grace the cover of a gossip magazine hanging over the checkout aisle of a supermarket.
The usual canon of Superman’s backstory is that Kal-El (Superman’s Kryptonian name) is sent away from his homeworld by his parents when their planet is about to be engulfed by an erupting star. This time it seems like an all out war was poised to consume the planet instead, something that is definitely more visually impressive but at the same time raises some new questions. First and foremost is what the character of General Zod is going to be now, because an educated guess would be that he is the one who started that very battle which consumed Krypton. Also the trailer implies that trouble seems to be following Clark Kent everywhere he goes now. Is it problems caused by an inability to control his own power, or is fate working against him? The duality of Clark Kent’s heritage versus his human, small town upbringing has long been one of his major inner conflicts in almost every movie he’s been in. Growing up as a species above and beyond everyone else, attempting to join humanity for a chance at love, searching for remnants of his homeworld, are choices that changed who Superman is in all his prior films. It seems like they would try to compress all that into quick blocks of character development in order to get to the whole alien invasion, Superman beating everything up phase of the movie.
Director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan are almost opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to making movies. The former uses bright, stylistic colors and designs to make his stories more visually enticing, over and above the fantastical things his stories already employ. In Watchmen, a blue, naked, god man designing a renewable energy source for his billionaire superhero friend is something that is driven by strong enough context that it becomes an added bonus when he looks really cool doing it. The latter on the other hand works hard to ground his stories as best he can, despite using some more implausible elements himself. In Inception, a story about jumping between people’s dreams becomes incredibly complex and gritty when no one uses the fact that they are in a dream to summon dinosaurs that shoot laser beams and sing Elvis music despite the fact that it would be totally awesome. Instead, they use espionage and layers upon layers of deceit in order to break as far into the mind as they can. That’s a pretty out there idea, and it seems like only Nolan himself would be able to make it so people take it seriously. Them coming together on a project seems contradictory, even if Nolan is taking a producer’s chair, because his input would likely drain the color from Snyder’s vision of what Superman could be. That doesn’t mean Nolan is bad, but based on previous work may be ill-suited for the material he’s tagged himself to.
As a movie in and of itself the trailer is definitely promising, the characters all seem like they are suitably three dimensional. It takes a more modern day approach to how people would react to the idea that an alien demi-god is flying around in a blue suit and red cape, and the director has a good enough history with superheroes that I’m confident this is going to be a very solid movie. As good as The Avengers? More than likely, no. Better than Iron Man 3? That’s actually a serious consideration. I think it might just be. What this means for future projects like a Justice League movie is still up in the air so long as the movie is yet to be released, even though Warner Brothers seems pretty excited at the results of this collaboration. All that’s left is the waiting. I think it’s very unlikely that the controversial choice to nix Superman’s red underwear will be what’s most memorable about this movie.
Man of Steel comes out June 14th.