Flickchart Preview: ‘Man of Steel’
The modern era of comic book-based blockbusters was ushered in by director Bryan Singer‘s X-Men in 2000. In the intervening 13 years, Batman and the Avengers have gone on to dominate the box office and prove that there is a demand for this type of film indeed. Yet before Hugh Jackman ever strapped on a set of adamantium claws, Christopher Reeve donned a red cape and wowed the world. Before a Man of Iron ever assembled his Avengers, a Man of Steel made audiences believe he could fly. And before Robert Downey Jr. got paid $50 million for his work on The Avengers, Marlon Brando earned a then-unheard-of $19 million for 12 days’ work as Superman’s dad.
So why has the most revered superhero of all time been left in the cinematic dust? There are reasons, but it wasn’t for lack of trying: Singer’s Superman Returns garnered a less-than-stellar reception in 2006. Now, however, Superman is returning yet again, with fresh new start indeed, and Warner Bros. – a powerhouse studio struggling in the first half of 2013 – is anticipating a much different result. Sit back, take a look at a fantastic trailer campaign, and join us as we preview one of the year’s most-anticipated movies. Superman is back, reborn as the Man of Steel.
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…
It’s an origin story. And it’s one the world knows well. Given Superman Returns‘ aborted attempt at resurrecting the franchise as a sequel to Superman II (completely ignoring parts III and IV), it was inevitable that the WB would choose to wipe the slate clean. So, we will get a very familiar story: Young Clark Kent discovers that he is really an alien named Kal-El from the dead planet Krypton, and, super-powered as he is under our yellow sun, he becomes humanity’s brightest hope for the future. And this particular trailer looks appropriately contemplative, serene, reverent, even…so, uh, kind of like Returns? Uh-oh.
As I mentioned, a story we know well…but the crew behind this new incarnation are not finished there…
Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
Henry Cavill is the first non-American to take on the iconic role of Superman. Curiously, he’s also the shortest, at a mere 6 feet tall. He may, however, have had the outstanding good fortune to have already been passed up for the role; he auditioned for Superman Returns, losing the role to fellow newcomer Brandon Routh. Now, Cavill has snagged the part just as Superman himself appears poised to snag the box office crown.
This is definitely removed from the Man of Steel’s past big-screen representations. Now, we’re promised big action, and a hero for our times.
Joining Cavill as love interest Lois Lane is four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams. They co-headline a big-name cast that includes the likes of Russell Crowe (stepping into Brando’s massive shoes as Jor-El); Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Superman’s adoptive human parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent; Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, editor of The Daily Planet; and Michael Shannon at his most unhinged, as the villainous General Zod (a role originated by Terence Stamp in the first two Superman films).
More Powerful Than a Locomotive
Wait, now it’s a full-blown alien invasion film?
In the wake of Krypton’s destruction, Shannon’s Zod comes to Earth in search of Kal-El, the son of his nemesis, Jor-El, and doesn’t care if he wipes out our planet to find him. There’s big action in store, with a foe that can actually rival Superman’s power. According to the filmmakers, we won’t even see kryptonite – that mythical material, bits of the dead Krypton, that saps Superman’s strength – in this film, as they feel it is too often used as a storytelling crutch.
Superman Returns made a profit, but it was hardly the slam-dunk that Warner Bros. had been hoping for. The story goes that the WB put out a general call for story ideas for a new Superman film to take its place as a franchise-starter. Enter David S. Goyer, co-writer of the wildly successful Dark Knight films. Reportedly, while trying to break the story for The Dark Knight Rises, Goyer did up a treatment for his own Superman film. And Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan liked it so much, he submitted it to Warner Bros. himself, with an eye on producing the film. Add director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) to the mix, and you up the grittiness factor substantially.
You also up the anticipation. Nolan and Snyder seek to increase the “realism”, and make Superman a hero for our times. With luck, they will not have lost sight of Superman’s true purpose as a beacon of hope. After all, the Man of Steel is really quite the opposite of the Dark Knight, which makes the potential for a Superman/Batman big-screen team-up so appealing to so many.
Oh, but while you’re at it, take the character’s actual name out of the title. It worked for Batman.
In the battle of Steel vs. Iron, can Superman triumph? Marvel’s Iron Man 3 has made a boffo $1.2 billion this year, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of all time. Snyder’s Man of Steel carries hopes of similar financial success, and a potential Justice League franchise to combat The Avengers. Is he up to the challenge? We’re about to find out. Man of Steel opens today.
- Add Man of Steel to your Flickchart
- Discuss Man of Steel vs. Iron Man 3
- Discuss Man of Steel vs. Superman Returns
Want more Superman? Check out The Top Ten Superman Movies of All Time.