Two teaser trailers have been released for Man of Steel. They show very little, but what they show looks quite good. The two trailers feature the same footage with different voiceovers, one from Superman’s Kryptonian father and one from his Earth father. The strangely suitable music throughout is Howard Shore’s music for the death of Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring. The solemnity of the fallen father suits the rising of the son.
The teasers prompt a comparison. Earlier this month, Mark Webb turned in a big budget indie-superhero movie with The Amazing Spider-Man. The “indie” part of that comes from the relationship between the romantic leads. This might not be surprising, given Webb’s debut picture, (500) Days of Summer. Now, next year’s Man of Steel seems to be shaping up as an indie-superhero movie of another sort. I cannot judge by the romance, but now we have seen many shots of lonely, stylistic shots of water over rocks, a bird, flowers, and depreciated buildings. Also, there is a boy playing by himself near some clotheslines, and the camera keeps his head out of frame or out of focus.
The entire movie shows promise. It has garnered an amazing cast: Henry Cavill (The Tudors) as the big blue boy scout; Amy Adams (The Fighter, Julie & Julia) as the intrepid reporter; Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, Shotgun Stories, and more notable movies than you might think) as the Kryptonian villain; Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor; Russell Crowe as Jor-El; and Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Ma and Pa Kent.
Maybe just as importantly, the concept behind the movie comes from Chris Nolan and David Goyer, the minds with Jonathan Nolan who were also behind The Dark Knight trilogy. Additionally, the poster and set photos look great, and the buzz around the more action-oriented footage shown at the San Diego Comic-Con is very positive.
Zack Snyder and Superman
The only concern that I have is for the very important role of the director. On the one hand, I am one of the few who appreciated Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, and I suppose that no one could do a much better adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. On the other hand, I cannot understand the success of 300, his adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel.
I welcome a redefinition of the live-action Superman, now thirty years after Christopher Reeve’s unparalleled performance, and I would say that Cavill stands a chance of doing that. But there is also a chance that the most that can be said for Man of Steel will be that it looks really slick. Suckerpunch is also Snyder’s brainchild.
Superman ought to be a shining paragon of truth and justice, and Snyder’s movies, in my opinion, mostly inhabit some twilight area outside of sunlit morality. Still, two facts secure moderately high expectations for me: (1) Snyder has a proven that he practices a sort of effortless fidelity to his sources—he does not seem to have to use the least amount of force on himself to be faithful—and his source in this case is the concept from Nolan and Goyer. (2) Snyder directed the mostly child-friendly, sometimes painfully earnest Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
That second fact works on me like Chris Evan’s straight-edge performance in Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Evan’s performance secured moderately high expectations for his portrayal of Captain America, and I was not disappointed with his solo picture last year, and I was very, very pleased with his ensemble picture a few months ago.
Still, just as I would have liked to see the follow-through of John Krasinski (The Office), whom Marvel had reportedly shortlisted, so I would have liked to see the director’s chair go to Duncan Jones (Moon) or Matt Reeves (Let Me In).
“Man of Steel”
Now, if I could name the sequel to Man of Steel, I could call it Man of Tomorrow, or perhaps Last Son of Krypton, or another of Superman’s epithets—just like I want to name the sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man after other titles of his series, perhaps Web of Spider-Man or Avenging Spider-Man.