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'Man Of Steel': 5 Key Moments In The Trailer

by Edward Davis
April 17, 2013 1:21 PM
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Are Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer the best thing to ever happen to filmmaker Zack Snyder? An amazing visual stylist that deserves full credit there, Snyder's films like "Watchmen" and "300" look fantastic, but... how do we put it? They're often lacking real characters, heart and soul (or in the case of "Sucker Punch" just look like a bad video game meets a music video with little substance). But last night's "Man Of Steel" trailer looks as though Snyder may have turned a corner, perhaps thanks to the script, tones and world set up by Nolan and Goyer. Yes, it's only a trailer, but as far as mainstream tentpoles go, it's certainly the most impressive one in recent memory (perhaps since "Prometheus" last year, and yes, we realize that one didn't turn out the way we hoped).

Simply put, "Man Of Steel" looks rather epic -- a mix of deep-rooted character development and incredible action that points to full-on war on Earth. Also, Henry Cavill, something of a question mark as he’s never quite impressed, doesn’t seem completely out of place here, thankfully. The world and context of "Man Of Steel" is unfolding, and much like Nolan's "The Dark Knight" films, it seems to be rooted in a pragmatic reality, with plausible reasons for elements of the Superman cannon to appear while less plausible lore seems to have been jettisoned completely. We thought we'd take a deeper look, so here are five key elements from the trailer. Note, some minor spoilers are ahead, but it's stuff that's already out there if you've been paying attention.

1. An Epic War On Krypton Brings Superman To Earth?
In previous iterations of the “Superman” movies (and many of the comic origins), Krypton is seen exploding as a result of a nuclear chain reaction caused by the planet's unstable radioactive core. Knowing their planet will be destroyed, Superman’s parents send him to Earth in a type of escape pod ship. However, one iteration of the Superman origin features what is known as the Clone Wars (no, they have nothing to do with “Star Wars”) during which Kryptonian science was turned to warfare and several super-weapons were developed and used. And this appears to be exactly what Nolan, Snyder and Goyer went for. A recent issue of Entertainment Weekly reveals that children are not born -- “they’re engineered.” Goyer said, “People were bred to be warriors, or scientists or what have you and there’s a whole element of the movie about nature versus nurture.” While it’s not spelled out, based on Goyer’s comments and the trailer, the Clone Wars do break out and create a war that destroys the planet.

And so, much like the original Superman narrative Jor-El (portrayed by Russell Crowe) saves his infant son and sends him to Earth. His mother (Ayelet Zurer) worries that Kal-El will be “an outcast, they will kill him” but the more confident Jor-El says, “No, he’ll be a god to them.” Later on, Jor-El says, "What if a child dreams of becoming something other than society intended?” hinting towards Goyer's earlier comments. "What if a child aspired to something greater?"

2. Thematic Noise -- "You're the answer to 'are we alone in the universe?'"
We’ve already discussed the themes of “Man Of Steel” thanks to that awesome Entertainment Weekly article. They include, among many others, alienation, wondering where one belongs, fear of being discovered, reluctant heroism, and a world not ready for super humans. Zack Snyder described it all as “emotional kryptonite” (as the radioactive element won’t be present in these films). Previous trailers had Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) warning his son that he should never reveal his powers because the world would fear him, and while that theme is once again expressed, there’s also inspirational themes of discovery and eventually blossoming into the hero Superman was born to be. "I have to believe you were sent here for a reason," Pa Kent says. "And even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is."

Jor-El adds, "You will give the people of earth an ideal to strive for. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time you will help them accomplish wonders."

One must this Hans Zimmer’s score? Because whatever it is, it’s wondrous, inspirational and crescendoing (and it does seem like his score). Also, like Zimmer has said, it sounds nothing like his work on “The Dark Knight” films.

3. Emotional Character Building Vs. Action
There’s a lot of incredible looking action in the trailer in its final third, but what’s encouraging throughout is the time spent on character building and emotional depth. There’s a pretty devastating moment where Pa Kent reveals that Clark is not his biological son and he comes from another planet. Clark looks brutally pained and afraid. "Can't I go on pretending I'm your son?" he says, voice quivering. Pa holds him close. “You are my son,” he says. It’s a brief but excellent moment demonstrating that Goyer, Snyder and Nolan have put in the work -- just like they did with the Batman films -- to make you invest emotionally and care about the characters beyond the explosions and sure-to-be astonishing visuals. Which leads us to General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the last third of the trailer (and presumably the final third of the movie).

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  • Anand | June 1, 2013 4:38 PMReply

    Fuck Justice League. Bring on Batman/Superman

  • Phoenics | April 19, 2013 10:15 PMReply

    Great thoughts. Just one point about Clark. I do think he will still show up in the movie at the Daily Planet, but just not until after Superman has already been introduced to the world.

    It kinda makes perfect sense: no one will be looking for Supes' secret identity, because he will already have "come out" to the world. People will just assume he's Superman 24/7. Especially if Lois finds his "fortress" (the ship in the ice).

    I do think there will be a Lois/Clark interaction, but I don't think Clark will have to be goofy... He'll just be rather invisible (think Lois &Clark: The New Adentures of Superman).

    If you've read Birthright, you'll notice that there is still a Clark/Lois dynamic, just not a goofy one.

    My only question is: will Supes be presented as the perfect man and only adored because of his powers by Lois while she ignores the heart in Clark? That's kinda how Lois & Clark started off. Superman was presented as the "mask" (what he could do) while Clark was presented as who he was (at his core). I admit I found this rendition compelling. Superman couldn't really have friends in the way that Clark did. When you look at it like that, Superman becomes the mask giving Clark the ability to be a savior while still being able to live a normal life.

    Or will it still be that Clark is the mask and Superman is who he really is?

    One of the things that always bugged me was Clark as the mask. I couldn't relate to him.

    I guess we will see how it plays out. If they play it with Clark as the mask, then I hope they really explain it in a way that resonates so you connect with Superman.

    I wonder if that will be the whole point of the trilogy. Karl-El starting off with making Clark the mask (perhaps to stay close to Lois). Superman is who he really is, but maybe he isn't prepared for all of the hero worship (which is alienating too... It's hard to be friends with someone you hoist on a pedestal). Then in the last movie he finally reconciles the two?

  • cole | April 19, 2013 8:38 AMReply

    I cannot wait to see this movie. I, somehow, couldn't see something very very great in the trailer 1 and 2, but here I see everything that will give me a reason to see this movie. Even though, Nolan's name already makes me see the movie, but this epic trailer gives me more push.

  • My son was IN the bus | April 17, 2013 10:14 PMReply

    He SAW what Clark did. True Story.

  • Alan B | April 17, 2013 10:07 PMReply

    I think the Zod sequence is when he gets imprisoned into the Phantom Zone or an equivalent. In the "do you believe your son is safe" shot, he has his armor on; later, his armor has been removed. It's interesting that Snyder and Amir Mokri use overhead lighting in this moment (given the very memorable composition of the sequence in the original movie), although the 'Man of Steel' lighting is far softer and lower contrast.

  • DCGon | April 17, 2013 6:43 PMReply

    Just to point out. The author of Superman:BirthRight is Mark Waid. Not Mark Wade

  • Dryer | April 17, 2013 3:27 PMReply

    Meh. Sure it's glossy and dour but it's yet another origin story. Why can't a studio just start a film without any recycled mythos and just plunge the viewer into a story. I'll see the movie but I'm somewhat burnt out on the whole Nolan style, if anything TDKR or Inception showed what happens when his ego isn't in check and studio willfully hands over a blank check; you get a stylized mess

  • Alan B | April 19, 2013 11:00 AM

    Nolan co-wrote the story treatment. He didn't write the script.

  • cole | April 19, 2013 8:41 AM

    Dave, Nolan is not just producer. He is the one who write the script too with David Goyer... he is actually the one with biggest influence in this movie.

  • Alan B | April 17, 2013 10:10 PM

    Bah, origin story. Bah, Nolan, Bah, bahness. And the reason why you can't just throw an audience into an origin story is because there is an extensive universe that needs to be clearly defined. Otherwise, you get the television version, where Superman fights a monster this week without any affinity for who Clark is and what defines him. You only have to read ANY of the '90s unmade scripts to know that ...

  • Nick | April 17, 2013 8:02 PM

    So what if it's an origin story. The last time superman's origin was told on the big screen, was back in the late 70s. Superman's origin is well known, but I think showing it, and how it plays off is central to the theme of the film.
    Sorry those two films didn't work for you... but that's your fault, not Nolan's or the films. He made the films he wanted and if it didn't work for you, it's on you.

  • Dave | April 17, 2013 6:40 PM

    Superman is a hero who is rooted in his own sci-fi mythology. He's a character who really needs an origin film so that everyone knows the rules. Without an origin film, you'll have people coming to the character with preconceived notions of who he is and who the things around him operate, many of which may be wrong. You don't want Smallville fans, Donner fans and comic fans all coming to the film with different ideas of Superman's origins.

    I kinda agree concerning TDKR and Inception, however, from what I read the only hand he's had in this is as a producer, and his role has been relatively limited. It seems like they're pasting his name on the trailers just to give it some fan credibility.

  • cattt | April 17, 2013 4:49 PM

    You'll have to have an origin story, otherwise the audience doesn't care about the characters. Maybe it's not a traditional origin story like Ironman or Spiderman, maybe it's done using flashbacks like in Watchmen.

  • Henry | April 17, 2013 2:24 PMReply

    Don't like Snyder, not really a fan of Superman... but, damn... Shannon, Adams, Crowe... Plus, they're trying to do something new with the character... The odds of me actually watching this are increasing. :p

  • bohmer | April 17, 2013 1:42 PMReply

    for a while now the full screen options isn't available on your youtube embedded link, why is that exactly? it's really annoying to copy paste de damn url each time...

  • wes | April 18, 2013 11:19 AM

    yeah, must be tough.

  • bohmer | April 17, 2013 4:44 PM

    i like this site but damn the community sucks here; always a dicky thing to had.

  • wes | April 17, 2013 1:57 PM

    yeah, must be tough.

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