Man of Steel is coming in 2013. Directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan, Superman is getting a modern update by a duo of filmmakers who have both respected and pushed comic book storytelling forward in all the right ways. Henry Cavill is Clark Kent, Amy Adams is Lois Lane and Michael Shannon is Zod. We’ve got Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and a supporting cast that’s looking just as strong. Everything is in place for greatness.
Warner Bros. have taken their time on this production. With a Winter 2012 aim initially, this has been pushed back to Summer 2013, which to me is a good thing as Superman has summer movie written all over it. With The Dark Knight Rises, we got to see our first tiny glimpse of the film via an attached trailer, with a bearded Clark Kent on a fishing boat before a quick cut to the Man of Steel himself flying his way through the clouds. This angle took many by surprise with some blissfully unaware a new Superman movie was on the horizon until this trailer hit. Now the wheels for this potential mega blockbuster are well and truly turning – but what does the Man of Steel need to do to be really super?
1. The Origin vs Metropolis
Superman: The Movie and its three sequels are what many consider canon when it comes to Superman on film. Given its popularity and its impact on cinema this is to be expected but any Superman fan out there will tell you, despite its great casting and its respect for the character (well in the first two films anyway), those old Superman movies didn’t exactly get everything right.
With Man of Steel, we are letting the old films go. We are being reintroduced to Superman. We’re starting anew. Some have questioned why we need to lose the classic John Williams score but I like that Nolan and Snyder have decided to make Superman their own. I love that score but if we want to see a new, modern Superman, a Superman that fits into a world overspilling with superheroes on film, the audience have to rediscover him totally.
With that said, EVERYONE knows Superman comes from Krypton. Kal-El has one of the best known back-stories in the history of Superheroes, so the last thing we need to see a fair chunk of the screen-time dedicated to re-telling this story (like what held back The Amazing Spider-Man from being anything more than ‘Okay’ this summer). The same goes for the time Clark spent in Smallville. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of these periods and have read comics, watched TV shows and enjoyed every expansion but seriously folks, for this Man of Steel movie to have an impact we need to get this guy in the suit.
Looking at Batman Begins as a template, I think we need a fine mix of Clark arriving in Metropolis and cutting back to his younger days in Smallville. The film should open with either the Kent’s finding Clark’s crashed space ship or the final moments of Krypton, but I don’t feel that the dying planet opening is necessary at all. Having the Kents find Clark as our kick off point, we’ll discover his origins at the same time he does. Messages from Jor-El, understanding that Clark isn’t human and then the journey to decide how he wants to deal with what he’s learnt.
I see the priority here as establishing Clark as a Kent and struggling with the power and responsibility he discovers about his true origins as the son of Jor-El. The TV show Smallville did this stuff very well (albeit spread out for far too long). Make us like Clark before we even consider him as Superman and make his decision to put on the red and blue suit one that we all want him to make.
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