There were 183 seconds that got a lot of fanboys excited yesterday, (insert dirty joke here), and we might as well get into it in this space. Yes, the trailer for Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” landed a solid punch when it dropped during CinemaCon and then hit the net immediately after. To say the least, it had some impressive stuff to offer.
To get this out of the way, I have warm blood flowing through my veins and I’m not too cool for school; I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to this film. HitFix just launched a great feature this week building up the top 25 most anticipated movies of summer 2013, a site-wide poll of the editorial team that yielded some surprising results, as you’ll see. I don’t mind saying that at the top of my own submitted list was this film. I want Superman back on the screen in a big way, and most importantly, I want it to lead somewhere. That having been said…
I didn’t expect to be defending Bryan Singer twice in one week but let me say I think “Superman Returns” gets too much flack. The worst thing it spawned was the facile “I want to see Superman throw a punch, dammit” talking point, as if that’s what defines the character. It was good for Singer to dig into the tortured God/introspective deity element. And, for a guy who clearly cherished the work Richard Donner put into the first two films, it was a lovely send-off to that era of the character. I’m fine with it. I wish others were, too.
Nevertheless, it’s time to break away from that, and obviously director Zack Snyder, producer Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer are doing just that. I don’t care about “Justice League.” I just want this one to get something very crucial right: tell the story of an iconic superhero wonderfully at a time in the world when the kind of awe it can inspire will matter most. “You’ll believe a man can fly” needs to mean something again.
To that end, “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards” is the whole show here, in my opinion. That line, from Russell Crowe’s Jor-El, probably couldn’t be a more apt summation of what Superman is. I truly hope it’s woven into the very thematic fabric of the thing, and I have to imagine Nolan has had fun getting into this. To go from a trilogy about a broken man’s quest of betterment toward a greater calling to a story about a being of perfection galvanizing by sheer wonder, it’s fascinating turf. These characters are symbols, but they are so very different even within that.
Anyway, let me rein in the geek. Let’s talk about the trailer.
The first thing that stands out to me is Hans Zimmer’s building and instantly iconic (yep) original score. Beginning with the lighter notes is expected, but over the visual chaos of whatever is happening on Krypton is a bold move. Maybe it feels like some J.J. aping but so be it. As the music drives, it finds its stride in a theme, and that theme — percussive and relentless — is really kind of beautiful. That stuck out.
Henry Cavill looks to be filling the boots just fine but I find myself more interested in the rest of the cast, particularly the father figures. Crowe’s Jor-El has a tingle of superiority to him highlighted by a humility that seems perhaps out of place in his world (I’m tip-toeing here). Lara Lor-Van warns that the people of Earth will kill their son when they find out what he is. “How,” Crowe asks, in a way only he can. I can’t quite explain that, but I’m eager to see more from him in the film.
Kevin Costner’s Pa Kent, meanwhile, seems to be working on a deeper level than the usual vanilla stylings. “You’re the answer to ‘are we alone in the universe'” and “You ARE my son” really struck a note. And of course, Amy Adams seems to have been given something interesting to play with with this narrative device of tracking Superman for a while before he’s revealed as, indeed, a super man.
I don’t think the trailer is the face-melting, cry-like-a-baby moment it was considered in some quarters yesterday or anything. And I think both this film and particularly “Pacific Rim” (both Legendary/Warner Bros. endeavors) are in dangerous overhype territory, largely because of the web. But I was impressed and turned on by what I saw, and I’m eager to see more. I might have liked more of Michael Shannon, though I hope that merely means we’re being primed for some glorious surprises. Given how little this trailer really gives out, I imagine we absolutely are.
“Man of Steel” opens everywhere on June 14. Will it have a life into the awards season? I guess we’ll find out soon enough!