‘Man Of Steel’ kicks off its campaign with an oddly muted first teaser trailer

I’ll say this much for the initial teaser trailer for Zack Snyder’s upcoming “Man Of Steel”… they made a big choice, and they went with it.  I’m just not sure that choice was the right one in terms of reintroducing this iconic character to mainstream audiences.

One thing this campaign appears to be selling is reverence, and while I certainly appreciate that Zack Snyder is careful to play into the classic notions of what a character looks like and does when he adapts something, I think reverence is exactly what did not work about “Superman Returns.”  That movie was so busy tiptoeing around the fondness people have for Richard Donner’s original film that it felt like it had no pulse at all.  If this movie’s going to work, it’s going to have to have a life of its own.

It’s also a dangerous first trailer because it is distinctly possible audiences won’t know what they’re looking at.  The distinctive “S” logo shows up at the end of the trailer, sure, but to tease your giant-budget reboot of the single most important superhero character you own with a trailer that spends most of its time showing a bearded dude working on a fishing boat and a little boy running around the yard of his house seems a little odd.

This is, in many ways, a condensed version of what Warner Bros. showed at Comic-Con this year, but the difference is that they included just enough in that Comic-Con reel to suggest how big the action in this one might be, and they also showed enough scenes of Cavill in costume to give us a sense of how his Superman carries himself.  But of course, a three minute product reel is still just a hint of a film, and no real indication of the film itself.  There are actually two different versions of this floating around today.  One of them features the narration by Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and the other features Costner as Pa Kent, but the imagery in both is identical.  See if you can tell which is which.

I think it’s safe to say I’m on the record as a fan of Snyder’s work in general, and I think he might be the exact right guy for this film.  But considering how strong his work is when dealing with iconography, this is an odd misstep as the kick-off to a campaign. 

Then again, both of my kids just informed me with very wide eyes that the trailer is “awesome,” and since that’s Zack’s favorite word, maybe it worked after all.  We’ll see next summer.

“Man Of Steel” flies into theaters June 14, 2013.