Status update for Superman 2013: The Man of Steel

So what's up with Superman? Or, more specifically, what's up with the new Superman film, AKA The Man of Steel?

You may remember this, my initial post, after it was announced in October last year that Zack (Watchmen, 300) Snyder had just been hired to helm the film, with the "creative guidance" of Christopher Nolan and the various producers and writers who make up Nolan's much praised "Dark Knight trilogy " team.

I still maintain that a collaboration between thought-provoking, anti-CGI Nolan and CGI-enthusiast, and King of Hyper-Stylisation, Snyder is a curious thing. However, I'm VERY intrigued to see how it all turns out.

The Man of Steel is currently filming on location in Illinois. Admittedly I've been a bit slack in posting about the film until now, but I'm really not one for contributing to the rumour mill. Plus, over-reportage too early during production really spoils the surprise, and leaves the audience jaded well before they've even entered the cinema. For the record, I also despise reporting on every single piece of gossip fabricated during shooting. With this kind of film, tabloid fodder normally centres on the leads getting hurt, hurting someone or bursting inappropriately out of their skintight costumes.

Anyway, stepping away from all the rumours and theories, these are the facts about the 6th Superman movie, The Man of Steel:

The film is unconnected to its predecessors. This said, the film is not so much a complete reboot of Superman's origin as a new look at his emergence - his "outing" of himself, as it were - in our world.

The Man of Steel's official synopsis is as follows:

"Clark Kent/Kal-El is a young twentysomething journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone's imagination. Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question - 'Why am I here?' Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha and Jonathan Kent, Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as 'Superman', not only to shine as the world's last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves."

Regular comic book readers may agree with me that the storyline for The Man of Steel sounds very similar to Mark Waid's 2003-2004 limited series, Superman: Birthright (check out some extracts from the comic here). Basically Birthright reinterprets Superman - his origin, his character, his motivations - for the 21st Century.

How exactly would an omnipotent being like Superman fit into a globalised, paranoid post-9/11 world? No longer do people simply look up in wonder, and trust in this god-like being. Superman is something alien and terrifying; he has to work hard to earn the public's trust. And he's not the "golly gee willickers" Big Blue Boy Scout that the likes of John Byrne have made the character out to be.

Despite remaining a principled protector of all life on Earth, Kal-El (Superman's Kryptonian name) - as envisioned by Waid and artist Leinil Francis Yu - is a intimidating figure, utilising his full array of devastating powers, and frequently sporting unnerving pupil-less eyes as his heat vision kicks in. I highly recommend Birthright by the way, for people who wish to encounter a refreshingly accessible Supes who is both familiar and different.

To cut a long story short, Waid's creation is an more intense Man of Steel. And the first official image of Zack Snyder's Superman - portrayed by 28 year old English actor and The Tudors' star Henry Cavill - suggests a similar approach to the character. Here is that pic (also seen in full at the beginning of this post) in close-up.

Apart from the new Spider-Man-esque texturing to the costume, the other obvious things about the new Superman, at least physically, is that he has a much longer cape and looks considerably more muscled than the sleek Christopher Reeve Supes, and Brandon Routh's 2006 portrayal. This isn't surprising with the director of the hyper-masculine 300 guiding production. And although it's unclear from this first official image, sneaked pics of the on-location shoot (below) have revealed that 2013's Kal-El has dumped his signature red undies.

Speaking of these set photos, it's probably worth mentioning that the woman in black is presumably man-hating Kryptonian villainess Faora (not Superman II's Ursa), who is played by Antje Traue. You see, the big threat to Earth in The Man of Steel comes from Superman's home world. Which obviously doesn't help swing the public to the hero's side at all.

Kryptonian repression plays a similarly important role in the Superman: Birthright comic, although the big difference is that in Waid's book billionaire genius Lex Luthor is central to events, whereas in the new film Superman's most famous foe does not appear at all. So, no, don't expect any crazy real estate schemes in the next Superman movie.

For the record, Faora's companion, and The Man of Steel's chief villain is despotic Kryptonian General Zod, played here by Michael Shannon. The character was previously portrayed by Terence Stamp in Superman I and II.

The rest of the Man of Steel's cast is impressively all-star.

For The Man of Steel's second most important role, Amy Adams appears as ballsy investigative journalist Lois Lane - Superman's love interest... and disinterested colleague when our hero is masquerading as bespectacled reporter, and non-entity, Clark Kent. Behind the scenes photos have shown that Adams is sporting her natural hair colour for the film, meaning that this will be the first time Lois isn't a brunette on screen.

Speaking of hair, Henry Cavill's appearance at this year's San Diego Comic-Con revealed the actor sporting a thick mop of dark hair, including the famous Superman S-curl on his forehead. Perhaps we should start calling him "Curly Supes"?

Comic book fans and curious casual audiences still have a long time to wait for The Man of Steel. The film has had its release date pushed back from December 2012 to 14 June 2013. Some say this shift is because of the need to resolve massive script issues; some say it's to allocate more time for special effects work in post-production; and some say the move is just so that the film will release it in the US Summer - which is the most profitable season for superhero blockbusters.

Either way, I hope we're in for an entertaining time, and not an over-edited mess like the last Warner-DC live-action comic adaptation Green Lantern (my review). However, I remain confident. Snyder is always ambitious, seems to navigate studio interference pretty well and has yet to disappoint.


Gabriele Gabba said…
Sweet post and great blog! If you're ever in Cape Town give me a shout, I'll buy you coffee and we can talk geek until our ears bleed :D

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