The Man of Steel trailer is here. Another Superman film, number 7, isn’t it? And considering where the last one came from, and also considering the 4 before that, a Superman movie should surely be treated with some of amount of disdain. For instance, before Christopher Nolan took over the Batman franchise, you remember what the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher films were like, right? So similarly, where will this movie, Man of Steel take us to and what will it leave us with at the end of it all?
No one can say, very honestly. Not till 2013, when the movie hits cinema halls. There is but only one difference in this current installment of the Superman franchise. That one of the producers in the movie is our very own Christopher Nolan, the same man who took Batman to knew uncharted heights. He offered a rather campily created character to us in a raw, understated gloomy appeal, a lot like what we’d imagine Batman to be. And now that he has finally called it quits with the Dark Knight, Warner Brothers are now going into the Man of Steel with renewed vigor. With Marvel Studios going from strength to strength with their characters, DC Comics too needs to build its case for maybe a possible Justice League franchise? Their Avengers, to their Justice League? The mathematics is clear enough, all that remains now is the execution.
And so it struck me, that what most of us, along with the studio, are surely looking for in this latest Superman movie is not for the usual “What’s that in the sky?” but for something much more restrained, something playing at the very layers of the Superman character, something a lot more like the Dark Knight franchise. And how will that come about?
The Superman legend is very well known. He doesn’t belong to earth, he came from the planet Krypton, and his real name (keep in mind however, that Superman wasn’t yet born on Krypton. His father took the unborn Superman from the Kryptonian Gestation Chambers and sent him through space) is Kal-El. Certain that their home planet of Krypton was soon going to destruct because of the nuclear reactor being unethically constructed there, Kal-El’s scientist father, Jor-El sends his infant son away in a spacecraft, to wherever it would be safer for him to survive. That rocket comes and lands in Smallville, Kansas, to the kind-hearted farmer family of Jonathan and Martha Kent. Superman is born on earth. He is named Clark Kent (rumored to be an amalgamation of Clark Gable and Kent Taylor) and he begins his life on his foster planet, with his foster family.
We all know this tale. I won’t drone on. Yes, he learns about his coming to earth in the spacecraft, along with an embedded message from his biological father and when he adds up how he had developed superpowers on earth, charged by the yellow sun of our solar system, Clark Kent calls himself Superman and decides to use his power only for the good of man from that day onwards. He moves to Metropolis University, and later on takes the job of a reporter for the leading publication in the region, the Daily Planet.
Then now here comes the question… How can Superman be made “serious”? Batman has a lot of possibilities, true. His entire nature, his area of operations, the kind of villains he had to deal with at Gotham, and his art of deception and theatricality, all of it leads to the Dark Knight franchise style of superhero genre. But what happens to Superman? What aspect of Superman do I think needs to be exploited to give him a lot more volume that simply become a cinematic translation of a comic book?
It’s the famous quote that Batman had once made about Superman—his entire persona being some kind of a God. True. When Superman flies into the sky, stands against the sun, surveying everything, purveying everything, the way he looks through people and structures, the way he bends metal pillars with his bare hands, the way nothing but an alien particle from his home planet, Kryptonite can bring him down—it cannot be denied that he appears to us as God himself. And as Batman rightly points it out, all but Superman himself realizes that fact. And the Dark Knight adds, “which is a good thing.” Not just that, Superman had also provided Batman with a piece of Kryptonite, and said:
Superman: I have many enemies who have tried to control me. And I live in fear that someday, they might succeed. If that ever should happen — If I should ever lose control, There would only be one sure way to stop me.
Batman: Do you realize what you’re asking?
Superman: I do. I want the means to stop me in the hands of a man I can trust with my life.
He would rather kill himself that assume the role of God, one who could give, and one who could take away. Yes, Lex Luthor does form an integral part of the Superman mythology, and a villain is always required to act as the catalyst to something catastrophic—for example, something on the lines of what the Joker was attempting in The Dark Knight. And keep in mind, Batman is only human. With Superman, the ball game changes. Completely. To what extent can someone go to stop the Superman?
I have always found this aspect of Superman very intriguing. We are lucky to have a Superman who is on the moral side of justice, but a rogue Superman could be unnerving and armageddon would be on us surely.
I hope we travel the distance with the Man of Steel installment of Superman. Come on Christopher Nolan, give us something to remember forever. We wait in anticipation.
It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane… it’s Superman.
- Man Of Steel Trailer: Is Superman The New Batman? (contactmusic.com)
- Comic-Con 2012: ‘Man of Steel’ Footage Is Like ‘Superman Begins’ – In a Good Way (hollywood.com)
- CCI: “Man of Steel” Footage Reveals Darker Side of Superman (comicbookresources.com)
- Man of Steel Starts Superman Story All Over Again (wired.com)
- Comic-Con: Man of Steel Soars Into Hall H (ign.com)