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Superman will be returning to the silver screen in 2013 with Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’, which released a trailer recently in front of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012) and at San Diego Comic Con 2012. It will be the second reboot of the character after Brian Singer’s ‘Superman Returns’ (2006), which did not do well critically nor at the box office. It has been a struggle to get the Man of Steel onto the big screen again after the lackluster response to his previous film, but even now, there are some fans who are in doubt.
First of all, Zack Snyder is a very divisive director. He has given the world gems like ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (2004), ‘300’ (2007), and ‘Watchmen’ (2009), but his recent films have shown a dip in quality. ‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ (2010) and ‘Sucker Punch’ (2011) are the reasons he has come under fire due to the gratuitous use of slow motion and focus on effects rather than good storytelling.
Snyder is complimented because of his ability to create visually stunning scenes as seen in ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen,’ but he also has a habit of focusing too much on the aesthetics. Thus, many fans are worried that the same will happen as he tackles the mythology and superhero themes associated with Superman.
Another cause for concern is the low-key tone and muted colors of the trailer. These aspects show the influence of the film’s producer, none other than the brilliant Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s work with rebooting Batman has made him a legendary filmmaker, but it may also be what makes this trailer somewhat dull. Nolan prefers to introduce heroes using realism and character-based drama. While this is certainly a good thing in some respects, Superman is far more of a fantasy character than Bruce Wayne. Thus, approaching two different comic book characters in similar fashions may not be the way to go.
On the one hand, focusing on Superman as a character is a welcome approach to the upcoming film. It is important that the audience sees all sides of him, understands where he comes from, sympathizes with him, and feels inspired by his creed to save the innocent. Nolan has shown remarkable strength in creating memorable dialogue and heart-wrenching drama with Batman and his supporting characters. If the ‘Man of Steel’ script takes the same approach to Clark Kent, he may come off better received than with Brian Singer’s Superman, who came across as rather bland and forgettable.
On the other hand, Superman is not as relatable as Bruce Wayne. While the two share copious amounts of handsomeness, Superman has a positive outlook on life and humanity and is concerned with being an inspiration rather than someone to fear. His most common problem is learning how to control his unbelievable power and blend in, whereas Bruce Wayne’s most common problem is his mortality.
The threat of Superman’s villains are also on a much larger scale as many of them seek to conquer or destroy the world rather than just one city. It will be difficult to tackle any sense of realism when you have a character who can hold his breath for hours at a time, shoot laser beams from his eyes, and freeze people with his breath all on top of flight.
The main problem with the ‘Man of Steel’ trailer seems to be that it is does not live up to the inspiring feeling of seeing Superman on the big screen. It looks very similar to the first trailer for ‘Batman Begins’ (2005), and while the dark tone and gritty realism worked wonders for the Caped Crusader, it falls short with Superman. A more impressive trailer would have played on all of the great action scenes that are inherent with the character of Superman as he smashes through buildings, stops speeding trains, and catches falling airplanes.
There are only brief references to fights in the trailer and while the shot of Superman breaking the sound barrier is cool, there does not appear to be one big ‘wow’ moment. For example, compare the ‘Man of Steel’ trailer to any of the Marvel films’ trailers. Nearly all of them have funny dialogue, gripping action, and one truly epic scene that hook the audience in and make them want to see the film.
‘The Man of Steel’ is still a year away and so it has plenty of time to release a second, third, or even fourth trailer to get fans excited. Few people are concerned about the movie being bad because Henry Cavill looks great in the costume and the casting is solid. Still, the audience will need more convincing that the fantasy elements associated with Superman will be intact so that they are left with a film worthy of the Man of Tomorrow.