Expectations for Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man Of Steel, are reaching fever pitch across the blogosphere – with each and every trailer, TV spot or featurette, anticipation grows exponentially, thanks largely to a reverential yet explosive take on the legendary superhero finally giving us something to care about. Like most, I was disappointed by Superman Returns (I can understand the reason we needed that film – to finally erase the visage of Christopher Reeve as the definitive screen Superman – but I still find it cloying and boring years later), and news of another Superman film so soon afterwards wasn’t exactly filling me with excitement. Marvel had done something similar with the Hulk – Ang Lee’s Hulk bored most people to death, while Leterrier’s Incredible Hulk manged to amp up the action and excitement and make itself at least a decent film – so one had to hope that Warners knew what they were doing.
Having Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan producing the film was the first step to putting the doubters on notice. Nolan’s pedigree was met with near universal acclaim, coming off the back of The Dark Knight trilogy’s success. Troubling, however, was the attachment of Zack Snyder to the director’s chair: Snyder’s polarizing take on Watchmen, his failure with Sucker Punch, and the waning glory from 300 and Dawn of The Dead meant his association with the film wasn’t exactly met with fanboy excitement. On the plus side, even if the film was a disaster, it would at the very least look amazing.
Then came the trailers: sombre, epic, potent. Things started to look up. Still, nothing indicated a film greater than Superman Returns, and keep in mind, audiences had just suffered through the horror that was CGI-showreel-Green Lantern, an expensive misfire that did little sate rage at Warner’s inability to counter Marvel’s enormously successful run at franchise building. Finally, the third main trailer for Man Of Steel arrived, and suddenly, a lot of fears were put to rest. Superman actually punching the shit out of something. Doing super stuff that wasn’t just lifting heavy things and stopping Lex Luthor’s land grabs. Explosions, carnage, Metropolis skyline razed to the ground with General Zod’s alien warcraft. Superman vs the US Military. Costner as Clark’s dad, voice breaking at his son’s ancestral heritage. It spoke volumes about what direction the film was taking, and even though it’s only been several minutes of glimpsed, fast-edited footage, fans have been largely positive about his reinvention of the Superman film franchise.
None moreso than I. It’s my most anticipated film of the last decade – I’m more excited about this than I was for The Phantom Menace, Lord Of The Rings or the Matrix sequels. As a long time Superman fan, perhaps my expectations are mixed with hope – hope that the film can meet those expectations, hope that the film turns out to be better than great and blows The Avengers out of the park. And The Avengers was a damn fine film.
Aside from it being just a terrific film, there’s a few things I really want to see happen in Man Of Steel, that would make me as a film critic, a fanboy, and a comic nerd, very happy.
1 – Stack the odds against Superman.
Dude, he’s Superman. He needs a challenge, and from the looks of the trailers, he’s about to get one. The film’s scope looks enormous, with battles taking place in both Smallville and Metropolis (from what we’ve seen) that seem to be gargantuan in scale. Michael Shannon’s portrayal of Zod looks terrifying, and considering there’s a couple other Kryptonian cast-aways who make a showing, I think the odds are definitely stacked against our Big Boy Blue. Which is why we need a Superman. When you have enormous, world-destroying problems and a nuclear missole can’t cure it, you need Superman. I want to see him stretched to the limit, zipping about rescuing, smashing, flying, being smashed, and generally doing super stuff. I don’t want him sulking by Lois’s bedroom window for sixty minutes. I expect three things: heat vision, super breath (yes, super breath) and a super punch from time to time. X-ray vision is a given.
2 – Superman needs to lose something precious.
Not to make him dark and angsty or anything, but in this film Superman needs to lose something precious to him to provide a catalyst for some dramatic tension. Perhaps (gasp) kill off a major character or some other unforeseen event that will rock the mythos to its core. This will mean a little bit of “sad time” for Superman, but the emotional crux of an event like this would spur him to make sure “it doesn’t happen again”…. Maybe Ma or Pa Kent will buy the farm in this one… who knows, but something big needs to happen to make this film kick ass.
3 – Sexual Tension with Lois.
The only Superman media franchise entry in which Superman had any kind of legitimate sexual tension with Lois Lane was in the original Richard Donner Superman movie. Margot Kidder’s Lois was more than a match for Clark, but way out of her league with Superman, and she knew it. Ever since, people have tried to sex up the Lois/Supes/Clark triangle, largely to limited effect (although the Dean Cain Superman series did okay, I guess) – Henry Cavill’s Superman looks somewhat ill-at-ease against Amy Adams’ Lois, and this could make for some ripping sexual tension. C’mon guys, it’s a classic love triangle between two people and this needs to work for the film to work.
4 – No Bottled City Of Kandor
One of the things I hated most about Superman’s 70’s era was the inclusion of the Bottled City of Kandor, a relic of Krypton that saw an entire city reduced in size to the point where it could be kept inside a pint glass. Nearly. It was a crutch that allowed Superman to “visit” Krypton by going to Kandor from time to time, and instead of being awed at the technological age Krypton arrived at, it annoyed me that Superman was no longer the last of his planet. That was the allure of Superman, see; he’s an orphan, alone and without his ancestral roots – giving that back to him robs Clark of the link he has with Ma and Pa Kent to a degree, in that he has “another” family to get to know. So no, no Kandor for me, thanks.
5 – Cameos and world building.
It’s my belief that Warners and Chris Nolan erred when they decided to keep the Dark Knight Trilogy as a unique, self-contained vision of Batman and the DC Universe. They should have taken the chance to lay some groundwork for a larger world outside of Gotham City’s walls – no need for direct cameo appearances of other DC alumni, but surely a few hints at the grander scheme of things might have helped get things rolling for the inevitable Justice League movie. Okay, so I can whine about that as much as I like, but with Man Of Steel comes yet another opportunity to set some plans in place in the background. I’m not asking for Batman to arrive in a post credits sequence (although that would be f@cking awesome!) but just that some Easter eggs for the fanboys are laid about the movie for us to ponder over. Whet our appetite, Snyder! DC’s heroes are just as iconic as Marvel’s, perhaps even more so, so why not make this the point at which Warners grabs their properties by the balls and shows us that some thought is going on in the background. A hint of Darkseid? Doomsday? Metallo? Brainiac? Anything but yet another appearance by Lex Luthor as a major player. Superman’s Rogues Gallery might not be as famous as Batman’s, but on a power level to match the Man Of Steel, it’s one to savor. It doesn’t matter if they’re familiar to audiences or not – as long as the characters are given decent development in the script, the audience will invest in them regardless of familiarity.
The moment Darkseid pops his head out of a Boom Tube and lays waste to lower Metropolis, I’m giving up my film reviewing career, because after that there’ll be no point reviewing films; everything else will be just shit.
What are you most looking forward to in Man Of Steel? What do you hope they’ll do in the film? Tell us in the comments section below?