Entertainment Weekly‘s summer movies issues is on stands right now and it’s, as per usual, a rather powerhouse edition. You’ve seen the “Man Of Steel” EW cover and images from the Superman film as directed by Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen“), written by David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight” trilogy) and godfathered/executive produced by Christopher Nolan. But the excellent article dives deeper into the themes and texture to the movie, which sounds much moodier and existential than any Superman movie before it. While not going as dark as “The Dark Knight” films, it seems that Nolan, Snyder and Goyer have done what they set out to do: put Superman into a modern context and thus affect moral dilemmas into the hero that we’ve never seen before. Here’s 5 quick things we learned.
1. The Kryptonite in the film is “emotional.”
Snyder told EW that there will be no physical green kryptonite, the radioactive ore element that is Superman’s one weakness. So what hurts Superman? Well, for one, all the parties involved suggest that Superman (played by 29-year-old British actor Henry Cavill) won’t be as invulnerable as he has been in the past, but what’s going to affect him most deeply will be his own feelings and the secrets he must keep. Emo Superman? Not exactly. In fact, it sounds like the character has truly been thought out well. What would happen if you had these powers? As seen in some of the recent trailers, he tries to hide them away from a planet that isn’t ready for them, and that becomes an emotional and psychological burden.
“With someone who has this much power and responsibility the answers are going to be more difficult,” Cavill told EW. “Although he is not susceptible to the frailties of mankind, he is definitely susceptible to the emotional frailties. Snyder puts it as, “It’s all emotional kryptonite.” Clark has an internal conflict. Does he belong on this Earth? Are these his actual people? Heady stuff for a film whose budget is rumored to be as high as $225 million.
2. Clark Kent won’t be a reporter for the Daily Planet?
While this isn’t exactly spelled out, EW says that part of Superman’s existential woes lead him to “become a nomad,” which is why we’ve seen him in the trailer in Alaska working on boats and whatnot. The article doesn’t specifically say Kent doesn’t become a journalist, but if they’re staying in the realistic world, how does a guy peripatetically wandering the U.S doing odd jobs here and there all of a sudden end up in Metropolis and all of a sudden become a top reporter with what we assume is no degree, schooling, etc.? It’ll be interesting to see if they even try and pull that off. What leads to the wanderlust? Being estranged by everyone around him.
“Imagine [being] Kal-El/Superman, and feel like a stranger amongst those you love, never developing full relationships with people for the fear of them discovering how much of a freak you are,” Cavill said. “It’s just a lonely existence.”
3. “Man Of Steel” was conceived during an impasse of the writing stage of “The Dark Knight Rises.” They devised a reluctant, “hunted and feared” Superman.
Goyer, taking a break from the final chapter of the Batman films, let his mind go elsewhere, and he came up with some eureka ideas that Nolan loved. “It’s one thing to grow up realizing you’re different,” he recalled telling Nolan. “But it’s another thing entirely to step before the world and say, ‘I’m going to put on a costume and say I’m Superman.’ Like why would he do that? So we’ve come up with a reason for why he did that, but he wrestles for a long time with whether or not he can — or should.”
What forces Clark Kent to become Superman? The article doesn’t say, but it’s pretty clear, if you’re paying attention, that Superman doesn’t think of himself as a hero early on and that an alien threat on the planet from the Kryptonian Zod (Michael Shannon) is pretty good motivation to start helping out humanity (a crush on Amy Adams as Lois Lane doesn’t hurt). Shannon calls him a “supremacist” in the film, with an “affection” for Superman.
4. Superman turning the other cheek also makes him confused, angry and further estranged.
It’s clear that the makers of the film want the audience to identify with Superman as much as possible, hence the emotional issues of identity, whether he belongs, the burden of his powers and the fear of being outed. “He can’t fight back like a normal person. He’s sort of trapped by that in a weird way,” Snyder said. “[He’s like], ‘I have to take these humans and let them just treat me as they wish, and I have to learn to turn the other cheek and be this person my parents want me to be.”
5. Parental guidance also seems to be its own emotional burden.
It’s not spelled out, but if Pa and Ma Kent have passed away by the time Superman’s grown up, their death and the echoes of their words are probably going to haunt the hero even more deeply. As seen in the trailers, Snyder describes a scene where Pa Kent, trying to be fatherly, actually teaches him to be afraid. He tells a young Clark, “No matter what, even if you’re in danger, you can’t reveal yourself to the world. They’re not ready for you.”
There’s deeper plot points too, elements about Superman’s birth — reasons why he himself is highly illegal on Krypton — the origins of the new suit and why it’s missing the underpants, and much more. If you’re at all interested in “Man Of Steel,” be sure to pick up the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly. “Man Of Steel” opens on June 14th.
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