Up until its very last beats, the remainder of the trailer is a flurry of images that showcase the film’s starry supporting cast and a lot of apocalyptic eye candy.
We see Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Clark’s Kryptonian father, embracing his wife, Lara Lor-Van (Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer), who is holding a baby, presumably Kal-El. Crowe’s Jor-El immediately distinguishes himself from Marlon Brando’s silver-haired Jor-El, and we get the sense that the marvelous males of Man of Steel adhere to a more Brawny Towel Man image of masculinity.
We see Michael Shannon as General Zod, a Kryptonian rebel/terrorist. In Superman II, Terence Stamp played Zod, who escaped from The Phantom Zone and came to Earth to hunt the son of his jailor. Like his cinematic predecessor, Shannon’s Zod sports a goatee — albeit more scruffy — but he does not wear a shiny black disco suit. Whew. The shot of Zod is immediately followed by a shot of Superman falling to his knees, and the juxtaposition creates a sly nod to Superman II’s classic “kneel before Zod” moment.
We see an energy beam blasting a city, the impact tossing cars and buildings tossed into the sky. We see spaceships sailing through explosions and descending upon Earth. We see Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White (accompanied by an unidentified female) running through the streets of Metropolis under siege, followed immediately by a cloaked figure baring witness to the destruction of what is most likely Krypton.
What’s most interesting about this section of the trailer is that you don’t really see Clark Kent do anything that can be called, with confidence, “heroic.” No saving cats from trees or damsels in distress. No busting up bank robberies. There’s one fleeting shot of what seems to be Supes and Zod tussling in the sky, but because the trailer doesn’t tell us if Zod is good or evil, this moment plays morally neutral. There’s a shocking shot of Clark on fire, and a close-up on Clark’s face as he’s exerting his super-strength to push against… something. But you never see him or his costumed alter-ego do any overt, clear-cut do-gooding. In fact, at one point, we get the shot featured on the movie’s poster: Clark in a dark-hued Superman suit, in cuffs, as if some kind of criminal.
The final moments of the trailer put a fine point on the matter…
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