'Man of Steel' trailer deep dive: Rebuilding Superman with fear and trembling


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We get our first look at Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Superman’s true love and his tether to humanity. In addition to a close-up on her, we see them embrace, and we see them look at each other with grave expressions as they clasp hands. These images are included among other shots that pit Clark against the military. Coming in the wake of the deluge of apocalyptic imagery, we might interpret the narrative of the trailer like so: Clark’s transformation leads to global mayhem and puts him at odds with the world. We wonder if Man of Steel might be the first Superman movie that imagines what would really happen if a super-powered being suddenly manifested and forced himself, however benevolently, upon the planet. Would we immediately trust him and embrace him? Or would we be suspicious, fearful, even terrified? (In this sense, Man of Steel seems thematically similar to Chronicle, which reworked the superhero origin story as a horror movie, and also reminiscent of classic sci-fi/alien visitation films like The Day The Earth Stood Still, E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, and perhaps most of all, Starman, one of the great underrated films of the 1980s.)

The voiceover from Clark: “My father believed that if the world figured out who I really was, they’d reject me. He was convinced that the world wasn’t ready.” This sets up the final shot. Most trailers for most movies of this stripe ring out on an affirming note for the superhero. But Man of Steel earns its chilly cool goosebumps by closing on a note of uncertainty. We see a close-up of those blood-red boots as this mystery man (who is never once called or identified as “Superman”) steps in front of a squad of soldiers, guns aimed like a firing squad. As his crimson cape sweeps in front of the camera like a closing curtain, we hear Clark finish off the recollection of his father’s fear by asking: “What do you think?”

In the context of the trailer, this question is clearly directed at us, the audience. So let’s give him an answer. Can Man of Steel reinvent Superman for the new century? Can this kind of superhero still fly in a zero dark thirty culture of dark knight vigilantes and militaristic iron men? The message board awaits your response.

Twitter: @EWDocJensen

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