It’s a spider-man! It’s an iron man! No, it’s a super man! Earlier today Warner Bros. released the first image of Superman from Zack Snyder’s upcoming reboot, Man of Steel slated for a 2013 release. The image shows Henry Cavill as the titular ‘Man of Steel’ showing off the squareness of his jaw in a suit that replaces the vintage spandex look with the recycled basketball one people seem to really like these days.
But what’s happening in this photo? Clearly Superman is standing between us and a safe presumably containing something we want (The Dark Knight Rises?). His eyes and body language tell us that we’re not getting in, but so does the huge steel door. There also appears to be some damage done around the safe, but it looks as though that might have been caused by one of Superman’s trademark destructive entrances – superheroes are not known for respecting personal or public property. Does this image get you excited for the movie? Or are you already feeling a little disappointed?
So far my feelings toward this movie remain ambiguous. The Superman character has oft been criticized for being ‘too super’ and therefore less interesting than other heroes, a point which I agree with. On the other hand he is basically the first superhero and has survived because people find elements of his story quintessentially classic. I think a reboot a mere six years after Brian Singer’s entry into the franchise is forgivable since Superman Returns was utterly forgettable and only elicited excitement whenever it utilized John William’s classic theme – no word yet on whether Snyder will be using this music. While I don’t feel Snyder has really earned the ‘visionary’ title that marketers of his movies like to impress upon us, I did thoroughly enjoy Watchmen and think he did an admirable job with challenging material. Christopher Nolan’s under-defined involvement (producer and story credits) also bodes well (and certainly helps build buzz) for Man of Steel. The supporting cast boasts its own array of talent including Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Julia Ormond, Laurence Fishburne and professional badass Christopher Meloni.
In the early 2000s, shortly after Singer helped kick start this superhero movie revolution and just about every popular comic announced a movie adaptation, I predicted the market would become saturated with heroes, people would lose interest and studios would lose millions. Every subsequent year Hollywood has invested more and more money into proving me wrong (that’s right, it’s personal). One has to assume next summer will represent the culmination of this movement with The Avengers, Batman’s “epic conclusion” and the Spider-Man reboot providing a 1-2-3 punch that should be a hard act for Superman to follow. It will be interesting to see how to the genre fares after these high profile entries and over a decade of non-stop superheroism. With all these superheroes flying around, I’m starting to understand why people in Metropolis get so excited when they think they see a bird or a plane.