ZACK SNYDER knows what he’s doing with all those Oscar-honored throats.
A new peek at “Man of Steel” landed like an alien gift on Tuesday night, demonstrating one thing most clearly: Whether the film ultimately proves to be beloved or be-loathed, Snyder is absolutely expert at cutting a trailer.
Zack’s cast, of course, includes two especially grizzled Oscar winners: Russell Crowe as papa Jor-El, and Kevin Costner as adoptive papa Jonathan Kent. And Snyder deploys Superman’s two dads for gripping, near-continuous voiceover that ripples like a river to propel the trailer along.
Add the slow surge of the ever-gathering music, and we’ve got plenty of cinematic connective tissue to let the quick visuals freely flex their muscles without straining for continuity.
Mix in the alert tones of Amy Adams — yet another multiple-Oscar nominee — and Zack has an audio track that flies all by itself.
Let’s buzz in for a closer look:
“Goodbye, my son. My hopes and dreams travel with you.” — Jor-El
1. The trailer starts with baby Kal-El being placed into the ship that will lead him to his destiny. The scene on Krypton is rightfully chaotic, and the camera dotes on the emotional moment when the infant’s parents must send their son to a future unknown. And the intense cosmic feel is very welcome because — though we’ve heard “Truth, Justice and the American way” for eons — the bottom line is that Superman is first an alien.
It appears a major theme in “Man of Steel” will become our Earthly fear of what Superman — and his trans-world powers — represent. Jor-El foreshadows that in the trailer’s opening moments when his wife fears for their son’s life as an outcast. Then come those bellwether words: “He’ll be a god to them.”
“You’re the answer. You’re the answer to: Are we alone in the universe.” — Jonathan Kent
2. Once Clark Kent hits those awkward teenage years, it’s clear his developing abilities are cause for concern. And he has questions of his own — which are answered when Pa Kent reveals to him the alien ship that brought him to Kansas.
“Can’t I just keep pretending I’m your son?” an emotional Clark asks.
“You are my son,” Kent says, his voice cracking for throat-catching effect that eerily evokes Costner’s greatest on-screen father-son moment: Asking his dad for a catch nearly a quarter-century ago in “Field of Dreams.”
“I have to believe you were sent here for a reason. And even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is.” — Jonathan Kent
3. This scene, these words, will send Clark on a confusing path on his search for self. The dialogue is heard over images of an adult Clark, bearded and hitchhiking. The previous “Man of Steel” trailers showed Johnathan Kent talking to a young Clark, imploring with him to keep his special abilities a secret, because the world would never accept him. Those words still weigh heavy as Clark appears to have no interest in being a hero — instead preferring to hide in plain sight.
At a crossroads, Clark needs an event of incredible magnitude to discover the hero within.
That event’s name is Zod.
“You believe your son is safe? I WILL FIND HIM!” — Zod
4. Although there are no demands to kneel, General Zod (Michael Shannon) means business. We see him in what appears to be Kryptonian handcuffs (no Earth facility could contain him, right?). Zod apparently is issuing threats toward Kal-El/Clark. This is a welcome moment because we see a villain who is worthy of fear — someone who can go mano-a-Supermano with the Man of Steel in a slugfest. (Judging from the few fight scenes we glimpse, the bout will be epic.) Gratefully, we get a Superman foe who doesn’t need to whip out the Kryptonite.
“What’s the ‘S’ stand for?” — Lois Lane
5. Like the legendary “Dark Knight” scene with Christian Bale’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Joker, it seems one of the first interactions between Henry Cavill’s Superman and Amy Adams’s Lois Lane will be with one of them in handcuffs and the other sitting across a table, asking the questions.
(This, after we’d shifted seamlessly from Crowe’s resonant, non-Javert-y voiceover to that of Adams.)
“It’s not an ‘S.’ On my world, it means hope,” replies Superman, flashing a swagger that suggests that Supes/Lane pairing will have real sizzle.
The moment provides hints at Christopher Nolan’s “realism” that he applied to the Batman films. In Nolan’s world, no man would slap an ‘S’ on his chest, call himself Superman and expect to be taken seriously. But Nolan (and writer David Goyer, who also co-wrote the Dark Knight trilogy) provide a plausible reason for Henry Cavill’s super duds: They’re an homage to his Kryptonian heritage.
That works for us.
“Man of Steel” is scheduled to open June 14.