‘Man of Steel’: Will this be better than the last one?

April 17, 2013

World, we have waited so long for a new Superman movie worthy of entertaining our eyeballs. We thought the wait was over when that Christopher Reeve doppelganger emerged from obscurity and it’s-a-bird-it’s-a-planed into theaters in 2006 with “Superman Returns.” But that movie was pretty much terrible. Sorry, Brandon Routh. I hear you were good on “Chuck.”

Years passed. We distracted ourselves with the “Dark Knight” trilogy, the surprisingly wonderful “Iron Man” reboot, and the lovely though totally unnecessary new “Spiderman.” And now the wait is over: SUPERMAN RETURNS, but with a different name, because I think we have established the terribleness of the aforementioned film. This one is called “Man of Steel,” which is nifty and just-so-vague. It’s directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan so, at ease, Bat-fans. Here it is: the new trailer!

Comic Riffs’s Michael Cavna has this fantastic breakdown of what you’ve just watched: plot points, insidery comic book knowledge, the use of the phrase “Kryptonian heritage.” For those of you who come at this less from a Comic Book Purist perspective and more of a “but will this be better than the last one?” P.O.V., you have come to the right place!

Time for a new segment we like to call: BUT WE HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. Let’s begin:

1. Did they finally cast the right superhero love interest? There is no role so frequently miscast as the Love Interest Of The Superhero. With the exception of Emma Stone Who Can Do No Wrong, it’s been swingin’-and-a-missin’ with these ladies. Katie Holmes was so off in “Batman Begins” Nolan & Co. had to recast her.

Her replacement, Maggie Gyllenhaal, is stellar as a general rule but honestly Bruce Wayne had better chemistry with Morgan Freeman than he did with her Rachel Dawes (not that we wouldn’t ALL have amazing chemistry with Morgan Freeman, the voice of God).

Blake Lively played a rocket scientist in “The Green Lantern.” A. Rocket. Scientist. Rocket science, by the way, is the field you reference when you’re talking about something astronomically difficult (see what I did there?) i.e. “I can handle changing a tire, you guys; it’s not rocket science.” Look, I’ve never met Serena van der Whatson and for all I know she’s as lovely as that shiny Disney princess hair but… I’m supposed to buy that she’s A ROCKET SCIENTIST??


This is SpaceX’s Dragon capsule being captured by International Space Station, after it was launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch complex 40 pad. Would you trust Blake Lively with the SpaceX Dragon capsule? (Handout from NASA)

Yet another flaw in “Superman Returns” was the casting of Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. I can barely believe Katie as a natural brunette, let alone as one of the sharpest reporters at the Daily Planet. These movies require enough suspension of disbelief so let’s not push it in the romance department.

Now look at that new “Man of Steel” trailer one more time. Amy Adams, ladies and gents. That banter at the end of the trailer > literally everything else in the trailer. It’s like His Girl Friday in that interrogation room.

2. Will we ever have a fun and carefree superhero movie again? I get that producer Christopher Nolan likes to work within a pretty specific color palette, and that palette is “99 percent Kansas, 1 percent Oz.” But Superman is kind of a campy, ridiculous idea and maybe it wouldn’t kill us all to let the movie be, well, a little campier and ridiculous-er? THE MAN IS AN ALIEN. He fell to Earth from outer space. (If you are having a hard time understanding thus far please consult your nearest Blake Lively.) Then, given the opportunity to wear anything, anything at all, like jeans and a t-shirt perhaps, maybe a motorcycle jacket, IDK, just spitballing here, he opted for tights. Tights! Tights and a cape. According to “The Incredibles,” capes aren’t even practical, so don’t even try to tell me he needed the cape for some aerodynamic edge.


Christopher Reeve is impossibly handsome and even he looks ridiculous in this getup. (REUTERS)

Superman, The Alien Who Fell From Space, is supposedly working with one of the most brilliant brains in the news business, yet dear sweet Lois cannot recognize that her glasses-wearing colleague and this superhero guy she spends all this time mooning over is the same exact person. Also: Clark Kent changes into Superman in a telephone booth– something every moviegoer under the age of 20 will need explained to them by an adult–and somehow in this booth-o-magic he winds up (1) wearing head-to-toe spandex and (2) getting this little curl in his hair, right where Harry Potter has that lightning bolt scar.

Everything about this is hilarious. Am I alone here? I think it’s all so funny and maybe the movie could have a sense of humor about these so funny things. This trailer is a little too “why so serious?” for the source material.

3. Is anyone else concerned about the fact that we’re outsourcing our all-American superhero roles to a bunch of Brits/almost-Brits?

Let’s look at the facts:

Henry Cavill is CRAZY British. He’s so British, his full name is “Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill.” Whaaa? What is that even? Meanwhile, Andrew Garfield, the latest Spidey, has dual citizenship. He was born in Los Angeles and raised in Surrey. Don’t be fooled; it’s not “surrey” like the one with the fringe on top from “Oklahoma!” It’s in South East England.


This is Andrew Garfield. Cute suit, Spidey! (Jaimie Trueblood /AP)

Hugh Jackman, our beloved mutton-chopped Wolverine, is so Australian he is practically a wallaby. Christian Bale, The Dark Knight, a.k.a. one of two Christophers directly to blame for the fact that all our superhero movies have gotten superdark, is… is he Welsh? He’s not Irish, I’m pretty sure. Scottish? I mean he never uses his real accent so it’s kind of hard to tell. Basically the only American superheroes who are actually being played by Americans are Iron Man and the rest of those Avenging kids, and let’s be real: those are second tier superpeople. Robert Downey Jr. might be the $50 million dollar man but I think we all know the reality re: Iron Man’s status.


Robert Downey Jr. demonstrates the proper facial expression for someone who made $50 million dollars for running around and eating shwarma with Joss Whedon. (Thibault Camus /AP)

Have at it, readers. What do you think of the new trailer? Of Amy Adams? Of the un-American casting decisions made by Hollywood? Holler back in the comments!

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Ron Charles | April 16, 2013