To say that Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is going to be a headlining act when the film is released next summer would be an understatement, but to date, photos depicting the Superman we all know and love have been hard to come by.

Thanks to Empire Magazine‘s March issue, that’s no longer the case. Putting Henry Cavill and Snyder’s Superman on the cover, fans need not wait for the issue to go on sale to see whether or not Cavill’s got the look. Gone are the handcuffs of an arrested Kryptonian – and in his place, meet the Man of Steel in all his glory.

If Henry Cavill really is feeling the pressure of portraying a global icon, he’s certainly not showing it in this image. Aside from providing yet another look at the unmistakably alien nature of the Superman suit itself, any doubts that Cavill was going to meet the physical demands of playing the strongest man in the world should be put to rest.

The actor is no stranger to demanding workouts for past roles, but the Last Son of Krypton doesn’t just have to be big, or strong, or barrel-chested; he’s got to have presence. That doesn’t look to be a problem here (granted, a lot of that may be thanks to the pose).

See for yourselves (click the image to enlarge):

The magazine’s assertion that Snyder’s Man of Steel is Superman ‘getting the Dark Knight treatment’ is sure to raise some hackles among skeptics and fans alike, but there’s no denying the relationship between the two franchises. Even if executive producer Chris Nolan has repeated that Superman is a whole different animal from Batman, writer David S. Goyer confirms that both heroes required an update for today’s issues and sensibilities, coming from the same need for icons we can relate to.

Considering that Kal-El is one of the last surviving members of his civilization, a refugee on Earth forced to choose between his adopted world and his fellow invading Kryptonians, there’s plenty for Goyer and Nolan to work with. Themes of acceptance and paranoia hinted at in the first Man of Steel trailer, for starters. But all that philosophizing could turn to lip service and navel-gazing if audiences don’t buy Cavill as both Superman and Clark Kent, and even if a bespectacled Kent is still elusive, it seems Snyder and co. are taking a new direction.

The first impression given by this highly-detailed look at the big blue Boy Scout is not of a human dressed up in a costume, but a genuinely otherworldly figure. It’s fitting, then, that rather than reducing the Kryptonian plot lines to mere back story or context, Man of Steel will be spending plenty of time under Krypton’s red sun. We’ve got our own theories on why that is, but have a few months to wait before finding out whether we’re right or not.

Either way, this image reiterates the message communicated thus far: this is a different take on Superman. Some of the changes made to basic characters and elements will upset fans more than others, but if audiences get to see something they haven’t from a franchise as long-in-the-tooth as this one, that in itself is something to be proud of.

What do you think of the new photo for Man of Steel? Does Cavill have the kind of Super-charisma to carry the role (even in a still image), or does the re-imagined, spit-curl-less Supes still leave you skeptical?

Man of Steel hits theaters June 14th, 2013. Pick up Empire‘s March issue on newsstands this Thursday.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Empire