The Fall (?) of Krypton
The best trailers start with a bang, and the full-blown carnage shown scarring the skies and surface of Krypton is certainly that. Russel Crowe, who plays Superman's biological father Jor-El, had previously spoken about the surprisingly "massive" scale of the Krypton scenes, and the new footage proves he wasn't exaggerating. But as impressive as the spectacle is, the destruction doesn't seem to be a result of Krypton's red star going supernova; in fact, the violence appears to be man-made. It's too early to tell who the flying ships are firing upon - or bombing on the surface - but the military unrest surrounding General Zod (Michael Shannon) likely has something to do with it. It's still possible that Krypton will be destroyed completely (a later shot shows what could be a planet splitting in half), but these shots prove the fall of Krypton is not a tragic accident. And if the military is firing on its own citizens, that brings the idea of Zod not really being a villain into question.
Krypton's Last Hope
For those who may not be keeping up with Man of Steel spoilers of late, it's important to know just how important Superman/Kal-El's parentage will be to the film's themes. Not only because of who they are, but because of how he is born. On Krypton, children are no longer conceived, but rather engineered with future strengths and talents (science, military, etc.) in mind. But not Kal-EL: he is born naturally, and without a preordained path. Besides adding a genetic angle to the question posed in the first Man of Steel teaser - "what kind of man do you want to be?" - this 'illegal birth' seems destined to set the film's main conflicts into motion. As such, the reason for Jor-El and Lara (Ayalet Zurer) placing newborn Kal-El into his rocket ship - emblazoned with the Kryptonian symbol for 'hope' - may be due to more than just Krypton's imminent destruction; depending largely on where this scene is placed in relation to the earlier scenes of war.
All Part of the Plan?
Over the years, the Superman mythology has varied in the relationship between Krypton and Earth; over the years, Jor-El's decision to send his son to our planet has ranged from a stroke of luck, a precise plan, or a last-second best guess. We've known for some time that screenwriter David S. Goyer was going to be modifying Superman's origin story, but for now it seems Jor-El knows of Earth, and what effect its yellow sun will have on his offspring. But when Jor-El is characterized as specifically sending his son to act as a guiding light for mankind, it's typically set within a story where Krypton has turned to dust. With Man of Steel, Superman is nowhere near the last of his people; so how does that change the game? How well does Zod know Earth and its people? What plans did Krypton have for us? And why did Jor-El think his son would be safe on Earth at all (since those pursuing him would be just as super-powered)? We're more than curious.
A Son of Two FathersAny Superman fan knows that a Superman origin story must rely on Jonathan Kent for more than just a father figure. In many ways, it was Pa Kent's stern lessons that helped shape Clark Kent into a man deserving of the rank 'king-daddy of superheroes.' In the second look at Kevin Costner's take on Pa Kent, the idea of adoption is brought to the forefront. Get used to the themes of fatherhood, as Goyer claims that for everything Man of Steel is, at its core it is "a story of a man with two fathers." In this twist, the adopted father claims Clark must choose the man he will be, while his birth father ensured the choice was possible on a genetic level. While we could argue that a boy with two fathers who are both Robin Hood (film school reference) is bound for greatness, Costner continues to stand out. With his brief scene in the film's first trailer getting much attention, and this scene yet again hitting the mark, our hopes are high.
The Frozen Fortress
The first trailer for Man of Steel hinted that Clark would once again be discovering a treasure trove of Kryptonian wisdom in the frozen arctic. Yet with each new Fortress of Solitude comes a new explanation for how it got there. Bryan Singer's Superman Returns (2006) seemed to stick with Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie (1978) notion of the entire structure spawning from a single crystal. Given Zack Snyder's usual tendency to make things bigger and better, and the need to start a new Superman story with stronger ties to the present day, a 'magical crystal' growing into a a stronghold seems far-fetched. It's still possible (is that the black 'S'-emblazoned object Clark is seen holding?) but given this shot, and that of what appears to be the Fortress' interior, we'd almost think the structure resembles some kind of Kryptonian ship encased in the ice. Could it have arrived on Earth before he did? Does the Krypton/Earth relationship go farther than we thought?
Lois the InvestigatorSince no footage of Clark Kent in his 'reporter' disguise has yet been seen, it's too early to tell if Snyder has come up with an explanation for how Lois Lane - an award-winning journalist - can't tell that Metropolis' guardian works in her office. But what is clear is that Lois knows that the times are changing. In recent years, comic book writers have changed the circumstances of Lois and Clark's meeting from the simple rescue of a damsel in distress, to something more inevitable: Clark's heroic actions around the globe lead Lois to investigate what other people disregard as crackpot theories, ultimately making her the person Clark first speaks to publicly. Whether that investigative work is precisely what Lois is up to in this shot or not, it's nice to see her doing more than just playing 'Superman-bait.'
Snyder doesn't downplay the first reveal of Superman in full costume; he depicts the titular Man of Steel emerging from pure white light out of a set of automatic, ornately-designed doors (again leading us to believe his Fortress may be an extraterrestrial ship). While Superman's first flight has been heavily used in marketing, the exact circumstances are still a mystery. Was the suit stored in the Fortress? Was it sent in his rocket and moved there later? How does the cape fit into the under-layers of Kryptonian armor? While these questions nag at us, the shot gives another look at the digital effects team's cape-work (for most of the scenes, Cavill performs without a cape, added in digitally to maximize heroic fluttering). A controversial direction, but looks to be paying off thus far.