‘Man of Steel’ Trailer Analysis: What Did We Learn?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated December 12th, 2012 at 9:36 am, This is a list post.

Man of Steel Trailer Army Standoff We've been holding our breath for the first full-length trailer for Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, and boy was it worth the suspense. The trailer may have shown Kal-El's new Superman suit in greater detail, the level of special effects fans have to look forward to, and the kinds of carnage General Zod will unleash on Earth. Still, for many, the trailer will be too brief. We thought we'd slow things down and point out a few interesting details that some giddy viewers may have missed, and the apparent plot hints that stand out to our viewing eyes. Needless to say, those not interested in potential SPOILERS should cease reading now. Man of Steel could - and will - still surprise us, but we can nonetheless guess how some of these scenes and action set pieces play out in the movie.

Burning, Bearded Superman

Man of Steel Trailer Superman On Fire

There's no questioning that Kal-El could survive long underwater, and the first Man of Steel teaser trailers showed he'd be spending some time seaward, bearded, and stinking of crab before becoming the hero we know him to be. The trailer's footage of Clark bathed in fire, sporting Hulk-pants, and flying off into the sunset (alight?) confirms that a catastrophe in his wandering life will force him to accept his gifts - not hide them. The passing school bus in the maritime setting is also a nice callback to what looks to be Clark's first heroic rescue. For those fans who were a little turned off by the idea of Superman wasting some time aboard a fishing vessel before becoming a full-blown Man of Steel, it seems there is at least a sizable action sequence to look forward to. And for hardcore fans, the look of actual effort and pain on Cavill's face promises a Superman who actually has to put his back into his super-strength.

A Gift and a Curse

Man of Steel Trailer Young Clark Crying

It's the downside of Superman's superpowers that rarely get explored with a truly dark, or serious approach. Smallville built a story around Clark Kent slowly realizing his powers throughout adolescence, but for Man of Steel, it seems Snyder is starting earlier, and not pulling any punches. A panicked Clark - granted the ability to hear (depending on who you ask) some or all human voices on the planet at once - portrays a darker direction. The gifts can be a curse, but it's Clark's mother, Martha Kent (Diane Lane), who acts as his anchor. The dynamic between the Kents and Kal-El has changed dramatically over the years, depending largely on their age. By casting Lane and Kevin Costner, the assumption was that they would adopt more traditional parenting roles. This scene alone implies a more meaningful and relatable connection between mother and son, which evidences writer David S. Goyer being influenced by Geoff Johns' seminal storyline, Superman: Secret Origin.

The Fortress of Solitude?

Man of Steel Trailer Fortress Solitude

When Clark finally gets around to realizing that his gifts should be shared with humanity, a trip to the Fortress of Solitude gets things moving. Traditionally it is here that Kal-El speaks with the memories of his father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), about his destiny, Krypton's fate, and the suit he will wear in his new persona. The alien architecture hints strongly that this is such a place, and the new Superman suit rotating into view seems to imply that it has been prepared for him ahead of time. Clark's statement that he "has so many questions" seems directed at someone in particular; whether this means that a projection of Jor-El is present in the Fortress (or not) isn't clear. However, the new incarnation of Jor-El certainly has a flare for fashion, so it wouldn't surprise us if he's there to unveil the new uniform. It would also greatly reinforce the claim that the new Kal-El isn't just a survivor, but a prince of Krypton.

Preparing For Lift-off

Man of Steel Trailer Liftoff

The shots of Superman walking through the arctic landscape in his new suit and fluttering cape (due to its thinner construction) certainly backs up the Fortress of Solitude assumption. Especially if Kal-El's education about Krypton, his first walk into the sunlight wearing his destined uniform, and first flight occur in sequence. But it's those pebbles we're interested in. A close look shows that as Superman prepares to take flight, a stirring of snow, rocks, and even small boulders behind him rise off the ground in anticipation of his takeoff. The effect in itself isn't a game-changer, and some might claim it's just an artistic flourish, but it's clear Snyder's Superman has some element to his powers that fans haven't seen before. We doubt this means Superman will go the 'Neo' or 'Phoenix' route and use telekinesis, but it lays the groundwork for some new effects, and potentially striking ways of Kal-El interacting with Earth's environment.

Zod's Got a Beam

Man of Steel Trailer Zod Gravity Beam

The shot of an urban center being decimated by a blue energy beam is a strong turning point in the Man of Steel trailer, and Superman's inability to protect the city (presumably Metropolis) from such an attack has serious ramification for the plot. But those who've been keeping up on Man of Steel news and rumors know exactly what we're looking at. Previously released tie-in toy commercials were suspected of spoiling General Zod's military force and weaponry ahead of the film, and these action scenes reflect those same powers possibly at work. The impact and surrounding cars being not incinerated, but lifted upward certainly provide what we'd expect from a 'Gravity Beam,' although Zod's greater goal is still a mystery. Whatever the case, Superman pulling an Independence Day and flying directly up into the beam itself later in the trailer implies the weapon has a limited lifespan.

War Comes to the Kents

Man of Steel Trailer Kent Farm Attack Adding serious credit to the claim that General Zod would make a trip to the Kent farm, the brief shot of alien aircraft descending on the farm setting is telling - and may be a sign of how dark the film will get. If nothing else, the multiple space craft shown prove that Zod is not alone, and it's unlikely he and Faora are each piloting an entire ship to themselves. Whether or not that means it is, in fact, Black Zero in army form that will be accompanying their military leader in a conquest of Earth (or if it's some other force), Ma Kent looks to be in danger. One might immediately ask: why do Zod and Faora even needs ships to travel? And the answer could be telling. Firstly, this shot might be of Black Zero arriving to either attack or kidnap Kal-El's family. Then again, if Kal-El's time on Earth allows him to fly while Zod and Faora cannot, we'd have to credit Snyder with a clever (and completely plausible) way of differentiating their powers.

The General Himself

Man of Steel Trailer General Zod Reveal This is one that has us puzzled. Since the revealing shot of General Zod (Michael Shannon) sports the horizon of a planet in the background, this scene could be taken from his approach to Earth, or from Krypton prior to its decimation. Shannon has already commented on the amount of time he's spent among the "massive" sets and green screens of Krypton, and the number of speeches he gets to recite. If Zack Snyder really wanted to distinguish Man of Steel from the previous Superman movies, he'd do more with Krypton than relegate it to the opening minutes of the film. Shannon's comments - and Russell Crowe's casting - imply just that. The arrival of actual space craft and an apparent army mean David S. Goyer's script has passed on the 'Phantom Zone' angle, which puts Zod's arrival on Earth in new context. Is 'the General' invading Earth as part of a speech-laden rivalry with Jor-El? Was Kal-El, a prince of Krypton, sent to stop him? Who knows. But that hulking costume looks like it means business.

The Fall of Krypton?

Man of Steel Trailer Krypton Destroyed Not much to go on with this shot, besides a massive explosion and cinematography that would make Christoper Nolan shiver with delight. Yet the odd architecture (apparently Kryptonians were into their ovals) has us thinking that this, too, is a look at the crumbling of Krypton. Since the fiery explosion doesn't quite match up with the all-out devastation and hovering debris seen in Metropolis, and the female silhouette doesn't resemble Faora's battle wear, we'd bet on it. Those assumptions would make Kal-El's mother, Lara Lor-Van (Ayalet Zurer) the most likely candidate for the shadowy figure. But then, where's her husband? General Zod taking advantage of the planet-wide devastation to kill Jor-El, for instance, would make him an even greater enemy to Superman. That's a long shot, but we'd love to hear the debate that a change to canon like that would spark.

Kryptonian Showdown

Man of Steel Trailer Superman Zod Fight If this shot is of General Zod and Superman going head-to-head, then it seems a few things are possible. With Superman striking his familiar flight pose, and Zod looking more like a leaping man than one taking flight, is this further evidence that Kal-El's maturation on Earth is what grants him the ability to defy gravity entirely, not merely test it? Since General Zod (if that is who we're seeing) looks far bulkier than his skintight Kryptonian suit would allow, what significance can we put into his change of costume? Is this the 'badass' CGI costume that Snyder promised? And perhaps most importantly, what happens when these two super-powered individuals make contact? Could they be partly to blame for the collapsing buildings that Perry White (Lawrence Fishburne) and other citizens are running from? That's just an idea, but it would explain why the two soon take the fight elsewhere...

The Battle of Kansas

Man of Steel Trailer Kansas Bank Vault The pastoral shots of Kansas being struck by a mysterious storm lend credence to the insider accounts of Clark protecting civilians from a tornado, but it's this shot that most delights us. A lighting-fast peek at the set of doors Superman is thrown through reveals that the building is a 'Kansas State Bank,' confirming that Zod and his forces end up near Kal-El's adoptive family. Presumably, either Zod or Faora are the ones throwing him through the bank with enough violence to stagger the Man of Steel. When he comes to rest against the bank vault door, we realize we've witnessed this scene before. The very first image of Henry Cavill as Superman depicted him recovering from this very impact, though the setting couldn't be known at the time. Clearly the showdown in Kansas was on the filmmakers minds' from early on - how early on and what that means for their commitment and enthusiasm for Goyer's script could be a good sign.

End of the Road

Man of Steel Trailer Desert Scene We don't know exactly what message Snyder is trying to communicate by placing Superman and the US army at the apparent edges of desert, but one thing's clear: these soldiers aren't trying to arrest him. Their bent knees imply that Superman may now have their trust, which places this scene near the end of the film, since it's hard to believe anything but 'saving humanity from destruction' would assuage their fears. If that's the case, then Lois Lane's presence and the setting are all up for debate. Amy Adams has explained that she is not yet confirming a return in the inevitable Superman sequel, or Justice League for that matter. As this scene reminds us, Snyder and Goyer are keeping tight-lipped on how Lois and Kal-El will be developed over the course of the film. The remote setting and lack of tension or violence is certainly enough to get the imagination churning, so we're open to wild theories.

Conclusion

Man of Steel Trailer Army Standoff Considering how cagey Snyder, Warner Bros. and DC Comics are all being about Man of Steel's intricacies, there are likely more surprises in store and some of our predictions will be proven false. But speculation will need to fuel things for a while, since this trailer isn't likely to mark a torrent of new details and spoilers. Exactly how Cavill will perform both as Kal-El and Clark Kent, what chemistry will or will not exist between he and Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and what ways Zack Snyder and the film's producers have come up with for planting seeds of the upcoming Justice League movie are all still up in the air (pardon the pun). That's our take on what questions (and answers) the first trailer brought into the open, but we'd love to hear your insights. What stood out the most for you? Think there is an aspect of the trailer that's been overlooked? Sound off in the comments. Man of Steel hits theaters on June 14, 2013. - Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
TAGS: superman, superman man of steel

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  1. Stupid…this “Man of Steel” guy is totally ripping off Superman

    • I know, I’m so pissed off! I thought I was the only one! he’s stealing the whole flying thing, and the costume looks almost the same!

      • Thaaank you!!! And the “S” for Steel, lame. Should’ve been a “M.”

        • Is this sarcasm?

    • WHAT?!

  2. If Superman starts out on a fishing boat, and it is overcast as it is in the Pacific Northwest, it would explain why he seems to be straining to lift something. As he powered by the Yellow Sun, the more he in direct sunlight the stronger he becomes.

    Why I think the North Pole when he takes off, he is taking almost pure sunlight that is not diluted by smog or other city debris.

    Also, one of his weakness, how would he be in fight that went over night, how strong is he, and how weak would he become if he is deprived of sunlight?

    We know he needs a spacesuit or ship for deep space, and grows weaker as he leaves our Solar System?

    So will Man of Steel show he has limits?

    • This is a ridiculous post. none of this makes any sense and is dumb

  3. I think that Zod is flying a ship because he hasn’t quite obsorbed the solar energy into his kryptonian biology yet so before he does he is basically just a regular guy, obviously though more technologically advanced.

    • Or perhaps that is how he gets to Earth? He has to reach the planet somehow, what’s better than a spaceship…

  4. Armen

  5. Here is a thought for movie number two first with heavy military involvment in this movie intoduce general lane John Corbin and lex luther working for the military and bring in metallo as the next villian after zod following current new 52 storylines or even earth one story line. As for the use of Zod again he is neccesary for an orgin story definitly gives him the ultimate choice of his homeworld or adopted world sounds like the movie is loosly based on new krypton story line

  6. with the parts relating to superman’s take off where you get the rising rocks and snow and when he’s flying and leaving a contrail in his wake seemed similar to the flying in dragon ball z where they had the rising rocks pre-flight and also had contrails when flying

    • Hey true. Maybe we should get Z Snyder for a REAL DBZ movie next, huh?

      • realist and mike, yeah i would luv to see zack snyder do a live action DBZ movie , the saiyan saga could be the first movie and second movie namek-ginyu saga and the third film the Frieza saga.

  7. Slightly off topic here, but has anyone read “The Last Days Of Krypton” by Kevin J. Anderson? Great novel, a must-read for any Superman fan!

  8. @ Andrew Dyce: What I would like to know is who is that woman that Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) is running for his life with in the Man of Steel trailer.

  9. I have an angle for any character exploration they might taKe. Have supeRman struggle whY he has god like Powers, and have Tthis as a catalyst for him being a super bOy scout. aNd also the alIenation and lonelineSs. I know some of you will say that is too Hheady for a super hero flick. But just like thIs summers the DDdark knight proved that a grEat action movie is not about the actioN but its about a great story with great action as the ACCENT.

    • KRYPTON IS HIDDEN

  10. What the hell do we have to do to get a Superman/Doomsday movie?

    I will finally be able to rest in peace when this movie is released. And no I don’t mean the animated film.

  11. I cant wait to see this new take on the sups mythos and cant wait to see the new zod, im hope there are future superman movies when this comes out, because i luv to see them do parasite,brainaic ,lobo, darksied, a new fresh take on lex luther and hopefully more like he is in the comics,bizarro superman,and then finally doomsday, the eraditactor, super girl,the cyborg superman”hank henshaw”,steel,superboy,morgul,metalo,

  12. This looks epic. Can’t wait. If you don’t like the colours go watch iron man 3… hope that works out for you :)

  13. yes ant, this looks all ready more badass then superman returns or the other film, and i can say there are parts in that i like , growning u with christopher reeve superman , it had a nice nods to him but im more then ready for it to be more like the comic books, just wondering after seeing this new take on general zod , who would u like to see for a second film, I luv to see Brainiac and a new fresh take on lex luther and Bizarro superman and mayber a small role with hank henshaw setting things up for a future film.

    • I’d be amazed if they don’t do a fresh take on Lex Luthor. Got a feeling they’ll create another villan or use someone people won’t expect. I just expect it to be very edgy and conspiratorial

  14. All I can say is wow this looks like it will be an epic movie, I am sat here now with my 6 year old glued to the tv watching the original superman as I was as a child, he has seen the new trailer and is very excited. Roll on June the 14th

  15. Following what I’ve read of all the Superman news and the trailers I feel very strongly that this is going to be quite the epic we’ve all been waiting for in a Superman movie. It is evidently clear that there are some comparable differences to Zod and Kal-El. The take on Clark and his view of the world through a strangers eyes is going to provide a depth of the character that has not yet been conveyed in film. Superman is a solitary character and not completely by choice. He’s coming of age trying to find a place where he fits in the world. And yet, it is his home. Only a threat like Zod or any rebel invasion could bring to light the kind of person he ultimately needs to become. He is the only one with the ability to protect the planet he so covets as his home. I think that many of the approaches to the arc and the choices Nolan/Snyder/Goyar are making will prove to be brilliant. More than that, it will provide the boost that DC/Warner will need to move forward with future DC Comic franchises including The Justice League. The Dark Knight trilogy revolutionized how story arcs from comic books can translate to film. I think for DC Man of Steel will be the blueprint for future en devours.

  16. In response to the complaints about humanizing Superman: “It’s a remarkable dichotomy, really. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then he goes and shoots fire from the skies, and it’s difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we are that the thought does not occur to him.” Batman

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