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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.