The 2013 summer blockbuster season has kicked into gear, and perhaps the most hotly anticipated release remains the Superman reboot Man of Steel, which opens in less than a month. The stakes really couldn't be higher for Warner Bros. and DC - if successful, producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder's new, revamped Superman could not only kickstart a flailing franchise (a la Batman Begins) but lead to a Justice League film and an expansive cinematic universe for DC Comics.
With the clock counting on what our readers have voted their most anticipated movie of the summer, the marketing has been ramping up. We've seen new featurettes highlighting Superman's powers and plenty of promotional images, but now Walmart - who is sponsoring a series of early screenings the day before the film opens - brings us a new behind-the-scenes look at the movie. Featuring commentary by Zack Snyder and his producer wife Deborah Snyder, Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe, the main point to take away from this is "reinvention."
From its inception on, Zack Snyder's reboot has distanced itself from the past cinematic incarnation of the character and his world. Early on, Snyder's approach was to go in with the mindset that there have been no other Superman films. This featurette has a rather fluffy feel to it, but the themes of Man of Steel come through loud and clear: how would it feel to be, in a sense, the ultimate outsider? Superman is an all-powerful being from another planet, but Earth is his home. The exploration of how he walks the line between these two worlds is the heart of the film, and this new peek shows a bit of new footage but mostly serves to underline how much potential this approach has. It really looks like something special.
In addition to the featurette, make sure to check out these two intense new banners - which depict the Man of Steel and General Zod mid-combat (click to enlarge):
One interesting aspect of Man of Steel is the existence of Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent's two fathers. Casting such iconic actors as Russell Crowe (as Jor-El, his natural father) and Kevin Costner (as his adopted father Jonathan Kent) was a stroke of genius, on par with having the legendary Marlon Brando portray Jor-El in Richard Donner's Superman. Crowe and Costner have an immediately relatable presence, and the casting reflects the stars' past roles; Costner's warmth and humanity in films like JFK and especially Field of Dreams comes to mind for his role as the Midwestern farmer, and Crowe's myriad star turns - from Maximus in Gladiator (his instant sense of authority) to his tobacco-scientist/corporate whistleblower in The Insider (the layered portrayal of a brilliant man who may have to question his difficult decisions). This approach was a major flaw with Bryan Singer's Superman Returns - Clark's father was, of course, already dead prior to the events of this film, and the footage of Brando as Jor-El (pieced together from unused bits from Superman 2) failed to connect.
Last up, we also have a new Henry Cavill introduction to the third trailer. The studio is wisely placing the charming, winning Cavill up front as much as possible.
The component parts of Man of Steel are falling neatly into place. Whether or not Snyder's film will do Iron Man 3-level business remains to be seen. Star Trek Into Darkness looks to be slightly underperforming in its opening weekend - this could point toward Tony Stark's continued dominance or a public ready and waiting for the further adventures of the Last Son of Krypton.
Man of Steel will arrive in theaters on June 14, 2013.