Perhaps one of the coolest things from the Man of Steel teaser trailer - depending on the version you saw - was the Jor-El voice-over as performed by Russell Crowe: "You’ll give the people an ideal to strive toward. They will race behind you. They will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun." The speech was taken, more or less, from Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman, and it gave many a Superman fan cause to hope that Zack Snyder's adaptation was headed in the right direction.
Recently, while promoting his new movie, Broken City, Crowe talked about Man of Steel and how it'll differ from every other cinematic adaptation of the character - essentially reiterating that this Superman movie will be the most realistic one yet.
Courtesy of Reelz, Crowe said of Man of Steel:
"It's really complicated, it's really complex. I don't think anyone's really tried to get into the psychology of what it must be like to be Superman. And [how] people would really respond in a modern society if someone like that popped up."
Russell Crowe's statement basically bolsters what we've heard about Man of Steel previously. Writer David S. Goyer called the film "realistic" and Michael Shannon (who plays General "Kneel Before" Zod) said it would be "edgy" like Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. (For his part, Nolan said that Man of Steel would not be a rehash of his Batman movies.)
I think it's fair to say that, at least in the realm of cinema, Crowe is correct - no one has ever attempted a real world approach to Superman, much less the Terrence Malick-esque approach Snyder appears to be going for. It seems to be working so far, if the positive response to the trailers is anything to go by. Still, there are definitely detractors - some Superman fans would say that the character works best when he is neither "dark" nor "realistic."
On Snyder's responsibility to the character, Crowe said:
"Zack Snyder, who directed 'Watchmen,' who directed '300' and a few other things, he was given a great deal of responsibility. Because when it comes to comic book heroes and superhero films, at the top of the food chain is Superman."
Indeed, that responsibility goes far beyond the character - as the update to the update to yesterday's Zack Snyder/Samurai Star Wars story indicated, Warner Bros. likely feels that Snyder owes much to them, as well. Though 300 was an unqualified success, Watchmen was much less successful and Sucker Punch was both a critical and financial disappointment (which might be putting it mildly). Warners had a hand in producing all three films. If Man of Steel is equally disappointing - especially coming after three very disappointing Superman films, the last of which was Returns - what might that mean for Snyder's career going forward?
On the massive scale of Man of Steel, Crowe said:
"It's a massive undertaking, the type of sets we worked on in that film were incredible. It takes you to the ground on Krypton. It takes you to a planet where the sun is four times larger than ours. I think people are going to love it and if you've seen the trailer, you realize that this Superman is not just floating through the air, held up by a wire. This Superman is supersonic, when he decides to fly, he doesn't muck around. I'm really looking forward to the way people respond to it."
It'll be interesting to see how DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. go about bringing their superheroes to the big screen over the next few years. Both Nolan's Batman trilogy and Snyder's Man of Steel have taken the realistic approach; even The CW's very successful Arrow is sort of an edgy, realistic take on the character of Green Arrow (well, maybe just realistic for a superhero TV show). Green Lantern, on the other hand, took the more lighthearted and ridiculous "I'm trying to be Iron Man!" avenue, and look how that turned out.
If Man of Steel is as successful as Warner Bros. is hoping it'll be, does that mean we'll be seeing a series of "realistic" DC adaptations from here on out (or at least until the "realistic" well runs dry)?
Man of Steel - starring Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, and more - hits theaters June 14th, 2013.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.