Now that many of the central roles in Man of Steel have been filled, there's been renewed interest in the film's potential supporting players, as well as the actual plot of Zack Snyder's Superman reboot. The film will touch on the superhero's origins to some degree, but whether or not it will be a full-blown origin story is not yet clear.
The most recent rumored Man of Steel synopsis suggested the film will begin with Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) as "a young twenty-something journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone's imagination" and that "when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack." Vague, to be sure, but certainly feasible.
A young reporter named Clark Kent roams the world covering various news stories. When he is compelled to use his secret powers to intervene in a crisis in West Africa, he returns to Smallville to learn more about his origins and the hero he was born to be.
That synopsis not only gels with the Superman character description that emerged last fall, it also suggests that the Man of Steel storyline could very well be influenced by Mark Waid's "Superman: Birthright" comic book miniseries - with the Kryptonian villain General Zod (Michael Shannon) being thrown into the mix as well.
For those who don't know, here is a brief synopsis of what "Superman: Birthright" is all about:
'Superman: Birthright' retells the early chapters of Superman's story, from escape as an infant from the doomed planet Krypton to arrival as reporter Clark Kent at the Daily Planet and his first public exploits. Writer Mark Waid puts his own spin on the legend, rethinking nearly every aspect of the venerable character while remaining respectful of his established history. Waid wisely integrates ideas from the popular TV series 'Smallville' but doesn't slavishly follow its innovations; for instance, a young Lex Luthor befriends Clark in high school, but unlike in the series, his sinister nature is clear even then.
While Snyder previously stated that "['Man of Steel'] will not be based on a comic book in particular," he coyly avoided dismissing the possibility that his reboot would be influenced or inspired by a previously-published graphic novel (like "Superman: Secret Origins") - and after his previous misleading comments about Zod, we now have all the more reason to read between the lines of what Snyder says.
It also stands to mention that while Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan's Batman movies are not specifically based on any comic books, they are openly acknowledged as having been strongly influenced by significant titles in the Caped Crusader's graphic novel oeuvre (see: "Batman: Year One" and "Batman: The Long Halloween" for examples). So it's not unreasonable to assume the duo might have taken a similar approach to the Superman reboot as well.
Waid's "Superman: Birthright" also incorporates several elements from Smallville - specifically, Clark's parents and Lex Luthor being younger. That could explain why stars like Diane Lane and Kevin Costner have been cast as Ma and Pa Kent in Man of Steel, and it also gels with the rumors about Adam Harris auditioning to play Luthor in the film.
Finally, the "Birthright" storyline very much presents Superman in a more modernized light - and Snyder has been quite forthright about his intentions to deliver a reboot that does just that.
This is of course all speculation based in no small part on RUMOR, but I find it to all be quite reasonable. By combining elements from the comic book source material with a classic Superman villain - one that provides (among other things) Snyder the opportunity to put his hyper-stylized action sensibilities to work and deliver some truly epic fight scenes onscreen - Man of Steel could both respect the character's rich history and approach him from a new and fresh angle. If a number of these rumors turn out to be true, it's all the more reason to be be hopeful that the Superman reboot isn't doomed after all.
Man of Steel is tentatively scheduled to reach theaters by December of 2012.