It’s been six years since Superman flew on the big screen. However, Superman Returns was met with underwhelming box office and a lukewarm reception. The series was deemed fit for a reboot, and after an intensive search for a new director, Zack Snyder landed the job. A surprising choice, Snyder, who previously went to the deconstruction of the superhero genre with Watchmen, has now come to the ultimate superhero. Where does Snyder hyper-kinetic style meet a classic character like Superman? There’s so many ways to make Superman take to the skies and save the day, so what does Snyder have in store for the Man of Steel?
Hit the for the recap and the first Man of Steel poster.
After having the title come up on the panaromic screen, the lights come up, and Zack Snyder comes on stage.
- Moderator Chris Hardwicke asks what we can expect. “Superman is pretty awesome, as you know,” says Snyder. He felt that Superman needed to be re-introduced to a new generation. He said they’re finished shooting so they’re just working on post-production. In the past, Superman has been “a big blue boy scout on a giant throne,” so we wanted to see him beat the snot out of some people.
- Snyder mentions that the announcement teaser is attached to The Dark Knight Rises, and he wanted to show it to us before anyone else. Then he decided, “Maybe they should see a little something else…”
I can’t run through every shot, but there seems to be a handheld approach for the Smallville stuff, but for the most part, it looks like standard hero’s journey stuff. Kal-El has to wrestle with hiding his identity, he’s worried that the world will fear him, and he has to learn to become a hero. There’s no levity, joy, or even a sense of triumph. It’s more of a gritty, realistic take about how would Superman actually deal with the world and how the world will deal with him. There weren’t any particularly cool shot (and to his credit, none of Snyder’s famous speed-ramping), but we got a glimpse of Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and a half-second look at Michael Shannon as Zod from the neck up. But at one point, either Pa Kent or Jor-El says in voice over (I couldn’t tell which), “You have to decide the man you want to be.” The trailer ends with Superman says Pa Kent was worried the world wouldn’t accept the Man of Steel. Then Superman asks in voice over, “What do you think?” I think the majority of this audience accepted him, but I can’t get on board with what I saw today.
After we see the trailer, Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman) joined Snyder on stage, and we went into an audience Q&A:
- Would Snyder ever consider doing a small indie? “It’s not about the size of the movie, it’s just about what’s cool.”
- Snyder says he got involved with the project after getting a call from Nolan asking if he wanted to talk about Superman. Nolan pitched him a version of Superman, and Snyder says he could get behind that approach.
- This movie isn’t based on any particular comic book arc, and Snyder says they have “respect for the mythology of Superman, so it’s a mashing of stories.”
- “What are Cavill’s plans to add to the Superman legend?” “That’s a tough one,” says Cavill. He wanted to bring as much of the modern Superman into the world. “This movie is not only for the fans, but for those who haven’t felt this world and seen how it’s changed,” says Cavill. He wants “to bring a modern version everyone can associate with.”
We then get a look at the Comic-Con poster and I’d be shocked if the image wasn’t officially released online. If not, it’s an image of Superman, cloaked in shadow from the torso-up and looking down at the ground. That image says it all.
Back to the audience Q&A…
- Cavill says it’s intense to face the pressure of being Superman. He points to the emblem on the screen and says, “I get to wear that on my chest. I just hope I’ve done what I can to please you guys, because this is for you.”
- “Between Nolan’s Batman and Snyder’s Superman, who would win?” Snyder says he loves Batman, but then looks at the audience members and goes, “Really?” “Good answer,” responds the audience member.
- The comics that inspired Cavill were Death and Return of Superman (Matt’s note: that’s not good). He was also inspired by Red Son because even though it’s an alternate universe story, it still informs who the character is (Matt’s note: Red Son is great, and you should definitely read it).
- “Will they make General Zod more relatable?” “Um, everyone in the film,” coyly says Snyder, “would have to be relatable.” He dances around the assumption that Shannon is playing Zod, and I have no idea why.
- In order to stay in shape, Cavill had to get up earlier or stay up later.
- When an audience member brings up the possibility of seeing Superman in a Justice League movie, the audience goes nuts at the concept. Snyder says right now they’re just trying to get Superman’s house in order, and then they’ll see where it goes from there.
Nolan’s fingerprints are all over this movie. In the footage we saw, Superman has a beard and is wandering through a mountain terrain. It will instantly remind you of Bruce Wayne at the beginning of Batman Begins. That comparison overshadows the trailer. The movie looks like Superman as Batman. This looks like deadly-serious Smallville. This looks like sadness, sadness, and the American sadness. There’s already a gritty superhero out there, so why would people want Superman to simply copy Batman?
As a panel, we saw that Zack Snyder’s public speaking skills haven’t improved since he was here for Sucker Punch. If you took a drink every time Snyder said “awesome”, you would have died of alcohol poisoning by the end of the panel. It’s crucial for directors to help explain their vision if they’re taking on such a monumentally important project, and there are other adjectives in the world other than “awesome” and “cool.” All I really had to go on was the trailer and the general sense that Superman needed to be reinvented to be gritty because audiences wouldn’t buy him outside that mold.
I am truly saddened to report how disappointed I was with this panel and how Man of Steel looks like the po-faced, solemn superhero flick I was dreading. However, it’s a long way to the film’s release, so there’s plenty of time to change my mind.
Man of Steel opens June 14, 2013.
Catch up on all of our continuing Comic-Con coverage here.
Here’s the poster: