Until now, I was only marginally interested in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
The past few trailers were all familiar territory: the Kansas cornfield kid years, Supes flying faster than a speeding bullet, feeling like an outcast, magisterial score, etc. The only real changes from Bryan Singer’s (in my opinion, underrated) Superman Returns were shaky-cam, a strawberry blonde Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) working blue-collar jobs instead of The Daily Planet. That last one was a nice touch; finally we’re getting hip to the fact that everyone hates journalists.
The final trailer gives a fuller picture of the film’s villain, General Zod (Michael Shannon), and it actually gives us a reason to care.
I groaned when I first heard Snyder & co. were recycling the villain from Superman II. Superhero films–and adventure films in general–are only as good as their antagonists. If the viewer can’t sense any danger, he or she has no reason for emotional investment. And what would new dimension would it bring to the Superman universe to see our hero just slug it out with another Kryptonian with a Millennial-friendly, “dark/edgy” makeover?
Thankfully, the film’s writers took a wholly different approach to Zod. Here we see not just three evil Supermen taking turns against Kal-El but an entire army, dressed as interstellar conquistadors but acting more like marshalls hunting down a fugitive. They seem like–after all these years–an actual threat to Superman.
Further, the threat is twofold: if he doesn’t turn himself in, they’ll throw down some War of the Worlds mayhem all around the globe. And, being such bad dudes, we know they’ll do that just to spite Superman anyway. We know that once he goes head to head with Zod, he’ll pound him into jelly. But what about the rest of the army? What about those giant warships? What about that Incredibles/Doc Ock-looking robot?
How is he going to get out of this one?
And that is exactly the question we should be asking ourselves after a Superman trailer. Warner Brothers’ marketing team just made this summer blockbuster a “Day 1” rather than a “maybe.”