Modernizing a classic

Back in 1978 many cinema goers left theaters believing that a man could fly. It also saw the star of a certain Christopher Reeve rise high above the heavens.

Since then, if you ask any who they thought was the best Superman, most people would say Christopher Reeve. But there have been quite a few who have tried to emulate his perfect comic-like performance in the red cape. We’ve had former baseball player Dean Cain in a more romantic adventure style Superman in “Lois and Clark”, then most recently in 2006 a certain Brandon Routh tried his hand at being the Man of Steel.

Routh was almost near perfection as a Christopher Reeve Superman but it didn’t appeal enough to audiences. Clearly with the story of Superman and the dramatic attempts to shake things up by director Bryan Singer, fans were calling for a completely different take on the Last Son of Krypton.

MAN OF STEEL

Enter Zack Snyder in October 2010, an idea had been tossed around during script writing of The Dark Knight Rises. The idea was so good that Christopher Nolan immediately said he wanted to produce the film.

This task of putting Superman back on the pedestal was not going to be easy. I mean just think about it…..if you’re a kid from the 80s, do you remember what you used to say when people asked “Which superhero would you like to be”? I am pretty sure a good majority said Superman, I know I was one of them. We used to get so drawn into the magic of flight, just being able to soar through the skies and fly at super speed to save people.

These days kids just want to be a certain iron clad hero with a goatee. Times have changed and in order for Kal-El to reclaim his throne as the most talked about super hero in the world, producers needed to modernize Superman. To make him appeal to the modern audience, introduce him to a new audience and above all, make him cool.

MAN OF STEEL

Well the first and most obvious thing that was done was the red underwear took flight never to return. Next, it was getting the suit to seem as alien as possible, while retaining the classic feel of Superman which in my opinion comes from the red cape.

I wasn’t too keen on this new Superman, personally I thought the studio was just trying too hard, even with getting Christopher Nolan on board…that is until I saw the first trailer. At that time, I was slightly interested, I thought “yeah maybe they might have a good angle here” but everything changed for me once I saw the 3rd trailer.

It was mind blowing at just over 3 mins long, probably one of the longest trailers we’ve seen for a summer blockbuster release.

You get the sense that there is a complete story waiting to be told. There’s a very conflicted and slightly vulnerable Kal-El, 2 dads from 2 different worlds who incidentally happen to have played “Robin Hood” in other films and loads and loads of action. That was probably the biggest complaint of Superman Returns – the lack of action.

Man of Steel

Man of Steel for sure will not disappoint in this department but coming back to “Modernizing Superman”, by the end of the trailer we learn that the “S” is no longer just an S. The hard core fans will at least know that the symbol on his chest is actually his family crest from back on Krypton but now it apparently means Hope. And of course they’ve made a smart choice in Michael Shannon as General Zod. The guy is a bit of a towering character and he’s quite intense as an actor so I’m a huge fan of his.

I want to speculate a little here, based on the footage we’ve seen, the soundtrack title listing and what Zack Synder said about “no Kryptonite”. I’m thinking that Jor-El and Krypton will feature for at least the first 30 mins in this film with Russel Crowe having quite a bit to do. It will probably be about halfway through the film before Clark goes on a personal journey to find the Fortress of Solitude and we won’t see much of Daily Planet Clark Kent or Clark Kent in specs.

MAN OF STEEL

You see there’s this track, the last track I might add on the OST that’s called “What will you do when you are not saving the world” ….could it be that it’s only toward the end of the film that Superman decides to get a job? With regard to the no Kryptonite, I like it. It gives room for this to be discovered by Lex Luthor in the sequel and more room for the franchise to grow.

Check out this short featurette below on Man of Steel

To be honest, I really hope all my speculation is wrong. I just want to be surprised and kept on the edge of my seat! One things for sure, the producers have found a way to modernize Superman, it appeals to the older generation who are so familiar with this character and hopefully it’ll make the kids change from wearing Iron helmets to donning red capes again. I love the way Christopher Reeve portrayed Superman back in 1978 and I probably always will, I just want something to move on from that, a fresh Superman, a Superman film that will capture my imagination the way the first one did all those years ago.

I guess we’ll just have to wait till June 13 to find out!

By Elliott Danker

Man of Steel opens in cinemas 13 June

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Singapore

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