10 Things We Want(ed) in MAN OF STEEL: Are We Getting Them?

Warner Bros.' <b>Man of Steel</b>, the Christopher Nolan-produced/Zack Snyder-directed relaunch of the Superman franchise is scheduled for release on June 14, 2013; with a trailer set to debut later this month in front of <i>The Hobbit</i>. <p>Given announced plans for a potential <i>Justice League</i> film in 2015, and rumors that <b>Man of Steel</b> might connect to that in some fashion, the stakes are high for the first Superman film in seven years. <p>About a year-and-a-half ago, Newsarama unleashed some unsolicited advice and ran "10 Things We Want in SUPERMAN Reboot MAN OF STEEL" and now that we know (a little) more thanks to promotional material, set photos and interviews, we're assessing how likely it is at this still-early juncture that we'll get what we're looking for. <p>Click the "<b>Start Here</b>" button on the upper left of this box for our countdown. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>

Make Metropolis a Character

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>While <i>Superman Return</i>'s Metropolis (presumably Sydney, Australia with American license plates on the cars) came off as a perfectly clean, pleasant, and contemporary, director Bryan Singer's vision of the world's most famous fictional city didn't leave much of a lasting impression. <p>Thirty years earlier the Richard Donner films made little attempt to hide that Metropolis was actually Manhattan. In fact, they embraced it, even going so far as to have Lex Luthor outright say his underground headquarters modeled purposely after NYC's famous Grand Central Terminal was under Park Avenue. <p>The real city and its flavor also played a pivotal role in the 3-on-1 showdown with General Zod and his crew in <i>Superman II</i>, despite most of that scene being shot on a set. <p>Christopher Nolan has made a point to use Chicago locations to both ground Gotham City in reality and provide a sense of urban scale in his <i>Batman</i> films, so here's hoping as producer he and director Zack Snyder can spin a mix of <b>The Man of Steel</b>'s downtown Vancouver locations and some CGI trickery to give their version of Metropolis the not-quite-like-any-place-else-on-Earth punch it deserves. <p>Metropolis should come off as being of the same size and scale of Manhattan, and as modern as some of the emerging Asian cities around the world, but with a dash of Tomorrowland thrown in. <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>Not much has been seen or said about <b>Man of Steel</b>'s Metropolis at this point, other than glimpses from <a href=http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/nailbiter111/news/?a=46303>leaked set photos</a>, so a better impression will likely come after the release of the full trailer.

Go Global, Young Superman

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>Unlike most other superheroes, Superman is bound by nothing neither time nor geographical distance nor even the boundaries of space. We got some perfunctory TV images of Superman's global good deed-doing in <i>Returns</i>, but the film was mostly bound to Smallville, Metropolis, the Fortress of Solitude (briefly) and a non-descript spot in the Atlantic ocean presumably some miles of the coast of Metropolis. <p>Washington D.C., the Golden Gate Bridge, Paris, France, and the freakin' moon were just some of the various locales used in the original '70s films. <p><b>The Man of Steel</b> should up the ante with an injection of globe-trotting adventure, to further push the sense of scale that only Superman is capable of meeting. <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>Well, we don't know much on this front, but thanks to the early teaser trailer, we do know that Clark Kent is on a fishing boat at some point, which is at least an unconventional setting for the character, and reasonably could be an indicator of more.

A Mild-Mannered, Not Clownish Clark Kent

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>The comic book Clark Kent is a respected and eminently capable reporter who as far as the world knows has also managed to woo the beautiful and dynamic Lois Lane. <p>Enough with the movie Clark caricature who is always pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose and stumbles and bumbles his way around the Daily Planet offices like a Telemundo sitcom character. That's a bit obvious for 2012, isn't it? <p>Lead actor Henry Cavill will have to dig deeper to find two distinct sides of Clark/Superman that doesn't rely solely on broad physical humor and nerd clich&#233;s. <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>In the teaser trailer, Clark Kent is rugged and noticeably bearded, and doesn't appear nerdy or meek in the slightest. Though we still don't know how he'll interact in more familiar contexts like at the Daily Planet, so far it looks like this one is on track for what we wanted back in June 2011.

The Origin of the Mild-Mannered Reporter

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>Some fans and pundits have been arguing that Nolan and Snyder should skip the origin all together. That the death of Krypton story is <i>so</i> well ingrained into the public conscious that it should simply be recapped during the opening credits or even skipped entirely. (Though with <a href=http://blog.newsarama.com/2011/06/15/russell-crowe-looks-official-for-superman-man-of-steels-jor-el/>Russell Crowe recently signing on as Jor-El</a>, the latter seems like a remote possibility at this stage.) <p>We'll get to an aspect of that argument later on, but one origin that would be worth telling is the one of Clark Kent becoming a reporter for the Daily Planet. <p>In 1978's <i>Superman: The Movie</i>, that part of Superman's 'origin' is treated simply as a story beat that had to be hit. And hit it was ... minimally. <p>After Clark spends his late-teen/early 20s in the Fortress learning from Jor-El's crystals and then flying away as an adult wearing the costume, the film jumps to Clark in Perry White's office just having been hired as a new reporter, with his typing prowess cited as his main qualification. <p>So familiar is the mythos, the story beat was just accepted at face value with no even attempt at color or explanation. <p>There is rich storytelling potential in <i>why</i> Superman chooses to become a newspaper reporter of all things (particularly in 2012), and why he chooses the Planet. <p>Why not tell it ... for the first time on film? <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>No solid indication on whether or not this specific aspect of the character will be fully explored, but it's a good bet that top-flight actors like Amy Adams and Laurence Fishburne wouldn't be cast as Daily Planet employees (Lois Lane and Perry White, respectively), if there weren't plans to spend some meaningful screen time at the paper.

A Charm Offensive

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>With all due respect to Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh and to a certain degree Tom Welling, kind and earnest only plays so long and well in 2012, particularly as an anchor to a $200 million dollar-plus relaunch of a potential billion-dollars franchise. <p>Look, Superman isn't a badass like Batman. He isn't a wiseass like Spider-Man, and he just isn't tragically hip like Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man. Never will be. There's an undeniable square-ish, Boy Scout quality to Superman for sure. <p>But can't we let the most powerful being on the planet have a little fun <i>being</i> the most powerful being on the planet ... and I don't mean saving little girls' cats from trees. <p>Can't he be just a <i>little</i> cool, ooze a little charm, and yeah, we're going to say it ... have some <i>sex</i> appeal? Look at that Henry Cavill guy. Not a bad-looking dude. Run with it... <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>Given that we've yet to actually hear Cavill speak or do much of anything in character as Clark Kent, it's also a wait-and-see, but here's a quote from Cavill about the movie via <a href=http://www.details.com/celebrities-entertainment/movies-and-tv/201212/hollywood-mavericks-starring-leonardo-dicaprio?currentPage=12>Details</a> that may shed some insight on the subject: "I don't mean anything against the movies and TV shows that have come before, because they were of their time, but this is epically cool. People in the past have criticized the character for being a bit chocolate-box, a bit vanilla, and this is not that at all. The lore is there that we're drawing from, but to create something from that which is reflective of life today that's the trick."

Leave the Homage in the Past and the Easter Eggs on the Cutting Room Floor

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>OK, time to be a wet blanket for a moment. <p>We get that comic book fans enjoy their Stan Lee cameos, names and references familiar to us dropped into dialogue, and wink-wink-nudge-nudge images placed in the background of scenes, but isn't that all becoming a little rote and even pandering at this point? <p>And if there was ever a comic book character who "belonged" to <i>everyone</i>, it's Superman. <p>So Chris? Zack? You got us. We saw the <i>Batman</i> films and <i>Watchmen</i>. We know you respect the hardcore fans, the source material, and everything that came before. Mutually understood. <p>So let's leave in the past in the past, the in-jokes to a minimum and not have any cameos by Margot Kidder as a Daily News copy editor, any police officers named Sgt. Curt Swan, or passing references to <i>other</i> DC Comics' cities or characters ...unless Warner Bros. really means</i> it this time ... <p>...if you know what we mean? <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>In a recent interview with <a href=http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/exclusive-christopher-nolan-talks-around-justice-league-whether-hes-done-with-superhero-films-says-man-of-steel-is-not-akin-to-his-batman-trilogy-20121204>The Playlist</a>, Nolan stated that screenwriter David Goyer's take was a "brilliant way to make Superman relatable and relevant for his audience." Snyder recently commented to the <a href=http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/movies/steel_this_movie_TrrZEczrOmIra5bDTnKk4O>New York Post</a>, "We tried to approach this as though there's never been a Superman movie before, but at the same time respecting the canon and mythology." So it certainly appears that the aim is to go forward.

A Traditional Costume

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>Some attempts at contemporizing are fine. But let's keep it iconic, folks. <p>No kneepads, body armor, or uni-leggings, please. <p>Yeah... we'll talk more about <i>that</i> soon. <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>Well, the costume is certainly different, ditching the red briefs much like the character's New 52 comic book equivalent. "If you look at the costume, it's very modern, but the relationship to the original costume is strong," Snyder told the Post, noting that he "tried like crazy" to keep the briefs.

Let Superman Use His Powers ... Offensively

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>C'mon Bryan Singer. You made Superman's flying scenes beautiful and elegant. But all you could think of is having him basically <i>lift things</i> the entire film? <p>OK, yeah, he stood in front of a Gatling gun and a bullet bounced off his eyeball, that was pretty cool. <p>But fans are hungry to see Superman throw a punch, swing a redwood tree like a baseball bat, or otherwise kick some ass. <p>If <a href=http://blog.newsarama.com/2011/04/10/snyders-superman-has-a-foe-and-official-title/>Michael Shannon's Zod</a> (and his underlings) will also be super-powered, how about a contemporary, CGI-powered, no-holds-barred throwdown of a fight scene inspired by (although not a recreation of) <i>Superman II</i>'s famous tag-team match? <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>Remains to be fully seen, but keep in mind that Snyder is the same guy that directed <i>300</i>, so you can probably count on some fights.

Create a BRAND NEW Sensory Shorthand

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>We touched on whether or not the origin should be told again a bit earlier. We're here to argue not only that it should, it <i>has</i> to be told again to some degree, because Snyder has to completely rewrite <i>everything</i> and <i>anything</i> we know about Superman <i>from the movies and TV</i>. <p>Because if he doesn't write <i>over</i> it with something new, old images and impressions will linger. <p>Last's month <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/tv/smallville-series-finale-interview-110512.html><i>Smallville</i> finale</a> has to be the very last time some of the now-ubiquitous Superman sensory elements are ever seen or heard from. <p>The crystal Fortress. The ghostly visage and voice of the wise Jor-El. The Salkind-Donner monochromatic vision of Krypton. Jor-El and the George Washington hair. <p>Gone. <p>All of it. <p>It <i>all</i> has to be retired but for good, and replaced in the mind's eye with completely new input. <p>New colors, fashions, landscapes, and architecture for Krypton. An entirely new and different Fortress of Solitude and most of all... <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>Here's one more relevant Snyder quote from the NY Post article: "You come onto a project like this, and you hear about modernization and you hear about bringing things forward to today, and all you can do is hope that it's going to look cool and different from anything you've seen before."

John Williams' Theme Music Retired

<b>WHAT WE SAID BACK THEN</B>: <p>Yeah, even <i>that</i> too. We're going there. <p>Understand there is a part of us tempted to hold onto this. Williams' iconic theme music (which may, in fact, be aging even better than his original <i>Star Wars</i> theme) is maybe pitch perfect. Perhaps no string of musical notes has ever better captured the essence of a familiar character than this one did. <p>And we'll even take it one step further whomever tries to write a new Superman theme for <b>Man of Steel</b>, be it James Newton Howard and/or Hans Zimmer, won't be as successful. <p>It will <i>not</i> be as good, or as memorable. <p>But perhaps of all sensory sensations, music has the power to evoke memories and place the listener in a specific time and place. And while William's theme may be the best contribution to the Superman mythos ever made outside of a comic book page, this is the very same reason why <b>The Man of Steel</b> <i>must</i> forge ahead without it. <P><b>WHAT WE MIGHT GET</b>: <p>Well, looks like there's no "might" about it <a href=http://collider.com/man-of-steel-zack-snyder-john-williams/188640/>Snyder has confirmed</a> that the film won't use the John Williams theme, and instead have music by Hans Zimmer, who scored Nolan's Batman trilogy.

10 Things We Want(ed) in MAN OF STEEL: Are We Getting Them?

Date: 20 June 2011 Time: 09:29 PM ET