This week on the Geek Beat, it’s all about the two massive trailers that dropped for arguably 2013’s most-anticipated films. It’s hard not to get excited about what’s coming down the pike in the form of the Enterprise crew’s latest adventure in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, or what looks to be the absolutely triumphant return of Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. I’m very, very excited for both films since I’m an enormous fan of both franchises, but there is probably one I’m looking forward to a little more than the other.
But before I get into that, here are the top three geek articles of the past week here at Movies.com:
1. Five 'Justice League' Comics That Would Make Excellent Movies
2. Poster-Crop Quiz: Can You Guess These Epic Sci-fi Movies?
3. J.J. Abrams on 'Star Trek Into Darkness': "This Is Not a Movie for 'Star Trek' Fans; It's for Movie Fans"
Star Trek Into Darkness Releases New Trailer, Fuels the Legend of Captain Kirk
I thought I’d be able to check out the nine-minute IMAX prologue for the new Star Trek film in front of The Hobbit this last weekend, but unfortunately my schedule didn’t really allow that to happen. But, the good people at Bad Robot did decide to make the latest theatrical trailer (showing in front of non-IMAX presentations of the return to Middle-earth) available online, so I at least got to have a little bit of a Trek fix. If you haven’t seen the latest trailer yet, check it out below.
One of the things that really struck me about this trailer was the fact that it seems to have a lot of reverence for the legend that is James T. Kirk. I remember when I saw the 2009 film’s third trailer, I was still under the impression that the film would be a clean reboot, breaking definitively from the previous Trek universe built by five TV shows and 10 movies. Then, I saw all of these hints being laid down in that trailer that spoke to this very reverential tone for the crew of the Enterprise, which would then blow my mind when Nero (played by Eric Bana) said, “James T. Kirk was a great man… but that was another life.” I immediately went nuts upon hearing that line, and my notions of a clean reboot were destroyed as if by a photon torpedo, but I also really felt that the film would lay down Kirk’s legendary reputation that film fans had seen before from Shatner so that Pine could find a way to try and live up to it in the new film.
It seems that this is still an ongoing process for Pine’s Kirk, which makes sense. Admiral Pike talks here about there being “greatness” in Kirk, implying that it has yet to be fully realized. Existing Trek fans, both general and hard-core, are already familiar with the broader exploits of Captain Kirk’s famous career through the original series and the first six Star Trek films (I’m purposefully not counting Generations, for curious Trekkers). Shatner’s Kirk had continuously proven himself as a capable leader in every challenge presented to him, saving an untold number of lives by any means necessary.
By contrast, strictly speaking from an in-universe perspective, Pine’s Kirk is a man that had proven himself in a very strong way once with a meteoric rise through the ranks as a result, but hasn’t really earned the Captain’s Chair in a way that his predecessor had continuously done. It looks as if Star Trek Into Darkness will potentially be presenting this as a very strong theme going forward. The 2009 Star Trek was all about Kirk getting to the chair, while Into Darkness is apparently about how he will keep it. For this huge Star Trek fan, that’s fantastic territory to explore for the character who has been, and will always be, my favorite captain of the franchise.
Man of Steel Trailer Introduces the Modern Superman to Everyone… Except Superman Fans
For those who aren’t very aware, I’m an enormous Superman fan. I am also a comic book retailer during my day job, and deal all the time with all types of comic book fans, from the casual pedestrian to the most hard-core fanatics. I find a lot to love about both of them, but there are a few examples of both sides that deeply frustrate me.
That frustration stems from many of their collective disdain for the original superhero. SO many preconceived notions exist about Superman that are so wholly inaccurate that it’s not even funny recounting them. Such old phrases that I always hear from these people range from the typical “he’s got too many powers so nothing can harm him,” to “he has no pathos and absolutely no identifiable traits in real people. When I engage these people in conversation and ask the inevitable question, “Do you read any Superman titles?” The most resounding and consistent answer I get is a flat and resounding, “no.” That answer is the absolute key to the perceptions that so many people seem to have about Superman, but it also stems from a previously more chronic problem.
To be clear, there are very few ways for me to describe my feelings toward the 1978 Superman film starring Christopher Reeve other than “absolute love.” Up until the release of The Dark Knight in 2008, you could not convince me that a better comic book movie had ever been made. Its impact on the genre of superhero cinema cannot be understated, as it’s been cited numerous times as either stylistic or conceptual inspiration on the modern X-Men films by Bryan Singer as well as by name from the mouth of Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Trilogy. The problem with the film’s status as so iconic and definitive, though, is that it has continued to shape the public consciousness’ perception of the character into practically every other media adaptation (except perhaps for the animated series of the late 1990s-early 2000s). This means that by and large, people have held in their minds a nearly 40-year-old conception of Superman.
Superman fans know that the conception of the character as he appeared in the original film doesn’t really apply to the character anymore. After the 1986 Superman revamp story by John Byrne called Man of Steel (hmm…), the character was modernized for a new generation, ejecting old elements and trappings of the previous generation of stories while streamlining other aspects of him. This was the time when Lex Luthor became more than a career-mad scientist, but was now also a corporate mogul. This is when Superman became less powerful and more physically vulnerable, had to hold his breath to survive in space, and where Clark Kent became a far more assertive man.
Stories like Birthright in 2003 and Secret Origin in 2009 only compounded these changes, and while each origin has shown a certain reverence for the original film in some respects, the comics of today have also sought, largely successfully in my opinion, to allow readers to more greatly relate to him.
Now, knowing this, watch the latest trailer for Man of Steel below.
Largely, I recognize this man as the character I actively read about every month. Henry Cavill, who has attested to reading current Superman comics for inspiration, seems to understand what makes this guy tick to a tee, and that’s before even mentioning the obviousness of David Goyer’s handle on the character, who has written Superman several times for DC Comics in books like JSA and even a short story in the 900th issue of Action Comics.
Jonathan Kent looks uncomfortable at the prospect of what he had just told his son he “maybe” should have done, but as a man who is likely solely concerned with protecting the son he loves so much from a world that wouldn’t understand him, it seems plausible that even a good man may consider sacrificing moral high ground if it meant keeping his child safe. But beyond this, the predominant theme for Superman himself may be the fact that he will choose to expose himself to the world in spite of what that very world will think. When he asks Lois Lane at the end of this trailer about whether or not she thinks the world is ready for someone like him, he is also asking the audience, and I think that the audience will be far more receptive to the fascinating character as he exists today than they were toward the recycled 1978 version we received in 2006’s Superman Returns.
Be sure to also check out Jeffrey Taylor’s breakdown and take on the new Man of Steel trailer in the Man of Steel Countdown!
My Pick This Week at the Comic Shop (Releasing 12/19)
Out of the entire Marvel NOW! initiative’s first issues, I thought three excelled above the rest. The first was Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, which seemed to lay a lot of promising new groundwork for the team that will set the stage for an interesting roster expansion. The second was Rick Remender’s Captain America, where the handle on Steve Rogers felt very genuine due to a new exploration of his childhood and some dynamic representations of his role with the shield. The third, and most surprising to me personally, was Mark Waid and Leinil Yu’s Indestructible Hulk, which took such a concept for the character that was such a no-brainer that it had apparently never been tried before. I greatly enjoyed reading that first issue just because of the sheer surprise and fun I’d had, which each relaunch of the Hulk over the last four years had not given me.
As a result, my pick this week is Waid and Yu’s Indestructible Hulk #2. After laying the groundwork for Dr. Bruce Banner’s deal with S.H.I.E.L.D., the series teams up Iron Man and the Hulk. The official synopsis for the issue warns that while Bruce Banner and Tony Stark are friends, Iron Man and the Hulk are anything but, and the combination of the two personalities promises to be pretty explosive. Waid and Yu are tapping into a fun I’ve not ever had reading a modern Hulk comic, and I’m very hopeful that the fun, interesting, and endlessly entertaining Banner/Hulk of the Avengers film will finally find its way into modern Marvel Comics.
That does it for this week’s Geek Beat, be sure to continue the conversation in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to see you guys next week. I hope you’re all having a happy holiday season.
Chris Clow is a graduate of Western Washington University, in addition to having an obsession with film history and general geekdom. He is a comic book expert and retailer, contributor, and overall geek to Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his comic book reviews for various monthly titles and his participated podcasts at BOF and MMM, as well as his regular piece The Geek Beat right here at Movies.com every Tuesday. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow!