My name is Jeffrey Taylor. I’m a staff writer and moderator at The Superman Homepage, the #1 Superman website in the world that was also voted the #1 comic book Fansite on the internet by Project Fanboy in 2010. The site was even spoofed on TV’s Smallville in its 8th season. I also cohost From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast with my friend Michael Bailey where each week we discuss the Superman comic books and related media that were produced from 1986-2006. It’s free and you can find it at the Superman Homepage, iTunes and The Superman Podcast Network. On top of all that, I will be announcing an exciting new podcast in just a few weeks, so stay tuned. You can find my new Man of Steel Countdown column here at Movies.com every other Tuesday beginning in June.
“Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Superman’s pentagonal “S” symbol is the most recognizable non-religious image in the world. He was the first superhero to don the tights and cape to pave the way for Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Captain America and Thor. And everybody knows he stands for “Truth, Justice and … all that stuff!”
Superman has changed a lot over 73 years of comic book history, as well as every other media you can think of. From radio shows to animated features, books, movies and television, Superman has consistently remained a hot property. And as the times changed, Superman had to change with it. However, the basics always remained the same. The baby Kal-El was sent to Earth in a rocket ship just moments before his home planet Krypton exploded. He was raised as Clark Kent in Middle America by loving parents who instilled in him a sense of responsibility. In his adulthood, he moved to the city of Metropolis where he became a reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper and dressed as Superman where he displayed great feats of strength to help the people who needed him and punish criminals.
My love of Superman dates back to my childhood focusing on the Superman movies. When I was 8 years old, Christopher Reeve’s son Matt was on my baseball team in Williamstown, Massachusetts where Reeve frequently participated in the Williamstown Theater Festival. It bolstered my fandom for years to come and I met the Man of Steel himself on several occasions both before and after his accident. When Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman began airing on ABC in 1993 when I was 13-years-old, I became excited for Superman again and began collecting the comics. Today I own over 10,000 comic books including nearly every appearance of Superman published from 1971-the present.
Superman: The Movie set the tone in 1978 for what a comic book superhero franchise could accomplish, and it spawned three sequels in ten years. It took 20 years and countless scripts and directors until Warner Brothers finally released Superman Returns in 2006. Sadly, the film failed to meet box office expectations and a direct sequel would never take place.
Due to a complicated copyright lawsuit, Warner Brothers could not wait another 20 years to develop and release a new Superman film, because the company would lose the rights to put the character on screen forever. Enter Zack Snyder (Director of 300, Watchmen and Sucker Punch).
Snyder claims that he, along with writer David Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan, will create a Superman film worthy of the character and fix the problems that plagued Superman Returns. So far, fans have been deluged with exciting casting announcements and brief sound bytes that have Superman’s die hard followers either up in arms or ecstatic.
28 year old Henry Cavill will play Superman/Clark Kent. Although many of the players so far are well established celebrities, Superman has often been cast as a virtual unknown because as Bryan Singer said when he was casting Superman Returns, “Superman should appear to come out of the collective consciousness of the masses.” There was a time when the likes of Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford were considered for the title role in the Superman: The Movie. The concern was that audiences might connect with the actor they knew, but fail to connect to the character. Although Cavill’s credentials include Showtime’s The Tudors and as well as American films like Stardust, Tristan + Isolde and the upcoming Immortals, he remains mostly unknown by the widest audiences. His experience as a Shakespearean actor means that he has every opportunity to be as amazing as Christopher Reeve was in 1978. The only fear is that his English accent has shown through in other films where he played an American. Here’s hoping he can learn to do that properly while he weight-trains to bulk up for the role.
34-year-old Amy Adams will be the new Lois Lane. She is a stunning redhead whose breakout role as Giselle in Disney’s Enchanted in 2007 opposite Superman Returns co-star James Marsden made her a household name. She had already experienced great success in films like Junebug which provided her first of three Oscar nominations. In 2009, she starred as Julie Powell in Julie & Julia along with Academy Award winner Meryl Streep. So far, many of her starring roles have been of the sweet, caring sort, as opposed to the traditional hard-nosed, no-nonsense Lois Lane. Clearly she can act, but the question is, can she pull off portraying the angsty investigative reporter who can hold her own while interacting with a powerful super villain? Also, will she go brunette for the role?
This will not be Amy’s first foray into the world of Superman. During Smallville’s first season, she put on a fat suit to play Jodi Melville. To lose weight, she would liquefy homegrown vegetables in a blender, but did not know that there was Kryptonite in the soil. After quickly dropping all her weight, she began to suck the fat out of people and animals like a vampire might suck blood. In the end, unable to control her hunger, she died in an explosion in her greenhouse.
Diane Lane is going to be Martha “Ma” Kent and Kevin Costner is Jonathon “Pa” Kent, the adopted parents of Clark Kent. They found his rocket ship in a field in Smallville, Kansas and raised him from infancy to adulthood, instilling a Middle-American sense of right and wrong and providing the morality that Superman would need to use his powers for the betterment of humankind. Costner is an excellent choice for this role. He can exude that sense of the “American Way” that Superman is famous for. In a lot of ways, he seems made for this part. Diane Lane continues Smallville’s tradition of casting a beautiful, middle-aged woman as Martha Kent. Technically, she has starred in a Superman related film. In 2006, she played Toni Mannix in Hollywoodland, the woman who allegedly had an affair with George Reeves, who was Clark Kent/Superman in the popular 1950’s Adventures of Superman TV series. According to the film, her husband’s jealousy may have led to Reeves’ murder, although much of the movie was speculative and the official reports are that Reeves committed suicide.
Michael Shannon has been cast as General Zod, a villain with the same powers and abilities as Superman, but without the regard for life or sense of right and wrong. Shannon’s film resume is widely varied and he seems to be a chameleon character actor who can play just about any part there is. For those unfamiliar with him, watch this clip from the HBO Series Boardwalk Empire.
The big question is, how big a role will Zod play in the plot of the film? Will it be a small role on Krypton or will he be the primary villain? Zod was a minor character in Superman: The Movie in 1978, but was set up to be the main antagonist in the sequel. There are a number of Superman villains that could fit the mold of an updated movie, including Brainiac or Metallo. Despite the casting announcement, it remains unclear who the villain will be. Superman’s worst enemy is of course Lex Luthor, but several producer interviews have stated that the plan is not to retread on the past films, so Luthor may or may not be in the movie at all, but if he is, he will most likely not be the main bad guy.
Will the film live up to the standards the world expects, or will it be another big disappointment? Will it succeed in pleasing both the fans of the character and the wider world audience? Do these artists even truly understand the character, or will we see a Superman that looks and acts nothing like our expectations. Only time will tell.
Post comments and questions here in the discussion forum and I’ll be checking in to respond.
Stay tuned in two weeks for more about the rumored plot and a discussion of Man of Steel screenwriter David Goyer’s controversial story from Action Comics #900 about Superman giving up his United States Citizenship.
Until then, don’t forget to look up in the sky…