Welcome to our Man of Steel Countdown column, a biweekly look at the upcoming Superman movie along with an exploration of the character's past, present and future.
As the “first lady” of comic books, Lois Lane has had a long and complicated history in all major media, as shown in the two most recent Countdown articles here at Movies.com (read part one and part two). With so little information available about Man of Steel so far, one of the many questions raised is “What can we expect from Amy Adams as Lois Lane?”
With eight months until release, it is entirely too early to judge her performance. Instead, this is a look at her career and versatility as an actress matched with what we know of Lois Lane as a character, as well as some statements she has made in interviews.
Adams is an established star, unlike most previous Lois Lanes, but she was an unlikely choice for many fans. The big question was what to do with her hair. Would she sport her natural red hair or dye it to be the more traditional brunette? From photos on the set, we know that she will have red hair, which has caused a number of complaints from traditionalists. However, Lois’s hair in the comics is often dark with red tones and Noel Neill had bright red hair in some seasons of the Adventures of Superman TV series of the 1950s.
In an interview with USA Today, Adams discussed the issue, saying, "This was a new idea, down to the hair color. I knew people would want to talk about my hair color. It was going to be a thing. (Director) Zack (Snyder) told me he didn't hire me to play someone else. He hired me to play Lois Lane. It's a whole reimagining.
"It's a totally different realization of the Superman lore, so I felt free in that way because I wasn't trying to emulate any sort of banter that had been established by Christopher Reeve and Kidder. I was given a lot of permission to create a new character."
The approach she will take with Lois Lane will depend greatly on the film, but Snyder has also said at Comic-Con that this version of Superman will be entirely new, but still pay homage to the past. Which aspects of the many versions of Lois will remain intact? Much of that is up to Adams. Lois is usually a very straightforward, opinionated and snarky kind of woman. Adams often portrays softer characters like Giselle in Enchanted, Amy in The Wedding Date, Mary in The Muppets and Anna in Leap Year. These are sweet, lovable roles that find the will to summon courage. They are almost the opposite of a traditional Lois Lane character, who is usually introduced with a no-nonsense gruffness and sarcasm that eventually reveals a softer side. Can she do justice to Lois?
The short answer is “Oh yes.”
The long answer requires a look at other films like Julie & Julia where she played Julie Powell opposite Meryl Streep’s Julia Child. Julie’s journey in many ways mirrored Julia’s and she went from a strong character to an even stronger one as the film progressed. Similarly, there’s last month’s Trouble with the Curve, which is still in some theaters. She played Mickey, the daughter of baseball scout Gus, performed by Clint Eastwood. Her character also began with great strength and found greater strength through her relationships, much like Lois often does in her overall arcs. She was also a very strong-willed love interest in The Fighter.
The one film that proves that Adams has a serious versatility as an actress is Junebug. She played Ashley and showed that she has amazing comedic timing, which continued for Enchanted and The Muppets, but she also had some painfully emotional scenes. Although Man of Steel will not be a comedy and Lois won’t be a comedic character, the audience will most certainly laugh at a few appropriate moments. Lois is often slightly awkward in social situations and might say exactly what she’s thinking, regardless of how accepting her company might be. Adams is ideal for these moments and we will most likely be treated to several.
Screenwriter David Goyer has stated that this film will be an attempt at realism and deal with how ordinary people might react to a man who can fly and change the course of mighty rivers. The odds are that most people would react with fear. Will Lois be one of the fearful who turns around at a key moment, or will she be the lone voice of positivity in a world that is afraid of the man who would be its greatest hero? Maybe both. This could be revealed in the full trailer or we may have to wait for the finished film for the answer.
Although we can be assured that Amy Adams will have a different take on Lois Lane, in an interview with Yahoo! Movies, she explained how much she appreciated Margot Kidder’s version in the first two Christopher Reeve films, as well as the challenges of playing such an iconic character that has already been portrayed so well.
"It was intimidating because it was played before by Margot Kidder, whom I love," she said. "One of my favorite movies growing up was Superman -- and Superman 2. I was kind of a nerd. I loved them so much. It was important to create a character that was new because I thought she was perfect. It's hard to step into a role where you thought someone had already achieved what could be achieved. But coming from theater, you're always stepping into a role that's been done before, so you're always excited about it."
Then in the same USA Today interview from above, she spoke further about Kidder, saying, "I grew up really loving (her). I wasn't trying to be her but I hope I do enough of a good job to have the same effect on young girls as Lois Lane had on me. I really loved seeing a woman represented as a modern woman in a superhero movie, and not even glamorized, really -- she was kind of a troublemaker. She wasn't a typical heroine. I identified with her from a very young age."
What fans looks for in a good Lois Lane is someone who respects where the character came from. When passive or new fans look at Lois, she needs to be special or it won’t work. In the history of Lois Lane (linked above), the only performances that failed were the ones that weren’t special enough. That even applies to Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns. Margot Kidder was spunky around Clark and nervous around Superman. Teri Hatcher was relatable, charming and beautiful. Erica Durance had a sharp tongue and a quick wit, but was still someone you could have a beer with. These are Lois Lane's that worked.
There is very little that anyone can be sure about when it comes to this film. With only a few exceptions, news has been slow and rarely reveals much. We will learn more when the full trailer comes out, which will most likely be around the holidays. Until then we can rest assured that Amy Adams has the “right stuff” to be a spectacular Lois Lane. She will be special. We just can’t be sure how yet.
What would you most like to see in Amy Adam’s portrayal of Lois Lane. What can she do that is special enough to make her this generation’s first lady of comics?