A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a mother and father on a doomed planet called Krypton sent their one and only son, Kal-el, on a crash course to Earth in an attempt to save him from the impending doom of their homeworld. With the similar appearance of the inhabitants of Earth, young Kal-el differed in a very remarkable way from those who took him in as one of their own: powered by the rays of the sun, Kal-el (now living under the pseudonym “Clark Kent”) began to exhibit and harness powers of a super nature. Under the direction and guidance of his adopted parents, Clark learned that with great power comes great responsibility and as he grew he quickly learned just what that lesson would mean for him in his future
Not only would Clark (soon to be known to the world as Superman) have a big responsibility in the comic book world, but he would also have one in the movie world as well. Back in 1978 another Force (not quite as powerful as 1977’s Star Wars Force) arose as Christopher Reeve took on the mantle as Superman. Over time, certain actor’s names have become synonymous with their characters: Luke Skywalker/Mark Hamill, Indiana Jones/Harrison Ford, John McClane/Bruce Willis. But the MOST iconic character/name melding has always been that of Superman/Christopher Reeve.
As a matter of fact, when I think of Superman, it is almost always Reeve’s image that comes to mind. (It was truly a sad day when Superman fell).
The first Superman movie ushered a whole new genre of film into the industry. Not counting the Batman film of 12 years prior that served more as an extension of the television series, 1978’s Superman was the first real standalone superhero movie (big responsibility). The success of further films rested on the shoulders of Superman and tons of superhero films would follow in his footsteps. Superman paved the way for three more sequels and several well-received other superhero films (Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) along with others not so well-received (Howard the Duck, 1990’s Captain America, 1993’s The Fantastic Four) and more.
Thankfully, come the late 1990’s, technology moved forward and special effects allowed us to see superheroes like never before. The ability to now take iconic scenes, images and fights directly from the pages of the comics onto the screen of the movies allowed the superhero genre to explode once again. While there were plenty of proposals for a fifth Superman film, the poor reception of Superman IV: A Quest for Peace kept studios from considering bringing the Last Son of Krypton back. Had he served his purpose and now on to “bigger and better” superheroes? Well, it would seem so as Batman, Spiderman and X-Men took over the theaters.
“A world without a Superman movie” -exactly what existed from 1988 all the way until 2006 when the DC Empire would strike back and search for Superman to take back the reins. Superman stayed alive in animated versions throughout that time, but it wouldn’t be until 2006 when we would see another live-action Superman on the big screen. Enter: Brandon Routh in Superman Returns. (A role that Henry Cavill auditioned for.) Aside from a few iconic poses, looks and characters, Superman Returns disappointed so many fans with its lack of action and focus on character development that was to serve as a springboard for further Superman films. Alas, Superman once again let the world down…after five major Superman movies, only two were deemed “amazing”…the first two. Would Superman ever defeat the doomsday of theatrical failure?
Enter the new hope of next week’s Man of Steel. The Return of the Kryptonian Jedi (you knew that reference was coming) is nigh. With a fantastic cast, including Henry Cavill looking better than ever, and plenty of promised action, Man of Steel excites fans and wouldbe fans alike to see a Superman film like they always imagined. A lot is riding on the cape-tails of this superhero film. Superman, once again, finds that his great power comes with great responsibility.
It is pretty common knowledge that DC wants to build their empire in the movie world and continue with a Justice League movie. Some would argue that it can and will be made regardless of Man of Steel‘s reception. I tend to believe that everything rides on whether or not DC’s poster boy takes them to greater heights with this film. Under the direction of visual director Zack Snyder and the guidance of the DC Godfather Christopher Nolan, it looks like Man of Steel is about to shape the comicbook movie world once again and, like mighty Atlas, carry it on his shoulders to greater heights.
In closing, this great superhero…this…alien, that shows a world full of humans what it truly means to be human by being more of one than the general populus is about to show the world what DC still has to offer in terms of a superhero movie that is not Batman.
A powerful icon in the superhero world, Man of Steel has a great responsibility to fans and skeptics alike to show that there can and will be more to come. Though not a big Superman fan myself, I am interested and excited to see this movie and see what else DC has in store in the future. Is Man of Steel the beginning of a new era for Superman? I think so. It brings in a new era and with it a new hope. That is, afterall, what the “S” symbol stands for!
Thanks for reading.
–T, The Focused Filmographer