The New Man of Steel Trailer: The Birth of the Summer Tearbuster
Either this trailer will speak to you on an inner-child level, bypassing your reflexive cynicism about summer blockbusters, or it won’t, because either you did the blanket-cape thing as a kid or you didn’t. After the trailer hit the web, my Twitter timeline filled up with posts from (presumably) grown men proudly announcing that it had made them cry; this means it worked. (Blockbuster + tearjerker = tearbuster?) People latch on to different superheroes for different reasons, but the reasons people attach to Superman are almost always sentimental ones. His whole mythos is bound up in cultural bygones — family farms, daily newspapers, phone booths — and a yearning for innocence and safety and moral clarity. Batman is about murk, and murk is always updatable; Superman is about innocence, and innocence is tougher to modernize. Hiring a bleeding-edge director like Zack Snyder for the relaunch (and involving The Dark Knight‘s Christopher Nolan as a creative godfather) seemed like Warner Bros.’s way of hedging a bet on the character, and to some degree like a vote of no confidence in his potential appeal to 21st-century moviegoers; what’s surprising about the movie the trailers appear to be selling is how blanket-capey it seems.
This is the third Man of Steel trailer, and it’s epic even by the giving-away-the-store standards of modern trailer-cutting. We get glimpses of the destruction of Krypton, Michael Shannon going full George Mueller neck veins as General Zod, and Henry Cavill’s Kal-El trading romantic-comedy banter with Amy Adams’s Lois Lane. That last scene shows up near the end of the trailer, after a whole lot of expected-yet-exciting punching and flying and heavy-object-lifting in CGI-fireball-rich environments. It feels like an afterthought. Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman movie was a romance; from the looks of things, this one’s about kids and their dads. First we hear Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Superman’s lost father, and then we cut to Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, his adoptive one. The Smallville stuff looks like insurance-commercial Terrence Malick — the red wagon overturned in the grass, the butterfly, the blanket-cape, a boy and his dog. The way young Clark, informed of his heroic destiny, asks Costner, “Can’t I just be your son?” kind of makes me want to hurl; the way Costner’s voice breaks when he says “You are my son” to Clark makes me want to call my dad. From a phone booth, if possible.