If Christopher Reeve’s Superman circa 1978 was a jaunty self-parody of the worshiped warrior in primary colored armor, this latest incarnation of the last son of Krypton re-casts him as a brooding, haunted vigilante.
Conceived by ‘Dark Knight’ duo Christopher Nolan and David S Goyer, there is something of Batman’s grey moral code to this portrayal of the world’s first superhero. Speaking at the film’s premiere in New York, lead actor Henry Cavill explained why: “This time you get to see the soul of Superman a lot more and he’s had a life experience where he hasn’t had lots of friends and he’s lonely and no one can empathize with him.”
For Goyer, a change was on the cards: “Superman has evolved over the last 75 years. If he didn’t evolve he would not remain this vital iconographic character and in order for him to remain vital and relevant he has to keep changing. So you have to sort of risk the wrath of the hard-core fans by altering a few things.”
In an all-star cast, featuring Russell Crowe, Amy Adams and Diane Lane, Kevin Costner plays Jonathan Kent, Superman’s adoptive father. The ‘Waterworld’ star was determined to get his portrayal right: “I wanted to be a simple person who loved this little boy and who loved my wife and we understood that our job was not only to raise them but also to protect him.”
Forced to wrestle with his allegiance to humans over his home planet, this Kal-El never quite comes to terms with his destiny as Earth’s protector. In the end, audiences get to see just as much of the ‘man’ as they do of the ‘super’.
‘Man of Steel’ is in cinemas now.