Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Superman Roundup

Having locked in Henry Cavill and Amy Adams as Superman and Lois Lane, respectively, the other big news to break last weekend about Zack Snyder's Superman reboot, now titled (The?) Man of Steel, was the signing of Oscar-nominated Michael Shannon, most recently wowing critics on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, as the film's villain. Yep, it's General Zod. The "Zod as villain" rumor has been floating around since Snyder signed on, and I said back then that I hoped it wasn't true, so while I'm less-than-thrilled that they're not mining one of the half-dozen other Superman foes worth a damn, I sure can't complain about their choice to play him. Shannon is a great actor, and extremely different from Terence Stamp, whose Zod in the Reeve Superman flicks left a pretty indelible mark, so we can be confident this will mark a total reinvention of that role (check out an amusing vid of Shannon discussing his Zod audition here).

In other news on the feature, Latino Review unearthed some plot details this week that lend credence to the idea, also floated early on, that producer Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer are emulating the Batman Begins origin model that served them so well six years ago. Per LR, we'll see the planet Krypton, which is pointedly not going to be the sterile, crystalline world that Richard Donner's film popularized, but will instead be more of a piece with the city planet Coruscant from the Star Wars prequels (and hopefully that's the extent of inspiration they take from the Star Wars prequels...). Also worth mentioning, the producers are (or were, anyway) wooing Daniel Day-Lewis to play the part of baby Kal-El's proud papa, Jor-El. Hey, if you need someone to step into Marlon Brando's shoes, I can't think of an actor with a better resume than Day-Lewis to do it.

Now, as far as this being yet another origin story (all but confirmed by actress Diane Lane), I've already gone on record with my general puzzlement at why they'd feel the need to tell that particular tale yet again. Superman's origin is so iconic and well-known that writer Grant Morrison was able to boil it down to four phrases in his brilliant All-Star Superman graphic novel ("Doomed planet", "Desperate scientists", "Last hope", "Kindly couple") and not miss a beat. To see the way the character has been played in most media incarnations, you'd think his origin is the only tale worth telling (something the recent animated adaptation of the aforementioned All-Star Superman definitely puts the lie to). Still, I have an inordinate amount of faith in Nolan's influence -- enough, even, to look past the dismal critical and box office performance of Snyder's recent Sucker Punch -- so I'm hanging in there.

Speaking of Superman origins, we're within spitting distance of the culmination of another one in a just few short weeks. That's right, Smallville's ten-year television reign of "No flights, no tights" is very nearly at a close, ending  an entire era of Superman history with it. I may have voiced some frustrations with the show in the past, but I'm also on record with my general happiness at how this final season has shaped up, and with the end very nearly in sight, that still holds true. As I've said previously, ten seasons and two-hundred-plus episodes is a feat whichever way you look at it, and Smallville has quietly, steadily built up its corner of the mythos and in the process become the longest-lived of any non-comic incarnation of the character.

With the two-hour finale set to air just under a month from now, May 13, we don't know whether Tom Welling's Clark Kent will actually don the red-and-blues on-camera or whether he'll tie the knot with Erica Durance's Lois, but we do know that, after a big question mark over whether it would actually happen, Michael Rosenbaum (absent for several years now) will be back to reprise his Lex Luthor one last time. With Smallville nearly in his rearview mirror, star Tom Welling, the boy who spent ten years becoming a man (of steel, natch) spoke briefly with TV Guide about his experience wrapping up the show. Also, The CW (I actually almost typed The WB there...yikes, feeling old!) have released this short promo priming the nostalgia pump for the impending finale. I like the note-check of the John Williams music, and considering the Snyder-Nolan film's stated intent to move in a different direction music-wise, this may well end up being the last time we hear it in a new context, so enjoy it while it lasts, kiddies:

1 comment:

J.R. LeMar said...

A poster on had a great comment as to why they're doing another origin story:

"And hey, I'm all for not having the origin again, or Zod. But, you have to remember what the last theatrical Superman movie was, and how badly it bombed and why. That's the freshest in the memories of the current primary movie-going population. So you sort of have to reboot and re-present the origin so as to tell the audience, "No, this isn't creepy stalker deadbeat dad Superman who had a kid by Lois and then left the planet for five years. We're going back to the tradition you all know and love, we promise!" That's what Time-Warner is almost certainly looking at here."