Warner Bros. has just released the first full-length trailer for their big summer 2013 Superman reboot, Man of Steel, and it really is quite something, all moody Gladiator-style prayer music and desaturated photography and lots of dreamy voice over. We could tell that director Zack Snyder was going this route from the earlier teaser, but this new reel really lays it on thick.
I'm of two minds about this. The first, more positive outlook is that this kind of super-serious, non-comic-book-y approach to Superman could finally solve the problem of what a silly superhero he is — those tights and that flying and that square-chinned earnestness could be muted by a Dark Knight-esque moral fable approach to the material. Everything we see in this trailer is, in fact, rather lovely and chill-inducing. So maybe this is a smart, novel take on our hoariest of evil-fighting modern gods.
The other take is that this all self-serious gobbledygook, and that Zack Snyder — who is, in my mind, one movie away from being declared a hack — is trying to dress up the same old nonsense in Christopher Nolan's dark wardrobe in order to force our respect. The fact is, Superman is silly, no matter what. As Bryan Singer's lugubrious 2006 effort to revive the character, Superman Returns, showed us, putting Clark Kent in dour lighting is not a cure-all for his innate bright shiny-ness. Plus, we are merely talking about an effectively cut trailer here. There's nothing on Zack Snyder's resume that suggests he's actually shot two hours of good film. The casting is interesting — Henry Cavill is a purposefully blank sex bomb, Amy Adams ought to make for a nicely mature Lois Lane, grizzly old Kevin Costner as Superman's dad is inspired — and the photography looks nice, but Snyder has always been good at populating his movies and making things look cool. It's the substance he struggles with, and no trailer is going to appropriately clue us in on that.
So, let's be trepidatious but hopeful? It'd be nice to see this prototypical avenger get his day in the modern fanboy sun, even if that means we have to suffer through months of the quasi-spiritual marketing campaign. Snyder is due for redemption or damnation, so let's wait and see what the man of steel can do for him.