Superman officially has issues. He's going to have more on his mind this summer than anybody expected—Fear! Loneliness! Emotional Issues!—and Man of Steel might have reached the point where everyone else really should start worrying about the big blue boy scout's new blues. In Entertainment Weekly's new issue, their summer movie preview, Anthony Breznican's cover story reveals the making of Superman's brain map; interviews with the filmmakers make pretty clear that Man of Steel will be just as maudlin as imagined when it hits theaters June 14.
This isn't that surprising, given what we've seen from the Malick-meets-Gladiator trailers has put out, but Breznican's story gives more background to the overtly moody new Superman. He writes: "They devised a hunted, fearful Superman—one who didn't even identify himself with that grandiose moniker but just wanted to blend in on his new home planet." We're clearly in a post-Dark Knight superhero age here, one where you've got to have a little psychoanalysis with your blockbuster. Or, in the case of Man of Steel, a planet full. Producer Charles Roven told Breznican: "You want to give the audience great spectacle. You want them to go to the movie, be eating their popcorn, and be like, 'Wow!' But if you just have the 'wow,' ultimately you get bludgeoned by that and you stop caring." He's right, but there's also such a thing as bludgeoning by introspection.
Make no mistake: Man of Steel will turn Superman's primary weakness into a mental one. This movie will be no Kryptonite—the notorious material that is Superman's classic chemical foil. Director Zack Snyder tells EW that Man of Steel will have only "emotional kryptonite." Oy. Henry Cavill, the British hunk playing Clark Kent/Superman, told Breznican: "Although his not susceptible to the frailties of mankind, he is definitely susceptible to the emotional frailties." And Snyder goes on to explain that the warning from Pa Kent (played by Kevin Costner), that Clark should never reveal his true identity, becomes something of a cripple for Superman: "He can't fight back like a normal person. He's sort of trapped by that in a weird way." Basically, Superman's going to be kind of a head case. Oy vey.
And the Superman story you thought you knew has more changes than that—all of which will continue to build up the demons in Superman's mind. Breznican explains that there will be a twist on Krypton: children there are for the most part "engineered," though our boy Kal-El was still born of "natural conception." That means, according to screenwriter David S. Goyer, there's a "whole element in the movie about nature versus nurture."
All of this is doing absolutely nothing to alleviate concerns among fans of the comic and summer movies in general that Snyder's take on ole Clark Kent is going to be more than a little heavy-handed. That's not to say the tested formula for Superman had been working so well in the first place: Bryan Singer's 2006 attempt to revive the Superman brand sputtered as it, in the words of the president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, attempted to "embrace what had been done in the past." So it makes sense that Snyder and his team would attempt to go in a completely different direction. Hey, Superman doesn't even have that little red underwear over his spandex in this one. Still, it's hard to know whether the superhero-movie-as-meditative-art-film lightning can strike twice, even if Christopher Nolan does have a story credit on Man of Steel, even if Goyer is a Dark Knight veteran as well.
And, well, there's still reason to be hopeful. Michael Shannon is a reliable weirdo and should add some creepy depth to his "supremacist" take on General Zod. Amy Adams should be a self-possessed Lois Lane ("transient," she calls her character in the EW story). And Antje Traue's "Kryptonian warrior" Faora seems like a badass. For all we know, this could be a great blockbuster, a classic franchise rebooted in a new direction with tears and popcorn mixing just right. But the more we learn, the more Man of Steel seems like one 2-hour-and-28-minute long Superman therapy session. And who really wants that with their popcorn?
Alas, there are new pictures! Pick up a copy of EW to read the full story....