Is Zack Snyder Overcompensating in His Attempt to Make Superman Less of a "Boy Scout"? / by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

Richard Lawson over at the Atlantic Wire has put up his take on the recently released full-length trailer for Zack Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel, the inevitable reboot of the Superman franchise after 2006's flawed and not-terribly-successful Superman Returns. As we were primed for already by the teaser, the full-length trailer continues in that moody, heavily affected portrayal of Superman—or as Bruce Wayne often calls him in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, the "Boy Scout."

Perhaps Lawson is being a bit harsh when he refers to Superman as a "silly superhero," but he's far from the first to voice this critique and concern, and it's not like Miller's (or Christopher Nolan's) Batman is really going to disagree. And seeing as Nolan's (for the most part) deft handling of the Dark Knight is absolutely impossible to ignore and has significantly shifted how audiences expect to see their (super)heroes portrayed, one has to wonder how much this (and Nolan's influence as producer on Man of Steel) has affected Snyder's treatment of Superman. In the trailer, we see a stylized depiction of a bearded Clark Kent floating underwater; a childhood discussion with his adopted father about who he is and what he is capable of, both of which must be kept secret, and focusing on—surprise, surprise—life and death; an unkempt and disillusioned Kent wandering in some attempt to find himself, to answer his true calling, to discover how he will change the world; and, finally, a clean-shaven Superman in full regalia, his fists shaking the icy landscape below him moments before he launches into the air. In miniature we witness the trajectory Kent will take in Man of Steel, and it's difficult to overlook the parallels to Batman Begins, some of which were obviously already existent or explored in previous treatments of Superman, but others which seem a direct response to Nolan's films (and by this I mean the beard and the disillusioned wandering).

That said, it's also important to ask how much of this is in fact necessary in taking on a story and a character like Superman in this day and age. Is this not meant to be an epic-of-sorts? While I understand many of Lawson's concerns, I am not sure there is a way to present a subtle, terribly complex treatment of Clark Kent—he just isn't a subtle or complex guy, hence the "Boy Scout" nickname. And isn't it better that Snyder is making an attempt to add some depth to Superman's "innate shiny-ness"? Would anyone actually prefer the alternative? Could Snyder even attempt this alternative after the rave reviews and success of the Dark Knight Trilogy?

And (just perhaps) it's still a little early to be panning a film that hasn't even been released. Trailers are meant to excite us for an upcoming motion picture, and while there may be some reasons for concern in Man of Steel's first full-length trailer, there's also quite a bit to be excited about. You know, like Michael Shannon as General Zod! That'll likely be worth the price of admission alone.