Dial S For Hope

man-of-steel

In this latest superhero adaptation by director Zack Snyder – produced by none other than Christopher Nolan – the ‘S’ on Clark Kent’s costume is the Kryptonian symbol for hope. A family crest of sorts, worn on the costumes of not just Superman as he orbits the Earth, discovering and testing the full extent of his superpower potential, but also that of his father, Jor-El (played by Russel Crowe), who as a warrior in erstwhile Krypton, fought to preserve Krypton’s future.

But it’s only us—fed on the1980s staple of Clark Kent/Superman in primary colours—who know our hero to be Superman. Superman barely finds a mention through the movie, referred to, as he is, in most cases, as “Clark” or “Kal”, and at many points in time, simply “the alien.” He’s disassociated from us, understood and studied as a separate entity, one who does not entirely fit within our human fold, or so we gather from a series of flashbacks: from baby Kal-El/Superman escaping General Zod’s hands, landing on Earth, and being raised by Mr and Mrs Kent of Kentucky and eventually, in time, understanding his true worth/reason for being in our world USA.

This is an origin story, no doubt about that. Henry Cavill takes on a slightly different – darker, broodier – interpretation than that of Christopher Reeves’s Superman. He’s in a process of self-discovery; at first, unable to understand why he’s been cursed with such supernatural powers, wanting to be just like the rest, and eventually, when the time was right – just as his human father (played by Kevin Costner) had advised him – ready to face the world as Superman. Minus the underwear.

Of course, no mention of a Superman movie can be made without reference to Lois Lane. Amy Adams’s portrayal of the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, and her steely resolve when it comes to sourcing and piecing together a story falls short on only one – and perhaps most important – account: chemistry. And that’s something Revees’s Superman and Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane had in plenty.

As for the villain, General Zod, what can I say? Played with equal parts menace by Michael Shannon in this movie, as by Terence Stamp in Superman II, there’s that uncomfortable, eerie chill that runs down one’s spine when Shannon comes on: one only wished he would have died faster than he did in the final battle sequence. But hey, this is a man who has traversed light years to defeat Superman/take revenge on Jor-El, so little surprise, then, upon his insistence on staying alive.

There’s little humour in this Superman movie. Much of the movie portrays Cavill as Superman-in-mental-trauma as he attempts to understand himself, and whether his origins and capabilities are a blessing, like his father said. But show this movie to a girl who grew up on a comic diet of Clark Kent circling through the revolving doors at lightning speed, and flying to Paris to rescue a determined and forever-at-risk Lois Lane, and she might leave the movie hall just a tad bit disappointed. Show her Reeves in 2D any day.

 

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