As you probably know by now, Zack Snyder has finally crowned a new Man of Steel for his Superman reboot called - er - The Man of Steel. (By the way, we totally called it.) British heart-breaker Henry Cavill has just made superhero loving ladies very happy by landing the role, but the casting choice has many Superman fans scratching their heads. Can he do it? Can this Brit give us the Superman we've been waiting for? The Superman we want, nay, the Superman we deserve? (Sorry, I think I'm catching the Britishness just by talking about him.) We're not exactly sure what the future holds for the Kryptonite-fearing hero, but now that we know the man who'll be deflecting bullets and leaping tall buildings in a single bound, we can put together a few things that we hope might make it into the final big-screen product.
The Clark Kent Nerd Factor
I’ll admit, Clark Kent’s daily ruse as a reporter with glasses who secretly has that red and blue suit under his daytime clothes has always been completely flimsy. It demands a certain level of acceptance on the audience’s part – how else are we supposed to go along with the fact that Lois Lane, a hard-nosed journalist, hasn’t figured out that these two guys are the same person? Even so, recent renditions of the super story have taken that notion and run away with it. Yes, Clark Kent is obviously Superman because the hero doesn’t have the masked benefit that Bruce Wayne’s alter ego enjoys, but even Christian Bale’s Batman takes extra steps to ensure his identity stays intact. I’d like to see Cavill’s Kent delve into the nerddom; many versions of the reporter even have him with a higher-pitched voice and a slouch. He can’t sound and carry himself exactly like Superman, modern audiences have a limited capacity for accepting fantasy and I think most recent versions have completely ignored that. I know this nerdy request is a lot to ask of a man whose claim to fame is wooing ladies on The Tudors, but he’s a talented actor and I think he’s got the chops to literally be the two different men as Clark Kent has to be.
He’s Superman, Not The Hulk
A great concern that has heated up message boards since the announcement that Cavill would be taking over the caped hero’s post is that he’s just not muscular enough for the role. Well, to those folks I offer this idea: Superman is not of this world, so who knows if Kryptonian's look like that? His super strength is hindered by proportionate size and his physicality wouldn’t necessarily work the same way a human’s would. He does not need to be a jacked up version of a man with muscles so large it’s a wonder he fits through normal doorways; his strength is not derived from his human muscles but from the power of our yellow Sun (how else could a baby boy lift a car?) From a purely visual standpoint, the dramatic effect of watching him use his powers could benefit from having him look a little less like a hulk of a man. Plus, to go along with the nerdy ruse above, an appropriately muscular but not uncommonly bulky physical appearance would allow him to better embody the normalcy of his alter ego’s persona. Take a look at Brandon Routh’s scenes from Superman Returns; he towers over everyone in the office. It looks like his body is trying to break out of that nerd costume he picked up at the Halloween superstore. He looks completely alien, and if Clark Kent is supposed to be convincingly human in daily life, he really shouldn’t be that abnormally large.
He Must Have Left That Suit At The Cleaners
This one’s for the ladies. Though Cavill is by no means jacked, he is a mega babe and he did start on the road to stardom with some modeling. That being said, there has to be an excuse for him to be shirtless for at least 3 minutes in Snyder’s reboot. Maybe he has to save someone but just got out of the shower and only has time to find those tiny red underpants and his cape? Or maybe he goes to shed those regular clothes and finds that he forgot the blue unitard part of his suit at the cleaners? He’d have to fight the bad guys with no shirt which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Besides, he’s the Man of Steel, does he really need a shirt? Those bullets don’t bounce right off his chest because he’s got a shiny blue piece of material in between the metal and his muscles. That giant “S” isn’t a shield. Zack Snyder, please hear my plea.
Superman: The Lady Killer
Now here’s something that only Cavill’s Superman could do. It’s not exactly a textbook characteristic, but Cavill spent years on The Tudors perfecting his ability to woo the ladies, so why not use a little of that for his Superman duties? Rumors have flown that The Man of Steel will involve Lex Luthor (yes, again; we’re over it too) and Brainiac, but why not throw in a lady villain? They could bring in LiveWire, who appeared in the animated Superman series. She started out as a radio shock jock, who often blasted Superman in her broadcasts, but an accident changes her appearance and allows her to manipulate electricity. This could make for an interesting side plot that allows Cavill to use his wooing abilities to talk her down (and it could take some of the focus away from Luthor, who’s been so over-used at this point).
A Modern Day Hero With Modern Day Issues
Bringing in an experienced action auteur and visual innovator like Snyder ensures that The Man of Steel will greatly contrast the last three entries of big-screen Superman adventures, but that doesn’t mean fans don’t want depth. While Clark Kent’s struggles in Superman Returns were mainly emotional, everything we’ve heard about the direction of this new chapter suggests that the character’s internal conflict will be existential – and that rocks. Since Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull said that he’d like to evoke Superman as an “angry God” in this film, I think the creative team should take note from Liam Neeson’s Zeus in Clash of the Titans and show us the nasty side of Kal-El. Why? Because the biggest problem in making this classic character believable to contemporary audiences is that he’s idealistic by design. Superman is just too good a person for these cynical times. Cavill needs to give us a superhero that wrestles with his own decisions and intentions; a lone, imperfect savior unsure of himself and the civilization he swore to protect. Think Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen (but with pants), who slaughtered countless numbers in the jungles of Vietnam for the sake of “freedom.” The only way people are going to be drawn to Superman in this day and age is if they can relate to him, and that means Cavill will need to do what Heath Ledger’s Joker did to Harvey Dent: “bring him down to our level.”