Man Of Steel, the latest Superman reboot, re-tells the eternal story: on a dying planet, a helpless babe is sent away in a tiny spaceship by his loving parents. It lands on a faraway place called Earth, where he is adopted by a loving couple with no children to call their own. Growing up to discover that he has superpowers,  he decides to use them for the good of all mankind. He calls himself Superman, and becomes the greatest hero the world has ever known.
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Almost 70 years after he was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, the myth of Superman has lost none of its power. Just typing these words is sending chills down my spine. And judging from the footage we saw at the Man Of Steel panel in Hall H on Saturday, director Zack Snyder is staying true to the mythos, albeit with a darker twist.
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Given that we saw little of him in those precious few minutes on screen, the jury is still out on Henry Cavill, the latest Man of Tomorrow. But since just about 99.9% of the women in the audience (and on the planet) were prepared to sleep with Cavill – something also cheekily noted by moderator Chris Hardwick – it’s safe to say that he’s already won over at least half the potential audience. He certainly looks the part of a Superman.
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Henry Cavill, Man of Steel, SDCC, Comic Con

Henry Cavill at SDCC ©incoherentboy.com

It all began with Snyder revealing that the Man Of Steel clip we were about to see comprised different footage from the trailer that will be tagged onto The Dark Knight Rises, which comes out later next week. Once again, I’m unable to show you any of the footage since we weren’t allowed to record any of it. Security personnel were certainly enthusiastic about enforcing the rule – while I was sending out a tweet, one of the besuited enforcers flashed a light at me and barked: “Put away the cell phone!”

The clip begins with shots of green fields accompanied by a Russell Crowe (Jor-El) voiceover, followed by shots of a teenage Clark Kent saving some teenagers from a bus that has plunged into water and an ominous voice declaring: “My son was in the bus bus. He saw what Clark did!” We also catch glimpses of Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Amy Adams (Lois Lane) and Crowe himself, while there are only fleeting glimpses of Cavill in the suit. It seems that the movie will emphasise Clark Kent’s outsider status, and we may well be getting a more troubled, angsty Superman. Since the movie’s produced by Christopher Nolan, it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. These were certainly images that got me excited, though I have my doubts about Adams as Lois Lane. Again though, there was little to be seen of her in the footage.
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Man of Steel, Warner Brothers, Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill as Superman © Warner Brothers

Come question time, it was difficult to get substantive responses, since the lucky few who got to ask questions did not go very far beyond gushing and, in the case of one middle-aged man, literally crying: “It’s so emotional, man.” This prompted moderator Hardwick to leap off stage with a single bound to comfort him with a bear hug. One besotted teenage girl even asked Cavill for his placard, despite convention rules clearly asking audience members not to make personal requests during question time, but he dutifully obliged.
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Well aware of the burden of fan expectation, both Snyder and Cavill did not go very far beyond polite platitudes. Right off the bat, Snyder emphasised that Man Of Steel would respect established folklore: ” “Superman is the king daddy of all superheroes and everybody knows that. We have great respect for the canon and the mythology of Superman.” But given that the classic John Williams theme (bum-bum bum bum buuum!) is not going to be used in the new movie,  it’s safe to say that we can expect significant departures from the mythos. It’s a bold move on Snyder’s part, and even bolder considering the studio’s decision to reboot the film just six years after the lacklustre Superman Returns. After all, when images of Cavill in the new Superman costume were released in August last year, the response was mixed at best. But by his humming and hawing in response to a fan’s question on the villain of the piece, Snyder did at least more or less  confirm that Supes’ nemesis this time round will be General “KNEEL!” Zod.
Zack Snyder, Henry Cavill, Man of Steel, SDCC

Director Zack Snyder and the new Superman, Henry Cavill ©incoherentboy.com

It’s also significant that when asked how he was approaching his performance, Cavill said: ” I just wanted to bring as much of the modern Superman into the world. Hopefully, I can bring a modern version that everyone (including those who haven’t read the comics) can associate with.” While he was diplomatic and concise, and looked VERY ripped and charming, he also seemed a tad nervous. But given the rabid fan base and the legacy of the late, great Christopher Reeve, who can really blame him? It’s also worth remembering that this is second time lucky for him, as he missed out on the role to Brandon Routh in 2006. I do like Cavill from watching The Tudors, but I still feel they jettisoned Routh, who did a more than decent job, too early.
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As someone who grew up knowing only Chris Reeve as Superman, I think I speak for many fans when I say that he can never be replaced. But times change and people move on, so it’s only fair to give Cavill a chance to re-define Superman for a new generation. The footage I saw looks great, and Snyder does great action, so let’s all hope they both succeed. As Cavill himself put it: “The pressure has been pretty intense, and I just hope I’ve done everything I can to make the fans happy.”
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