Monday, April 20, 2015

How does 'Man of Steel' lead into 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'?

Now that the teaser trailer for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is out (and has been reviewed/analyzed by yours truly), it's time for us to consider how we get there from "Man of Steel."

But first, an admission. CCC contributor David Hudson (a lifelong Superman and Batman fan) and I don't have a lot of confidence in director Zack Snyder. Or rather, we're not confident in his ability to deliver the kind of film fans expect "Dawn of Justice" to be. Much less a move with depth.

But I gotta give Snyder credit. He seems to have planted the seeds for "Dawn of Justice" in the first half of "Man of Steel" and appears to make all those themes pay off during the sequel.

"Man of Steel" can be dismissed too easily as an alien invasion story. Given the showdown with Superman, the Kryptonian warriors and the military in downtown Smallville, the devastation caused by the world engines in Metropolis and Supes' subsequent battle with General Zod, there was millions of dollars of capital damage, not to mention the deaths of possible thousands of people.

But that's the point. Especially when it comes to "Dawn of Justice."
"Man of Steel" is about an alien invasion story; Snyder spends almost half of the film driving that issue home.

The most powerful quotes in the first one hour and eight minutes focus on Jor-El and Jonathan Kent's prophetic statements about how they expect their son to provide Earthlings hope, but they don't expect him to be trusted -- much less accepted.

Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) counsels his son about the danger of revealing
his superpowers to the public in this scene from "Man of Steel."
And that is how "MoS" leads into "Dawn of Justice." (That is, if the editing of the footage and people's complaints about Superman are as relevant to the bigger story as it appears.)

Having watched "Man of Steel" this weekend, it's easy to see how it sets up "Dawn of Justice" -- something I didn't realize until I paid attention to "MoS" and saw the "DoJ" teaser trailer.
Why are these soldiers bowing to Superman in this footage from "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"?
In fact, who are these soldiers? 

The second half of "Man of Steel" indeed focuses on a massive series of exciting action sequences and fight scenes, but it's the first half that sets the groundwork for the public's outcry over Superman (as heard during voiceovers in the opening seconds of the "Dawn of Justice" trailer). "DoJ" appears to explore Superman being an alien and outcast in the world he calls home. In short, people resent him.

Here's the proof in the following quotes from "Man of Steel," presented in chronological order:
  • "He'll be an outcast, a freak." -- Lara "How? He'll be a god to them." -- Jor-El
  • Pete Ross' mother says teenage Clark Kent's actions to save the students on the bus are "an act of God," possibly even "providence."
  • "There's much more at stake here than our lives, Clark, or the lives around us. When the world finds out what you can do, it's gonna change everything -- our beliefs, our notions of what it means to be human." -- Jonathan Kent
  • "People are afraid of what they don't understand." -- Kent
  • "You embody the best of both worlds." -- Jor-El, referring to Krypton and Earth
  • "The symbol of the house of El means hope. Embodied within that hope is the fundamental belief that every person can be a force for good." -- Jor-El to his son, Kal-El/Clark Kent
  • "My father (Jonathan) believed that if the world found out who I really was, they would reject me. Out of fear." -- Kent to Lois Lane when they first meet
  • "Can you imagine how people on this planet will react if they know someone like this was out there?" -- Perry White to Lane
  • "He will have made the effort to blend in. He will look like you. But he is not one of you." -- Zod about Kent/Superman
Superman lifts what appears to be a Russian satellite in this footage from
the "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" teaser trailer.
  • "You just have to decide what kind of man you want to be when you grow up, Clark, because whatever that man is -- good character or bad -- he's going to change the world." -- Jonathan Kent
And just before Superman flies to Earth (while making his body into the shape of a cross while floating away from Zod's spaceship), Jor-El tells his son he's expected to build a bridge between his Kryptonian and Earth heritages: "We wanted you to learn what it meant to be human first so that one day, when the time was right, you could be a bridge between two people."

How much of this will be addressed in "Dawn of Justice"? We're still about a year away from finding out.

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