I’ve always had a problem with the character of Superman and it’s a feeling that has left me with a sentiment of disgust. After all, Superman is a character sans many flaws and as a student of film and purveyor of characteristic nuances, it’s hard to find any negative quirks in a protagonist that exudes such honorable qualities it borders on overbearingness.
And that is why I can appreciate Zach Snyder and David S. Goyer’s portrayal of the red-caped renegade in Man of Steel. He’s human after all, not in the sense that he carries the same biological structure that we do, but in the sense that he carries those intrinsic values we want to uphold despite the fact we may not have the abilities to do so. Superman is that conduit in which the patriotic values that we so cherish and wish to permeate manipulate themselves through his heroic actions.
I say that to say this–Man of Steel is a jaw-dropping experience, and with the release of the Blu-ray/DVD this week let’s take at look at the Top 10 things gleamed from the Blu-ray commentary.
1.)The Filmmakers Created A Kryptonian Language
You know all those symbols and scriptures that adorn the walls of the interior locations during the film’s opening sequences on Krypton? They actually mean something. The filmmakers went through painstaking lengths to create a lexicon, alphabet, symbolism and even unique sentence structures all in the sake of adding realism to realm of Krypton. They even went as far as to assign different familial crests to the various families that populate the dying planet. Move over Na’vi, there’s a new fake language in town.
2.)Michael Shannon Wishes He Could Over-throw the Government–Kind of
One of the interesting aspects about this special feature on the Blu-ray edition is the fact that this commentary is not your usual voice-over artifact. Second screens pop up showing alternate camera angles, actors jump in during pivotal moments to give their take on things, and in one such instance, Michael Shannon, in his unintentionally dry self, opines on what fun it would be to stage some sort of political coup. Surely he’s just living vicariously through his character, Zod, but one must question whether the character actor behind such chilling villains such as Richard Kuklinski actually has the gumption to pull off such a feat.
3.)Russell Crowe is Really a Bad Ass
You know a man is a bad ass when he mentions that his training in expanding the use of lungs plays well into the underwater stunt scenes he has to partake in. Compounding his rugged masculinity is the admission from one of the fight coordinators that Crowe is well versed in boxing, sword fighting and a whole host of other bludgeoning techniques. And, of course, we all know he’s got quite the phone-throwing arm.
When a young Clark Kent is having trouble controlling his powers, specifically his x-ray vision, we’re given a glimpse of what it’s like to see through the visage and musculature of a human body–right down to the skeleton. But this is not the first time we’ve seen this kind of effect before, in fact, the special effects team behind Man of Steel had one film in mind they wanted to emulate during this sequence: John Carpenter’s They Live. In the 80’s cult classic, pro wrestler turned B-rated actor Rowdy Roddy Piper could expose the identities of aliens by seeing their true skeletal self via special sunglasses. A movie that pays homage to an 80’s Carpenter film is all right in my book.
5.)What Goes Around Comes Around
12 years before Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe joined forces as the last remaining citizens of Krypton, they met at a sporting event when a young Cavill asked Crowe for not only his acting advice, but also his autograph. Crowe obliged, and it wasn’t until on the set of Man of Steel, when Cavill mentioned their previous encounter, did Crowe realize that he had a slight hand in molding this generation’s Superman. It’s a small world…
6.)The Red Shorts Just Had To Go
One thing that is a given in all superhero films is that the suit must have a redesign. Whether it’s the unfortunate addition of nipples and a codpiece, color reorganization, or just a complete overhaul of the whole model, progression demands evolution. The Superman costume is no different and Zach Snyder had one pivotal choice to make when helping redesign the suit–red underwear or no red underwear. If you listen to Snyder’s reasoning, it’s simple: the suit is more of an underarmor that’s inherent to all the citizens of krypton. To add underwear to the mix–especially atop the garment–just wouldn’t seem practical. I have to say, I agree with this choice.
Sure, in the finished product, Michael Shannon’s Zod rocks one of the coolest looking outfits in the film, but during the actual filming of Man of Steel? Eh, not so much. You see, Shannon’s costume was so elaborate and physically cumbersome, that to make it into an actual reality would have taken all the mobility away from Mr. Shannon. So instead, it was CGI’d onto his frame, and during the film he wore what resembled a fruity loops colored onesie that was none too flattering. Even Superman’s evil counterpart can’t be cool all the time.
Honestly, who wouldn’t geek out over the fact that they’re crafting what is to be the next episode in the canon of one of the most iconic figures in American history? Snyder can’t help but gush all over himself during one particular scene when Superman is hovering in the air with Lois Lane in his arms, but who can blame him?
9.) The Smallville Battle is a Special Effects Marvel
Shot on location, the Man of Steel production team scoured seven different locations before finally deciding on the site of the final battle scene. If you thought The Avengers took citywide destruction to a new level, then you haven’t seen anything yet. Almost everything on screen either blows up or crumbles right before your eyes, using a combination of wirework, fight choreography, VFX and any other visual trick of the trade. What results is a stunning ballet of violence that is so epic on scale it makes you wonder if Superman is doing more harm than good.
10.) I Still Don’t Understand The Science Behind The Terraform
Ok. I get it. The evil Kryptonians want to terraform Earth and create Krypton version 2.0, but despite all the explanations concerning the science behind colonizing earth for these super beings, I still cannot wrap my head around the logistics of the matter. It has something to do with an expanding gravity field, some kind of “world-engine” and a codex that Superman is trying dearly to not let fall into the wrong hands. It’s a bit of a complicated McGuffin, but nevertheless, the point is: Superman has what Zod wants. And, Superman works out a lot. Zod, you have your hands full.