Man Of Steel: Inside The Legendary World Of Superman by Daniel Wallace (book review).
I’m reading about the latest Superman film, ‘Man Of Steel’, a while before I actually see it. Whether that’s a good plan or not doesn’t really come into it because I’m happy to look at the work done behind any film. I should point out that when you take this book out of its polyfilm wrapper, be careful with a page flick as static might stick some of the pages together. Once released, this problem does go away.
There is a lot of text describing what they were out to achieve here. Like the ‘Dark Knight’ films, ‘Man Of Steel’ follows the same sort of reboot so Superman is matched to a more real world with similar justifications in his purpose. I had to decide which to read first, this book or the novelisation. In the end, I’m glad I chose this book first because it makes me more familiar with the significant differences.
By far the biggest of these is making Kal-el (I’m still debating as to whether is should be called ‘Kal-El’) not just the last son of Krypton but the only son of Krypton as he was the first natural birth for several centuries. Reading this, I felt they missed an opportunity here in that Kal-el would be the only Kryptonian with super-powers, especially as other Kryptonians were literally grown under certain specifications. Mind you, considering Zod and his fellow criminals were military and have these super-duper armours, it would have balanced things out better if they weren’t so powerful. Speaking of battle-armour, the helmet shape of these Kryptonians reminds me of the Space Jockey/Engineer spacesuit from the ‘Alien’ and ‘Prometheus’ films. It’ll be interesting to see how mobile their necks are in it. Having Superman’s suit also be described as also being armour than Kryptonian fabric is also a change but as with his original comicbook counterpart, having an invulnerable body inside an indestructible suit makes invincible with a capital ‘I’ which tends to be too much of an advantage. Oh, I should point out that the book cover has the same texture as Superman’s costume and until the Bryan Singer film, at least it’s not all about ingramming ‘S’ or the Krytonian word all over the place.
The book covers how Zack Snyder was brought on board as director by co-producer Christopher Nolan and then on to the eleven significant cast members. Even reading by inference that Clark Kent doesn’t follow the pattern of the comicbooks, TV or earlier films with the intent of becoming a reporter but starts off as a drifter looking for a purpose, doing odd rescues along the way before moving on. If anything, you can’t help but notice a little similarity to a certain 1980s ‘Incredible Hulk’ TV series by that.
By far the biggest section of this book is devoted to Krypton, no doubt to make the most use of actor Russell Crowe in the film. Looking over the fine detail did raise some odd question marks. Take the Kryptonian language as the written word. Whether it’s written in direct comparison to English, it does seem odd that the Kryptonian equivalent to ‘The’ has a couple variants. What is more worrying is on page 83 with the declaration that there is no rock, stone and metal! Er, these things are kinda fundamental to any planet. Even if all the significant metals have been drawn out of the planet, you would need something like rock simply because that and magma is what planets are made of. There would still be elements of the Periodic Table there or what is the bone manacles made of? Making an alien planet alien is one thing but making it impossible seems a step too far. Is this supposed to be an indictment to take care of the materials that make up our own planet?
The smallest section is devoted to how Earth was made to look. Chicago again was used to look like Metropolis, which is acknowledged to be New York in disguise. It did make me ponder as to just where would Smallville be in comparison to New York and I’m sure fans will be coming up with answers. Interestingly, Smallville also becomes the scene for the battle rather than Metropolis. Again, I have to ponder on the deliberation of that so it doesn’t resemble the ‘Superman II’ film. Then again, considering the American military also get involved in battle Zod and his cronies, it isn’t all about Superman doing things alone. Looking over this review after I read the novelisation and the fact that the battle did move over to Metropolis does make me wonder why the city had so few pages.
There are a lot of double-page design spreads in this book, much of it looking at the décor than the characters overall. There are some photographic comparisons to what made it into the film indicating that these were followed pretty closely. Although I will have to reserve judgement on the film until I see it on DVD, this book will give you a decent insight into the work involved in putting it together.
(pub: Titan Books. 179 page large hardback. Price: £29.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78116-817-2)
check out websites: www.titanbooks.com