'Man of Steel': Why Superman In Handcuffs Is... Promising
If you lived through Watchmen's troubled journey to the screen, Zack Snyder's Man of Steel doesn't exactly make one feel like leaping the nearest tall building. Watchmen is the platonic ideal of missing the forest for the trees, and as for his work overall, there's only so many times you can see slow-motion downward-punching before you start to wonder if his characters are suffering from undiagnosed strokes.
That Man of Steel is being exec produced by Chris Nolan should be a point in its favor, but after The Dark Knight Rises, in which we're expected to believe the same government that secretly assassinated Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan can't handle an ostentatious blowhard taking over an American city, I can't help but fear for the grim, poorly plotted future in store for Superman.
Man of Steel's marketing hasn't helped. The first teaser came off like the last five minutes of every episode of The Incredible Hulk*, the only thing missing being sad piano music to really nail down the emo superhero mood, and the posters have been as dull as Lex Luthor's scalp after a busy day plotting world conquest.
But hang on, look, up in the sky! It's a new poster, and it's actually interesting. Superman, handcuffed and flanked by soldiers, appears on his way to the big house, and for the first time I'm suddenly intrigued by this thing.
Why the hell is Superman willingly submitting? (Obviously, he'd have to be volunteering for incarceration, unless the film uses something like the Inhibitor concept from Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Oeming's Powers.) Lex Luthor isn't Man of Steel's villain, but this conjures up the 'Public Enemies' arc from the Superman/Batman comic series. That storyline had newly-elected President Lex Luthor frame Superman and Batman for plotting the destruction of earth, and while Superman wasn't jailed, he was chased around the world by law enforcement and deputized supervillains.
Could we be seeing something like that play out here? Perhaps the actions of Man of Steel villain General Zod freak people out enough that Superman, having the same powers, is labeled a public menace and arrested. It would make sense for the big blue boy scout to set a good example by complying with the law.
Whatever happens, at least we know it's not just going to be a lot of super-moping. Unless of course he and Lois Lane break up over a completely solvable misunderstanding and Superman copes by making an iPod playlist of John William's greatest movie scores.
*I'll admit Henry Cavill would make an awesome Bill Bixby.
Ross Lincoln is a LA-based freelance writer from Oklahoma with an unhealthy obsession with comics, movies, video games, ancient history, Gore Vidal, and wine. Follow him on Twitter at @rossalincoln.