Man Of Steel (2013)
The planet Krypton faces imminent destruction due to its unstable core, the result of years of depleting Krypton’s natural resources. The ruling council is deposed by the planet’s military commander General Zod and his followers during a military coup. Scientist Jor-El and his wife Lara launch their newborn son Kal-El on a spacecraft to Earth after infusing his cells with a genetic codex of the entire Kryptonian race. After General Zod murders Jor-El, he and his followers are captured and banished to the Phantom Zone. However, when Krypton later explodes, they are freed from it.
Kal-El’s ship lands in Smallville, a small town in Kansas. He is raised as the adopted son of Jonathan and Martha Kent, who name him Clark. Clark’s Kryptonian physiology affords him superhuman abilities on Earth, which initially cause him confusion and ostracism. However, he gradually learns to harness his powers to help others. Jonathan reveals to a teenage Clark that he is an alien and advises him not to use his powers publicly, fearing that society will reject him.
After Jonathan’s death, an adult Clark spends several years living a nomadic lifestyle, working different jobs under false identities, while saving people in secret, as well as struggling to cope with the loss of his adoptive father. Clark eventually infiltrates a U.S. military investigation of a Kryptonian scout spaceship in the Arctic. When Clark enters the alien ship, it allows him to communicate with the preserved consciousness of Jor-El in the form of a hologram. Jor-El reveals Clark’s origins, his story, and the extinction of his race, and tells Clark that he was sent to Earth to bring hope to mankind for a better future. Lois Lane, a journalist from the Daily Planet newspaper who was sent to write a story on the discovery, sneaks inside the ship while following Clark and is rescued by him when she is injured. Lois’s editor Perry White rejects her story of a “superhuman” rescuer, so she traces Clark back to Kansas with the intention of writing an exposé. After hearing his story, she decides not to reveal his secret.
Meanwhile, Zod and his crew seek out other worlds that the Kryptonian race colonized long ago. However, none of the colonies survived after Krypton’s destruction. Zod and the others eventually pick up a Kryptonian distress signal sent from the ship Clark discovered on Earth. Zod arrives and demands that the humans surrender Kal-El, whom he believes has the codex, or else Earth will be destroyed. Clark agrees, and the military hand him and Lois over to Zod’s second-in-command, Faora, at Zod’s request. Zod reveals that he intends to use a terraforming “world engine” to transform Earth into a new Krypton and use the codex to repopulate the planet with genetically-engineered Kryptonians. However, the terraforming process would result in the extinction of humanity due to numerous ecological changes, rendering the planet uninhabitable to those native to Earth. Clark and Lois escape Zod’s ship with Jor-El’s help, Clark defeats Faora and another Kryptonian, convincing the military that he is an ally. Zod deploys the world engine and initiates the process in Metropolis and over the Indian Ocean, increasing the Earth’s mass and atmosphere.
Clark, now called “Superman,” destroys the world engine, while the military uses the spacecraft that brought him to Earth in an aerial strike on Zod’s ship over Metropolis, sending Zod’s forces back into the Phantom Zone. Superman destroys the ship that carries the Genesis Chamber, the pivotal technology to restore the Kryptonian race with the codex. Only Zod remains, and he engages Superman in a destructive battle across Metropolis using his newly developed powers. When Zod attempts to murder cornered civilians in revenge for his defeat, Superman is forced to kill him. Some time later, Superman warns the government that, if it wants his help, it will be on his terms. To create an alias that gives him access to dangerous situations without arousing suspicion, Clark takes a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet.
- Henry Cavill as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman:
- A Kryptonian whose parents sent him to Earth as an infant to escape the destruction of his homeworld Krypton. He is raised in Smallville, Kansas, by farmers Martha and Jonathan Kent. Raised under the moral guidance of his adoptive parents and inspired by the holographic message from his late father, he becomes Earth’s greatest protector. Superman is depicted as being 33 years old, at least from the moment he is found, in the present timeline of the film. Cavill is the first British actor to play the character. He was previously cast in Superman: Flyby, which was ultimately shelved, and was considered for the role in the 2006 film Superman Returns, but lost out to Brandon Routh. Cavill stated, “There’s a very real story behind the Superman character.” He explained that everyone’s goal has been to explore the difficulties his character faces as a result of having multiple identities – including his birth name, Kal-El, and his alter ego, Clark Kent. Cavill also stated that, “He’s alone and there’s no one like him,” referring to Superman’s Ashlin. “That must be incredibly scary and lonely, not to know who you are or what you are, and trying to find out what makes sense. Where’s your baseline? What do you draw from? Where do you draw a limit with the power you have? In itself, that’s an incredible weakness.” In an interview with Total Film magazine, Cavill stated he had been consuming nearly 5,000 calories a day, training for over two hours daily and plowing protein to pack on the muscle mass. Dylan Sprayberry was cast as the 13-year-old Clark Kent, while 11-year-old Cooper Timberline was cast as the 9-year-old Clark Kent.
- Amy Adams as Lois Lane:
- Reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper and love interest of Clark Kent. Adams was selected from a list of actresses that included Olivia Wilde and Mila Kunis. “There was a big, giant search for Lois,” Snyder said. “For us, it was a big thing and obviously a really important role. We did a lot of auditioning, but we had this meeting with Amy Adams and after that I just felt she was perfect for it.” Adams auditioned for the role three times: once for the unproduced Superman: Flyby, and the second time for Superman Returns before landing the current role. Adams was confirmed to play Lois Lane in March 2011. While announcing the role, Snyder said in a statement, “We are excited to announce the casting of Amy Adams, one of the most versatile and respected actresses in films today. Amy has the talent to capture all of the qualities we love about Lois: smart, tough, funny, warm, ambitious and, of course, beautiful.” On portraying Lois Lane, Adams stated that the film would feature a Lois Lane who is an “independent, feisty woman … but set in a more identifiable world.” Adams said that “She has become more of a free-ranging journalist, someone who likes to be hands-on. The nature of the newspaper business has changed so much. There is so much more pressure.”
- Michael Shannon as Dru-Zod / General Zod:
- A Kryptonian general and megalomaniac with the same superpowers as Superman. Viggo Mortensen was considered for the role. Snyder stated, “Zod is not only one of Superman’s most formidable enemies, but one of the most significant, because he has insights into Superman that others don’t. Michael is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.” When Goyer was asked about why Zod was chosen as the villain, he stated, “The way (Christopher) Nolan and I have always approached movies as well is you never say, ‘Hey, which villain would be cool for this movie?’ You start with the story first. What kind of story? What kind of theme do you want to tell? So we worked that out. Then, usually the villain becomes obvious in terms of who’s going to be the appropriate antagonist for that. When you guys see the movie, the only villain we could’ve used was Zod and the Kryptonians. I mean, when you see what the whole story is, nothing else would have even made sense.” Shannon also commented on his portrayal in comparison to Terence Stamp’s original take on Zod, “To follow Terence Stamp’s iconic performance in the original, it is daunting, but I just focused on one day at a time. It’s interesting that when we started with this, we did a lot of training together and I think that kind of helped loosen things up a little bit. It is a very physical movie at the end of the day. That’s a good way to find your way ‘into it’ [as an actor].”
- Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent:
- The adoptive parents of Superman. Snyder explained his reason for his casting the on-screen couple is solely for the realism: “I think the thing you realize when you look at Diane and Kevin, in our decision to cast them so far, you sort of get a sense of how tonally we’re looking at the movie, and what you realize is that those guys are serious actors, and we’re taking this movie very seriously in terms of the tone of having those guys. You’re talking about having a situation where whatever the action is or whatever the drama of the movie is, our first priority is to make sure it’s rendered in the most realistic way we can get at.” Lane was the first cast member to join the film after Cavill. “This was a very important piece of casting for me because Martha Kent is the woman whose values helped shape the man we know as Superman,” Snyder said in the release. “We are thrilled to have Diane in the role because she can convey the wisdom and the wonder of a woman whose son has powers beyond her imagination.”
- Laurence Fishburne as Perry White:
- The editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet and the boss of Lois Lane. Fishburne is the first African-American to play Perry White in a live-action film. Fishburne stated that he modeled his character after Ed Bradley, stating that “my inspiration really is the late Ed Bradley, who was a CBS correspondent on 60 Minutes for many years … [The] legendary Ed Bradley… was a friend, a mentor, and a role model for me, particularly because he worked in journalism, and he was the kind of guy who walked with kings, but he had the common touch. And so he was my inspiration for Perry.”
- Russell Crowe as Jor-El:
- The biological father of Superman. Sean Penn and Clive Owen were also considered for the role. Crowe incorporates how his own fatherhood informed his reading of the script to portray Jor-El, stating that “…it was one of those things where that’s how it was connecting me. That’s the question that Jor-El faces, that’s the situation that he’s in.” Crowe also comments on his preparation for the film stating that: “When I signed on… well, one, I didn’t realize that I would be wearing Spandex—’cause you know that’s Superman’s costume—I didn’t realize that I’d have to fit into it as well,” Crowe said. “But, I also didn’t realize the type of organizer that Zack Snyder is, ’cause this was really old school prep. This is sort of David Lean-level preparation, and I really appreciated him. And I was on the movie for three-and-a-half or four months before I even got in front of the camera.”
- Antje Traue as Faora-Ul:
- Zod’s sub-commander and a commander of the Kryptonian military who is completely devoted and loyal to General Zod. Ruthless, cold, and brutal in her methods, Faora’s military training and skills make her a very dangerous opponent to Superman. Faora is an expert in close quarters combat and melee weaponry.
- Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van:
- The biological mother of Superman and loyal wife to Jor-El. Julia Ormond had previously been announced as cast, but dropped out. Connie Nielsen was in negotiations for the role before Ormond was cast.
- Harry Lennix as Lieutenant General Swanwick
- Christopher Meloni as Colonel Nathan Hardy
- Richard Schiff as Dr. Emil Hamilton
- Mackenzie Gray as Jax-Ur.
- Michael Kelly as Steve Lombard