Man Of Steel: How does it rank alongside other cinematic reboots?
Next week’s DVD & Blu-Ray release of Man of Steel marks the latest in a recent spate of Hollywood reboots and like many of the recent superhero franchises to hit the ‘reset’ button, Zack Snyder’s film looks to alter the Superman origin myth; always a risky business as it gambles on the notion that existing fans will accept your changes to the story.
However, the fact that Christopher Nolan is on board as part of the writing team will have calmed some of the initial fears; his Dark Knight series has been one of the more successful reboots in recent years, adding a sense of gritty realism back into Gotham City that had been severely lacking in Joel Schumacher’s interpretations, including 1997’s truly awful Batman & Robin.
The first thing to note is the absence of any mention of ‘Superman’ in the film. Instead the DC Comics hero is referred to throughout either as Clark Kent or by his Kryptonian name, Kal-El, even going so far as to suggest that the famed ‘S’ emblazoned on his iconic blue and red outfit isn’t actually an ‘S’ at all, rather it is a Kryptonian symbol of hope.
The film’s beginning charts the ‘escape from Krypton’ story and soon finds our alien hero in his formative years in Smallville - much like the TV series of the same name, but the atmosphere is rather different. Clark’s relationship with his adopted parents isn’t nearly as cosy and Snyder’s adaptation again adds an air of realism to proceedings. Old foe Lex Luthor is also notable by his absence (although hints are dropped for those watching carefully), with the mutinous General Zod taking position as ‘Villain Number One’ for the purposes of this movie, culminating in an epic battle across Metropolis between the two extra-terrestrials.
Those who are not too precious about the original mythology should enjoy Snyder’s version, as will anyone who appreciates more realism in their comic-book adaptations. So how does it rank alongside other recent Hollywood reboots? We take a look at some of the others…
You could argue that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight was actually the second reboot of the Batman franchise, following Tim Burton’s 1987 film starring Michael Keaton. Where Burton’s version paints Gotham as a dark and gothic place, Nolan’s interpretation takes this and runs with it, adding a seedier, more realistic edge. The back-story on Batman’s training by Ra's al Ghul is an excellent touch, helping to make this one of the best reboots in recent memory.
Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale completes the double trick of changing Bond’s back story by creating a prequel to the established films, as well as bringing back some of the best-loved aspects of the earlier films that were missing from the Pierce Brosnan era, perhaps most importantly putting Bond back where he belongs: in an Aston Martin. Daniel Craig’s incarnation is rougher around the edges and all the better for it.
Star Trek is notorious for the fanatic dedication of its fans, but J.J. Abrams’ cinematic reboot of the much-loved Sci-Fi franchise manages to give James T. Kirk & Co. a wider appeal. 2009’s Star Trek benefits from splashes of irreverent comedy, succeeding thanks to some great casting (it is hard to imagine a better successor to Leonard Nimoy than Zachary Quinto) and even better performances.