First off, nerd boner. Jesus does Chris Nolan make even the most trope things look amazing.
I mentioned this in the past but to quickly recap Superman is a view on what humanity should be. He is the embodiment of everything we wish to be and yet is saddled by humanity. Man of Steel is more than being able to reflect bullets or take physical abuse, it is a mentality of acknowledging he can never fit in to society. He will always be an outcast an his need to belong to something is the true challenge he can never overcome. His one weakness is doubt. It’s something we all share.
It’s no secret to people that know me that I have a love affair with Chris Nolan. The man simply can do no wrong in that his films explore humanity. There is no black or white, just grey. Even the Joker wasn’t evil, he was psychotic. Taking a story that’s been told thousands of times, he brought Batman back to the basics. He brought credence to the superhero genre as more than an action flick (and DC tends to be easier to do this with).
Superheros are today’s myths and legends. For all the mystery surrounding them, all the absolute power, in the end they are fallible. Otherwise we could never relate.
Edit: Found this neat quote from Stephen Goyer, the writer of the new flick. It related to his thoughts around the Secret Origin Superman comic. This has been my thought about Superman for some time.
There is a heart breaking moment halfway through the first chapter in which young Clark is told the truth about his heritage. He races out into the night, sobbing, stumbling through the cornfields. Eventually, his foster father, Jonathan, finds him.
“I don’t want to be someone else,” says Clark. “I don’t want to be different. I want to be Clark Kent.”
[And here’s the kicker…]
“I want to be your son”
Right there in that moment, Geoff contextualized Superman in a way that I’m not sure has ever really been done before. I had an ‘aha’ experience when I read that. For the first time I was able to grasp how lonely Clark must have been when he was growing up. And what a sacrifice Clark must continually make by being Superman.