Think you know the story of Superman?
Well, maybe not.
When “Man of Steel” comes out June 14, director Zack Snyder might have a few surprises even for longtime fans of the man of … er, steel.
Most of us don’t know what to expect from “Man of Steel” yet, but it’s certain that a few elements of the Superman mythos will be tweaked at the very least.
That’s not surprising, because most filmmakers like to bring something new to their versions of familiar stories. That’s why “The Amazing Spider-Man” retold the origin of the webslinger only about a decade after we saw it before and tried to infuse new elements – chiefly a mystery about Peter’s parents – into it.
It’s not just superhero stories that get revamped. When director John Carpenter made “The Thing” in 1982, he made the “walking alien carrot” much less of the traditional monster familiar from 1951’s “The Thing from Another World.” the first adaptation of John Campbell’s story. Carpenter made the alien menace a much more paranoia-inducing shapeshifter.
By the way, spoilers ahead for some current movies if you haven’t seen them.
Some fans of the “Iron Man” comics were irritated when this summer’s “Iron Man 3” made huge changes to the character of the Mandarin, the longtime antagonist of Tony Stark.
The Mandarin went from an Asian menace armed with magic rings …
To a figurehead, a stalking horse played by a down-at-the-heels British actor.
Sometimes it’s more than changing characters. Sometimes it’s all about changing the background of sets of characters.
The classic 1982 “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” was a sequel to an episode of the original series and emphasized the bad blood and shared history of Khan, the genetically superior warrior, and Jim Kirk.
In this summer’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” however, there was no history between Kirk and Khan. And I think the movie suffered for that.
With “Man of Steel,” the rumors have been flying about changes Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan might have made.
Does Superman’s Kryptonian birth father, Jor-El, live? Or are the clips of Russell Crowe talking to Henry Cavill just indicative of an amazingly lifelike hologram?
Is Zod (Michael Shannon) sprung from the Phantom Zone or does he arrive in a space ship? Sure looks like a Kryptonian ship in the background to me.
We won’t know the answers for a few days. But we can already guess about fairly interesting cosmetic changes to two longtime characters from the “Superman” stories.
Daily Planet editor Perry White and cub reporter/photographer Jimmy Olsen have been staples of the comics for a half-century.
Snyder, interestingly, cast Laurence Fishburne, an African-American actor, to play White, who has traditionally been, well, white. I love Fishburne and I think this is a big win.
But it’s less clear who’s playing Jimmy Olsen in the movie. In fact, it’s becoming more clear that Jimmy Olsen isn’t in the movie. Actress Rebecca Buller seems to be playing Jenny Olsen.
I can live with that.