Directed by Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen”), the film tells of a young boy who learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
When we first meet Clark Kent (Cavill) in “Man of Steel,” he is a grown man hiding from the world. He is unable to remain unnoticed under the watchful and increasingly suspicious eyes of the people of Smallville—thanks in large part to the manifestations of his superpowers and his inability to keep them completely under wraps, as his Earth father, Jonathan (Kevin Costner), advised him. Therefore, Clark has abandoned all he knows and loves, wandering in a metaphorical desert of odd jobs and emotional isolation in search of his true self.
“Clark feels he has to stay on the fringes of society,” Snyder explains. “That way, if he’s forced to use his abilities—if he saves someone’s life or does anything else out of the ordinary—it is easy for him to disappear.”
However, it is a solitary existence, one devoid of companionship and equally filled with longing. Knowing he is not of this planet, he also worries about what humans would do to him if the degree of his uniqueness were to be revealed. And, if he is ever able to discover his true origins, will he find that he belongs there instead?
The director continues, “He’s wondering, ‘What is my purpose?’ We all ask that of ourselves, but it’s harder for Clark because the things that he’s best at are also the things that are most frightening about him to others; knowledge of his existence would call into question everything we know about who we are. So he’s on his own, trying to find out what his place is in the world, where he belongs, what is his destiny. I think the audience will relate because most of us share those same questions and insecurities when we are starting out in life.”
Cavill, who stars in the multi-faceted role, says, “Clark has always felt like an outsider. He was raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent to never react in an aggressive, violent manner and, most of all, never to reveal the things that he can do. But dealing with the very real growing pains of becoming a young man unlike any other, and being unable to share that with anyone else, has manifested a sense of isolation in him. That isolation is only amplified by the fact that he feels powerless to do anything about it, while actually having all the power in the world.”
“Henry really found a way to play the many contradictions in the character,” Snyder relates. “Clark is physically superior but can’t show it, he has X-ray vision but must learn to regulate it, and even though he’s misunderstood by the human race, he still finds the good in people; he still instinctively wants to help. Henry did an incredible job of conveying the conflict within him, while also projecting that sincerity that is inherent to the role.”
In taking on a part that was both physically and emotionally demanding, Cavill says he found an ally and invaluable guide in Snyder. “Zack was fantastic,” the actor states. “His energy was always up and, as much as the hours on set were long, he kept things interesting and moving, and it permeated throughout the cast and crew. We were making a Superman movie, after all, and Zack’s positive attitude reminded us of that every day.”
According to producer Charles Roven, playing Superman gave Cavill a boost in much the same way it’s given every child who ever donned a makeshift cape and imagined him or herself flying through the skies. “When he put on that suit, Henry’s whole demeanor changed. He really owned the character, on- and off-camera, and put an amazing amount of hard work and thought into every aspect of his performance. It was great fun to watch.”
Cavill began conducting his research into the part at the source: comic books. “I got into the comics and that gave me a great baseline to the character. He’s far more complex than I think most people know. He admittedly has a moral code, but he’s incredibly conflicted. In the story we’re telling, his origin story, he’s learning everything about himself right along with the audience. So, when he’s faced with having to fight for Earth or for Krypton, well…it’s not exactly an easy decision to make.”
“Man of Steel” opens across the Philippines on June 12 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and regular theaters and is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.