Footage from the highly anticipated "Man of Steel" remained shrouded in mystery until Saturday afternoon, when Warner Bros. debuted an elongated trailer for the Superman franchise reboot for a capacity Hall H crowd at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Director Zack Snyder was greeted by thundering applause as he took to the stage to reveal that filming has wrapped, and he's working on post-production. Describing his vision of the superhero's classic story, Snyder said he's hoping to make "Man of Steel" a more personal film.
"A lot of the time, Superman is always this kind of big blue Boy Scout up on a throne," he said. "We tried to make him within reach."
Snyder confirmed the movie's first trailer will premiere Friday with "The Dark Knight Rises," and divulged that he'd be showing the Hall H audience that very teaser -- plus "a little something else" to sweeten the deal. "Don't tell Chris [Nolan]," he said," but I brought a little extra something."
In the teaser, which features the "The Thin Red Line" score, the crowd was treated to naturalistic shots of young Clark Kent playing in a makeshift cape, running through tall grass, around a rickety swing and among a butterfly perched on a chain. Gorgeous point-of-view footage of a disturbing bus accident comes next, with a shot of Clark in the water and voiceover from a parent claiming her child "was in the bus. He saw what Clark did." We then see Clark as a young adult, curiously pulling the cover off what's presumably the rocket that delivered him to Earth as an infant. Kevin Costner's Jonathan Kent says, "It's not from this world, Clark -- and neither are you." As we hear Pa Kent tell Clark he must decide what kind of man he wants to grow up to be, we see flashbacks of Clark's infancy as Kal-El on Krypton, including sweeping panoramic shots of cavernous gray interiors and Russell Crowe's Jor-El embracing his distraught wife.
The transformation to Superman apparently complete, Henry Cavill is then revealed in the suit, crouching on a snow-covered landscape and then catapulting himself into the air. Quick shots reveal action that includes Amy Adams as Lois Lane (among them, she's shown sharing a passionate kiss with Cavill), Superman whipping through a cityscape as explosions and fire rock through the air, soldiers pursuing him with guns, Superman cuffed and being escorted down a hallway, lying in a pile of skulls, being thrown against a safe (which leaves a dramatically large dent in the wall), and voiceover of Clark saying of his father, "He was convinced that the world was ready. What do you think?"
While this first peek at Snyder's decidedly darker take on Superman was, at times, goose bump-inducing, most of the clips were too short to properly gauge what the film will bring. There's a lot going on -- Clark's youth, the discovery of his origin, the introduction of a romance and (presumably) a villain -- but nothing we haven't already seen in previous renditions. Still, it's enough to keep expectations tempered. For all of its stunning visuals, the teaser reads more like a "best hits" than a promise of new life breathed into the material.
Snyder introduced Superman himself, star Henry Cavill, and the crowd went wild. The director referred to Superman as "the king-daddy of all superheroes," and played coy when whether "Man of Steel" is based on any particular Superman comic books, saying only that his take is "a mashing of stories and ideas."
Cavill reiterated the notion that the film will serve as both a primer for Superman newbies and an homage for those who already know and love the character, saying, "You guys who know everything about him. … It's for everyone else out there as well who haven't quite experienced what Superman can be."
When a fan approached the microphone in tears, moderator Chris Hardwick gave him a hug and coaxed his question out -- one that Snyder artfully dodged. The simple request: to know who the villain is. While Michael Shannon has mentioned he plays General Zod, that's not been confirmed by either the director of the studio. Instead of giving a straight answer, Snyder called for the teaser to be played a second time.
"It is pretty intense. I've been looking at that," Cavill said, pointing to the newly released "Man of Steel" poster, which prominently features the trademark "S" shield. "I get to wear that on my chest. I just really hope I've done everything I need to do to please you guys, because this is entirely 100 percent for you."
As far as the score goes, don't expect to hear the iconic John Williams theme. "We had to act as if no film had been made," Snyder explained. "So if you start with that logic, you can't then go, 'Oh, let's steal the music.' But we got Hans [Zimmer] -- he's gonna do something awesome."
Cavill said he studied "basically anything I could get my hands on as far as the comic books are concerned" to research the character, and named "The Death of Superman" and "The Return of Superman" as his favorites. "Beyond that, 'Red Son,' of course," he added. "It's just a different viewpoint."
Of the possibility that Warner Bros. could go the route of Marvel Studios, using "Man of Steel" to branch out into a Superman/Batman film or to enter the Justice League (an idea that thrilled the crowd), Snyder maintained an air of mystery. "We know that Superman is the jewel in the DC crown," he said, "and really what we're trying to do is get his house in order. And then who knows what's possible."
The panel ended on a decidedly playful note when a fan asked whether "Man of Steel" would feature a scene in which Superman shaves his face using heat vision. "That's a spoiler!" Snyder exclaimed, laughing. "That's a crazy spoiler -- you would never put that in a trailer, because people would be like, 'I'm not going to the movie! Now I know what happens!'"
"Man of Steel" opens June 14, 2013.