Krypto-Not: ‘Man of Steel’ Doesn’t Feature Superman’s One Weakness

Bryan Enk
Movie Talk
Henry Cavil in 'Man of Steel'
Henry Cavil in 'Man of Steel'

Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" is shaping up to be quite the franchise reboot as certain familiar elements in the Superman mythos have been rebooted completely out of existence.

We're speaking specifically of Kryptonite, the green glowing fragments that serve as the last remains of Superman's home planet of Krypton. Kryptonite has long been used to put Superman in a weakened state in his big-screen adventures, with Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor fitting our hero with a Kryptonite necklace in "Superman" (1978) and Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor stabbing him in the back with a Kryptonite dagger ("Now fly!") in "Superman Returns" (2006). But it appears that the Last Son of Krypton will have other things to worry about than a "little souvenir from the old home town," as Hackman's Luthor put it.

"I'll be honest with you, there's no Kryptonite in the movie,” says "Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder in April 19/26 issue of Entertainment Weekly, which features Henry Cavill as Superman on the cover.

Not including Kryptonite seems in tune with presenting a more "realistic" Superman in the new film (i.e., he's not afraid of some glowing rocks). Superman has a somewhat enhanced backstory in "Man of Steel" that gives him certain traits designed to bring him down to Earth a little more, so to speak.

"Man of Steel" features a young Kal-El who was something of a special child even on his home planet; in fact, the birth of the son of Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is cause for alarm amongst Kryptonians. Once on Earth, Clark Kent is encouraged by his adoptive parents, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane), to not use his incredible powers, lest he be discovered and deemed a freak and outcast. This gives us a Superman forever in search of some sort of connection to others as he wanders the Earth as the sole survivor of his alien planet.

"Although he is not susceptible to the frailties of mankind, he is definitely susceptible to the emotional frailties," Cavill says. "It's just a lonely existence."

Of course, then the villainous General Zod (Michael Shannon) shows up, and we get the awesome red-caped Superman who's faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, so don't think the movie only contains "Batman Begins" kind of brooding (even though it is produced by Christopher Nolan). Indeed, in the end, it's all about maintaining a dramatic balancing act.

"You want to give the audience great spectacle. You want them to go to the movie, be eating their popcorn and be like, 'Wow!'" says producer Charles Roven, who also worked on "The Dark Knight" trilogy. "But it's just not good enough to give them the 'Wow.' You want them to be emotionally engaged. Because if you just have the 'wow,' ultimately you get bludgeoned by that and you stop caring."

This brave new "Man of Steel" hits theaters on June 14.

Watch the theatrical trailer for 'Man of Steel':