Monday, June 10, 2013

The Father Figures of The Man Of Steel

Fact: Coincidentally, these two actors both played Robin Hood in their respective movies.

In Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' “Man of Steel,” the two very influential role models in the life of Kal-El/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) are portrayed by two highly regarded actors: Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, and Russell Crowe as Jor-El. 

            Screenwriter David Goyer shares that, “The film is about a man with two fathers: Jor-El, Kal’s Kryptonian father, and Jonathan Kent, Clark’s dad on Earth. Clark/Kal has grown up with two sets of histories, though only one was known to him until now. And now he needs to reconcile those teachings if he is to become the man that, arguably, both fathers would want him to be, in their own ways.”

            Jonathan and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) found their son when his spaceship landed on their farm in the town of Smallville, Kansas. Rather than alerting the authorities, they hid the ship, named the baby Clark, and raised him as their own. The secret came at a cost, though, as the alien boy exhibited otherworldly sensitivities and abilities that gradually raised concerns in the community. The Kents lived in constant fear that there would be a knock on their door, and Clark would be taken from them forever.

            “Jonathan and Martha understand right away that finding Clark was both a blessing and a curse,” director Zach Snyder says. “Jonathan knows that he is not only a father, but he also has to be the guy who, while protecting his son no matter what, has to keep his eye on the ball. He realizes that this is bigger than him, bigger than all of them. Clark could change the course of history.”

            Thus it falls to the concerned, loving dad to impress upon his son the magnitude of what his existence means for humanity, even if they are as yet unaware.

            Jonathan Kent's paternal responsibilities are greater than most could ever imagine. “The nature of a father is to teach and protect. My character tells Clark that he’s a miracle, proof that we are not alone in the universe,” Costner offers. “It’s a huge burden to bear, but Jonathan believes that his son is on Earth for a reason and, as he says to him, the day will come when he will have to decide whether to stand proud in front of the human race, or not.”
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
            Costner felt the themes of the film, especially with regard to the relationship between his and Cavill’s characters, have very real world implications. “People often talk about movies as being make-believe,” he says. “But the truth is, sometimes movies can construct moments that make you ask yourself, ‘What would I do in this situation? What kind of man am I?’”

            Kal-El is the light of his parents’ lives, if only for a moment. Almost immediately after he is born, his father, Jor-El, the planet’s leading scientific mind, and mother, Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer), must make the heartbreaking decision to send their infant hurtling through space in search of a safe haven. Krypton’s natural resources are depleted, and it is imploding at a rapid pace. Jor-El’s pleas to evacuate have fallen on deaf ears, and he feels the only way to preserve the Kryptonian race is by rescuing its most innocent member, with the hope that Kal can survive and, through him, their people.

            “Jor-El is very much an advocate of free choice, and that made him an outlier on Krypton,” Goyer explains. “In effect, it made him a criminal, an enemy of the State. Part of his hope for Kal is that he will continue that philosophy of free will.”
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.
            Russell Crowe asserts, “If you come at the story from the perspective that Jor-El is simply a good guy, I think that is underselling the argument that exists, at least to my mind, that there’s a touch of madness to him, a touch of massive desperation in what he’s doing. As far as he’s concerned, it’s the last roll of the dice for keeping Krypton alive.”

            In order to accomplish that goal, Jor-El must first relate to Kal the story of his past, and impress upon him the importance of his future. This he accomplishes only when Clark’s journeys bring him to the one place on Earth that Jor-El can connect with him: a frozen tundra that holds a secret more than 20,000 years old…and that allows for Kal to come face-to-face with the image of his father.

            “Man of Steel” is distributed worldwide in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D and regular theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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