The Easter eggs hidden in Man Of Steel
Tucked away in Man Of Steel were plenty of fan shout-outs and hints about future DC Comics movies - here's what James spotted
This feature continues spoilers for Man Of Steel.
Superhero movies tend to spawn sequels. That's not news. And thanks to the success of Avengers Assemble, it's entirely possible that there's a Justice League movie on the horizon, too. So it's tough, watching Man of Steel, not to look for clues about the future of the Superman story on the big screen.
And as a Superman fan, it's tough not to notice the multiple nods to other versions of the story - things that only the most devoted would pick up on. Here are nine Easter eggs hidden in the film that you may or may not have noticed first time round...
Although absent from big screen proceedings for the first time since 1983’s Superman III, the shadow of Superman’s historical arch-enemy, Lex Luthor looms large in Man of Steel. The logo for the bald genius's company, LexCorp, features three times during the films, while writer David S. Goyer has already hinted at how any future incarnation of the character may be presented in a future film.
“If Lex is going to exist in the world, we would presumably have to give him the same treatment that we gave Lois Lane in the first film, which is to make him a credible character. He’s the corollary to being a good love interest; he’s gotta be a man of incredible intelligence, and presumably a man of incredible wealth and incredible resources.”
That sounds a lot like the version of the character that was introduced into the Superman canon during John Byrne’s Man Of Steel revamp back in 1986. Establishing Luthor as not only a formidable scientist, but also both a businessman and philanthropist, the LexCorp head was very much the ‘king’ of Metropolis before Superman’s arrival on the scene.
Judging by the not too subtle seeding of Luthor’s presence throughout the film it looks like this may well be the way that Goyer and director Zack Snyder go with the character in the inevitable sequel.
During the final battle between Kal-El and General Zod there’s a ‘blink-and-you’ll- miss-it’ nod to Wayne Enterprises. Situated on the side of an orbiting satellite that the two duelling Krytponians turn into yet more collateral damage, it’s a subtle, yet telling nod to the future for the wider DCU on film after Man Of Steel.
While Goyer has categorically denied that the Bruce Wayne alluded to here is the same version of the character from Goyer and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, it’s hard to see Warner Brothers totally ruling out the possibility of bringing Bale back.
While Batman himself is a big draw, surely a team up between Henry Cavill’s Superman and Christian Bale’s Batman is a far more enticing prospect for moviegoers than any potential reintroduction of the character?
However, given Nolan’s clout at the studio, perhaps any possibility of a return for Bale has already been quashed once and for all? Certainly the studio would want to keep their most successful filmmaker onside, but in Hollywood even the most unlikely of deals have a habit of being made.
Either way, put money on these two icons of pop culture crossing paths sooner rather than later either in a Superman/Batman team-up flick or the inevitable Justice League feature.
Like the Wayne Enterprises logo, another subtle Easter egg buried within Man Of Steel is the existence of a mysteriously empty cryo-tube inside the buried Kryptonian scout ship that becomes Superman’s de-facto Fortress of Solitude.
Questions about who filled that tube aren’t answered in the film itself, but one of the Man Of Steel’s tie-in products does give us the surprising answer to that question. In a prequel comic, penned by the film’s screenwriter David S. Goyer, we’re told that the scout ship was in fact co-piloted by one of Superman’s ancestors, Kara Zor-El. Or, as she’s more commonly known to the wider world – Supergirl!
While no one should take the contents of a prequel comic as a definitive direction for any future sequels, the fact that this strip was written by Goyer and clearly references an event within the film itself seems to indicate that come sequel time perhaps a fellow member of the House of El is out there in the ice, waiting for Superman…
Prior to Man Of Steel, the most successful live action incarnation of Superman since the Richard Donner film was undoubtedly Smallville, the TV series based around the young Clark Kent’s formative years in the Kansas town.
While the film generally sidesteps that whole period of Superman’s early life there are nonetheless references galore to characters from that series.
Making numerous appearances throughout the film as both a child and adult is Clark Kent’s high school friend, Pete Ross. In addition to Pete we also get a quick glimpse of Clark’s high school sweetheart, Lana Lang, who not only defends Clark from Pete’s provocation, but seemingly discovers Clark’s secret after he saves the school bus from sinking into the Smallville river.
Apart from those characters that we meet in the film, there are also references to ‘The Fordham Boy’, a nod to the character of Whitney Fordham who was Clark’s rival for Lana’s affections during the show’s first season, as well as a further nod to fellow Smallville regular, Chloe Sullivan, in the form of Sullivan’s Truck Repairs.
Another background link to a wider DC, briefly visible during Zod and Superman’s final battle in Metropolis, is the billboard for Blaze Comics.
In the DCU Blaze Comics is the publisher who prints the exploits of the time-travelling superhero/business man Booster Gold. An integral part of various incarnations of the Justice League, Booster Gold is a refugee from the 25th Century and the sometime sidekick of Blue Beetle.
While perhaps not characters people would ordinarily expect to populate a cinematic Justice League, the Blue and Gold combination could well end up adding some much needed comic relief to any potential meeting of the DC icons.
That, or maybe someone thought it was funny?
All-Star Superman/Grant Morrison
While the most acclaimed Superman story of recent years doesn’t share very much narrative terrain with Snyder & Goyer’s film – All Star Superman covered Superman’s origin in just one, four panelled page back in 2006! - Man Of Steel nevertheless tries to co-opt some of the sci-fi poetry of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s acclaimed run.
Jor-El’s speech to the newly super-suited Kal-El about how he will '…give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards...' is an almost verbatim quote from a similar speech Jor-El gives to his son in issue 12 of All-Star…
However, despite trying to reach for Morrison’s more poetic sci-fi it is actually the work of fellow British comic book writer, Warren Ellis, that Goyer’s Man Of Steel script ends up feeling closer to.
The Kryptonian’s plan to terraform the Earth into a New Krypton is reminiscent of the final story arc of Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s run on their groundbreaking Wildstorm book, The Authority, while the name of the device Zod plans to use to achieve his plan – The World Engine – is also the title of a story arc Ellis wrote for Marvel Comics’ Thor title back in the mid-90s.
Glimpsed quickly in a picture within Martha Kent’s photo-album it seems that the young Clark Kent was a pupil at the Weisinger Primary School, an institution named after famed Superman editor Mort Weisinger.
A key figure in both Superman’s development and early sci-fi fandom, Weisinger oversaw the Superman titles during the Silver Age of the 1950s and 60. It was on his watch that much of the backstory that Man Of Steel draws upon – the Phantom Zone, Kryptonian culture, the topography and environment of Superman’s homeworld – was established and solidified.
Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of Man Of Steel is Superman’s decision at the end of the movie to kill General Zod, rather than let him continue to wreak havoc upon the citizens of Earth.
While this has upset some fans, this turn in the film's story actually has precedence in the comic books themselves. Back in 1988, John Byrne put Superman up against a version of Zod who had committed genocide on a parallel version of Earth. After defeating him, Superman stripped the General of his powers, but was soon forced to take even more drastic action.
Threatening to regain his powers and travel across the dimensions to destroy Superman and all he loved, the Man of Steel was forced to execute Zod with Krytponite for the good of all creation. Haunted by the guilt of what he’d done, Superman eventually exiled himself into space as penance for his perceived crimes.
While this clearly isn’t Goyer and Snyder’s plan going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if the death of Zod – much like Batman’s killing of Ra’s Al Ghul at the end of Batman Begins – will have unforeseen consequences for Kal-El in future films…
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