Could ‘Man of Steel’ Be the Last Superman Origin Story on Film?

By June 14, 2013

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel opened across the country last night, and has already raked in an impressive $21 million in midnight showings alone. We’ve done a ton of coverage for the film, from writing about the movie’s trailers, to listing aspects we wanted to see in it, to publishing interviews with Zack Snyder, David Goyer, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, and Hans Zimmer (plus a little piece about his score). I wrote a glowing review of the movie, our comics guru Chris Clow weighed in this morning with his own take, and we’ve even covered the early talk about a sequel. It’s safe to say we’ve thought a LOT about this movie.

But one thing I haven’t seen anyone mention is the ticking clock aspect of another Superman origin story. In Richard Donner’s 1978 film, Kal-El lands in Smallville when he’s a toddler. Knowing that he heads to the Fortress of Solitude when he’s 18, spends 12 years there, and then starts his life in Metropolis at age 30 (in the then-present day 1978), it’s possible to count backwards and pinpoint his landing at sometime in the year 1948. It seems plausible that no one would notice.

Some of you probably see what I’m getting at here. Man of Steel takes place in modern day and Clark Kent/Kal-El is around 30 years old [my buddy Eric D. Snider reminded me that Clark specifically says he’s 33 in the movie], putting the Smallville crash sometime around 1983. Again, it’s plausible that nobody would have heard or seen it under the right circumstances.

But how about if a ship crashes in 2013? EVERYONE is going to know about it. Not only is our own consumer technology so advanced that it would be documented by everyone in the area with a cell phone, but our government’s technology is even better (PRISM, anyone?) and they would DEFINITELY notice a spaceship hurtling through space and crash landing on our planet. Hell, they’d probably have a team assembled at the crash site within minutes, or maybe even before the ship made landfall. It doesn’t seem possible that Kal-El grows up to become the Clark Kent we all know and love in that scenario.

With a Man of Steel sequel on the way, let’s be generous and assume that this iteration of the character will remain viable for 10 years – whether that be in direct sequels, spin-offs, Justice League movies, or whatever the case may be. Then let’s say the studio waits the same amount of time they did between Superman movies this time before they launch another incarnation, which adds another seven years to the mix. So a new Superman origin could hit in 2030, which would put Kal-El’s crash around 2000. Just a hunch, but I think satellite tech was good enough back then to notice an alien spacecraft.

Clark’s upbringing forms the central identity of his character, and if you remove or alter that, who’s to say that Kal-El wouldn’t become a tyrannical ruler or power-hungry warlord? As time goes on and the character of Superman continues to evolve with our society, it should be interesting to see how future filmmakers and comic writers come up with ways to circumvent technology in order to ensure that young Kal-El ends up in the hands of the Kent family. The ability to create technology may be mankind’s greatest achievement, but how ironic would it be if that same achievement (fictionally) prevented us from attaining our greatest hero – or worse yet, was responsible for creating our most terrifying villan?

The following two tabs change content below.
Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.