If you’ve seen the above trailer, it’s pretty easy to see there have been some changes made to Superman. Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and the rest of their team are probably wise to distance themselves from other iterations of Superman, no matter how annoying we might find it. One of the biggest changes based on the appearance of the trailer is the idea that Clark Kent might be some sort of fisherman instead of a farmer.
It seemed out of place, but the longer I’ve had to dwell on the thought, the more I think it makes sense.
Make no mistake: I have no idea if that’s actually what is going on in the film. Perhaps Clark is simply undercover there in the Northeast and his fishing days have nothing to do with the Kents. This is all speculation, but if Clark IS a fisherman, and Smallville has been relocated to the Northeastern seaboard it actually makes a bit of sense.
Think about this for a minute: what qualities do you attribute to the Kents and in what era do you find them? In the 1930s, when Superman was created, the farm belt of the country was known for pulling together. For unions. They were reliably for President Roosevelt and the idea of the Great Society. For the most part, they believed in helping out their neighbor and for believing in something larger than themselves. Over the years, that demographic has changed. I think if Superman were to land in Smallville, Kansas today, you’d end up with a Superman very much like the one Batman defeats in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Nolan and Snyder understand the xenophobia of today’s red-staters and have made moves to make the Superman ideal ring true in a modern era.
What sect of blue-collar workers do you see these days upholding the “truth, justice, and the American way” mantra? It’s not to be found in places like Wisconsin where teachers are being villainized and unions busted by Lex Luthor like interests. It’s not in Kansas where the locals assassinate doctors outside of medical facilities. You’re finding it in places like those Northeastern blue states that have retained the old time family values of Roosevelt’s great society and have a work ethic to match. Do you think a Clark Kent raised by a farmer in the heart of a red state would fight for the little guy against a corporate fiend like Lex Luthor or the Koch Brothers? Or would you find that in the heart of a working family in a blue state?
Like I said, I’m not sure that’s actually what they’re doing in Man of Steel.
But if it is, it would make a whole lot of sense to me. Even though it’s a change that many might see as a betrayal of the source material, if it’s for the reasons I postulated, I think it would be a betrayal of the material NOT to do it.