Man of Steel: How Snyder/Nolan Will Set the Stage for Villains
We’ve all been monitoring Man Of Steel news like crazed 1980’s kids waiting for the Dinobots to hit shelves at the local KB Toys. I remember well, those damn Dinobots were hard to find.
The point is, we’re all giddy like school children around here, and we sure act like children more often than not when it comes to what we think we are entitled to in movies and their associated trailers. I don’t remember trailers as a kid. I was too busy living life to pay attention to the commercials. I’d see the movie poster hanging at the local theater, and I’d pester my parents for weeks until it opened. Warner Bros doesn’t owe us anything other than an outstanding final product. The original Superman trailer just showed some clouds and told us some people more famous than Christopher Reeve would be in it, and it did just fine. We need to chill on the trailer talk. I for one like the way Nolan sells his movies. He gives us cryptic, out-of-order, fast edited, teasers, that virtually reveal nothing about the plot and even less about the antagonist. But they sure leave me entranced and excited for the movie release. I’d rather be left in the dark than get a trailer like Prometheus, where not only all of the climatic parts of the movie in the trailer, but they were more climatic as a trailer. Enough about trailers…
I’ve been thinking about the MOS trailer, and some stuff on the web that I probably shouldn’t have watched, some stuff I shouldn’t have read and then cross-referenced that with what I know about Nolan’s style of storytelling. I came to the conclusion that we’re going to get some surprises in this movie and the foundation for the villains of the sequels. I think this movie will lay all the groundwork for DC Universe movies to come for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t think Nolan will setup a DC universe like an episodic cartoon. The villains have to make sense, even if they don’t really make sense. By that I mean, he’s not going to set up the sequels so that each one has to begin with the arrival of the alien villain in their spacecraft. We have never had alien contact on this plant until Superman appears and then Earth suddenly becomes the focal point of intergalactic tyranny? That’s silly and way too convenient. We’ll leave that “convenient for the sake of convenience” stuff to Marvel (wink). Secondly, the other upcoming DC movies won’t want to fall into those trappings either, so I believe when they introduce Superman, they will take that opportunity to plant many seeds for future villains that can be used across the board. Realistically for JLA to work, the villain has to essentially be from Superman’s rogue’s gallery, or he’d squash them in a nano second and the movie would be over. So this movie has a huge burden to bear. It will act as Marvel Phase 1, but in a single movie. The rest will flow from here.
I believe Nolan will introduce at least two more possibilities and open the door for several more in terms of villains. I think one villain will take a central role in this movie, and it’s not Zod. Much like Bane/Talia twist, I believe Zod and Faora will be the primary physical threats, but the real threat is behind the scenes like a puppeteer, similar to Thanos in Avengers.
Braniac. The Collector. If Chris has written a story that involves Zod and his large space vessel, we assume is Zod’s, then this is a perfect time to plant Braniac seeds without having to explain his arrival later by a different spaceship. Let’s avoid trying to explain why aliens keep coming to destroy Earth. It’s simple, Brainiac is either stowing away on board waiting for the right moment, dormant in the ship’s systems, or he is the ship and actually uses Zod to track down the last remaining Kryptonian with the intention of killing them all in the end. Brainiac could easily convince Zod that Jor-El was responsible for Krypton’s destruction (if we’re not going the Phantom Zone route), thereby motivating him. Zod is also a loose cannon which can make for an interesting betrayal situation, where the tables are turned on Brainiac.
The toy commercial mentions “Zod and his robot army”. Why would Zod have a robot army? Where’d he get it? This is a stretch for me, unless it’s supplied by Brainiac ala Palpatine’s clones, so that they can be used later to conquer worlds. And I think, the Star Wars prequels handling of vast robot armies have soured that robot army idea for most people… Another possibility is that the spaceship in the trailer is not Zod’s and a totally different subplot that pops up while Zod is on Earth. Zod traditionally was trapped in the Phantom Zone by Jor-El, hence the revenge angle. If Zod is free to roam the universe in his own spaceship, how did he find Earth? What’s his motivation? And why wouldn’t the ship have other Kryptonians aboard as crew or at least other Phantom Zone escapees? Well, it may not be related to Zod at all.
Nolan is tricky, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the spaceship is Brainiac, who is the true villain of the movie. It fits better. It will provide a neat twist when we find out Zod really isn’t calling all the shots, makes more sense for why there’s a spaceship, and opens the door wide open for more villains, and creates an interesting dynamic between major villains that have conflicting goals. Brainiac should have access to Phantom Zone technology based on his role on Krypton and other advanced worlds. He has a reason for seeking out Kal-El, that’s his directive, to collect the knowledge of each species and eliminate the species. He’s got Krypton’s knowledge, and there are a few survivors left to deal with. He frees Zod, uses the old “Jor-El snitched on you and destroyed your momma’s house” angle, and manipulates him and Faora to fulfill his agenda knowing that Kal-El in Earth’s yellow sun would be formidable.
Luther. The beautiful thing about Brainiac is that he would naturally seek out the Earth’s higher intellectuals. I can only see Zod as a distraction. Brainiac does not settle for full frontal assaults. While Zod wages war, Brainiac manipulates Luther, unbeknownst to Luther, because Brainiac always has a contingency plan, or six. Luther is in a position of power and has similar motivations. Luther could not resist the temptations Brainiac could offer. Luther could get a small cameo as behind the scenes conspirator, where Brainiac has promised Luther great rewards for his assistance. Now we’ve opened the door for Luther, and for Luther legitimately possessing futuristic-technology in sequels that won’t require detailed explanations. This could lend itself to more grounded versions of future characters like the creation of Metallo, Parasite, and even a version of Bizarro, and several other villains that could rival Superman. Or Brainiac himself could create those three on his own.
I’d love for Luther to be involved in MOS, but in the form of a brilliant and ruthless scientist/businessman we all know from the cartoons. Luther would not sit this out. A supreme AI and super-powered aliens appear on Earth and battle for ultimate reign, and Luther doesn’t get involved. I’m tired of Luther being the lone villain, but at the same time Luther can’t be left out completely. He’s too arrogant to allow aliens to rule his planet, especially because he believes Earth is his to conquer. A defeated Brainiac is salvaged by Luther with the unknown on the horizon, cut to a scene of computer bits and pieces reconstituting in a LexCorp lab deep underground, lights dim, 3 green eyes pulsate on the black screen, fade. I know the New 52 has covered some connections between the characters above recently, but I haven’t read it all yet.
With the introduction Of Brainiac, Metallo becomes a real viable character. I think it will be important to Nolan and his camp that we have a reason to suspend our disbelief at the introduction of advanced technologies. If those technologies are alien, the audience won’t require explanations. If the tech used to create villains like Metallo or Bizarro (if we’re talking clones) is human, then we’ll limit ourselves to creations that aren’t nearly on the same power scale as Superman. Also, the introduction of Kryptonite is inevitable at some point, so it makes sense that Brainiac is the one that brings “samples” of Kal-El’s home world with him, knowing the radiation would be useful, or possibly he kept a souvenir an inadvertently learns of its value when Kal-El attacks his ship. I think about 100% of fans want to avoid a Smallville scenario, where Kryptonite is so abundant on Earth that you wonder how Clark every survived childhood. This way we can eventually turn over the last (of believed to be the last) chunk of Kryptonite to Bruce for safe-keeping. If Brainiac brings Kryptonite samples with him, Metallo can at least be more than a Robocop or Terminator and pose a legitimate threat to Big Blue.
Bizarro. I can see Bizarro presented in way that is different from the comics, but interesting and true to the nature of the character. I don’t think we’ll ever see a dark Superman costume with the backwards “S”. Explaining how anyone but Kal-El has access to his suit’s materials will be unbelievable. I don’t think he’d act like a reverse Superman either. I think we’d get more of a hybrid clone with skewed sense of morality that we have seen in the cartoons, and DC direct features. He wouldn’t even be called Bizarro, but it’s important that he not be called Superboy or any of the other weird clones from the comics. Although after the whole “Robin” thing from TDKR, I’d half expect his name to be revealed as Connor. He would be fully capable of going to toe to toe with Kal-El. Now that we’ve seen Superman bleeding in the trailer, it appears he’ll be leaving his DNA all over the place. With Luther and Brainiac conspiring to conquer Earth and defeat Kal-El and also prepare against Zod’s betrayal, it would make sense for there to be a small easter egg in the movie alluding to the cloning of Superman, like Luther holding a vial of blood before his eyes, and grinning to himself as the movie ends.
Parasite. I just threw him in there. He’s not of alien origin, could easily be explained through a lab accident, experimentation by Brainiac or even a failed cloning of Superman. I really see Luther and Brainiac being the driving force behind many of the other super-villains that will be introduced. I highly doubt that we’ll get a bunch of space visitors in what is conceivably a MOS trilogy. Other JLA members bring their own baggage, that essentially only have alien villains to choose from like Martian Manhunter and GL. DC and Warner brothers will want to tread lightly on the alien stuff, unless the heroes leave Earth altogether to engage in battle. I can imagine a real sci-fi epic feature in the future that really delivers the way Green Lantern had promised.
Another idea. Doomsday. An advanced Kryptonian ship assimilated by Brainiac, traversing the universe collecting data and knowledge, genetics, engineering, culture etc. Maybe in Brainiac’s travels he encountered a race that engineered, stop me if this sounds familiar, an inanimate being capable of building (and destroying) worlds. We get a fancy flash sequence of Brainiac obliterating that world, and somehow neutralizing the creature, keeping/collecting it. Or maybe in a new twist on things, Brainiac himself is the creator of Doomsday using acquired technologies and science. When he arrives at Earth, Doomsday is in stasis aboard his vessel. Or he creates Doomsday out of anger for his failed attempts to conquer Earth and defeat Kal-El. Anyhow, his failsafe for Zod’s failure against Kal-El, is to unleash Doomsday. Or possibly, Brainiac himself realizes the dangers of Doomsday and decides to hide him away on his ship, but Luther discovers him and thinks he can control the beast himself. I’d expect there to be an end sequence that addresses the state of Doomsday and alludes to his awakening at the end of the movie once Brainiac has “retreated”. The typical monster movie ending with the black background, suddenly two yellow eyes open, a grunt and a growl… fade to “S” Shield.
The best part of all this is that we don’t need space aliens arriving on Earth to start every movie. The seeds could easily be planted for five or six of Kal-El biggest, smartest and deadliest enemies. I think Nolan will do something along these lines because he prefers a “hyper-reality” to total science fiction/fantasy. It makes a lot more sense for a Brainiac ship to come to Earth and develop some characters from that jumping off point. We’ll already know which villains are plausible heading into the next movie, rather than some random decision to have the flavor of the month arrive from space unexpectedly, again, and attack Earth, again, because alien monster/dictators seem to really hate Earth. Future DC movies could really hit the ground running if the next villain is beginning to develop during the finale of MOS. Nolan likes to tie his movies together to some degree, even if MOS doesn’t get a sequel, he will leave a few threads to pull on just in case.
The more I write myself in circles, I think of recent storylines like Birthright, Earth One, New 52 ongoing story-arcs, For Tomorrow, Last Son and Superman: Brainiac. The trailer has small hints from a few of them.
In conclusion, for those of you that haven’t fallen asleep, or clicked over to Cosplay girls, I suspect we’ll see Braniac alongside Zod and Faora at a minimum. I think subplots involving Luther will develop and hints of Metallo and maybe Doomsday will come forth. I know everyone loves Darkseid, but I can’t envision him existing in this world. He’s too “big”. It would take a half a movie to explain Darkseid, and another half to explain Apokolips, and then there are mother boxes, and Omega beams to deal with. It’s too complicated. The villains I’ve talked about have relatively simple origins to explore. Brainiac and Luther are core characters in Superman’s world. Their backgrounds can be fleshed out over a several movies. But most importantly, I don’t think we’ll get a slew of movies that all start with alien invaders landing on Earth, so these are some of the alternatives that I think Nolan and his camp would consider.
Bring on the Boy Scout!
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