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After 75 years of dominating the pop culture landscape with comics, TV shows, movies, books, toys, games and even his own brand of bread (really!), Superman is so ingrained in our culture that most people take the details for granted. You know, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, yada yada.
And then there's "Man of Steel," which takes all those familiar aspects of Superman you take for granted and dumps them.
Sure, Henry Cavill's take on the Last Son of Krypton is still mostly familiar. But Warner Bros. tasked director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan with making Superman relevant for a new generation and they've clearly taken that directive very seriously, with a number of updates and omissions that may surprise you. So with that in mind, here are 7 Ways "Man of Steel" Rebels From the Superman Mythos.
WARNING: SPOILERS follow for "Man of Steel." Duh.
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1. The Costume
Probably the first reaction for anyone who saw the "Man of Steel" trailer or commercials was this: Where's his red underwear?! Shockingly, this time around he's wearing his underwear inside his pants. Part of that is simply modernization (the original outfit, based in part on old-timey wrestling garb and circus strongman gear, has started to show its age). But part of it was for legal reasons; thanks to a long-running lawsuit with the family of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, DC Comics got rid of the original costume in 2011 due to fears that they may lose the rights to the iconic red panties. Sorry, Underoos. Maybe next time.
2. Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen
One of the big rumors for months has been that Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen was, in fact, going to be a lady named Jenny Olsen this time around. That has turned out to be a red herring; though actress Rebecca Buller does play a character named Jenny, she's not an Olsen or a precocious shutterbug. In a bigger twist than having a female Jimmy Olsen, though, "Man of Steel" actually has no Jimmy Olsen at all. Which in turn means no signal watch. Just think of the missed product placement opportunities!
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3. Perry White
Speaking of the Daily Planet, this time around editor-in-chief Perry White, who is traditionally Caucasian, is being played by legendary African-American star Laurence Fishburne. Amazingly, this racial swap has barely been mentioned in the media, which is as it should be. And so we've got nothing else to say about it, either, really, except that Fishburne is always cool. Next.
Considering how incredibly overpowered Superman is, the existence of Kryptonite — the element from Superman's home planet that drains him of his powers — is a necessary check and/or balance to make sure things don't get ridiculous. Like, say, flying around the planet so fast that time goes backwards. That would be silly. But while Kryptonite has played a key role in several previous Superman films, this time around the deadly green rock is nowhere to be found. Here's hoping if they ever bring it back they go with one of the goofy spinoff versions, like Red Kryptonite, which has a different, completely random effect on Superman every time. Now that would be fun to see.
5. That Hair
It's one of Superman's most famous attributes: that single curl of hair in the middle of his forehead. But while Henry Cavill has a gorgeous mane of manly hair, Superman's iconic forelock is nowhere to be seen. We're not sure if hair product simply doesn't work on Kryptonians or if this is another attempt to make Superman more modern-looking, but frankly, we don't like it. Hey guys: If it's timeless, it's modern by definition. Bring back the hair!
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6. Lex Luthor
Okay, so General Zod is cool and everything, but when most people think of Superman, they automatically think of his arch-enemy, Lex Luthor. He's really the perfect foil for Kal-El, utilizing "mind over muscle," his egotism in direct contrast to Superman's selflessness ... not to mention his gleaming bald pate in direct opposition to Superman's iconic hair. But since they ditched the hair, they apparently figured they might as well ditch Luthor, too, because he's nowhere to be found in "Man of Steel." More's the pity.
7. The Phone Booth
How many Supermans can you fit into a phone booth? This is a trick question, because the answer is zero. Part of the reason "Man of Steel" ditched the "changing into costume inside a phone booth" thing is simple logic: Since Superman can move faster than the human eye anyway, he could change into his costume anywhere. But mainly it's because there aren't any phone booths anymore. In fact, there's a whole generation of people who have probably never even seen a pay phone. And take it from us, changing clothes inside your cell phone is really difficult and cramped. This is one modernization that is long overdue.