The trailer: Legions of Hunger Games fans tuned into the MTV Movie Awards last night for the widely advertised first glimpse at the upcoming sequel Catching Fire. But a creepy, jarring new ad for this summer's Superman reboot Man of Steel, which aired during a commercial break for the ceremony, has a whole different kind of audience talking. "My name is General Zod. For some time, your world has sheltered one of my citizens. I request that you return this individual to my custody," says Michael Shannon's villain, barely visible through a filter of grainy static. "To Kal-El, I say this: Surrender within 24 hours, or watch this world suffer the consequences." The new commercial is definitely a risky marketing gambit; neither the title Man of Steel nor the word Superman appears anywhere in the promo, and "General Zod" and "Kal-El" aren't as likely to register with the average filmgoer. Will this teaser make audiences kneel before Zod, or is this unconventional piece of Man of Steel marketing less than super?
The reaction: This new advertisement builds on Man of Steel's viral marketing campaign, which recently revealed a website with the phrase "you are not alone," says Nick Venable at CinemaBlend. But Zod isn't exactly offering a "compassionate shoulder from a fellow alien outsider." And as for the actor's performance: "You don't really see Michael Shannon's face through the static in the video, but his words alone tell you this is a much different interpretation of the character of Zod," says Matt McDaniel at Yahoo! Movies. Though Zod appeared in 1980's Superman II, Terrence Stamp played him as an "unhinged and imperious" villain. Shannon's take on the character seems to be much cooler and more in control. Yes, this video gives us many insights into the new Zod, says Mark Hughes at Forbes, but is The Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan (who helped oversee this Superman reboot) beginning to repeat himself? This video "is very similar to the video from the Joker in The Dark Knight, in which the Joker demanded Batman turn himself in" by threatening a killing spree. Will audiences respond to a darker, grittier Superman the same way they responded to a darker, grittier Batman? We'll find out when Man of Steel hits theaters in June.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
Subscribe to the Week