We open on Clark in what appears to be the fiery wreckage of a ship. The fire-and-water motif is a recurring one; expect it to play a role in the film itself, as it certainly does in the trailer. Clark is water, and evil (Zod) is fire. This is an extension of a Christ metaphor (hell versus baptism) that's always popular with Superman, but pretty evident throughout the trailer in specific.
In fact, the next shot is Clark, bearded and with his arms outstretched. Need we elaborate?
As an aside, we see a rope or lariat or leather strap around Clark's neck quite a lot in the shots where he's bearded and shaggy. It's a safe bet that's the fortress key with the "S" shield on it that turns up later in the trailer. If not, it's hard to guess what it might be.
What caused this wreck? Could it be the Fortress's own security? Is it connected to the B-52 incident that took place at Baffin Bay, where it's likely most of this water stuff is happening and where the Fortress is likely to be (based on yesterday's viral marketing clues)?
The whole thing where young Clark, inundated by his heightened senses, turns to his mother and says "the world is too big..." recalls for me a scene from the John Byrne/Dan Jurgens era of Superman where Superman, unable to ignore cries for help from everyone, breaks down, telling his father "Everybody wants a piece of me," and his father had to teach him how to manage those feelings of responsibility without letting them break him.
Here, we get our first look at Martha Kent, trying to calm her son down while he hides in a broom closet. The broom closet, of course ,is a wink and a nod to where Superman has often changed his clothes before ducking out the window at work to go save the day. Here, though, with a quick sequence of school-related images and a shot of (apparently) young Clark running through the halls, we have to wonder whether his powers started to manifest for the first time while he was at school. She tells him to imagine an island in the middle of the ocean--"I can see it," he tells her. That's his quiet, meditative place.
Oh, and there he is. Years later, actually floating in the ocean.
In spite of all the joking about Jonathan Kent saying "maybe" Clark should have let a bus full of kids drown (we'll get to that in a minute), it appears as though the bus only had two students on it. Perhaps siblings who were playing around the bus and it fell for some reason? Maybe an incomplete evacuation? It's hard to say, exactly. Clark seems pretty surprised to see the girl he's rescuing, though; did he not know she was there? Perhaps not knowing that put him in a position where he thought he could save the bus unnoticed.
And is that Lana? An isolated girl in Smallville, saved by Clark, always feels like it could be, but we never get a clear shot of her. The actress who plays Lana has dark hair, as well, but that's really all we can do to draw the parallel.
Cut to the scene where Clark asks Jonathan whether he should have allowed them to drown. Again, the kid pronounces it as "let 'em" or "let 'im," so it's unclear whether he was trying to save the boy or knew there was a second person.
Jonathan's maybe, though, is DEFINITELY winding up for a chat, or a speech. In a higher-resolution version of the trailer, you can see his body language and it leaves no doubt. Perhaps Superman is his idea? He could say, "Saving others or revealing yourself is not an either/or proposition, son...".
Soon we're in the "present day" and in a hallway--is that the Fortress of Solitude? It looks for all the world like those three things there might be spacecraft. There are three of them there--do those belong to Zod, Faora and Non? Were they the ones who destroyed the boat? Is that who Superman is talking to when he says he has so many questions?
Before we jump to any conclusions about when this happens relative to the fiery crash at the beginning of the trailer, though, look at his facial hair; certainly that's nowhere close to the same time, right? And it seems unlikely that once Superman shaves in this movie he's going to keep having intermittent facial hair; that would be an editing nightmare.
Then he's holding the S-sigil-emblazoned crystal-something. Is it a key? That's our bet. But to what--the Fortress? He would seem to already be in there. Perhaps to the Phantom Zone/Black Zone? Maybe he's talking to Zod through a monitor and using that key allows he and his minions access to Earth?
The "what kind of man you're going to be" monologue set against the hero shots of Clark in costume are great, because it leaves no ambiguity for the viewer--you already know he's made his decision. You don't want a morally-gray Superman. He's clearly at peace here, too, and it calls back to the cover of All-Star Superman #1 and the idea that Grant Morrison always had that Superman would just walk around all the time without a care in the world. If you didn't need to sleep or eat and nobody could hurt you, why wouldn't you?
And then we get the takeoff, leading into first a truly epic series of shots of Superman in flight (the best we've seen yet in a Superman live-action production, in my opinion) and then to the moment when his calm is shattered.
How fast does he take off, once he's finally committed to the idea? Well, we went frame-by-frame and still only got this:
...So, yeah. Our boy was bookin'.
Next, we see an attack on Metropolis that blows by so fast, at first I thought it was a shot of Krypton exploding. Its not, though, which you can tell by all the cars flying, and the architecture. Anybody got a theory as to what "4278" on top of that bus might be? Snyder is famous for throwing little things like that into his movies, so it seems likely to be some kind of reference or in-joke.
Is this much damage being done by Zod and a couple of friends in three or fewer ships? I suppose it's possible, but there's always those pesky reports of Black Zero, which has at times been the name of a tactical military unit on Krypton...!
Of course, we also may have thought it was Krypton because it's followed up by our first good look at Jor-El and Lara. And lest you miss it, Jor-El is indeed wearing the "S"-shaped sigil on his chest.
There's a quick shot of Clark, still bearded and looking like he's in the boiler room of a building or perhaps the boat from earlier. He looks pretty angry; this will recur later.
Then we get a dogfight between a pair of starships. Are these the same aircraft we saw in the Fortress earlier? It's hard to tell, since they're facing in the opposite direction.
...as quick as it begins, that ship is toast.
Shortly thereafter, we see two ships descending, apparently peacefully, in Smallville. Is this Superman with an ally? Maybe Lois, who's an Air Force brat? I'm assuming that's Martha Kent on the porch; it's not the same truck as we saw earlier, but it's 20 years later or so. And the combination of a red truck and a blue truck gives them a very all-American, all-Superman feel.
If this isn't Clark with an ally, it's likely the Kryptonian villains looking for him, and it's probably early enough in the film that they're just not in the throes of their plans yet.
From there, we cut straight to Zod, and to Clark being thrown at his feet. He's wearing a military-looking, semi-armored outfit, but it still doens't look to us like the same kind of armor we see later on, which we guessed was probably Metallo. We'll see how that pans out; it could just be the difference between Zod's practical suit and a CG version.
Once Zod shows up in the trailer, it's like a switch flips and there's a whole lot more destruction. We see what appears to be an explosion at the Daily Planet (on the strength of Perry White and an anonymous female reporter running from the building. IT could be that it's being blasted from above, or that there's a ship crashing into it, but both of those seem unlikely since it looks like the source of the blast is coming from the bottom floors of the building they're running from. It also might not be the Planet building, obviously, but that seems the simplest answer.
Could that female reporter (it's obviously not Lois) be Cat Grant? Seems a likely enough answer, if unimportant.
Following those shots, we see a woman (presumably Faora) torching that place we figured to be the Fortress of Solitude. Again with the fire. Apparently nobody told her this isn't the end of Fight Club, either; take a look at that shot!
There's a moment of some peace, then, as we cut to a shot of a fisherman on a dinghy throwing a net into the water, with something alight and moving in the sky beneath him. Could that be Zod's ship entering the atmosphere? Clark's? Could it be Clark himself, thrown back down from space and burning up on re-entry? We'll see how it plays out.
After that, he's in custody, and here's something interesting; the Colonel Hardy thing doesn't quite sit right with me. I maintain that it's likely an actor of Christopher Meloni's stature might have been brought in as a prospective Lex Luthor for future installments. Here, he's with the military as he's often been in recent comics. He's on the far right of the shot here, and on the left? That's an older gentleman, certainly. He looks a bit like Nolan favorite Tom Wilkinson, but I wouldn't bet the Kent farm on that. In any event, one has to wonder whether this might be our first look at Sam Lane.
We go back and see Clark lifting something huge and mechanical, while still out of costume and in the beard. Is this the aftermath of the fishing/comet shot? More likely it's the result of the other time we've seen him bearded, burning and angry, when he was on fire.
After a quick flash of the Metallo-maybe fight, we see a more organic-looking ship than the others--or maybe that's just a result of it being closer up and clearer, who knows. Do you think that's the same kind of ship we've been seeing all along? I could see this kind of ship design turning out to have come from Brainiac in a sequel.
Who sees it, and doesn't like what they see? Dr. Emil Hamilton on the right, and Meloni's Colonel Hardy on the left. Again, Lex Luthor seems a more likely candidate to be hanging out with Dr. Hamilton. Let's keep an eye out for a potential John Henry Irons in future trailers, shall we?
We then see Jonathan Kent kissing the head of a young boy, presumably Clark. Perhaps during a twister? They used to get those a bit when they were in Kansas in the comics. It's juxtaposed with Clark rescuing a child, while still in the white shirt he wore earlier while he was talking about all the questions he had about himself. This is the kind of low-key, saving-cats-from-trees stuff that editorial hates, but that endears Clark's character to many fans.
After a quick look back at Clark's grade school pictures and a monologue about his father that alludes Jonathan Kent is dead, we get a shot of Superman hugging someone--looks to be Martha?--at a house that's pretty badly damaged. Perhaps those ships weren't so friendly after all, eh? He's already Superman here, but it's hard to say whether this is after the big fight or whether he's on his way to it, and just discovering they made Martha a target.
Then we see Superman flying into some kind of giant energy ball; this is likely a key part of the battle, especially as he seems to be trailing energy behind him as he flies. Hard to know what it could be, but it's a bit reminiscent of The Avengers for some reason.
That's followed by the money shot of the suit.
And we find out what the heck happened to that bank vault door anyway.
And we're faced with one of the real, recurring themes of Grant Morrison's Action Comics run--Lois Lane literally standing between the military forces her father (maybe) commands and Superman, being the arbiter of whether or not he's the good guy for the world.
But he opens his heart, and they have a tender moment. That helps.
But we still end on a shot of Superman facing off against the Army.
Want to watch it for yourself and see if we missed anything? Check it out below.