5 January 2013 4:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

With the release of Man of Steel looming, we examine why the Superman story retains such power after more than 70 years

A movie trailer for this year's eagerly awaited update of the Superman story contains a moment which appears to subvert one of the most famous characters in the American cultural landscape. At first the trailer recounts the familiar story of a child from a distant planet, raised by farmers in Kansas who seek to keep his powers secret and call him by the human name of Clark Kent.

But after saving a bus full of schoolmates from drowning, a traumatised teenage Clark confronts his stepfather, who is worried he has revealed his true nature. "What was I supposed to do? Just let them die?" Clark asks. His father replies: "Maybe."

It is a shocking piece of moral ambiguity in the Superman universe, where what is right and wrong have traditionally been clear. »

- Paul Harris

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