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Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman

manofsteelinsideAuthor: Daniel Wallace
Publisher: Titan Books £29.99 buynow1
Review By: David Stonehouse

This is a really lovely, and hefty, hardback coffee table book for anyone who wants a substantial companion to the new Superman movie. It opens with a foreword by Christopher Nolan and an introduction from Zack Snyder which lay both men’s cards clearly on the table about their intentions in tackling Man of Steel. These essays are both quite brief but fortunately Daniel Wallace’s informative text continually references both men, so that you feel you are experiencing the film-making process from the point of view of the producer and director. Nolan and Snyder were both very aware of the difficulties of realising Superman on screen and the conclusions they came to about how to approach those problems give a solid foundation to all the processes described in the book. An obvious example of this is their decision to embrace the sci-fi elements of the story and highlight the tensions caused by Kal-El being a child of two civilisations.

The book is separated into loose chapters that explore all aspects of Man of Steel’s production. Chapter One goes through the processes of refining the mythology for this new incarnation, and it is probably this section that will appeal most to the hardcore Superman experts. Some of the ideas here are pretty deep and philosophical while some, like the ditching of the iconic red pants on the outside, are light and fun. Next comes a chapter on casting, with thoughts and observations from all the major players, and then it’s into the astonishing design work. By far the largest part of this focuses on the realisation of Krypton’s dying civilisation. The sheer intricacy of world-building done by the design teams is mind-boggling and there are many fascinating details on these pages, including designs and concepts that never actually made it to the screen. Everything is covered meticulously, from the costumes, spaceships, livestock and weaponry of Krypton, to the re-imagining of Smallville, Metropolis and the Daily Planet.
The book is beautifully presented. The cover bears the iconic S chest symbol, textured to resemble Henry Cavill’s cool new suit. Inside are nearly 200 heavy glossy pages filled with insightful text, stills from the movie and beautiful concept art. Often these sorts of coffee-table books are a bit throwaway once you get past the pretty pictures, but this is so well presented, and the written content so interesting, that you’ll want to dip into it over and over again.

The hefty price tag means that this book is unlikely to appeal to the casual buyer. However, for serious fans, this is a solid and gorgeous souvenir to keep and treasure.

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