Back in the 90s, when I first started to get into superheroes, Superman was the one who took a regular beating in discussions as the one who's boring, impossible to update because he's good and not ambiguous, only palpable in combination with someone who is ambiguous, like Batman, and what not. I can't say I had strong feelings on the subject - I had seen the first three Chistopher Reeve films in the 70s and 80s, but only once each, with no more emotional echo than mild interest. I had also read The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (aka the first one to feature Miller's Superman-is-a-tool-for-the-establishment interpretation). However, then came the tv show Lois & Clark, and lo and behold, affection was ignited. Looking back, not least because of one significant change Lois & Clark made in comparison to the Richard Donner films and also what bits and pieces of comics I'd read. While keeping the 40s screwball comedy set up of Clark Kent competing against himself-as-Superman for Lois' affections, it jettisoned the idea of Lois disdaining Clark while adoring Superman in favour of a narrative where while Lois initial' reaction to Clark is irritation (and initial reaction to Superman is being wowed), the two become (bickering) best friends and partners (as journalists) independent from Lois' Superman crush (and flirtations with other guys). In fact, looking back, Lois & Clark is perhaps the most successfull tv story with a falling-in-love-with-your-best-friend arc, not least because it shows us the the two of them becoming friends first. Lois and Clark sitting on the floor of her apartment eating pizza and talking their ears off is one of the images from the show that sticks with me and sums up the type of relationship they have.
Now, if Dean Cain's character is firmly anchored on the "Clark Kent is real, Superman is the mask" side of the interpretation (and also very unangsty; he's got no issues with being adopted or being an alien, and while he is in love with Lois before she's in love with him, he's not pining or stalking), this is, in fact, not the only only Superman interpretation which really managed to impress me and capture my fannish affections. And the other one which did is exactly on the opposite end of the spectrum, it's extremely dark and yet utterly plausible at the same time. Though the name Superman is not used at all, because we're talking about JMS' short lived Supreme Powers series which used some half forgotten Marvel characters which were transparent takes on the Justice League and rebooted them. The Superman character in Supreme Powers, Mark Milton/Hyperion, is basically the best take I can imagine if you really want to go for hardcore angst and a dark interpretion of "what would really happen if a superpowered alien baby crashlanded on Earth. He's found by a kindly couple, alright. Who keep him for all of a few hours before the goverment - who of course have registered the vessel he came in - take him. And the "kindly couple" who actually raises him in a Norman Rockwell idyll are goverment agents supervised on tv all the time, with the idyll taking place in a confined environment. (The emotional horror there for all parties is considerable. Because raising a toddler who could pulverize you with a look - not because he means to, as an accident in the course of a childish tantrum - is deeply scary, and so you understand why the agents who are Mark's "parents" are too afraid of him to love him, and are faking it all the time, which in turn when makes for a horrible truth waiting to be realised as Mark grows up.) Mark absorbs all-American-values and the idea that it's his duty to save the world not because he grows up in Kansas but because he's brainwashed and deliberately indoctrinated on a daily basis. Not just so he'll end up as the perfect goverment weapon but because - and this is important, as it makes things not black and white but complicated - the idea of a child, and later an adult of nearly unlimited powers is frightening, and so the generals arguing for this program aren't evil supervillains (though you can call them cold-blooded bastards), they have a point.
In the course of the series, Mark finds out his entire life was made up of lies, tries to quit working for the goverment, with the result that due to a calculated smear campaign, he goes from being the beloved superhero Hyperion to an evil Alien in the public's eye, and finally gets a team of other meta humans sent after him, survives various assassination attempts and finally arrives at the conclusion that beneficent dictatorship (of himself) is the only way to go; in short, the generals have created exactly the nightmare they were afraid of (not for nothing does JMS use quotes from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as mottos for individual chapters). It's a pretty relentless tragedy, very compellingly written. (The Supreme Powers series then peters out in various spin-offs, but the first two trade volumes plus the Hyperion miniseries really are great storytelling.) It's also the ultimate in Superman-as-Alien-with-a-capital-A interpretation. (Also it probably says something about pop culture's response to the present that Superman for the longest time was the quintessential American dream - the stranger who arrives as a child and loves his country/planet of adoption wholehearteadly - and the closer we get to the present becomes the American nightmare - immigrant child ends up danger precisely because he was distrusted and contained from the start.) So yes - I'm able to go with that end of the spectrum, too.
However, based on the trailers and, um, the repertoire of the people involved, in seems to me the latest film might want to have the angst without thinking through the whys, wherefores and logical consequences. Or rather: do that annoying thing Nolan's Batman movies did where they seem to question the superhero premise but do really just the opposite. I.e. the problem isn't that the citizens of Gotham idolize the late Harvey Dent, it's that they don't idolize Batman, and once they do, the idolizing is just fine. So if Man of Steel is about how everyone responds paranoid to the idea of a superpowered alien but then once he's proven he's really a good guy everything is fine, well, that strikes me as a somewhat hollow compromise between the two different extremes of how you can tell this story.
Also: I'm about the 4045664th person to observe on this, I know, but one reason why the Marvel movies so far by and large are more enjoyable than their DC counterparts to me is that for all that Marvel delivers the angst, too, their heroes get to enjoy their superpowers as well. Now Batman being Batman, it's understandable that we don't have Bruce Wayne geeking out about how nifty he's made the Batmobile. But if there is one DC superhero who is really ideal for showing someone enjoying the their powers in between world saving, it's Superman. (Unless, again, you go for the superpowered-kid-could-accidentally-kill-u
And there is no reporter partnership in the trailer at all, woe. The scene with Lois in it intrigues me, but she's talking to not-yet-christened-Superman here, not to Clark. And with all the rest of the trailer emphasisizing the danger/shock of discovering there is an alien among us, I doubt the film will go for the Clark Kent, Reporter at the Daily Planet part of the myth at all. Which in turn makes me realize that what I really want from a Superman movie, and am not likely to get, is a big screen version of the first two seasons of Lois & Clark, not a superhero movie at all but the tale of two bantering reporters, one of whom has superpowers, fighting crime together. And that's my problem.