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There are a million reasons that Man of Steel is such a huge global hit, already having made more than half a billion dollars worldwide and on its way to much more. People like Superman. People like action movies. People like big action movies. But really, more than anything, people like big action movies that look great-- not only using impressive visual effects but creating images that are nothing like we've ever seen before.
Zack Snyder has always been skilled at focusing on the visual elements of his films, from the sepia tones of 300 to the speed-ramping of Watchmen to the overwhelming (and ridiculous) glitz of Sucker Punch. Man of Steel is, if anything, a bit less stylized than those films, but they make up for it with the visual effects, which set up from the very beginning that Superman's home planet of Krypton is not like any outer space location we've seen before. In this behind-the-scenes video for Wired the visual effects team-- including four-time Oscar winner Joe Letteri-- talk about how they came up with one of the most striking elements of Kryptonian technology, something they call "liquid geo."
If you've seen the film, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Tiny pinpoints of this gray metallic liquid thing can reshape themselves and form anything, from a talking speaker box (that helps guide Jor-El in his mission early in the film) to the map of Krypton's history that was inspired by classical Greco-Roman frescoes and even the bas relief art work in modern-day Rockefeller Center. Look at this screenshot of Zod and compare it to the walls of Rockefeller Center to see what they mean.
So if you were getting an old-school vibe from Krypton, and especially the scene in the Fortress of Solitude where Jor-El explains it all to his son… now you know why! Try to fight the urge to kneel before Zod next time you visit Rockefeller Center though.
As you might have noticed we haven't really been able to stop talking about Man of Steel around here, digging into everything from Christopher Reeves's rumored cameo to other Easter Eggs you might have missed to an argument for why nobody in Metropolis would trust Superman after all that destruction he caused. And of course, what kind of movie fans would we be if we weren't already talking about the sequel? Zack Snyder's already wondering how they can possible raise the stakes for the next one, and we're making requests for what we want to see next-- instead of Man of Steel 2, how about a Lex Luthor movie? Superman is back, guys. And if we're lucky, we'll get something even cooler than liquid geo next time.