The Flight Scene in Man of Steel (2013) is considered one of the most iconic scenes within the lore of the DCEU. Ask any fan of the movie about this scene and most would reply with how it has affected them personally, from filling them with a sense of hope to one of wonder and awe. We see Clark, in a very intimate moment of strength and confidence, wear the mantle of “Superman” for the first time in this universe. There is a sense of beauty and naiveté from the moment he steps out from the Kryptonian ship, with the cape flowing behind him in a very majestic manner, to Clark laughing of pure joy as he ascend into the sky. Not only is this scene monumental for this movie alone, but for the entirety of the DCEU. Superman has been the heart of DC’s cinematic universe, so to have his first flight scene foreshadow his Hero’s Journey seems only right.
When we see Clark finally wear the suit for the first time, the scene is presented as of great importance for Clark. He spent most of his life confused as to who he was and why he was brought to this planet. The audience is made to infer through the first act of the movie that Clark seems to look for the answer to these questions. He gains a renewed sense of self after meeting his father, Jor-El, who brought some clarification to his origins. But even then it is up to Clark to decide what kind of man he wishes to become, as stated by Jor-El during Clark’s birth: “We’ve had a child, Zod. A boy child. Krypton’s first natural birth in centuries, and he will be free, free to forge his own destiny.”
Part I: Man of Steel
“You will give the people an ideal to strive towards.”
Now we move to Clark finally trying to fly for the first time. He first attempts some leaps to gain momentum before taking off. Those leap can signify the three main “leaps of faith” he had to take throughout Man of Steel. The first leap of faith was with Lois, allowing someone to know his story, and see him for who he was. The second one was with the U.S. Military to stop General Zod. The final one could be said was with humanity as a whole by the end of the movie. Clark exposing himself to outsiders wasn’t an easy task, but it did allow him to start to gain confidence in himself and his purpose. By the third leap, he is finally is able to fly—he no longer has to hide out of fear and can be someone that does good.
Part II: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
“They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall.”
However, he struggles to stay in the air. This is where his journey in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) begins. There are still conflicts, new and old, that weigh him down. His self-discovery is one of his struggles that is still present BvS that was stressed by a new conflict: controversy over his actions. People are slowly losing their trust in him. His actions are twisted to fit xenophobic agendas and it absolutely crushes Clark. He once again feels misunderstood. Just when he began to feel as human as a human being, he is put under a microscope for people are afraid of what they don’t understand, which in this case is Clark’s alien nature and powers. Even when being crucified by the public, he still sacrifices his life to protect humanity. He falls from skies into the ground.
He reaches his end in BvS.
Part III: Justice League
Now comes the foreshadowing for the Resurrection of Superman in Justice League (2017). It is quite apparent Clark, after falling, literally comes out from a hole in the ground.
As Clark rises, he looks upon the horizon and closes his eyes, relishing the sunlight that hits his face as the sunrise begins.
He rises with a restored hope…
Stronger than before.
Now, Jor-El’s prophetic quote comes into full fruition with the formation of the league:
“But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”
The Rise, The Fall, The Rebirth—all encompassed within Superman’s most iconic scene. It foreshadows his arc in the DCEU: Clark made the choice to stand proud against the human race, to withstand the accusations against him and still sacrifice his life, and to finally find the reason for him being sent to Earth. He stumbled along the way just like he did when he first took flight, but he never once gave up, for his resolve was already been made. Superman’s joyful ascend to the sky only teaches us to never give up, and quite literally, to reach for the stars.