There are plenty of reasons why Man of Steel holds such a special place in my heart. The film, along with Batman v Superman, have been analyzed, dissected, praised, criticized and everything in between. Personally speaking, I have many reasons why these two films connect with me both as an individual and as a fan. My most fundamental reason is that Superman is one my favorite characters across all of literature, and Zack Snyder’s interpretation of Kal-El is a great adaptation for the modern era. One of the central themes that Snyder had woven through his Superman stories is that of hope. The value of hope has always resonated with me. In my life, I have come into contact with an unfortunate amount of cases of people dealing with mental health struggles. Working with them, it has taught me many important lessons, such as how important and powerful hope can be in a practical real life environment.
My story today is a bit more personal. There’s one particular aspect of Man of Steel that I can uniquely identify with: this movie truly connects me to home. Wherever I am, even when I am 357 miles away from home at college in Missouri, I can return home just by popping in the Blu-ray of this film.
I was born and raised in a Chicago suburb called Plainfield. We had a population of roughly forty-three thousand people and were in an interesting position geographically. While no means were we a big city, we were only a forty-five minutes away from Chicago. At the same time, we were not part of small-town America either. We had what I consider a perfect middle ground. Everything we needed was within a short walk or drive and we still reaped the benefits of being close to one of America’s largest metropolises (pun intended).
As you travel northeast from my house towards Chicago, the towns seem to grow in size as you get closer to the city. When you head the opposite way, the opposite effect happens as well. All the houses seem to very quickly turn into fields of soy, sometimes wheat, but mostly A LOT of corn. This is where the DCEU comes into play. Many of the Smallville scenes in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were filmed within a half-hour travel time from where I lived. The scenes were mostly filmed on location in various small towns in Illinois such as:
- Sandwich (yes, that’s the name of an actual town near my home)
- Serena, for Clark’s bus accident rescue
- Aurora, for the strangely memorable IHOP scenes
- Sugar Grove, for the Tornado Scene
- Yorkville, for the Kent farm and Jonathan’s gravesite (the farmhouse was used again for Batman v Superman)
- Oswego, also for the Kent farm
- Plano, for the majority of the downtown Smallville fight.
- Not as close to my house, but Man Of Steel’s Metropolis scenes were filmed in Chicago
(Note: all filming location information comes from IMDB’s Man of Steel page)
Unfortunately, I only learned of all this after I read an article during Justice League’s early production that the old Kent farmhouse was being torn down. In the article, it said that the farmhouse was in Yorkville, and out of curiosity I looked up Man of Steel’s filming location information. You can imagine my shock when I found out that somewhere around 3/4ths of the Smallville scenes from Man of Steel and parts of Batman v Superman were filmed within a short drive from my house. Along with shock, some disappointment was present as well. I was so close to the filming of two films that would eventually mean the world to me and ignite my love for cinema.
Looking back on it now, I find two ironies in this situation. One, I missed out on an opportunity to witness the creation of two pieces of cinema which would start a lifelong passion for me and it was all happening practically in my backyard. But then only a little while back, I had Zack Snyder himself “like” and comment on one of my Vero posts regarding his Superman. (https://screenrant.com/justice-league-zack-snyder-explains-superman-deleted-scene-theory/) I can now say that I’ve briefly interacted with Zack Snyder about his Superman trilogy and even had a few articles written about this interaction.
Life seems to love working in circles. You miss one opportunity, and another presents itself. What I missed during the filming of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman was brought back years later and the director of those films commented on my thoughts on his character. The second irony is almost poetic and means the world to me. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman remind me most of home while Clark Kent/Kal-El is struggling to figure out what his home is in those same films. Much like Clark, no matter where I am in my life, I will always be able to connect back my own Smallville.