Scene Breakdown: Superman’s Flight in Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’ “Something Darker”

It’s no surprise that fans were excited to see Henry Cavill’s Superman take flight again in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Omitted from the theatrical cut, Superman’s Flight 2.0 is a beautiful callback to Superman’s first flight in Man of Steel. The original flight scene holds a special place for DC fans — the memorable shot of Kal-El/Clark Kent stepping out of the Kryptonian ship in his Superman suit for the first time, Hans Zimmer’s hair-raising emotional music, and Zack Snyder’s stunning and breathtaking visuals as Superman soars around the Earth come together to create a powerful and one of the most engaging moments in comic-book film history: the birth of Superman.

The first flight in Man of Steel is nothing short of a journey. I cannot overstate how much the music and visuals make for such a thrilling scene. Jor-El’s voiceover, along with the realistic details scattered throughout elevate Clark’s experience as he discovers his power while simultaneously humanizing him.

“Earth’s sun is younger and brighter than Krypton’s was. Your cells have drunk in its radiation, strengthening your muscles, your skin, your senses. Earth’s gravity is weaker, yet its atmosphere is more nourishing. You’ve grown stronger here than I ever could imagine. The only way to know how strong is to keep testing your limits.”

-Russel Crowe as “Jor-El”

Jor-El’s voiceover begins with an explanation of just how powerful his son’s abilities are. As the audience, we see that power through little details such as hearing the satisfying sound of the sound barrier being broken multiple times as Superman soars through various landscapes throughout all corners of the earth in a matter of seconds. Snyder also films the scene as if the camera is struggling, desperate for getting a glimpse of Superman, showcasing his god-like speed and agility.

“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

Snyder brings a human connection as Superman learns how to fly–he doesn’t just shoot off into the air. He starts off with small steps, (more literally, giant leaps) until he begins to fly, and even then, he doesn’t quite get the hang of it. He loses his balance and crashes into a mountain. However, with Jor-El’s message in mind, he pushes his limits. This small little action is indicative of what Superman represents–someone who doesn’t give up and resolutely determined. Once he is able to get the hang of flying, a carefree smile appears on his face. This man, in all his strength and abilities, is beaming with a relatable childlike joy as he realizes what he can truly do.

“Fly son, it’s time.”

Kevin Costner as Joseph Kent

In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, we see Clark enter the Kryptonian ship after his resurrection. Just like his first flight, we see the shot of him stepping outside the ship’s doors, this time donning the black suit. As he steps out to take flight once again, the scene is accompanied with Zimmer’s original music and voiceovers from both of his fathers, Jor-El and Joseph Kent. With the final word from father Kent “Fly son, it’s time”, Superman takes off to space and basks in the sunlight, reborn.

The dual voiceovers and the final line is so impactful, emotional, and meaningful considering Superman’s struggle in the events preceding his death. In Man of Steel, we see Clark trying to figure out who he is, where he comes from, and why he is on Earth. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we see him struggle with his identity on Earth. Despite trying to do the right thing, he’s dehumanized by those who only see his powers or view him as an alien until he realizes he does belong on Earth and sacrifices himself. In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Superman no longer struggles with who he is or what he should do. His father’s voiceovers are a combination of both men encouraging their son to embrace who he is. As a Son of El, Kal’s purpose is to bring hope to the world and as Clark Kent, he chooses to stand proud in front of the human race. He embodies both his Kryptonian and human sides and truly becomes Superman.

Jor-El’s speech foreshadowed his son’s journey. His son’s presence did inspire others, and the Justice League directly, to do good. We saw Batman “stumble and fall” in Batman v Superman–he had lost his moral compass and had become bitter towards the world. Eventually, Superman’s sacrifice reminded Batman of who he was, causing him to search for and recruit the Justice League members. The rest of the League would “join [Superman] in the sun. (Literally, the final shot of the League is of them standing outside under the sun.) His resurrection allowed him to realize that he truly is a symbol of hope. His gratefulness for him having a second chance fuels him to protect the people of Earth and become an unquestionable hero.

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