Man of Steel: Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams

Jonathan and Martha Kent found their son when his spaceship landed on their farm in the town of Smallville, Kansas. Rather than alerting the authorities, they hid the ship, named the baby Clark, and raised him as their own. The secret came at a cost, though, as the alien boy exhibited otherworldly sensitivities and abilities that gradually raised concerns in the community. The Kents lived in constant fear that there would be a knock on their door, and Clark would be taken from them forever.

“Jonathan and Martha understand right away that finding Clark was both a blessing and a curse,” Snyder says. “Jonathan knows that he is not only a father, but he also has to be the guy who, while protecting his son no matter what, has to keep his eye on the ball. He realizes that this is bigger than him, bigger than all of them. Clark could change the course of history.”

Thus it falls to the concerned, loving dad to impress upon his son the magnitude of what his existence means for humanity, even if they are as yet unaware.

Kevin Costner

Costner portrays Jonathan Kent, whose paternal responsibilities are greater than most could ever imagine. “The nature of a father is to teach and protect. My character tells Clark that he’s a miracle, proof that we are not alone in the universe,” the actor offers. “It’s a huge burden to bear, but Jonathan believes that his son is on Earth for a reason and, as he says to him, the day will come when he will have to decide whether to stand proud in front of the human race, or not.”

Costner felt the themes of the film, especially with regard to the relationship between his and Cavill’s characters, have very real world implications. “People often talk about movies as being make-believe,” he says. “But the truth is, sometimes movies can construct moments that make you ask yourself, ‘What would I do in this situation? What kind of man am I?'”

Though absent through all of Clark’s young life, it eventually falls to his biological father, Jor-El, to ingrain in his son how crucial his existence is, but this time for Krypton. Having only just discovered his alien roots as the last son of that planet, and learned his true name to be Kal-El, Clark nonetheless begins to feel a real sense of self for the first time in his life.

Kal-El is the light of his parents’ lives, if only for a moment. Almost immediately after he is born, his father, Jor-El, the planet’s leading scientific mind, and mother, Lara Lor-Van, must make the heartbreaking decision to send their infant hurtling through space in search of a safe haven. Krypton’s natural resources are depleted, and it is imploding at a rapid pace. Jor-El’s pleas to evacuate have fallen on deaf ears, and he feels the only way to preserve the Kryptonian race is by rescuing its most innocent member, with the hope that Kal can survive and, through him, their people.

“Jor-El is very much an advocate of free choice, and that made him an outlier on Krypton,” Goyer explains. “In effect, it made him a criminal, an enemy of the State. Part of his hope for Kal is that he will continue that philosophy of free will.”

Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe, who plays the renegade scientist, asserts, “If you come at the story from the perspective that Jor-El is simply a good guy, I think that is underselling the argument that exists, at least to my mind, that there’s a touch of madness to him, a touch of massive desperation in what he’s doing. As far as he’s concerned, it’s the last roll of the dice for keeping Krypton alive.”

In order to accomplish that goal, Jor-El must first relate to Kal the story of his past, and impress upon him the importance of his future. This he accomplishes only when Clark’s journeys bring him to the one place on Earth that Jor-El can connect with him: a frozen tundra that holds a secret more than 20,000 years old…and that allows for Kal to come face-to-face with the image of his father.

“One of the really critical things that Jor-El tells his son is that in this world he must step out of the shadows to help correct the mistakes made on Krypton,” Crowe reveals. “It is a huge responsibility, but if he doesn’t fulfill his destiny…there is nobody else.”

Jor-El’s wife and the birth mother of Kal-El, Lara Lor-Van’s heart breaks as she and her husband place their newborn child, Kal-El, in a space pod. With little to sustain them except the belief that at least their son will live, they send him into the unknown. It is an act that is particularly painful for the woman who had just given him life against all odds.

Ayelet Zurer, who plays Lara, says “She’s an incredibly brave woman in unimaginably sad circumstances. She reminds me of women in war-torn countries, and what they do to save their kids. A mother would not send her son away against all of her instincts…unless she thinks there’s hope.”

Despite the strength of the paternal voices in his head, it could easily be said that the women in Clark/Kal-El’s life hold great sway over his choices as well: one, with quiet, nurturing strength, the other with quick wit and pure tenacity.

Diane Lane

“I think of Martha Kent as very pragmatic,” says Diane Lane of her character, Clark’s Earth mother, in every sense of the word. “I think she has to be, because when you find this ‘star’ child on your farm,” she laughs, “and you realize all of the capacities that this young being has, there has to be a moral obligation to be the best tour guide you can be. She knows he’s special, and that she’s been given this opportunity, as a mother, for a reason. I think she feels duty- and honor-bound to explain the world to him as best she can.”

In playing the role, Lane called upon her own parenting skills, and those of her mother. “I remember being a little kid and breaking all my crayons in order to convince my mother to do whatever I wanted her to do. I imagine if I had had the strength to tear down the house, I probably would have. At that point, you think, maybe there’s another way to handle those feelings. In the movie, Martha is the one who found the way to help her young son calm down when things are too difficult for him, protecting him from outsiders without having any shame about his gifts. She knows that he’s going to require as much internal strength as he has physical strength when he goes out into the world.”

“Diane and Kevin just completely embodied the all-American parents,” Deborah Snyder says. “They both worked so generously with the younger actors playing Clark, and brought so much genuine emotion to their scenes with them and Henry. It was incredibly touching.”

Once he does grow up and leave home, Clark drifts, but leaves an unintentional trail of courageous, seemingly impossible and equally inexplicable acts behind him. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lois Lane of The Daily Planet is on assignment in the Arctic when she witnesses firsthand Clark’s extraordinary powers. Lois is convinced she is onto the story of the century. Her investigative skills are admirable, but Lois is blind to the consequences her revelations may have for her mystery man.

Amy Adams

Amy Adams embodies one of the most famous female characters in comics, who has no superpowers of her own—other than those of deduction. “Like so many journalists, Lois is singularly focused; she’s only aware of the story she wants to tell. She has that fearlessness in pursuit of truth, the belief that it is more important than one’s own wellbeing, but it has become addictive, clouding her judgment and detaching her from the real people behind her stories.”

So it comes as a surprise, especially to Lois herself, when Clark’s assertion that the world may not be ready for his truth makes her think twice about her objectives. “She recognizes there isn’t one truth, that there’s truth from different perspectives,” Adams continues, adding that, because of her ambitions, and perhaps because of the nature of her job, “Lois had lost trust and belief in goodness. To see and feel that Clark’s intent is so pure is reinvigorating for her; it’s almost like a rebirth for her. I think it’s very interesting that it takes this person from another world to make her more human.”

“There are so many facets to Lois,” Deborah Snyder says. “She is tough as nails, feisty, and also beautiful and sensitive and emotional, but she’s no damsel in distress. She’s a truly modern woman. We were so lucky to have such an accomplished actress play her. Amy brought so much depth and spirit to the character.”

While Lois may believe she’s onto the Planet’s ultimate front page story, her editor is understandably skeptical.