It's safe to say that most filmgoers have no idea who Antje Traue is right now, but in a week, people are going to find themselves scrambling to figure out how to say her first name.
It's "aunt-juh," by the way. You're welcome, gents.
Traue is an East German actress who plays the crucial role of Faora-Ul in "Man of Steel." She is both companion and military right hand to General Zod (Michael Shannon), and when the film kicks into overdrive in its second half and the action gets apocalyptically scaled, Faora is right there in the middle of it, and she is just as scary as Zod. More importantly, she is just one of the many strong women represented in the film. It is easy to accuse the world of comic-book storytelling of handling its portrayal of women badly, but "Man Of Steel" seems particularly good at shaking off the more common problems.
Part of what defines the battles in the film are the very different moral codes that the characters follow. One of the major threads of the film involves the way Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) struggled to define morality and responsibility to his son, and we see the way all of those lessons manifest in the way Superman (Henry Cavill) handles himself as his fight with the Kryptonians progresses.
Faora is totally different. As a Kryptonian, she was programmed in her DNA, born to serve one purpose. She is a warrior, and in order to be the best possible warrior, without mercy or pity, she was bred to have no moral code, no conscience about her actions. She is a destroyer, pure force, and when she fights, she holds nothing back. It's an intensely physical role, and Traue makes Faora an indelible character, no small feat when you're playing scenes with Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon.
I got the same impression from Traue that I got from Henry Cavill, and it's very different than the way Crowe or Amy Adams are approaching this movie. They're both old hands at this by now. Cavill and Traue have both been working for a while, but they haven't had that big moment yet where they were front and center, and "Man Of Steel" changes that for both of them. They seem excited because they've seen the film and they have some idea now what all of the work they did was for.
My review of "Man of Steel" will be available here at HitFix on Monday, and we've got more interviews for you next week as we count down to the release.
"Man Of Steel" arrives in theaters June 14.