Zack Snyder’s dark and dreary Superman movie Man of Steel had a number of problems, but perhaps most notably was just how washed out and gray the entire film looked. Entirely by design of course, but the movie felt sapped of its life, and Superman, normally donned in a bright blue and red costume, felt sapped of his character. It of course was a blatant way to keep the film in line with Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but what we wouldn’t give for some color in a comic book movie!
This however is one of the more impressive and ambitious video essays I’ve seen. Some clever YouTube production professionals, who go by the moniker VideoLab, color corrected Man of Steel to restore the natural color palette and brightness that was removed in post-production. The end result shown side-by-side the original is staggering. A hugely dramatic difference. Is it for the better? That’s debatable, as it would’ve significantly changed the movie’s tone, and possibly made it campier for the worse. But the proof is in the pudding that the film could’ve been something much different, and not just the typical shades of orange and teal that so many action blockbusters today resemble either.
Here’s a note from the producers on the workflow, and watch the video below:
The results we achieved are obviously a bit oversaturated and contain contrast artifacts. Since our source footage already contained severe color-grading decisions, it was far from optimal and, at best, this is an approximation. If the raw footage had been colored in a more natural and pleasing manner, it would actually look SIGNIFICANTLY better than what you see here… We did, in fact, put too much green in the savanna, brought to our attention by eagle-eyed commenters. The orange-tinted sky in the Metropolis aftermath shots was actually there naturally. We believe the film had a more traditional-looking color grade until later in post-production when they decided to go darker. They should have followed their first instinct.