Anthony Breznican
May 24, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Superman may have the strength of countless men, but in Man of Steel he also has double the daddy issues. The upcoming superhero reboot starring Henry Cavill places the DC Comics icon in a tug-of-war between his Kryptonian biological father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and his adoptive earthling dad, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner). ”It’s about Clark trying to decide whose son he is,” says screenwriter David S. Goyer. ”And to a certain extent, because it’s a comic-book movie, the fate of the earth is going to rest on that decision.”

Crowe’s character sets his boy adrift with instructions to become the savior of his new home world, while Kent raises the superpowered Clark to hide his abilities, fearing the worst from his fellow humans.

The parenting conflicts gave the filmmakers a personal stake in the superhero saga. Director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) is the father of eight kids himself, and some of Goyer’s own family drama inspired the script. ”One day [my stepson] was mad at me and said, ‘You’re not my real dad! I don’t have to listen to you!”’ Goyer recalls. ”[Jonathan] Kent says a version of what I said to my stepson, which is ‘You’re right. I’m not your real dad, but I love you and I chose you. And I didn’t have to choose you. And that’s a big deal.”’

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