I was motivated to reread Mark Waid's retelling of the Superman origin for the 21st century by my growing awareness to near certainty that the upcoming Man of Steel movie is going to depend heavily upon it, much as the Nolan-helmed Batman Begins drew a great deal from Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. Having done so, I must say I am astonished that it does not appear among the “Six Must-Read Superman Stories” posted on the DC Comics website and blog just a couple of days ago.
Just to mention a some themes that the 2003-2004 miniseries and the 2013 movie obviously have in common: It was in Birthright that the \S/, which originated simply as a stylized “S” but with the 1978 movie became the crest of the Kryptonian House of El, was first explained as a Kryptonian symbol meaning “Hope”; the Kents exhibit a very realistic sense of trepidation and unease as to what might be the consequences should their son reveal himself to the world; Lois Lane tracks rumors of some kind of mysterious guardian angel; Kryptonians invade the Earth. Especially the latter element seems to be handled differently in the movie, where it appears that the invasion is very real, rather than being an elaborate ruse on the part of Lex Luthor, but the previews could themselves be deceptive. Part of me hopes not – if that is indeed a plot twist in the movie, it could be compared unfavorably to Iron Man Three even though Man of Steel is based on a prior source. And, to be sure, Zod doesn't play any part in Birthright. Some lines from Birthright seem to have made their way into Man of Steel, albeit differently: Ma Kent – “'Are we alone in the Universe?' is a question man has asked since time began … and you're the answer” (trade paperback, p. 74); Here it's Clark who assures Pa Kent, “You are my [father]” (p. 81). There are plenty of visual images, some of which are iconic and not at all original to Birthright, but striking nonetheless when reading it in light of the Man of Steel previews that have been appearing of late (Clark lifting part of a building on p. 40 is exactly the same angle as the movie's image, albeit without the flames). I hope we'll get an homage to the cover of the original Action Comics #1 in the movie as Birthright gives us on p. 50.