Work In Progress 11/1/14 – 11/5/14, 11/10/14

I’m still looking for a flexible and powerful FAQ plugin that suits my needs (nested Q&A, collapsible, and the ability to index / jump to specific entries in order to hyperlink / cross-reference entries).  Please excuse the bare bones formatting of these 60,000 odd words until then.  Creative answers go beyond authorial and creator intent, but until I get the plugin that’s where we will start!

As of November 2014, I’ve consumed about 10 hours of YouTube published interviews with Zack Snyder, David Goyer, and Charles Roven on Man of Steel.

Primarily from press junkets, thus retreading the same questions and answers again and again, but with a few nuances and insights not found anywhere else.  The unique answers will be individual features (with citations to the sources), but for now, I’m compiling the repeated rote responses resulting from press junket interviews.  With reporters asking many of the same questions over and over again, Snyder would give basically the same answer repeatedly, if slightly different.

The answers I provide here are not explicit quotes or verbatim answers but my distillation and synthesis of their repeated responses.

Why avoid saying “Superman” in the film?

This is a film that concludes with Superman.  The Daily Planet scene, “Welcome to the Planet” (a line that was in the first draft of the script), is where a film titled Superman could start.  In Man of Steel the “Man” comes first, before the superhero.  This is the bedrock of what makes the man who becomes the superhero.  So our hero isn’t fully developed, identifiable, and in some, respect, what you want (like with the bar scene).

By holding back on saying “Superman”, we emphasize the development of the man rather than taking the icon for granted.  Allowing Lois to coin the name makes her a part of the creation of Superman, rather than merely naming something that already existed prior to her discovery.

Invoking the name infrequently also gives the name more gravity.  It’s something special.  Something that is said earnestly but with a lilt of incredulity at this amazing thing that is being referred to.  David Paetkau nailed the delivery.  The audience shouldn’t take the name for granted and by its absence attention is called to it.

What is Snyder’s Kryptonite?

Not working.  Laziness.  Thus he keeps busy and active.  If Hope is the crest of El, Snyder said his chest would be emblazoned with “Not Lazy” to exalt hard work and a  strong work ethic.

Why so much of Krypton?

The audience should no longer take Superman’s alien origins for granted.  Being an alien brings with it implications that may have been glossed over, ignored, neglected, forgotten or accepted as a “gimme” without much thought.  Snyder’s young children did not know what Krypton was or that Superman was an alien, thus he wanted to bring Krypton back to the forefront and restore its place in the lore.  As an alien invasion is the larger context of the film, it was important to powerfully imprint Krypton onto the audience’s mind so that his status as an alien would continue to resonate with them even on Earth’s mundane setting.

The goal was to bring Krypton to life so richly and to delve into the matter so deeply that the audience could almost forget that this was a Superman film.  That in watching Jor-El and Zod they believed the film could go another 45 minutes just being on Krypton and that the segment should summon to mind the young adventures of Jor-El and Zod with their storied pasts.  When the ship crashes into Kansas and the audience crashes into the waves on the Debbie Sue, they should be shocked into remembering this is a Superman film with the imprint of Krypton lingering on them as Clark’s story is told.

Spending this much time on Krypton gives more resonance of Jor-El and Zod when they appear later in the film and allows the pace to move quickly where the elements of invasion have already been seeded for the audience, rather than having to be explained thoroughly while the plot is ready to move.

Krypton was creatively rewarding because it was one of the most novel contributions the film had to the Superman mythos.  Krypton had never been done to that extent before and allowed Snyder to bring to life many of his childhood inspirations like the science-fiction / fantasy Heavy Metal magazine and art nouveau.  Snyder introduced H’Raka, Jor-El’s flying War Kite mount, to the script for the cool visual and in order to show that Jor-El was more in touch with nature.

The original script called for 30 minutes on Krypton, some of which was shot but ultimately cut back to 20 minutes.  The main cut came from an extensive action sequence on the landing platform of the Citadel.  Goyer’s script originally called for Kelex’s floating body to interlock into a war suit and fight alongside Jor-El in attempting to repel the Sword of Rao.  Snyder describes Zod as having a pack of war dogs and minons attacking as he floats above the fray.  Kelex then intentionally self-destructs his munitions in order to clear the platform, which enrages and brings Zod into the battle.  Both Kelex’s combat form and Zod’s war dogs can be seen in concept art available in Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman.

Goyer wanted the alien emphasis because of how casually Lois accepts Superman’s alien origins in the Donner film.  To Goyer, even without any of the extraordinary powers, Superman’s origins would be the biggest story in human history and change the face of the planet forever.  He drew inspiration from E.T., First Contact, & Close Encounters to bring Superman back to his science-fiction roots.  A literal illegal alien.

How did Goyer and Snyder get involved?

After 300, Snyder was approached to work on a Superman film but he declined at the time as he was deep in the production of Watchmen and completely immersed in the deconstruction of superheroes at the time.  However, upon completion of the film, Snyder noted that while Watchmen was something of an evolved justification of the superhero genre, its conclusion is terminal and hollow.  Loving Superman, on the other hand, was another way to justify and legitimize the entire superhero genre in an enduring fashion.

Goyer had once said after the release of The Dark Knight that he did not want to tackle Superman because of the difficulty of the character and his lack of affinity for Superman.  However, during a creative lull and writer’s block with Dark Knight Rises, Goyer took a break from Batman to read his Superman graphic novels then simply as a creative exercise spent a few hours drafting a Superman script.

The first scene Goyer wrote was of Kal-El’s birth and Jor-El and Lara having to give him away, having to say “Hello” and “Goodbye” in the same moment.  Goyer, having recently became a father, got choked up and realized how powerful the mythos was and that if it could connect with and move someone originally hostile to Superman, like himself, that Superman could be relevant to the world at large.

Goyer set about composing a Superman pitch about a Superman in our world to create a greater sense of relevance.  When Nolan asked about Goyer’s progress with Batman, Goyer shared his Superman pitch and Nolan was taken with it, offering to produce it and take it to Jeff Robinov, president of the Warner Brothers Motion Picture Group.

Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas invited Zack Snyder and Debbie Snyder to dinner to discuss Superman.  They had a conversation where Nolan pitched their approach and asked if Snyder was interested in doing it.  Snyder was hesitant because of the gravity, size, and presumed difficulty of the icon.  As a fan, he did not want to be the one to mess Superman up any further, nonetheless, he was intrigued by how relevant Nolan’s approach sounded.  He agreed to read the script.

Shortly after, Zack and Debbie read Goyer’s draft under supervision and was drawn to how plausible and fresh the approach was.  It seemed realistic, relevant, and with the interesting invasion framing narrative.  He was interested.

At that point a sense of reverse responsibility kicked in.  If he passed, someone was going to do this script and if that someone else did it and messed it up, Snyder would be upset as a fan and never forgive himself for passing.

What was Christopher Nolan’s contribution to this film?

Snyder and Goyer were entrenched in comic book lore but Nolan not so much.  However, that acted as a strength.  Snyder and Goyer were always inclined to include things from the mythology but Nolan would challenge whether the elements were rational, realistic, or made sense.  This forced Snyder and Goyer to really look at what assumptions were entrenched into their conception of Superman and how readily they would simply accept things as “gimmes” without thinking them through.

Outside of the story, Nolan’s producer role was primarily acting to protect Snyder’s vision from outside or studio interference.  As a director himself, he knew where the sources of interference could come from, what a director needs to have the freedom to achieve their vision, and had a certain amount of leverage and pull in being able to protect Snyder.

However, the ultimate creative vision of the film itself is completely Snyder’s with little input from Nolan.  From the outset, Nolan encouraged Snyder to put forth Snyder’s vision because that was the film Nolan wanted to see.  Nolan was shooting Dark Knight Rises during the shooting of Man of Steel and had no directorial input into the film.  Snyder’s inclusion of the Wayne Enterprises satellite logo Easter Egg was a tribute to Nolan, in admiration and appreciation for his work, encouragement, friendship, and protection.

How was the history and predecessors dealt with?

They pretended that all incarnations of Superman in media that had come before had never existed, except for these comics that they discovered on the floor or under the bed, and drew their inspiration directly from that.  Snyder indicates that as soon as he was involved he began to pull Superman books off his shelves to immerse himself in the mythology.  In other words, he already had Superman books in his home because he was a fan of the character even before becoming involved.

The total immersion and distillation of Superman media into his essential elements was an enjoyable process.  Since the previous incarnations are so disparate and fractured, the aim was to pretend they had a clean slate to work with.  There was no concerted effort to specifically differ from previous renditions, but instead tell the story that they wanted told.

Nonetheless, because those other incarnations of Superman are so entrenched in our vernacular and popular culture, small things would express themselves in the performances even without being told or directed to refer to them.

How was the pressure of making the film dealt with?

Snyder placed pressure on himself as a Superman fan and comic book dork.  He approaches all film from the perspective of making a film for himself.  That provides the passion and drive to create something over the course of two and a half years.  It also creates a responsibility to do your best work and hold nothing back because it is your work and your vision.  Issues cannot be laid at the feet of studio interference or boardroom decisions or movie making by marketing.

Snyder considers himself fortunate to have been allowed to bring his vision to life for the majority of the films that he has worked on.  The notable exception is the Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole where there was interference towards the end of production as to whether he was making the film to appeal to children.  His vision was that the film should be family friendly but not for children per se but that approach was questioned towards the end.

Aside from his love of the material, Snyder attributes his ability to execute his vision to his producers, Christopher Nolan and Debbie Snyder, who were tasked with protecting him from being interfered with.  Working with his wife, Debbie, means that their work related problems are shared and increases their empathy for one another.  Nolan has a similar partnership with his wife and used his clout with the studio to give Snyder freedom.  Snyder also often involves his children in the production of his film.  One of his daughters worked in makeup and his youngest daughter grew up with the film as serves as a reminder of how long the production took and will always be connected to the film.

Lastly, Snyder enjoys working out and often in preparation for a film and as a means of bonding with his actors, Snyder will work out and build up his physique prior to shooting then allow that boost to carry him through the shoot, then build back up afterwards.  He compares this to building for a marathon.

Goyer approaches writing blockbuster films without regard for the budget or the idea that he is writing a blockbuster.  He says he simply focuses on telling the story and asks that the studio not tell him about the money, the affect on stock prices, the risk to his career, and so on.  Nolan encouraged both Goyer and Snyder to hold nothing back and not worry about sequels or franchises but to treat every film like it was your last and to shoot every bullet in your gun, because the regret of holding back if subsequent films don’t get made is more damning than anything else.  The problem of having to top yourself in a subsequent film is a good problem to have.

Goyer feels that aiming to write a blockbuster dooms you to failure.  Snyder agrees that directing by committee or for an audience other than yourself dooms you to failure.  Finally, Cavill shared a similar sentiment that one cannot act an icon, rather you embody the character who may or may not be received as an icon.  Nolan was extremely protective of these values.

When did making the film hit Snyder?

The creation of a movie is a marathon more than a sprint, so there is an on-going immersion and appreciation for the work.  However, a highlight that stood out is when filming the Battle of Smallville, Henry Cavill walked into the street in full costume standing in the middle of the street and Snyder and another shared their excitement with each other that they were working on Superman.

Why Henry Cavill?

Of course, Cavill’s looks played a role in his casting.  As Snyder puts it, “He’s not horribly ugly.”  However, the role of Superman transcends mere appearance.  For Cavill, it was one of the quickest castings he’s ever been a part of but for the filmmakers they scoured the globe but ultimately screen tested only one man, Cavill, having so convinced them with his test with an intangible charisma.

During the in-person casting, the Man of Steel suit had not yet been developed, so they used the costume pattern from the Donner films pulled from Archives.  When Cavill emerged in the suit, no one laughed and everyone felt that Superman had entered the room.  They were so sold they didn’t even need to film the costume test.

When someone puts on the costume, there’s a difference between looking like someone wearing a costume, pretending to be Superman, and being Superman.  Even quite fit and handsome individuals can look like Superman, but not convey a sense of being Superman.  Snyder admits that such criteria is almost spiritual.

Cavill comes from a military family- his father was in the Navy and his three older brothers are in the Royal Marines- and so he was raised with ideals of service, volunteerism, self sacrifice, and duty, even intending to join the Army himself at one point.  Snyder considers these values integral to Superman- someone akin to a selfless first-responder volunteer- and finds that Cavill does not have to dig deep find that desire to help and rescue.  Snyder commends Cavill for conveying that desire to help with sincere earnestness that comes off as genuine and not cheesy.

Snyder remarks that Cavill embodies Superman in other ways as well: Cavill is a gentleman, humble and hard working, and with merely a look is able to convey kindness, compassion, and a hint of innocence without being soft or weak.  At the same time, Cavill is certainly able to portray an incredibly masculine Superman with edge.  Nonetheless, Cavill is able to inspire in the audience belief that this is an otherwise gentle sensitive soul despite extraordinary power.

On Cavill being a British actor playing the quintessential American superhero, Snyder presents a possible parallel with Superman.  Snyder theorizes that Superman serves as the perfect aspirational mirror of humanity to itself, because, as an alien, Superman desires and aspires to those things that humanity takes for granted because we’re human.  As an outsider and part of an adoption narrative, he can appreciate the best of, adopt, and project humanity in a way a native human would already been immersed in and not notice.  Snyder suggests, acknowledging it may be overly philosophical, that British actors, as outsiders, may be able to serve as similar mirrors to the best of the American spirit and culture.

Cavill demonstrated his work ethic in achieving Snyder’s requests that Cavill become a ridiculous monster who could have a shirtless scene that lived up to the physique of the powerful costumed icon.

How was casting?

Snyder says that casting was a dream.  He likens it to pulling images from magazines when trying to plan your perfect interior decoration.  He would write up a wishlist of actors he hoped he could get someone “like Kevin Costner” or “like Russel Crowe” or “like Amy Adams” only to be told that they were available and into it.  Snyder attributes to ease of casting with the icon of Superman, making his desired actors wanting to be a part of his film.

What was Zack Snyder like to work with?

Energetic, optimistic, hard working, sincere, and likeable.  Actors repeatedly call his directional style as collaborative and humble mentoring and guiding rather than demanding.  Costner notes that when Snyder wants something he asks for it, gets it, but without behaving like he is guiding the actors although he is.  Lane remarks that the entire film is already in Snyder’s head and so it’s just a matter of bringing it forth.  Adams says that Snyder simply calls his ideal takes “Awesome!” which provides the sincere positive feedback that they’re looking for, whereas other directors may sometimes play their cards close to the chest.  Snyder attributes the ease and awesomeness of collaboration because of the caliber and quality of the cast and crew.

What was Michael Shannon like to work with?

A joy to work with and a hilarious and fun fellow.  With Chicago ties, Shannon was able to show them around town.  While working, he was a consummate professional that brought it to every performance.  Snyder remarks that Shannon played the sentencing scene differently than it was written but nevertheless brilliantly and why his take made it into the film.  Nonetheless, while not performing, he was friendly and funny.  His talent made you utterly forget the other persona while in the moment… while Zod, he was terrifying and intense on set, making you forget the fun-loving easy-going Michael, and while Michael, you completely forgot he was the madman Zod.

Why a costume without briefs?

During pre-production, Snyder and company had completely immersed themselves in the mythology of Superman, including 75 years of the briefs.  When it came to designing the costume for Man of Steel, Snyder was in the camp that wanted to include the briefs in honor of that mythology.  However, Snyder reviewed literally hundreds of iterations and designs with the briefs but could not find a look that made sense, be justified, and fit with their vision of the film, a modernization turning on reality and rationality over inexplicable tradition.

Snyder cites the original purpose of the briefs was to summon in the reader’s mind the Victorian-era strongmen who wore bodysuits with briefs over the suits to make them more form fitting in an time predating Spandex or Lycra.  At the time, briefs over tights served to be synonymous with strength.  Today, it is inexplicable outside of the superhero genre and its tropes.

The why of the new suit comes from how the skinsuit is common to and worn by every Kryptonian.  This made the costume the product of Superman’s heritage and Kryptonian culture rather than something sewn by Martha Kent.  Snyder acknowledges that it is completely possible that Kryptonians adopted briefs as a matter of fashion and that mens ties would be just as odd to them, however, he felt a more utilitarian look was more fitting and ageless than something based on fashion.

What was the approach to changing tradition?

After completely immersing in the mythology, the goal was to ignore the source material and try to go with selected and distilled iconographic elements as the quintessential elements of Superman’s bedrock.  Then to realistically relate those to the audience so that they made sense, could identify and relate with Superman’s choices, and feel that Superman was again relevant to the world.  They wished to make sense of as much of the essential tradition as possible without relying on reasoning and rules external to the narrative.

Snyder uses his own intuition and fandom as a litmus test in production but appreciates audience reaction afterwards because it helps him determine whether he has effectively communicated his vision.  He doesn’t mind people disliking his movies based on their tastes, but he is disappointed in himself when people dislike his movies based on a misunderstanding of his films.

In a lecture and interview before the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Goyer stated, “We were pretty sure that [Superman killing] was going to be controversial.  It’s not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren’t just doing it to be cool.  We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice.  This is one area, and I’ve written comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers – ‘Superman doesn’t kill’.  It’s a rule that exists outside the narrative and I just don’t believe in rules like that.  I believe when you’re writing film or television, you can’t rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film.  So the situation was, Zod says, ‘I’m not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.’  The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can’t fly to the moon, and we didn’t want to come up with that crutch.  Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he’s not really Superman until the end of the film.  We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through and onto the next films.  Because he’s Superman and because people idolize him he will have hold himself to a higher standard.”

Elements were not preserved simply because they existed in the comic books, but sought if they had an internal logic within the film as set in the real world.

However, Snyder felt that the film itself was the main source of guidance in an instinctual and organic way.  He hesitates to set hard and fast rules for which elements deserve to be preserved because that was tantamount to judging the mythology, something he does not do.  The value placed on realism was not used to cull elements from the mythos but always in service of connecting Superman to the audience.

Was the film made with plans for a sequel?

Asked about making a hypothetical choice between a Man of Steel sequel and Justice League, Snyder said that Superman needs to get a little further down the road before doing a League film.  To Snyder, the Justice League is a top down affair where Superman’s house must be in order and then there must be a concerted effort to introduce other DC heroes to the world.  Snyder does not think that individual films per character is necessarily required, the question being whether it is done as a Superman film or some other vehicle, it needs to be deliberate.

Snyder did intentionally imply that other DC heroes existed within the world of Man of Steel, even if unseen.

Goyer did not approach the film with the expectation of a sequel or as a setup for the Justice League.  Nolan produced Man of Steel and worked on the story with Goyer.  Nolan’s approach to Batman was one movie at a time.  Nolan does not like sequel bait or after credit scenes.  Although Goyer had some ideas for a sequel, based on Nolan’s insistence, he rolled those ideas into Man of Steel in case they never got a sequel.  Nolan firmly believed it is better to worry about it later and raise your game.  There is a risk of writing yourself into a corner.  Ultimately, Warner Brothers left the filmmakers to follow their vision without making any requirements for franchise or shared universe compatibility.

Ultimately, reinventing Superman was pressure enough so the film was developed without much emphasis on future films.

Goyer likes Brainiac, Mongul, and Darkseid (and Parasite) as future Superman villains in live action.  Goyer believes that Bizarro and Mxyzptlk would be very difficult to pair with their realistic take.  Frothy or cartoonish takes on Superman are more amenable to such characters.  Goyer believes a certain degree of realism is necessary to illicit investment into the characters, likely not found with a floating imp from the 5th Dimension.

What is Snyder’s process?

“The way I make a movie is I get the script and then I start drawing, basically just shot by shot, the entire film.  Maybe because I just have a piece of paper and a pencil, I’m not as — I tend to draw things that maybe, if I really thought about it, I wouldn’t do it, because I — end up asking, ‘OK, we’ll just do this,’ and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, geez, are you kidding me?'”  The sketches are then embellished by his fight choreographer, stunt coordinator, and visual effects supervisor.

As a talented artist and visual person, he starts with imagery and set pieces that come to mind.  Two of the first images he sketched was of Zod swinging the I-beam and Superman leaning against the dented bank vault door.

Was the scope of the damage in the script or Snyder?

Goyer acknowledges that there is more on-screen mayhem in Man of Steel than all previous Superman films combined and that it was in the script and not injected into the film by Snyder.  Goyer wrote the Superman film that he had always wanted to see with a scope of action exceeding anything previously seen.

How to deal with everyone having an opinion on Superman?

Everyone has their own personal relationship.  There is worry about the fans as one of them, but Superman transcends the comic book world into real world pop culture.  The Green Lantern logo is a shibboleth for other dorks [Ed: Snyder uses “dork” instead of “geek” or “nerd”] but Superman’s shield needs no introduction across generations and cultures.  Fandom may need to take a step back and realize they share Superman with the world.

Since Superman belongs to the world at large, Snyder wanted to do a rendition that justified and made relevant the essential elements of Superman to a wider audience that wouldn’t necessarily automatically just accept the tropes that fans never question.

As the first superhero, Superman debuted to a world without comic book and superhero genre savvy, and thus was able to reach the whole world, define, and start the genre.  Snyder did not want to take that work for granted and give a Superman only to the faithful few, but renew Superman’s vow of relevance to an audience that has never picked up a comic book.

Snyder wanted every viewer to have a personal experience with Superman, not limit the experience to those with nostalgia to draw from.

Goyer concurs that everyone has their own Superman and if you try to do an homage or assume the audience adheres to this or that, there are serious pitfalls to that approach.  Rather than interpret an intermediate and make a copy of a copy, Goyer asked himself, “What references and influences were Siegel and Shuster relying upon?”  He found early interviews where they referred to the Old Testament and New Testament, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, the Philip Wylie novel Gladiator and so Goyer tried to draw from the “original DNA” and classical literature and themes rather than explicit modern comics.

Sometime after the release is Snyder still pleased?

Absolutely.  He was given lots of freedom, the performances came through, and the visual effects went above and beyond.  Couldn’t be happier.

Any interest in a Krypton prequel?

They’ve bounced around ideas of the Era of the Warring States with young Jor-El and Zod, but nothing concrete.

Was Krypton’s martial culture inspired by anything?

It was based loosely on Japanese feudal culture.  Although not seen, there were a number of City-States constantly at war with one another.  The implication is that Zod is from another City-State.  They’re friends, but that’s how he’s able to bring his dropships and everything.  Sorry.  Dorked out on you a little. [Ed: I want him to just keep spinning the untold tale of Krypton!]

Did humanity come from Krypton?

Snyder highlights that the Scout Ship arrives on Earth approximately 20,000 years ago which happens to coincide with growth and expansion of human civilization, but says he’s not certain of the implications.  He also mentions the one open hibernation bed is open.  He jokingly suggests that for all we know that the Kryptonian was killed by the natives with a Kryptonite spear while sleeping.

Themes of fathers and sons?

Yes.  Fathers and sons.  Adoption.  Unconditional love of a parent more powerful than a Superman if harnessed correctly.  Necessary to knowing what makes Superman tick.

Is there competition with the Marvel films?

Snyder personally doesn’t feel it.  He could imagine there might be some justifiable studio level competition from an economic standpoint desiring to exploit the intellectual property.  Snyder had discussed the topic a lot with Nolan and they’re comfortable and confident in Warner Brothers’ approach and tone.  It works for them creatively and for the DC Universe.  Snyder notes, however, that this is in contrast to the comic books themselves.

Favorite scenes to create?

Snyder’s favorite was the unveiling of the ship to Clark and the Battle of Smallville, first real action shot and first time Cavill was in the suit on the set.

Goyer is most proud of the scenes between Clark and Jonathan Kent.  Those scenes were the ones that touched him and moved him the most.  He relates to them as a step-father himself and those scenes were informed by conversations he’s had with his son.  The scenes were shot in Illinois, very near to the actual fields in which Goyer had grown up in.  Having Costner bring his words to life was amazing.

Why is the film gritty?

It’s relatable.  Which is more instructive or useful than saying “more real” or “realistic” as a goal.  This does not mean grim or gritty.  Instead, it means that you can’t simply take things for granted.  You can’t just assume your character comes from another planet and everyone just accepts that.  Being an alien creates a number of implications such as other intelligent life in the universe, it makes the character special even without powers.  It is an effort to follow the essential elements of Superman back to their logical conclusion and render them in a way that is sensible to the audience without the assistance of traditional superhero tropes.

Why was Zod selected as the villain?

The typical approach to superhero genre films is to select a villain and then create a story around that selection.  However, in contrast, Goyer took a similar approach to what he had done with Nolan in the Batman films.  Goyer began with determining what kind of story he wanted to tell about the hero, then reverse engineer the villain from that story.  Here, they wanted to feature Superman’s alien nature, being from another planet, and to give Superman an incredible Gethsemane-level Sophie’s Choice.  Their General Zod could provide these elements.

Zod was always in the script.  Zod has a relatable motivation and point of view.  Zod represents the past.  Setting Zod as the adversary and invasion as the framing device allowed for the great sense of scale for Superman and his feats.  Of course, Zod is able to physically challenge Superman without exposition.

Goyer: “It was always Zod. It was always Zod for two reasons. Chris [Nolan] and I wanted to make a science fiction film. We wanted to take Superman back to his roots and we wanted to come up with a threat. One of the things that always bothered me – and I adore the Donner films – was he goes into the Fortress Of Solitude and he just comes out in that costume and starts flying around. It’s one thing to emerge with these superpowers and another thing to possibly help people, but why put on a costume and make a public statement about it?

“I’m serious. The thinking behind this film was if he’s going to do that, his coming out [as Superman], if you will, has to be a really big event – it has to be something Earth-shattering. It always also bothered me that people glossed over the fact that he is an alien, and I had said to Chris Nolan early on that even if he had no superpowers, if the world found out he existed it would be the biggest story that happened in human history.

“That meant a first contact story and that lead us to Zod. Zod was also important because I wanted it to be a story about two fathers and Zod is a link back to his Kryptonian heritage, his lineage. Zod was at one time friends with Jor-El and so I wanted the fate of the world to rest on which heritage he was going to choose. We wanted to give him this Sophie’s Choice: you can have the human race or you can have the resurrected Krypton on Earth.”

How did 300 and Watchmen prepare Snyder?

As complete and specific graphic novels, Snyder played the role of a prism in bringing 300 and Watchmen to life.  An altogether different task than bringing a character to life.  However, Watchmen served to be incredibly helpful in preparing Snyder as the definitive deconstruction of the superhero genre.  Snyder was completely engrossed in every facet of the philosophy, commentary, and criticism of Watchmen in order to turn the “unfilmable” graphic novel in a motion picture.  This gave Snyder an in-depth knowledge and appreciation for the rules of the genre as, “You know the rules to break them.”  Being thoroughly schooled in the deconstruction by the genre’s seminal work equipped Snyder to reconstruct the genre’s seminal character.

Watchmen gave Snyder an appreciation for how Superman legitimizes the entire genre.  Whereas Watchmen acts as rich commentary on the genre establishing comics as an art-form.  The ultimate experience is hollow since there is nothing to love after the deconstruction is complete.  However, when Superman, as the first and greatest superhero who represents the entire genre, is made to work, he legitimizes all comics and can be continued to be loved and enjoyed through the ages.

Finally, 300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch were highly stylized and fantastical works that were intentionally ironic.  They set an expectation in the minds of some of the audience that this was Snyder’s style and mindset towards all film.  However, they prepared Snyder to take on a film without irony (besides the irony of being, perhaps, the most fantastic character being approached in the least stylized way, without fantasy) and to exhibit his breath as a filmmaker, informing the audience that the stylization of his previous genre films were a matter of intentional choice and not a limitation of his filmmaking ability.

What was the intent of the religious imagery?

Goyer wanted to re-present Superman as Siegel and Shuster did, without taking for granted an audience with knowledge or affinity for particular parts of Superman lore.  Thus, while Goyer did immerse himself in the existing stories, he made a concerted effort to investigate the works that influenced Siegel and Shuster.  He found an interview where, among other influences, the creators shared the influence of the Old Testament and New Testament on their work with Superman.  Goyer included religious themes and parallels in the film in tribute to what had influenced them.

Snyder is always quick to say that they were not the first to inject religious parallels into the mythology, but that it had always existed to varying degrees.  At its core, is the tale of a stranger from a strange land, a lone survivor, who comes to show your own world to you.  Jor-El sends his one and only son to Earth.  These elements of Moses and Jesus aren’t novel to their portrayal and, to a degree, unavoidable.  However, they actively embraced the themes to reinforce the scope, age, and authority of the Superman mythology, being tied to ancient narratives that have endured millennia.  Superman is modern mythology with incredible endurance when compared to other popular culture.

Empire Magazine July 6, 2013 YouTube

In an earlier draft, it was going to start with Clark at The Daily Planet

Snyder: “Calling Man Of Steel ‘Clark Kent Origins’ is a really a nice way of putting it, because for me that’s what it was all about. We could have started this movie with that final Daily Planet scene. You literally could start the movie with him getting off his bike and getting in an elevator, putting his glasses on and coming up, and having Perry White go, ‘Guys this is our new stringer, Clark Kent.’ Then having Lois say, ‘Welcome to the Planet.’ It’s a great line and the movie really could have started that way. The first draft had more of a flashback element.”

The polar bear shot was meant to in studio.

Zack Snyder: “Unfortunately there was no battle. It was funny because when I was drawing the storyboards I was laughing to myself, drawing the thing. We didn’t shoot it but I had drawn it as this dolly move where we were with a polar bear and he’s lumbering across the ice and he finally jumps and leaps and splashes into the water. It proved to be a lot more difficult to photograph than I had imagined, and I definitely did not want to do a CG polar bear.

“So in the film that is IMAX footage that we got from this documentary about the polar regions. They spent six months on a Russian icebreaker looking for polar bears and we just weren’t gonna do that. We had it worked out that we were going to bring the polar bear and put all these ice floes on stage and shoot him with a green screen behind.

“We were training him physically to leap – we were training a polar bear to jump from ice floe to ice floe. It was also dangerous to film him. There’s only one guy who has a polar bear in Canada, and as we talked to him about it, things got more and more dodgy. It sounded really easy at first. He was like, ‘Oh yeah, just put him over there and he’ll jump in, but no one can be in the room, and you have to put these electric things around so he won’t murder everyone.’ I said, ‘Has this bear been trained? Are we safe?’ And he said, ‘You’re safe. Unless of course he sees you, or he notices something shiny like a flash of light or something.’ In film production, that stuff happens all the time. So he goes, ‘Yeah, there is a chance he could maul us all but…’ And I said, ‘Maybe this is not what we should be doing.’ Then we found the footage and it was okay.”

There was more Krypton planned.

Snyder: “The first draft actually had more even on Krypton. The destruction of Krypton was crazy and we linearised that because it was like the birth and then all of these flashbacks within flashbacks and the timing of Zod’s approach. There was a bigger battle that I had designed on the landing platform and we shot some of it, but for budgetary reasons it got smaller and smaller and then it got to the point where I was just like, ‘Let’s just have the battle inside.’

“Jor-El has this robot called Kelex [voiced by Carla Gugino] and there is this scene where Kelex dons a robotic body and he battles it out with Zod on the landing platform. We had it so Zod had this pack of genetically-engineered war dogs that ran ahead, and Jor-El and Kelex were fighting the war dogs and finally Kelex takes these detonation explosives out of his robotic body and arms them, turning to Jor-El and saying ‘Get the kid off the planet!’, basically. Kelex says, ‘I’m gonna try and hold them off’, and then runs and dives and blows himself up. That makes Zod really mad, and then he lands and Zod goes in and the two fight.”

There is Kryptonian poetry on certain walls.

Snyder: “On the walls inside you can see classic Superman poetry, where he talks about the different moons. Then there’s this [American mythologist and writer] Joseph Campbell-ian thing that I love which I felt was really appropriate to Superman. It goes like this:

‘We have only to follow the thread of the hero path, and where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.’

“Joseph Campbell says this about the hero’s journey and I always thought it was super-appropriate for Superman. That’s his whole story in a nutshell, so we put that in Kryptonian on the walls.”

Christopher Nolan had to be convince that Zod had to be stopped.

Snyder: “In the original version of the script Zod just got zapped into the Phantom Zone. David [Goyer] and I had long talks about it, and Chris [Nolan] and I talked a lot about it. I was saying, ‘I really feel we should kill Zod and I feel that Superman should kill him.’ For me, the why of it was: if it’s truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained. It’s just in his DNA. I thought if we put him in an impossible situation, forced him into it, it would work. I felt like that could also make you go, ‘Okay, this is the why of him not killing ever again.’ He’s basically obliterated his entire people and his culture, and he is responsible for it and he is just like… ‘How could I kill ever again?’ Even though Zod says there’s no way this ends without it. ‘What are you going to do? Put me in jail? I don’t know what you’re going to do with me but I’m gonna just keep doing this until you stop me. I’m just a killing machine, especially now. I had a task before but you’ve robbed me of that too.’”

David S. Goyer: “So yes, originally Zod got sucked into The Phantom Zone with the others but I just felt it was unsatisfying and so did Zack. So we started talking to some of the people at DC Comics and asked, ‘Do you think there is ever a way that Superman would kill someone?’ And at first they said, ‘No way.’ ‘But what if he didn’t have a choice…?’ Originally Chris didn’t even want to let us try to write it but Zack and I said, ‘We think we can figure out a way that you’ll buy it.’ So I came up with this idea of the heat vision and these people about to die and I wrote the scene and gave it to Chris… and he said, ‘Okay, you convinced me.’ I’ve seen the film about four times now and everyone always gasps when it happens – they don’t see it coming – and I think it makes some people feel uncomfortable, whereas other people say ‘Right on!’ but that was the point. Hopefully what we have done with the end of this film is we’ve got the the mainstream audience, not the geek audience, to question it all. Hopefully we’ve redefined Superman.”

Snyder: “I wanted to create a situation where Superman has gotta do what he’s gotta do or he is going to see these people get chopped in half. And I think Zod knows that. It’s almost like suicide in a way, it’s like death by cop. If Kal has the ability to kill him then that’s a noble way for him to die. It’s echoes the ‘A good death is its own reward’ concept in a movie, and if there were more adventures for Superman in the future, you now don’t know 100 percent what he’s gonna do. When you really put the concept that he won’t kill in stone and you really erase it as an option in the viewer’s mind, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a code.

“But again you’ll always have this thing in the back of your mind. This little thing of… ‘How far can you push him? If he sees Lois get hurt or he sees something like his mother get killed… you just made Superman really mad. A Superman that we know is capable of some really horrible stuff if he wants to do it. That’s the thing that’s cool about him I think, in some ways, the idea that he has the frailties of a human emotionally but you don’t wanna get that guy mad…”

In a deleted scene, baby Clark startles a doctor.

Goyer: “Amazingly, not that much was cut from the original script. We refined things but the film is 75 per cent what was the first draft. There weren’t any characters that were different or things like that.

“There was a tiny scene when Ma and Pa Kent – even though I hate referring to them as that; they’re Jonathan and Martha – because I just think that Ma and Pa Kent is so anachronistic. One of the things we’re trying to do with Superman is just get him out of that of that Norman Rockwell Big Blue Boy Scout feel.

“Anyway, there is a tiny scene where they take a six-month-old Kal to the doctor because he’s behaving in a weird way, essentially because his super senses are starting to kick in. They do this test with newborns where they check their hearing by emitting tones into their ear canals. So the doctor starts increasing the amplitude of the tones and then baby Kal screams and blows out all of the windows of the doctor’s office; the windshields; the cars outside. It was a funny scene but we decided not to keep it in. Originally you cut from that pod landing to this scene to the fishing trawler and we just felt it was a more dramatic way to go if we went straight to the fishing trawler. And also coming off of the destruction of Kyrpton, it was a little early for any ‘Ha ha ha’ humour.”

Additional cut sequences include more global action and Lois being interrogated.

Goyer: “So there was that doctor scene [which was cut], and there was a tiny scene that was filmed and cut where after Lois is captured by the FBI, they interrogate her and she says, ‘I wont talk.’

“There was an action scene that was never filmed too. The Kryptonians did a demonstration of their capabilities: they dropped some of their number down to earth and mess up some cities. They drop Faora down in Shanghai and she messes up some stuff, for example. There was another five-page action scene and we thought it was too much so we never filmed it. But there’s plenty of action in this film… I mean, some people have said there is too much action.”

Goyer pushed for Lois to know Superman’s secret identity.

Goyer: “You have to respect the canon but constantly question the canon, because if you don’t reinvent – and these characters are constantly reinvented in the comic books – then they become stagnant and they cease to become relevant. And we were feeling that Superman – and I think a lot of people were feeling that Superman, at least in films – was ceasing to be relevant. So some of the things that we questioned were… could Lois figure out who he is? It just seemed idiotic that she couldn’t.

“I have this idea that a hero is only as good as their villain but I also think that a hero is only as good as his or her love interest. And if he’s going to fall in love with this woman she has to be pretty special. It’s interesting: even Warner Bros. questioned that decision at first, because that’s the way it’s always been, that she couldn’t figure it out. We just thought we can’t do that. It’s going to make her look like an idiot and if we’re trying to depict it in a more realistic, more relatable way – and I say realistic in air quotes – we had to get rid of that. That and the underpants.

“I also thought if we really want to drive home the danger and the enormity of what’s happening it would be great to have the first Earth-based action sequence happen in Smallville and have the place get pretty well destroyed. We wanted to make it personal, and we thought that if the bad guys figure out where he is, there are people in Smallville that know his secret too, like Pete Ross [the childhood bully turned friend].”

It was always Zod.

Goyer: “It was always Zod. It was always Zod for two reasons. Chris [Nolan] and I wanted to make a science fiction film. We wanted to take Superman back to his roots and we wanted to come up with a threat. One of the things that always bothered me – and I adore the Donner films – was he goes into the Fortress Of Solitude and he just comes out in that costume and starts flying around. It’s one thing to emerge with these superpowers and another thing to possibly help people, but why put on a costume and make a public statement about it?

“I’m serious. The thinking behind this film was if he’s going to do that, his coming out [as Superman], if you will, has to be a really big event – it has to be something Earth-shattering. It always also bothered me that people glossed over the fact that he is an alien, and I had said to Chris Nolan early on that even if he had no superpowers, if the world found out he existed it would be the biggest story that happened in human history.

“That meant a first contact story and that lead us to Zod. Zod was also important because I wanted it to be a story about two fathers and Zod is a link back to his Kryptonian heritage, his lineage. Zod was at one time friends with Jor-El and so I wanted the fate of the world to rest on which heritage he was going to choose. We wanted to give him this Sophie’s Choice: you can have the human race or you can have the resurrected Krypton on Earth.”

Perry probably knows Clark’s secret too.

Goyer: “Obviously we sidestepped the alter ego problem in this movie. We were conscious of that. Obviously it’s not an issue with Lois. Moving forward she’s his secret keeper, and part of the fun for us if we do move forward is they will be involved in a real relationship and she will be part of that, maintaining that fiction. Part of the fun of doing this though, and Chris has always said this, is that sometimes you write yourself into a corner, but you have to follow it to its logical conclusion and see if you can figure a way out of it.

“I think that Perry’s not an idiot either – Perry knows they have a connection, he saw that they kissed – and at the end of the film we are very aware of that. So one would presume that moving forward Perry would say, ‘What’s the deal here?’ If the film is embraced over the next few weeks and we formalise things, that’s something we plan to follow up on.”

Superman was always going to be aided by humanity.

Goyer: “We wanted the humans to be integral in the plan. We wanted a two-fold plan and we had to go through some gymnastics in order to pull that off: essentially that Superman has to take care of the World Engine while the other C-17 is flying the pod towards the black zero. He can’t do everything, and we wanted the human beings – whether it be Lois or the military – to be part of the solution.

“Another thing that we would hope to follow up on, which is something they’ve tried do in the comic books, is, ‘What does he do about world hunger?’ or ‘What does he do about genocide in Rwanda?’ For me part of the fun of reinterpreting these characters is saying, ‘What if…?’”

A ‘saving people montage’ would happen in the next movie

Goyer: “You have to remember this is, sort of, ‘Superman Begins’, and we see him saving kids in Smallville; we see him saving those guys on the oil rig and Lois refers to other incidences in the past when he’s been doing that as this kind of anonymous savior figure. But once Zod attacks, well… Actually, a couple of people have said once Zod attacks there’s not a lot of humour in it. Well, it just didn’t seem appropriate, people cutting jokes during 9/11 or something like that. There’s some humour before and there’s some humour after, so again moving forward perhaps there’s something [in that].

“This is a movie where the world learns that he exists and he decides to assume the mantle of Superman, so by the end of the film when he has that scene with General Swanwick, in our minds, the world has only been aware of Superman a month, or three weeks or something. That montage that you’re talking about can’t really happen yet. Presumably it would happen in another film or in between the next film.”

The Christian references were very much intentional

Goyer: “I want to be quick to point out that Superman was created by two Jews, and so as much there are parallels to the Christ story there are also parallels to the Moses story. They literally put their son in a basinnet and send him to another world. It’s the ultimate immigrant story. I think that it’s a saviour story and it’s got Old Testament and New Testament aspects.

“But it was very deliberate: I wrote it in the script that he was 33 years old, he surrenders himself to humanity and humanity turns him over to the bad guys. We just thought that for decades people have made those parallels and though I myself am Jewish, we just thought, ‘Why ignore it? Why not lean into it?’ We are presuming that Clark grew up Methodist or Lutheran or something like that, so it would make sense that in this moment of doubt he’d turn to God. After his mother there are very few people he can talk about it, so he might well go into a church for solace.”

Man Of Steel is ground zero for a future DC cinematic universe

Goyer: “I didn’t know about the Wayne Enterprises [symbol on the side of the satellite]. The LexCorp [logos were] in the script but the Wayne one… I was like, ‘Oh that’s cool.’ But Zack [Snyder] and I are big fanboys in that regard in a way that Chris [Nolan] isn’t. I mean we can cite certain covers or artists or things like that, [but] Chris just isn’t into that.

“This is just, sort of, y’know, ground zero for (no pun intended) a greater DC universe. This is a shared universe so we’re saying yes, Lex Luthor exists in this world, Bruce Wayne exists in this world. We mentioned S.T.A.R. Labs and so the intention is, if the film is well received, that this would be the starting point for introducing other characters and ultimately, obviously Warner Brothers hopes there will be a Justice League film and perhaps you might start seeing other characters appearing in each other’s films. I think in some ways they’re interested in going perhaps the opposite direction that Marvel has done which may be to do a group film and then spin off.”

The Woodburn character might have been Jack Ryder.

After the podcast interview was over, there was just enough time for one final curiousity question, and the one chosen was about the name of the blogger Lois Lane turns to when Perry White refuses to publish her Superman story: is Glen Woodburn’s surname a portmanteau of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s last names?

Goyer: “It’s an All The President’s Men reference for sure. I wanted that character to be Jack Ryder [a television newscaster villain from the comics whose alter-ego is The Creeper] but DC comics wouldn’t let us do it. I don’t remember the issue that stopped it from happening, I think it was a rights thing, but we only found out three weeks before production started so we had to think quick. I wasn’t going to go for [sometime Batman love interest] Vicki Vale, but I was desperate to come up with a new character that would work. In the end, this is how it happened, and we got to have fun with the Wikileaks thing too.”

Deleted and Altered Scenes

A video by YouTube user, superstarwarsrocks, summarizing a few of the changes preceding the film:

Some changes confirmed by the filmmakers themselves:

Clark as a baby treated examined by a pediatrician was filmed but cut. Zod attacking other Earth cities was never shot.

“There’s a scene, placed between Kal-El’s rocket ship crash-landing in Kansas and an adult Clark working at the fishing boat, where Jonathan and Martha take baby Clark to a pediatrician, because he’s acting strange, due to his superpowers beginning to develop. The doctor decides to check baby Clark’s hearing by emitting sounds into his ear canal. Due to the super-hearing, baby Clark lets out a cry that shatters all of the hospital’s windows as well as setting off alarms of all cars nearby. It was filmed, but cut because it felt out of place.”

Source: Goyer to Bleeding Cool

Extended oil rig scene where Clark is searching for the trapped, filmed using practical effects where Cavill was actually struck with a ball of flame, surviving only because he was lathered in protective gel.

“There’s this one bit that didn’t make the movie, unfortunately, but I walked up toward these stairs looking for these guys working on the rig,” Cavill said. “And they set off this 15- to 20-foot fireball in front of me. And I’m about 25 meters away from this thing, and the fire gel on me dries and cracks instantly.

“And had I not been wearing it, my skin would have blistered and come clean off.”

Source: Cavill on The Tonight Show

First draft cut was over 3 hours long.

Source: Deborah Snyder to Collider

There was more Krypton, some shot but ultimately changed and cut back.

“The first draft actually had more even on Krypton. The destruction of Krypton was crazy and we linearised that because it was like the birth and then all of these flashbacks within flashbacks and the timing of Zod’s approach. There was a bigger battle that I had designed on the landing platform and we shot some of it, but for budgetary reasons it got smaller and smaller and then it got to the point where I was just like, ‘Let’s just have the battle inside.’

“Jor-El has this robot called Kelex [voiced by Carla Gugino] and there is this scene where Kelex dons a robotic body and he battles it out with Zod on the landing platform. We had it so Zod had this pack of genetically-engineered war dogs that ran ahead, and Jor-El and Kelex were fighting the war dogs and finally Kelex takes these detonation explosives out of his robotic body and arms them, turning to Jor-El and saying ‘Get the kid off the planet!’, basically. Kelex says, ‘I’m gonna try and hold them off’, and then runs and dives and blows himself up. That makes Zod really mad, and then he lands and Zod goes in and the two fight.”

Source: Snyder to Empire

There’s a small scene where Lois is interrogated by the FBI following Zod’s announcement, and refuses to talk. It was filmed, but cut.

Source: Goyer to Empire

There’s a small scene of Clark petting a dog in Newfoundland, Canada. It was filmed, but cut.
There’s a small scene of Clark leaving the church after speaking to Father Leone. It was filmed, but cut.
There’s dialogue, “I won’t betray them.”, “You already have.” cut.

New York Post

Director Zack Snyder explains how he and the rest of the production team approached the redesigned Superman suit:

“The costume was a big deal for me, and we played around for a long time. I tried like crazy to keep the red briefs on him. Everyone else said, ‘You can’t have the briefs on him.’ I looked at probably 1,500 versions of the costumes with the briefs on. If you look at the costume, it’s very modern, but the relationship to the original costume is strong. You come onto a project like this, and you hear about modernization and you hear about bringing things forward to today, and all you can do is hope that it’s going to look cool and different from anything you’ve seen before.”

He also discusses how Man of Steel might lead to sequels, or perhaps even serve as the foundation for the linked universe Warner Bros. is trying to build around Justice League:

“We approach the film as a single endeavor. There are a lot of gears that have to turn in the world of commerce and the world of the mythology we create to facilitate more adventures for this character. We’ll see what happens… I don’t know how ‘Justice League’ is going to be handled. Honestly, I don’t. But ‘The Man of Steel’ exists, and Superman is in it. I don’t know how you’d move forward without acknowledging that.”

Last but not least, Snyder offers some thoughts on the film’s approach to the Superman legacy, as well as the influence of producer Christopher Nolan:

“We tried to approach this as though there’s never been a Superman movie before, but at the same time respecting the canon and mythology. There are the pillars that you have to respect, and I’m not about to break them. But it is fun for me to bend them and mess with them. There’s a logic and concreteness that has to exist with Chris. You can’t just do stuff because it’s cool. He demands that there be story and character behind all of it, which I’m a big fan of.”

Man Of Steel: Producers Debbie Snyder and Charles Roven
Dave Golder on June 14, 2013, 2:15 p.m.

Man Of Steel producers Deborah Snyder (yes, she’s the director’s other half) and Charles Roven (of the Dark Knight trilogy fame) talk about the crafting of a Superman not just for a new era, but perhaps for a new universe as well, with Man Of Steel .

Zack Snyder – why was he the right director for the job?

CR: “He’s just an amazing filmmaker. He’s got amazing cinematic visual skills. He can do things that are really jawdropping in terms of his ability to understand in his mind’s eye what something’s going to look like at the end, no matter how complicated the shot is. There are some seriously complicated shots in this movie, both in terms of the world creation of Krypton, and in terms of the way he has handled the fighting. Just when you think that Zack is out of the trick arrows in his quiver he pulls something out again and reinvents something. Not reinvents; invents something.”

DS: “And he’s super-hard-working. I mean, he draws. When we finish our work day he goes home and draws and he draws every single frame of the script. It takes him months. And everyone’s always like, ‘Are you done?’ and I’m like, ‘He’s been in meetings the whole day and then he got up at four in the morning and he started drawing.’

“He really makes the movie when he’s drawing it, so that when he gets on set he really can deal with the performances and the actors and his enthusiasm is endless. Whatever time, he’s always up so I feel like his sets are a really unique place because they’re very positive and they’re very organised and it allows people to really be creative. He’s open to the actors’ collaboration but he definitely has a particular point of view and I think in turn they can trust him because they know he has planned it all out.”

CR: “There’s never a time on a Zack Snyder set when you are sitting around waiting for him to come up with what the next shot is going to be. That’s decided well before we ever arrive on set.”

How did Zack work alongside Christopher Nolan?

DS: “Being a director himself and knowing what that’s like made Chris an amazing producer because he was totally supportive once he knew what Zack’s vision was; he was totally supportive of that. And always there to balance things, you know. I think it was a really unique opportunity for both of them because for producers, I get to work with many producers on projects so I always have partners that I can bounce things off of. But for directors they don’t really get to interact with other directors, especially in this manner, so I think it was a very unique and, in terms of Zack’s point of view, a very positive, amazing experience to be able to collaborate with Chris.”

When did Man Of Steel stop being just a Superman reboot, but a potential stepping stone to a Justice League movie as well?

DS: [Laughs] “Well, I’m sure the studio would have said from the very beginning! Listen, I think our goal always was to make Superman relevant again. There’s a whole generation of kids that wear the t-shirt but don’t necessarily know who this guy is. That was our focus. Whether other people had other notions… I mean, we know that he is part of a greater universe, that he is the pinnacle of the DC universe and obviously there are little easter eggs in the film that nod to that but our focus was on telling his story the right way.”

CR: “I think the simplest way is to put it this way: there have been many attempts, at least a few I know of, of Warner Bros to jump start Justice League . There was the script that George Miller was involved with and there was some other writer/directors who were involved with other incarnations; I don’t know how far they got. We weren’t involved with them. So that was obviously a big agenda and well it should be. DC comics has Justice League , Justice League can be a big brand.

“With Chris’s Dark Knight trilogy, his universe was just Batman and there was no other DC heroes. In the creation of Man Of Steel , it wasn’t: ‘Let’s make sure it’s a stepping-stone.’ It was: ‘Don’t put us in the same box as the Dark Knight trilogy and preclude the possibility – let’s put in a couple of easter eggs and who knows what can happen?’ Our willingness to do that, our desire to do that, has taken on a life of its own.”

Why hasn’t Justice League worked out so far?

CR: “Gosh, that’s a really good question. I thought that the George Miller movie was going to happen. I thought that movie was going to go, it went way down the road. They did casting. I honestly don’t know what caused Warner Bros to pull the plug on that one.”

DS: “Nor do I.”

CR: “Like I said, we did have discussions back then and it was very clear that the Chris Nolan Dark Knight universe was its own self-contained universe and the movie of Justice League was going to have a different Batman. It was never going to be Christian.”

DS: “And maybe that was the problem too because I think it’s hard for two things to exist in the same world. I think that’s difficult.”

With two guys playing Batman at the same time?

DS: “Yeah, I think that’s a difficult concept, just personally.”

CR: “But we never had a conversation where somebody said, ‘Hey guys, we’re going to pull the plug on this if you’re not going to let Christian Bale be in it.’ That conversation did not happen. So there must have been – I’m not saying that they didn’t talk about it – but I am saying that never entered our discussions and I honestly have no idea why George Miller’s movie never got made. It could have been budget, it was extremely expensive.”

Are all those guys who take snaps and make videos during the filming a pain you’d like to see the back of, or a bonus in that it’s all free marketing?

DS: “I’d like it to stop. Only because it makes our job difficult. We had a lot of pyrotechnics when we were in Smallville. It was very dangerous and there were people trying to get into the set, and in and around barricades and that’s dangerous. But also sometimes – whether we do a colour treatment or whether we do something in visual effects – what they actually shoot on the set might not be an indication of what the final product will be. So it’s a little premature for it to be commented on. The buzz, you know whether it’s positive or negative, doesn’t necessarily always accurately represent what the film’s going to be.

“And if you’re in the process of casting, sometimes things will get out there and we haven’t even met with these actors. There’s just lots of false information out there.”

What were some of the more bizarre rumours you heard about Man Of Steel ?

CR: “Well, we’ve heard some insane rumours all along the way. I heard a rumour that we had Lex Luthor in the movie and we cut him out of the movie.” [Laughs]

DS: “Or that, we have a character, an intern called Jenny, who was actually Jimmy Olsen! That we had replaced Jimmy Olsen with Jenny. She’s just a character.”

CR: “For us, we ultimately really want the audience to go to the movie and be thrilled by what they see and not know too much about the story that they are going to see. That ruins it. So even if some rumours are right, we don’t want to comment on those because there are so many that are wrong. It’s a double edged sword, all of that buzz, it really is. You love the fact that the fans have that keen interest and you certainly don’t want that to go away but you also need to make sure that you hold their interest in perspective and don’t let it deter you from what the focus is of the path you are going down otherwise you’re just going to have a mash-up.”

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