So far. filmmaker Zack Snyder’s made a zombie movie (“Dawn Of The Dead“), a glossy testosterone-addled swords and sandals epic (“300“), an ironic, deconstructed super hero film (which isn’t that ironic or deconstructed, but whatever, let him have fun with words; “Watchmen“) and a fantasy-filled femme fatales music video (“Sucker Punch“). Curiously, Snyder calls a movie about an alien who comes from another planet, is fostered by human beings and then grows up to be a god, only to see his new adopted planet become besieged by overlords from his former home, “the most realistic movie I’ve made.” Of course he’s talking about his latest picture, the Superman film, “Man Of Steel.”
Is it the influence of Christopher Nolan, screenwriter David S. Goyer, and producers Charles Roven (“The Dark Knight Rises“) and Emma Thomas (“Inception,” most of Nolan’s films)? Or maybe it’s just the material and Snyder knows he can’t just bring the speed-ramping the entire time? Either way, expect a film that doesn’t throw too many nods and winks to the fanboys expecting comic book touchstones. “There’s no tongue in anyone’s cheek. I’m not apologizing for Superman in any way. I’m saying, ‘Superman is a thing that must be taken seriously and embraced and understood,’” he told Hero Complex recently.
No, really, even producer Charles Roven says the movie deviated from the comics aside from a few foundational things (like Clark Kent, probably not being a journalist in this movie or at all). “We had the canon that we needed to pay homage to,” he said. “We need to make sure that Superman comes from Krypton. We weren’t going to change that — those kinds of touchstones. But everything else between those touchstones was fair game.”
What sounds much more interesting about this iteration of Superman is he’s not a simple beacon of outdated modes like his old axiom of fighting for “truth, justice and the American way.” Self-doubt and a moral compass that’s not always pointing in the right direction keeps him fresh, not so one-dimensional and boring which is often the case with the Superman movies — the hero generally has little internal conflicts. There’s an internal struggle to this one.
“We tried not to make him so predictably morally black and white,” Zack Snyder said. “We gave him some shades of gray. His inherent goodness is still there, and if you really think about it, you still want him to be right and to make the right choices and to do the right thing. I think that we all hope for that in ourselves, and I think that’s what always has made him a very interesting character. He’s a Christlike figure. There’s no two ways about it.” But it sounds like it’s about the journey to get there instead of being a shining beacon of hope from minute one.
In a recent Empire podcast, screenwriter David S. Goyer said he and Nolan had to sell Warner Bros. on calling the movie “Man Of Steel” and not “Superman“-something because they wanted it to stand out as something different from the past. “We decided very early on to deliberately not call it ‘Superman,'” he said. “That was Chris and I: ‘Man Of Steel.’ Warner Bros. said ‘why?’ and we started talking about it and said a) we wanted a line of demarcation between the old and the new, [and b]… ‘Man Of Steel’ was supposed to represent our take [on the material] a man not made of [human] flesh and blood… metaphorically that was the whole thing wrapped up in a nutshell.”