While Warner Bros. and D.C. Comics have entrusted director Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel”) with the task of exploring the humanity behind mythology in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the upcoming trilogy “Justice League” (with Snyder likely helming the first installment), two producers are helping him to facilitate his vision of constructing and deconstructing superheroes in shades of gray. One of them is his wife, Deborah Snyder. The other is frequent tentpole producer Charles Roven, who produced Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy.
“One of the interesting things that we really discover and that makes each one of these characters different is how they grow into and embrace their superhero-ness,” said Roven. “I still love the fact that Batman (Ben Affleck) really isn’t a superhero, yet he functions as a superhero. It shows you how great we as humans can be without being superheroes. He’s certainly messed up in a lot of ways — he’s got some issues, as we all do, so he’s relatable.”
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No question, playing catch up with Disney/Marvel is no easy task. Roven respects Marvel and its directors. He produced a some “Scooby-Doos” with James Gunn (director of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and its sequel) and attempted to work with the Russo Brothers (“Captain America: Civil War”).
“The movies are different tonally and that’s great,” Roven emphasized. “Marvel does its thing and hopefully we do our thing as well. Our film deals with those very real things that we face in our lives on an operatic level. Fears that we have of an unbridled power — whatever that is — and what we have to do to stop it when it becomes corruptible. It’s great to have all of those [mythological] gifts that came before us, to bend, and play with and reform and use in a different way. That makes this stuff constantly fresh.”
For producer Snyder, producing “Watchman” with her husband was the best possible preparation for expanding the DC universe. “I like having these guys in our world and the questions that are raised,” she said. “Yes, there’s spectacle and action and drama. But Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is so multi-dimensional and you’re wondering what happened in his childhood that led him down this path.”
“And it’s been a struggle for Clark [Henry Cavill] because his father has raised him a certain way and he has a crisis and leaves. He didn’t realize there were going to be these consequences. He thought it was simple and Martha [Diane Lane] at one point say,s ‘it was never that simple.’ Once he came out as superhero, he thought he would do good. But who do you do good for? And who wants to control him?”
Screenwriter Chris Terrio (“Argo”) figured out the common denominator that finally unites Batman and Superman, as well as re-imagining Luthor as a nerdy psychopath with as much emotional baggage as Batman and Superman.
Snyder disavows the notion that there’s not enough fun in the darker DC comics: “Because it’s dealing with real issues, I don’t necessarily equate that with being dark. We’re complex people and we all go through shit. And we make them more relatable. But the action is fun.”
Letting Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in on Clark Kent’s Superman secret, breaking down the wall between them, created a beautiful intimacy, Snyder said. This yielded a fun bathtub scene. “Lois was interesting to me because through so many iterations she was being rescued and, to me, emotionally, she’s the one who grounds Clark. And If you’re that close to someone, do you really believe that [disguise]?”
Snyder promises a lighter tone for “The Flash” (marking the directorial debut of Seth Grahame-Smith), starring Ezra Miller as the youngest member of the DC universe.