A Hero for Everyone:
Behind the Scenes of MAN OF STEEL
By Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor
The director, producers, and actors behind the new Superman movie, MAN OF STEEL, said they were all a bit daunted about taking on the iconic “Last Son of Krypton,” but that their fears began to disappear when they read David S. Goyer’s script for the franchise reboot.
That’s what they said during a recent press conference in Los Angeles the other day with MAN OF STEEL Director Zack Snyder, Producers Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven, Composer Hans Zimmer, Actors Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane, and Antje Traue, and Writer David Goyer himself.
“I was worried about Superman as a project,” Zack Snyder said, “because it seemed at the time like a lot of work to make it work.
“But, after I read David’s script and after talking to Chris [Nolan], there was no fear [for me] in the script and the idea. The idea was very straightforward and very confident. I think that’s what gave me this feeling of confidence that. . . maybe I need to just let go of the fear of this icon.”
Snyder added, “I think the vision was [to do] an unapologetic Superman movie. In the recent past, people have been apologizing for Superman a little bit too much – for his costume, his origins, the way he fits into society. We said, ‘No, no. This is the mythology, this is how it is supposed to be.’ I don’t know if we made it too important, but that’s the way we wanted to do it.”
“To me it’s a story about two fathers,” Goyer said. “While I was writing the script, I became a stepdad, a dad, and my own dad died. I never thought that my own experiences would find their way into something like this, but if you boil it down to that, it’s a man with two fathers, and he has to decide which kind of lineage to choose. My Kryptonian father or my Earth father? In the end, it’s kind of both that make him the man he becomes.”
Goyer admitted doing a Superman movie is a “huge challenge.”
“It’s an enormous responsibility,” he continued. “People have a proprietary relationship with Superman. A lot of people would say that’s my Superman, but you would think there’s the Reeve Superman from the 50’s, the Fletcher Superman, Lois and Clark Superman, and the Donner Superman. It’s important to respect the iconography and respect the cannon, but at the same time you have to tell a story. Once you sort of land on who you think the character is and what his conflicts are, you have to let that lead you. You have to throw all that other stuff away and not be worried about this epic responsibility, or it will just crush you and paralyze you.”
At the press conference, people on the panel commented how, in MAN OF STEEL, Clark Kent feels somewhat like a lonely outsider when compared to the humans on Earth.
Henry Cavill agreed, but added, “I don’t necessarily think he speaks to the outsider alone. He speaks to everyone, or that ideal speaks to everyone. We all need hope, no matter what century we are in, whatever state of life we are in, whether we are going through tragedy or not. It’s just hope that everything will be okay. If tragedy and disaster happens, we hope we can overcome it. I don’t believe Superman’s solely for those who are outsiders, and those who think they’re alone. It’s for everyone.”
Cavill also said, “I didn’t take anything from the actors who played it before. That’s their interpretation. I wanted to do my interpretation, not out of ego but because it would have been a disjointed performance if I had someone else’s influence. So, I went straight to the comic books and saw the older movies, but I did not apply those performances to mine.”
In trying to play a beloved icon like Superman, Cavill said, “You don’t try to be an icon because that defeats the purpose. The responsibility attached is enormous, and the realization that it actually really, really, matters meant that I wanted to put the most amount of work into representing the character properly.
“That specially applied when I was working out in the gym. When you feel you can’t push any harder, and you can’t lift any more weight, you think, ‘Hold on a second. You’ve got to look like Superman. There’s a whole lot of people out there who are relying on me to be that superhero.’ So it really helped to push those extra few reps and just become that character.”
Amy Adams, who plays Clark Kent’s iconic girlfriend, Lois Lane, the consummate hardboiled female reporter, said, “I grew up watching Superman and loving the characters, and I let it be known that I auditioned several times. This was my third time. So, thank you, Zack, for letting me play Lois.
“When I talked to Zack about this incarnation of Lois, what I loved was that she was still this intrepid reporter, that she was somebody that was going to be a part of the solution not just part of the problem. She was going to have more of an inner track on Clark and sort of be on the inside as opposed to being on the outside. I really liked that and thought that was a very unique idea. I really loved that Zack wanted it to be this really big, amazing film but [it] was also very important to him to focus on the characters and the truth, grounding the characters in reality as much as possible in this amazing world that he created.”
“I’ve never seen any other Superman movie,” Russell Crowe admitted. “ The only Superman reference I have is the black and white Superman TV show that was on TV after school when I was a kid. So I really had nothing to draw on. The simple thing for me is, I read the script and thought it was a complex and really cool story in and of itself. I thought the problems that Jor-El faced in terms as his decision as a father was a very interesting thing to do and get involved.”
“I was a reluctant Bride,” Composer Hans Zimmer said about being asked to do the movie’s music.
“Unlike Russell, I have seen the other movies, and John William’s music is incredible. Chris said to me ‘C’mon, you can do this Superman movie,’ and I kept saying ‘No. You have an idea but I have nothing!’”
Zimmer concluded, “The only reason the score exists is because Zack took my hand, showed me his doodles, and told me the story. I am a foreigner. I know what it is to be an outsider. We also felt the idea of hope was important. We wanted to celebrate an America that hasn’t been celebrated recently.”