The road to a modern-day adaptation of Superman has been long and full of bumps. It seemed as if the oldest and most famous superhero ever just could not find an audience in a Batman world. Thankfully, it appears Chris Nolan, David Goyer and Zack Snyder have finally cracked the code for modern-day viewers.
SFX caught up with Deborah Snyder – Zack Snyder’s wife and producing partner – and asked about the upcoming Man of Steel film from Warner Brothers. Snyder explains that even though the character still stands for “Truth, justice and the American way,” the new approach will focus on making his appeal to Earth as more of a foreigner. An adopted foreigner actually.
“Someone said to me it’s the greatest adoption story in all of history. I think that’s an interesting way of looking at it – maybe because I was just in the process personally of adopting my two children. The people of Earth adopt him and he adopts us, as well. A lot of the messaging in this film is about family, and who makes you who you are.
“Clark is on this journey of self discovery, trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in, and in the end he comes to see what Jor-El, his Kryptonian father, has sacrificed and given for him. And he also realizes how his Earth parents made him who he is. All those themes and notions follow him throughout the whole film. That’s something that resonated with me, even from when we started reading the script and started talking about doing this film.”
As the site mentions, these ideas have been explored in the comic mythology in recent years, but not in the cinematic history of the character. Which is one of the many challenges faced with the new incarnation of Superman. Making people accept a new version of a classic and well established hero. Snyder says it actually boils down to the suit. Here is what she said about the redesigned costume.
“It’s a daunting process, because you want to be true, and we’re very respectful of the canon. But you also have to look at what’s happening on the screen right now with superhero costumes. It has to be relatable to a modern audience. But at the same time you don’t want to say ‘Who is that? That kinda looks like Superman…’ It has to read, at first blush, as Superman.
“We went through so many iterations of the costume and yes, Zack did try very hard to make the underpants on the outside of the costume work – there are nods to it, with the belt and with some of the side detail on the costume, and that just felt more appropriate to the movie we were making.”
Snyder also says it’s not just the costume that reigns important to the character but the physique as well. She explains how both Michael Shannon and Henry Cavill were put through the wringer to get themselves in shape.
“He’s a giant, but we really put him through the motions. The training for the role was so much a part of the process of making the film. The guys carried themselves differently as they went through their process of transforming their bodies. It was a really important part of the preparation. You saw Michael’s posture change. As we went along in prep he kept becoming more and more Zod-like, and I’d say the same thing about Henry too. It’s like they would carry themselves differently. It wasn’t that they were wearing a padded suit, they actually filled the suit, but it did something to their performance at the same time, and I think helped them get in the head of their character.
“Mark Twight, who trained them, usually pitted them against each other and would post their scores on the board. They’d do the workout and the timings or the weight would be up there for everyone to see. It keeps everyone kinda honest, I think, but also competitive.”
Finally, Snyder discusses the decision to pick Michael Shannon as the film’s leading villain. She says although he’s not yet an A-list decision for movies, he was the best choice for the intensity of General Zod.
“Michael Shannon is again such a respected actor. He had never done something of this physicality before, so it was challenging for him. All his armour is CG, so he embodied this role by looking at the pictures of what he was going to look like, and how he would move in his armour when he was in a mo-cap suit. You need someone who’s super-seasoned as an actor to pull that off, and he really does.
“It’s funny, because he’s the nicest guy, but sometimes on set he would be super-serious. He’d be in character and I’d be like ‘Oh my goodness, he is super-scary!’ And then all of a sudden he would finish the scene, he’d break a joke and you’d be like ‘Oh, that’s Michael, he’s funny…’ I forgot that because he’s kind of terrifying too! He just has this intensity that he brings to the role.”
I am happy to hear everyone was so determined to get this property right. I’ve never been the greatest fan of Superman but I accept any challenge from Warner Brothers to make me a believer. How about you though? Are you ready to believe in Superman once again? What do you think of this Man of Steel news? Tell us below!
Man of Steel soars in theaters everywhere June 14th!