For director Zack Snyder, the prospect of taking on one of the oldest existing comic book characters–one who has had a presence on the large and small screen and just about every possible form of media in the 75 years since his introduction–may have been seen as just another achievement in his burgeoning career as a director who has built a career on bringing comics to the big screen.
The resulting Man of Steel introduces British actor Henry Cavill in the role of the new Superman in what should prove to be a popular choice, as should the casting of Amy Adams as the new Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and Michael Shannon as General Zod. Without any question, it’s Snyder’s biggest and most ambitious film to date–which is saying something when you realize how long it took for anyone to dare tackle Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. It’s also easily one of the biggest movies of the year in terms of sheer scale and the biggest movie since last year’s The Avengers–it may even be bigger, if you can believe it–which might come as a surprise to anyone who wrote Snyder off when he choose to set aside adaptations and franchise and tackle his own original idea with 2011’s Sucker Punch.
Here at SuperHeroHype, we’ve been following Snyder’s career quite closely back to when he decided to tackle Frank Miller’s 300 and through his adaptation of Watchmen, and keeping with tradition, we got on the phone with Snyder just a few days before Man of Steel‘s release to ask the director a couple of the questions we’d been pondering since we first heard he got the gig directing Man of Steel.
(Note: For whatever reason, the phone reception wasn’t great during this interview so in some cases we may have done a bit more paraphrasing than we normally like to do.)
SuperHeroHype: It’s been a few years since we last spoke so I haven’t talked to you about “Man of Steel” or Superman at all, but let’s go back a few years when you were working hard to finish up “Sucker Punch” and “Guardians.” So after those two movies, how important was it for you to go into something more high profile like Superman?
SHH: Would you say Superman was one of your favorite comic characters or was it just among the comics you kind of read and you just knew the character and knew the mythos a little bit?
SHH: What was your pitch to Chris once you read the script? Did he come to you first or did you have to convince him what you wanted to do or was it a mutual thing?
SHH: Obviously Superman has had a lot of different origin stories over the years. Did you have a personal preference? Had David and Chris already decided how much of it they wanted to take from the different places and do their own thing? Did you have your own input on what you wanted to include?
SHH: So you felt you could approach this very different from how you did “Watchmen” or “300” where you had the graphic novel as blueprint that was set in stone? Is this a very different approach where you can go off the page and kind of fill in things,which may be not traditional?
SHH: There’s been a lot of talk about the omissions like not calling him “Superman” and going against the normal traditions that come with the character, like not having some say “Look! Up in the sky!” etc… was it hard breaking away from those traditions and making those decisions knowing that some people would generally be expecting them?
SHH: Absolutely. I wanted to talk about some of the more unconventional casting, particularly Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha. I would not have imagined Diane Lane playing Clark Kent’s mother, so can you talk about how you guys arrived at those two particular actors.
Snyder: I guess I was just really looking for… Kevin and Diane just feel like they could be a couple, first of all, so if you get Kevin, you have to get that someone who you feel could be with them. I know that sounds weird talking about Jonathan Kent, but I feel like for Martha, Diane plays different ages in the film, and she’s not afraid to be aged a little bit and make her look a little older on camera than she really is. I just think that’s really a testament to the power of Superman more than anything that these actors who are all pretty powerful in their own right all were very (open to) dipping their toes into the superhero mythology. I think that that really is more about Superman than anything that you can ask, “Hey, Russell Crowe, do you want to be in a Superman movie?” (and he says okay) that shows the great strength of the character.
SHH: This is somewhat of a weird question maybe, but considering that this is something very different from what you’ve done before, do you think it’s still very much a “Zack Snyder movie” or what people might expect when they see one? Or do you think it’s an amalgam of that and what people would expect from a Superman movie?
SHH: I’ve always been fascinated by the marketing you’ve done for your movies because it’s always been something you’ve really excelled at, even from the first promos of “300” and “Watchmen” at Comic-Con. I was curious how involved in the marketing this time around you were able to be and wanted to be? Obviously, it’s very interesting from Comic-Con last year to the promotions. I was curious, are you still very much involved in the marketing of the movies you work on?
SHH: The marketing’s been nothing like anything I would have expected, the way it kicked off at Comic-Con and it’s just gotten bigger and bigger and more intense with each commercial. It’s really been working.
SHH: There’s already talk of you directing a Superman sequel and I know it’s very early stages since the movie hasn’t actually come out yet. I know you were originally going to direct a “300” prequel and you decided to do other things so are you excited for the challenge to return to the character and do more with him?
SHH: What’s going on as far as the “300” stuff? You’ve probably been focused more on “Man of Still” but you have more of the Chris Nolan role on that one, so is that something you’re more actively involved with as they finish up the prequel?
SHH: That’s right. March became such a hot month to release movies because of “300” pretty much so that make sense, and now everyone wants to release their movies that month.
SHH: Now that I think about it, “Man of Steel” is literally your first summer movie ever… is that possible?
SHH: So where do you go from here? Obviously you’re finished with this movie. Do you have anything you’ve been developing over the years that you kind of really want to touch upon or at least try to jump back into another Superman movie?
SHH: Very cool. Listen, whenever you get back into the next Superman, good luck with whomever you cast to play Lex Luthor, because that’s going to be the toughest role to cast.
Man of Steel opens in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D theaters on Friday, June 14.