Interview: Zack Snyder and David Goyer Talk About the Pressure of Bringing ‘Man of Steel’ to the Big Screen

By June 4, 2013
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[Editor’s note: Last Friday, I visited the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank to attend the press junket for their upcoming Superman film Man of Steel. (We’re not allowed to talk about the movie until June 10th, so expect my full review on GeekNation then.) The press conference ran for just under an hour, and because there was so much said about the movie, I’ve decided to break up our coverage into four or five separate posts over the next couple of days.]

While trying to crack the story on one of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, writer David Goyer took a break and came up with a take on the world’s OTHER most famous superhero: Superman. He told his Batman director about his idea, which was good enough to convince Nolan to come on board as a producer and pitch the project to Warner Bros., a studio that had been looking to create another version of the character after Superman Returns didn’t connect the way they wanted it to in 2006.

Both Goyer and Zack Snyder, the man who ended up directing Man of Steel, were totally aware of the challenges of bringing the Big Blue Boy Scout to a new generation of fans while, at the same time, trying to please diehard fans of the character. Goyer spoke a bit about the trepidation he had heading into this project:

“It’s a huge challenge. I remember five or six years ago someone asking me at a Batman junket whether I’d ever want to do Superman, and at the time, I said no. It’s an enormous responsibility. People have a very proprietary relationship with Superman. A lot of people say, ‘That’s my Superman.’ But there’s the Reeve Superman from the ’50s, and the Fleischer Superman, and the Lois & Clark Superman, and the Donner Superman…it’s important to respect the iconography and respect the canon, but at the same time you have to tell a story. Once you 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 because it will just crush you and paralyze you.

It’s a story about two fathers. While I was writing the script, I became a stepdad, and a dad, and my own dad died. So 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 he wants to choose. My Kryptonian father or my Earth father? And in the end, it’s kind of both that make him the man that he becomes.”

Goyer wasn’t the only one who initially was scared of bearing the weight of 75 years worth of history with this franchise. Snyder talked a little bit about how he, too, was nervous about such a massive undertaking:

“I was worried about Superman honestly, as a project, just because it’s a thing I was interested in but on the other hand I was scared of because Superman is Superman, you know? It seemed at the time like a lot of work to make work, though I will say that after reading David’s script and after talking to Chris [Nolan], there was no fear in the script, in the idea. The idea was very straightforward and very competent. I think that’s what gave me this feeling of confidence. There is a thing in there to make cool, a thing in there that I’m interested in, and maybe I just need to let go of the fear of this icon. I do like Superman as a character and I have followed him throughout the years, and the fear for me was, ‘Can I honor what he’s been, or what he has the potential to be?’ I think David did an amazing job with the script and that was in there and we just had to go after it. So I think the vision was just the sort of unapologetic Superman movie that we wanted to make. I always felt like in the recent past, people have been apologizing for Superman a little bit. For his costume, for his origins, for the way he fits into society. We really just wanted to say, ‘No, no. This is the mythology, this is how it is, and it’s supposed to be this way.’ I think that’s the movie we made. We wanted to enshrine him where he belongs. Whether or not that’s making it too important, I don’t know. But it was the way we wanted to do it. It was fun to do.”

Man of Steel opens in theaters on June 14th, 2013, and you can read interviews with Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, and Michael Shannon right here.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at ScreenRant.com, FirstShowing.net, MySpace.com, GeekTyrant.com, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.