It’s been almost seven years since Superman last flew across the big screen and made audiences believe a man can fly, but this month marks the return of the last son of Krypton in Man Of Steel, Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot that casts British actor Henry Cavill in the title role.
Much has been made of Superman’s woes in the modern era, with the shine from the previous film franchise fading amid a spate of sub-par movies and the shadow cast by Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster retooling of Batman’s big-screen adventures. DC Comics and parent company Warner Bros. now hope to change all that with Man Of Steel, a film that not only features a script by The Dark Knight franchise co-writer David Goyer, but also Nolan himself advising on the story and serving as a producer.
Digital Trends spoke to Man Of Steel producer Charles Roven, who also served as producer on all of Nolan’s Batman films, in order to get a taste of what’s in store for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s iconic superhero in the new film, and get an update on the Warcraft, Uncharted, and Voltron movies he has in the works.
What was it about Zack Snyder that made him the right director for Man Of Steel?
If you think about his body of work, certainly with Watchmen, he’s already delved into this world. It’s funny, because he actually deconstructed the myths before he had a chance to construct the myth with Superman in Man Of Steel. In terms of creating epic scale and his ability to just jam-pack the screen with amazing visuals, he also had those credentials. And his ability to shoot action, too. Those were the main credentials. But the thing that he brought to the meetings, though, was a really fantastic way of not only executing the vision of David Goyer and Chris Nolan, who laid out the story, but to also come up with ways to enhance their vision – not only in his shooting style to make it feel more real, but also in terms of his focus on what he felt the script needed to take it that extra distance.
There have been so many Superman movies over the years, so what does Man Of Steel give audiences that they haven’t seen in the earlier films?
I think it’s the fact that we’ve made this iconic character – who is really an alien with superpowers – be relatable to everyone. We’ve given him choices that the other incarnations of the character haven’t given him – choices that aren’t black and white, and are complicated. In a way, I think we’ve also given him issues to solve that are also relatable. Even though he’s godlike in his extraordinary abilities, he has issues he has to resolve. Even he needs to understand where he’s come from in order to define where he’s going. Those are all very relatable issues and emotions and things that will allow us to get inside his head, and therefore his heart.
Given how many Superman films there has already been, and how successful the modern Batman franchise was, did you approach Man Of Steel with a multiple-movie story arc in mind?
Here’s what we did: We went into it as if there had never been another Superman movie before ours, so we could honor the canon but change whatever we wanted. There’s no baggage. That’s why we wanted to make sure that there were things that were fresh in it like Hans’ score. Then we only wanted to focus on making this film great, but what we didn’t want to do was to preclude potential opportunities in the future. So we left the world open enough for that potential should somebody want to go there.
How do you strike a balance between letting Man Of Steel stand on its own merits and giving Superman and comics fans what they want to see in the film about the character?
We talked about that and knew there were things we really couldn’t change. We knew for sure that his father needed to be Jor-El, that he needed to be an alien, and that he needed to come from a planet that had destroyed itself in some fashion or was being destroyed. Those things form the canon that needed to be kept and honored, but with some of the “why” questions whose answers were never really drilled into the myth, we felt we could take as much license with those as we wanted, as long as it linked up to another canon. For example, we felt it was important to not only have the “S” glyph on his chest, but to also come up with a “why” for it. We felt we could make a contribution there. With Lois Lane, we felt that if we wanted to make the character and the situation real and relatable, we needed to have her be the investigative reporter that she’s always been, but be a little bit more participative as opposed to reactionary. We just felt that it was a lot better to have her involved in this situation with Clark [the way it's presented in Man Of Steel] rather than not realizing why this guy she knows can simply put on a pair of glasses and she doesn’t recognize him.
That’s always the question…
Well, it’s not a question anymore in this movie.
Speaking of big questions, since you were a producer on all of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, are we any closer to seeing Superman and Batman on the same screen now?
You’re asking that question, but I also keep getting asked about the Justice League…
Well, I thought I’d be better off starting small…
[Laughs] Honestly, I can’t answer that question right now. I just have to focus on getting this movie out there.
Back to Superman, did the character’s big 75th anniversary this year play into any elements of Man Of Steel?
We definitely wanted to make sure we were honoring the 75th anniversary, but it wasn’t part of the decision to make the movie. The fact that it coincided with the movie is fantastic. In fact, we realized only in late December that Action Comics #1 actually came out in June, so this really is the 75th anniversary.
Outside of Man Of Steel, you’re involved with a lot of other projects – including a few that are particularly interesting to Digital Trends’ readers, like the Warcraft movie and the movie based on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Where are things at with those projects these days?
Uncharted is still in the development pipeline. I’m feeling pretty good about what we’ve got in that script, but we’re not quite out of it yet. So I can’t tell you exactly when that one’s going to happen, but I hope it’s going to be soon. But with Warcraft, we’re moving forward. Duncan Jones is the director and he’s also working on rewriting Charles Leavitt’s script, which we thought was a great start. Legendary is financing the picture, and we’ve got a great interactive relationship with Blizzard, so we’re down the road on that one. The locomotive has pulled out of the station.
What sort of perspective will the movie take? Will it be Horde-focused? Alliance-focused?
I can’t reveal that to you right now, but soon enough I think you’ll get an inkling of what we plan to do.
Fair enough. And finally, I have to ask about the Voltron movie you’ve been involved with for so long. Are you still working on that one? It seems like we’ve been talking about that movie for a while now…
I’m still involved with it. Whereas with Uncharted I think we’ve cracked the story and now we’re working on shaping it and doing some of the textural things we did with Man Of Steel as we got to that place in the process, we still haven’t cracked the Voltron story. The reality is, Voltron lives in sort of that same space as Transformers and Pacific Rim, but it’s different. I love Transformers and what Michael Bay has done with it and I’m a huge Guillermo Del Toro fan, but those things inform Voltron. And if you’re going to create a Voltron story, you want to know that you’ve created enough distance between those potentially similar elements. You want to make sure you’re not treading on them and you’re coming up with something original that, on one hand, holds true to the Voltron canon, but on the other hand, it still holds fresh. It’s quite a challenge.
Man Of Steel hits theaters June 14. The film is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, and Diane Lane.