From the moment it was announced that Zack Snyder would be calling the shots on Superman: Man of Steel, the project became a lightning rod for controversy. Though many fans lauded his rather slavish devotion to comic book source material in films like 300 and Watchmen, there were still some concerns that his sensibilities as a filmmaker might be at odds with the cornerstones of Superman‘s mythology.

His detractors became even more impassioned when Snyder chose British actor Henry Cavill for the title role. Peruse any recent article related to Superman: Man of Steel and you’ll find that some fans think that Cavill is too short, others think that his hair’s too curly, and a large majority still believe that Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) or Tom Welling (Smallville) deserve the part.

To be fair, when you’re dealing with an adaptation of something as beloved and recognizable as Superman, any decision is going to generate mixed reactions  – just take a look at how divisive opinions were last week over the casting of Oscar-nominated Amy Adams as Lois Lane. However, no other aspect of the film seems to have sparked quite as big a reaction as Cavill’s involvement – and I imagine that debate will continue long after Superman: Man of Steel is released.

It probably won’t convince any of the naysayers to rescind their opinions, but Cavill recently sat down with MTV to briefly talk about the film – and his take on the iconic character. He begins by confirming what Snyder, producer Christopher Nolan, and screenwriter David S. Goyer have indicated from the get-go: that this film will examine Superman in a more modern context. However, Cavill claims that the fundamentals of the mythology will still be honored:

“I have read the script … it’s true to the source material, but basically there’s so little I can say about it. It’s basically just a re-imagining and modernization of an iconic character.”

He then acknowledges that Superman Returns was cut from the same cloth as Richard Donner’s Superman movies and that Routh’s performance has a great deal in common with Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the character. When asked if that means he’ll be making a deliberate departure from their work, Cavill explains:

“That’s tough to say. It’s very early days yet. Superman is Superman after all. There’s only so much of a change you can make to that. It’s certainly going to be different, but not so different that it’s unrecognizable.”

Fan art depicting Henry Cavill as The Man of Steel

Snyder’s definitely facing an uphill battle when it comes to fan reaction at the moment and I’ll be honest – I’ve never been that fond of his work. You can count me in the minority when it comes to his Dawn of the Dead remake – it had a few fun moments, but I’ve just never understood the love for it. I also couldn’t really get into 300 and I thought Watchmen missed as often as it hit. Quite frankly – I feel the exact same way about the majority of his casting decisions.

Some of them are absolutely inspired (Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach) and some of them are baffling (Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre) – and there’s even the rare occurrence where hiring someone like Mathew Goode as Adrian Veidt almost completely contradicts some of the most integral aspects of the character.

I know that not everyone feels the same way and if you’re a fan of Snyder’s work, I can absolutely respect that. My point is just that I understand how some people can get so worked up over these things. Having said that, I’m still incredibly optimistic about Cavill playing Clark Kent/Superman.

At first glance he may not strike many as Man of Steel material, but after he packs on some muscle, gets a new haircut, and we see him in the suit – I think he might ultimately win over quite a few of the skeptics. I believe he’s a solid actor and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that his casting winds up falling into the inspired category, rather than the baffling.

Superman: Man of Steel is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2012.

Source: MTV and Ralph Damiani (Fan Art)