‘Man of Steel’ Musical Score & Visual Effects Heads Promise Passion & Realism

Published 2 years ago by , Updated April 9th, 2013 at 7:44 am,

hans zimmer and joe letteri on man of steel Man of Steel Musical Score & Visual Effects Heads Promise Passion & Realism

A little over two months remain before the release of Zack Snyder’s big-screen reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, which stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Michael Shannon as antagonist General Zod. Aside from the central characters, and rumors of an appearance by Lex Luthor, the entire project is being kept tightly under wraps with very few details revealed about the plot. In fact, the only thing that the cast and the crew have been able to talk about at length is the tone of the film and its themes.

An early screening reaction described the film as “a [Christopher] Nolan story with Snyder effects/action,” and from what we’ve heard so far, it sounds like Man of Steel will discard a lot of what was in the older comic books in favor of giving the film a more realistic feel, though Clark Kent’s origin story will remain intact as Snyder explores the fall of Krypton.

Man of Steel‘s composer, Hans Zimmer, has spoken to CNN about being tasked with writing the score for the film, and was asked if it had anything in common with religious-themed TV miniseries The Bible, which is playing on the History Channel this year.

“Yes. Yes is the answer. Once you see Superman, you’ll see how close you are with your question.

“Both stories are passions … about a struggle to do the right thing. For Superman, it was a really simple question for me. What does it take to become a good man? To be good? And what does that mean in our more and more complex society? Do any of these values still resonate with us?”

Of course, when you think of the words “Superman” and “music” together, the first thing that comes to mind is almost invariably John Williams’ unforgettable theme for Richard Donner’s 1978 film. Zimmer confessed to being intimidated by the prospect of scoring a Superman film, knowing who had gone before him:

“Look, that was daunting. Seriously. He’s the greatest film composer out there, without a doubt, and it happens to be one of his iconic pieces of music, so I spent three months just procrastinating and not even getting a start on the thing, because I was so intimidated: ‘Oh my God, I’m following in John Williams’ footsteps.’

“I remember [Christopher Nolan] going, ‘Of course you can do it. What’s the big deal? I did Batman.’ And I said, ‘Excuse me, you went to Warner Bros. with an idea of how you were going to do Batman, and you’re saying I’m supposed to do Superman, but I don’t have the idea in my head.’ I have to sneak up on it!”

The composer gave CNN an idea of what he put together once his three months of procrastination were over, and what we can expect to hear when Man of Steel hits theaters. Zimmer attempted to recreate the “wide-eyed” impression of America that he’d felt himself, coming to the country as a foreigner (like Kal-el), and do so using “a grouping of pedal steel guitars (instead of the usual string section), banging titanium and steel sculptures.” He also organised a drum circle consisting of “a who’s who of drummers,” including Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham), N.E.R.D’s Pharrell Williams, and Prince collaborator Sheila E.

man of steel vfx joe letteri Man of Steel Musical Score & Visual Effects Heads Promise Passion & Realism

Zimmer isn’t the only Man of Steel creative dropping hints about the film. Bleeding Cool spoke with VFX supervisor Joe Letteri, who also worked on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Avatar and King Kong with his company WETA Digital, to find out more about what he’d been working on for Man of Steel. Though Letteri couldn’t talk specifically about any scenes that he’d worked on, he did reveal a little more about what audiences can expect to see in Zack Snyder’s interpretation of the Superman story:

“I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, but overall it’s the story that’s most exciting. It’s a nice re-envisioning of the story of Superman leaving his homeworld and coming to this new one.

“If you look at what Zack [Snyder] has done you’ll see that they’ve abandoned a lot of the pretense that was in the comics and asked ‘Can we still make this work?’

“They’re sticking to realism as much as possible. Fantastic elements are still there but a lot of it that been trimmed back to make it feel as though this actually happened.”

Letteri’s account more or less correlates with what we’ve heard previously, with screenwriter David S. Goyer saying that fidelity to the tone of the comic books was not a priority, and instead they approached the Superman story, “as if it weren’t a comic book movie, as if it were real.” This may or may not sit well with fans of the comic books, despite Snyder’s promise that he “took the mythology seriously,” but it bodes well for the film’s ability to appeal to a broader audience beyond the core fanbase

Based on this, and the involvement of Christopher Nolan as one of the writers, there has been a lot of speculation that Man of Steel will be the Dark Knight of the Superman franchise. Nolan has acknowledged that this is “somewhat” true, but also hastened to add, “I wouldn’t want people to think we’re doing for Superman what we did for Batman.”

Hans Zimmer also commented on the differences between Nolan’s Batman and Snyder’s Superman, saying that the central focus of Man of Steel is the Midwest town of Smallville, rather than an urban sprawl like Gotham, and saying that Henry Cavill as Superman, “isn’t complicated in the sort of flawed way our Dark Knight is, and isn’t political in any way.” It’s certainly true that the majority of what we’ve seen in the Man of Steel trailers so far has been set in Smallville, on Krypton, or out in the wilderness and on the open road, with only small glimpses given of Metropolis or The Daily Planet.

How do you feel about the simple, small-town-focused, realistic approach to Man of Steel, and the shift away from a “comic book” feel? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Man of Steel will be in theaters on June 14, 2013.

Source: CNN and Bleeding Cool

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
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  1. Hans Zimmer Is a great composer.

    • Yes, he is.

      • He is excellent.

    • And with all his success Hans has remained a humble gentleman.
      He took on The Bible at what has had to have been a fraction
      of his going rate and brought in several top people to help.

      • +1

    • He’s my favorite!

    • I, too, enjoy Zimmer’s scores but find the lack of themes a little disappointing. As a fellow composer, I believe themes– especially when dealing with heros & villains– are essential to the storytelling process. The score itself should a story. Take the original Star Wars trilogy for example. John Williams is a thematic master in the way he relates musical themes to specific characters and relationships. It makes for a better film in my humble opinion.

  2. All of this merely strengthens my certainty this is going to be a fantastic Superman film.

    I have no doubt the naysayers will rear their heads in droves after this latest piece…c’est la vie.

  3. I Hope they didn’t take away what makes superman, Superman as far as his powers go like his heat vision, invulnerability to bullets (and whatever else),x-ray vision,flight and, his super speed. These powers are a must, That’s the only thing I hate about what Nolan did now everyone wants to these realistic films and taking out the unbelievable aspect that made people love comics in the first place.

  4. I am most curious over what Hans might have been most intimidated by.
    The main Superman theme. All prior including the iconic Williams theme had
    some echoes of prior themes with Williams’ giving cues to the television theme.
    Zimmer has permission by that history of John Williams himself to do the very same.

  5. Realism is getting thrown out to much these days. This is a superhero film and superman is a alien. His powers are not normal by any means. He is not Batman.

    • Marvel is already doing what you purpose. DC/WB is doing something different so you don’t have two movie franchises copying one another. If DC does try to go the “realistic” way then chances are Nolan will continue to contribute to the films and the fans of the Batman trilogy will follow the other heroes. Meanwhile the fans are getting both the unrealistic/Marvel and the realistic/DC.

      • Finally someone actually makes sense. Alot of fanboys are such crybabies when they hear “realistic.” DC has to distinguish themselves from MARVEL, and their approach was “THE DARK KNIGHT.” We will get a realistic SUPERMAN, but that doesn’t mean it’s “DARK”, it just means its not going to be COLORFUL and IRONMAN. If anyone has been following, it has been stated that MAN OF STEEL “IS NOT AS SERIOUS AS THE TRAILER” shows. So to everyone else that wants a COLORFUL SUPERMAN go watch THOR! And when did anyone say his abilities would be taken away because it’s “REALISTIC?” He’s an ALIEN first off, so no one on earth is going to say what limit he has, so I doubt SNYDER is going to limit him, but more so have him DEVELOP powers at the most.

        • Thanks for saying that I make sense. Most people don’t see it my way, so I am happy to see some positive feedback. Glad someone out there agrees with me.

          • @ writer, I appreciate your posts and agree many times. It’s refreshing to see another who appreciates what is being put forth by DC.

            I’m excited for the soundtrack, I’ll probably listen to it while I read Superman comics.

        • @ Arion

          How was Thor colorful? Imo,people & WB/DC need to stop using TDK as a example for them to make a great shared universe. Because the farther you expand from Batman/Superman in this (THE DARK KNIGHT) approach, the more difficult they’re gonna have their shared universe become with other characters. Popular & lesser known popular-wise. Personally i couldn’t care less if WB/DC copied Marvel’s tone aslong as they put great films each character, not just BATMAN & SUPERMAN.

          • “Colorful” = Marvel/Disney Happy tone where nothing in Thor/Ironman/Avengers I could have taken seriously. I don’t see why the notion of making a serious CBM is so hard to fathom for so many. It isn’t hard to take GL, FLASH, WM, etc, and create a realistic tone for each individual movie. A great writer will be able to take a comic book movie and make it relatable in the real world. Personally being a fan of these characters, wouldn’t you want them to be more relatable? How many “ALIENS TAKING OVER THE WORLD” movie have you seen where one is more serious than another? The serious tone will have you believing it can happen. I am sure a good JL script with a serious tone would be a treat. How awesome would it be for the fan to feel like whatever brainiac/darkseid etc invasion can really happen. A Fanboy might not like a serious tone now, but take my word, if JL was done right, every fanboy would enjoy a serious believeable plot. I also like to remind everyone Realistic and Relatable does not mean DARK. When I watch Ironman/Thor I think entertaining but BS. When I watch TDK, it doesn’t even cross my mind he’s a comic character, he’s a protagonist dawning a cape and mask, and that’s exactly what WB/DC wants from their characters. MARVEL = CAPE/MASK movie, DC/WB = A MOVIE with CAPE/MASK.

            • Fan’s LIVE TO BELIEVE, so why not bring on believeable Comic Book Movies? I love MARVEL movies, it smells Disney, DC movies is the complete opposite. If they took the Marvel Route, CBM Genre will be stale in a year.

              • @ Arion

                Marvel/Disney balance fantasy/reality in their films as the characters as they would in our world. Christopher Reeve’s Superman films were taken in the same way & were popular as were Burton’s Batman films and any other CBM that came before Nolan’s Batman Begins. What Marvel/Disney is doin proves it still works not to have such a realistic tone.

                Problem with DC is they do get the right writers/directors all the time. Theres ways they could follow Marvel yet not completely follow Marvel step by step. Green Lantern was rushed out & had problems with the script that needed touched up on & the film being longer. They wouln’t have to copy Marvel by having after the credits scene. A example would be Superman/Flash having one of their famous races convincing to each other they could work together.

                Marvel/Disney wanna make the best CBM for everyone. WB/DC just wanna make CBM that them money,awards are given for the films,etc. Marvel isn’t obsessed with two most popular heroes neither so i see them more wanting to go forward than WB/DC does. Especially if WB/DC can’t seem to get a Justice League film out with solo films afterwards as planned.

                • Ok. I see your point. Yes it is about money, put yourself in WB shoes, they got disney/marvel and i believe its Paramount with a new star wars breathing down their neck. Here’s the solution, JGL becomes Robin as Wayne tells him to find his own inner Batman. He then holds down Gotham while TDK takes a sabbatical. TDK then lands in Metropolis in the new MOS, and comes out of retirement because he has technology and resources that he believes is the closest to withstand an Alien invasion. Bumps head with Superman cuz TDK trusts no one, then realizes they are on the same side at some point. That would be a good start without showing up at end credits. Get two MOS movie, introduce flash. Even Smallville made great attempts for a TV show. They had an episode where the license plate holder read Gotham. Smallville got serious for an MOS tv series, but yet it still maintained the good American Value in Clark and it wasn’t dark or happy. I’m just saying MOS can be or actually is taking a page from SMALLVILLE with a hire capital.

                  • @ Arion

                    I doubt TDK triloy will be connected to the shared universe. Though your ideas would work for a World’s Finest Batman/Superman film & imo JGL would make a good Robin in the reboot. Smallville was balanced like Marvel’s films. Especially in Absolute Jutice episode. It had it’s dark moments imo for Clark as the series progressed But bottomline Clark was the same. Imo i think they even borrowed a page from Lois & Clark:TNAOS as Kryptonions came to Earth in the 4th season. Only thing was they were led by Lord-Nor, not General Zod & even arrived in Smallville to hold people up. Even the army was willing to kill Superman if that was it took to take care of the threat.

  6. It sounds good to me. The heart of the Superman mythos, to me, can completely coexist and actually thrive in a more realistic film setting. Far too much of the Superman material that I have seen has cartoonish elements that undercut the actual characters and story. Give me a good film with a good story and I am happy.

  7. I must be honest, the whole realism idea is getting annoying for me. This is a comicbook movie, so at least try to acknowledge it by simply being one. It’s probably the one simple thing I’ve been longing in a DC live action movies nowadays, I want to see them kickass just like what I see and know in the comic… that’s why I enjoyed their animated universe much much better, and also probably the biggest reason why the whole Justice League movie attempt will be in jeopardy as well: For a team with Martian Manhunter, GL, Flash? Too much realism won’t work with that team. That’s probably what I think, though I’m sure there will be other people who doesn’t feel the same way.
    I will still watch this though, curious about the ‘realism’ that they are shouting here and there. Hope it will be a great visual entertainment (at least to DC fans), but yeah… I just wish they let Superman be Superman, and not take anything or change anything from its comicbook roots… at least for the sake of continuity, so no remake or reboot will be needed in the future.

    • Realism, as all of the film people interviewed have indicated multiple times, simply means the world as an entity experiencing the coming of such fantastic beings as the Kryptonians and reacting as real people would instead of mere comic book characters/caricatures.

    • FIRST OFF, if it’s a movie, it isn’t real. Lets get that clear. All NOLAN,GOYER,and SNYDER is trying to do is bring comics to LIFE. WHATS WRONG WITH THAT?

      • @ Arion

        It’s stupid, thats whats wrong.

        • It’s stupid to bring comic books to life…in a comic book movie???

          • No, what’s the point of makin a CBM if it doesn’t look or feel like one? I mean, come on, anyone could be Batman? Or What chances are there that theres aliens that really look like us humans such as Kal-El? Is Atlantis to be taken real,etc. I mean take character’s back stories & try to have them be taken as they we the real thing.

            • In all honesty you should probably just skip Man of Steel and avoid the “stress”. It is evident that you will not enjoy it from your many posts over the past few years about your disdain for the recent Batman films. I doubt WB/DC will change the style/tone/image of their movies anytime soon. The good thing is you have Burton’s Batman films, the previous Superman films, and Marvels film to satisfy your appetite.

            • I’m trying to figure out why you keep thinking that this film will not have a comic book feel/look to it. Every interview, every article…heck, even the trailers’ action elements (Clark saving the schoolchildren, Clark walking out of the chamber ON FIRE, Superman taking flight that first time) are completely reflective of the comics. Just because the film is adding an emotional element, some depth, to the story (which, btw, Nolan’s films are often accused of lacking…I disagree) AND including a more thoughtful perspective of a godlike being’s effect on those around him and on the world at large does NOT mean it is ignoring or getting rid of the comic book elements or sense of wonder…

              • @Archeon Agreed.

              • @ Archeon

                I wish i knew. Maybe it’s because im thinkin beyond Superman in shared universe if MOS is a success. I mean like like my last post how are supposed to think realisticly if Aquaman’s kingdom Atlantis don’t excist but does on film? Or say Flash’s villain Gorilla Grodd makes it on film? How am i suppose to take that anymore seriously than the older films that came before?

            • FANS LIVE TO BELIEVE in this stuff, so if you don’t want a believable movie, maybe you aren’t a fan. You have to like it no matter what. The people that whine about this stuff, shows up at comic con in suits. If that doesn’t state “I want to live a comic book (in real life)” I don’t know what does.

              • From many posts I see there are so many peoples who don’t even know what is realism in CBM.

              • @ Arion

                And who are you to say im not a fan because i have a different opinion? Im not alone, theres others who think the sameway who doen’t think every DC hero film should have the kind of tone of Nolan’s TDK trilogy because not every hero is like Batman or Superman. Why do you think Nolan wanted his version to stay by itself. Because it doesn’t work with other heroes in the same universe.

                I never been to Comic-con but hope i will one day. But i tell one thing, i wouldn’t dress up like Like Nolan’s version of The Joker or Bane. Does that make me not a fan of Batman aswell? I just prefer their appearance from the comics than in film simply.

                • @ Welly west
                  what is ur mean by Nolan’s tone. Dark story or real take on Superhero ?

                  • @ Grewal

                    Real take on the Superhero.

                    • @ Welly west
                      No. Real take are possible for almost every Superhero.
                      But not dark story .

                    • @ Grewal

                      Not in the way WB/DC plan to have real takes on heroes. It ain’t just heroes but villains aswell to think about. Not every hero has a great rogue’s gallery as Batman’s or Superman does. Among other things fans enjoyed seeing in the comics.

    • +1

    • @ AverageMovieGoers


      • @ Welly west
        What is the problem with realism on aqua man, Flash and martian?
        Even realism work great on them. Without realism live action movies look like cartoon.
        What are u think about realism?
        Real take is the reason which make Batman a Superhero hero.
        And non realism of marvel movies make all of them super but not hero.

        • @ Grewal

          See, that’s just it. How could claim DC film’s are grounded/ realistic or however you wanna put it CBM but dismiss Marvel’s films as the same as comic book into our world? Examples would be the Mad Money guy cameo from Ironman, Bill O’Reilly cameo in Ironman 2. Although not in Marvel’s shared universe, The Cuban War crisis in X-Men: First Class. There was realism in those films. You can’t use Batman as a excuse for every franchise. Batman got hurt more in the Burton/Schumacher films than he did in Nolan’s films.

          Who do expect to do a Solo Aquaman film? Nolan? James Cameron. I mean im talkin more than just the hero. Im talkin what villain he’ll face, will Atlantis excist for REAL? Will we see his family, a army to his kingdom aswell,etc. Same goes for Flash, what kind of villains could fit in, villains like Gorilla Grodd for a sequel. The list goes on in my head over a dozen of these heroes in this shared universe.

          • @Wally Im not sure on how you perceive tone and mood, you cannot say Xmen first class or any of the Xmen is the same tone as Ironman thor or Avengers. Xmen has always had a more serious tone, DC was just more successful in that approach while Marvel did a better job at less serious tone/mood on the Avengers and solo as DCs version Green Lantern failed. Bottom line Is each Studio found their niche. DC just wants their CBM to live in our world as we wanna live in the comic world emotionally to where we can say “yep thats what I would do if I was him” not just a “wow” factor as in avengers. It was an awesome team up, but at no point it got me thinking “thats what I would have done”. It felt like just any science fiction movie and I loved it cuz I took it for what it was but to me the relatability of TDK and what MOS promises will be more than just the “wow” it has that sense of emotional attachment.

            • @ Arion

              You are in complete denial if you think none of the X-Men films share a sense of BALANCE of realism & fantasy as Marvel Studio’s films. Heck even Blade trilogy had that sense of realism if vampires were amongst us. Of-course Donnor’s Superman films, all before Nolan’s first Bat flick came to cinemas. You think DC’s most recent films, should i say Nolan’s Bat trilogy is more realistic than any of Marvel’s films simply because whatever success they made, in money? Because you can’t tell me the trilogy is more popular than all of Phase One of Marvel’s shared universe cause people know that not to be true.

              ( DC just wants their CBM to live in our world as we wanna live in the comic world emotionally to where we can say ” Yep, thats what i would do if i was was him” not just a “wow” factor as in Avengers.)

              It’s common Knowlege thats what Marvel goes for aswell as they stated it themselves. They want a balance of Realism/fantasy in their universe which alot of people understand of how they’re handling it except for sorry to say Nolanites.

              In Nolans Bat films i know there were id do differently as Batman. Same thing in the Avengers. For starts, if i was Captain, im not sure if i would of noticed that bomb in time to save the people. As Hulk id be smashing Loki’s army left & right & jumping & big whatever they’re called to bring it down. Of-course if i saw Loki, id bang him good.

              Imo theres really no differance between WB/Marvel are doin. Avengers woke up WB/DC that they need to bring other heroes to the big screen besides Batman/Superman as people been waiting for.

  8. Good to hear Zimmer’s trying something different instrumentally.

    Hannah, I presume you meant John Bonham’s son Jason?

    • Jason Bonham is John’s son. Or, “Bonzo’s” little lad as Zeppelin would say.

    • You’re right, I’ll fix it. ;-)

      Though it would be pretty impressive if John Bonham was in Hans Zimmer’s drum circle.

      • Even more so if he brought Keith Moon along him… :-)

        • along with him, even.

  9. I can’t wait for this movie. This and Star Trek are my most anticipated blockbusters of the summer. Hope they don’t disappoint!