‘Man of Steel’: Zack Snyder Talks ‘Serious’ Approach to Superman

Published 2 years ago by

Superman Angry Man of Steel: Zack Snyder Talks Serious Approach to Superman

The following description of an upcoming superhero movie has now become an official cliche: “It will be dark and serious like Nolan’s Dark Knight movies.” More than cliche, certain words like “dark,” “serious” or “gritty” – spoken in conjunction with a new superhero film, are buzzwords that elicit strong reactions from fanboys and casual moviegoers everywhere; so hearing the director of arguably the most anticipated superhero film since Dark Knight Rises utter one of them will likely cause more uproar than it should.

Check out what Zack Snyder – director of the Superman reboot Man of Steel – had to say about his film’s “serious” approach to the character of Superman:

In speaking with the LA Times about how the seminal graphic novel Watchmen (and his subsequent movie adaptation) changed the paradigm of superhero origin stories, Snyder offered the following explanation of Man of Steel‘s place within said altered paradigm:

“It’s a more serious version of Superman. It’s not like a heart attack. We took the mythology seriously. We take him as a character seriously. I believe the movie would appeal to anyone. I think that you’re going to see a Superman you’ve never seen before. We approached it as though no other films had been made. He’s the king-daddy. Honestly that’s why I wanted to do it. I’m interested in Superman because he’s the father of all superheroes. He’s this amazing ambassador for all superheroes. What was it about him that cracked the code that made pop culture embrace this other mythology? What we‘ve made as a film not only examines that but is also an amazing adventure story. It’s been an honor to work on. As a comic book fan, Superman is like the Rosetta Stone of all superheroes. I wanted to be sure the movie treated it respectfully.”

While Snyder (in this writer’s opinion) seems to be very soberly towing the sort of company line one would expect from a director, his words are still likely to be taken the wrong way by some. Specifically, I’m referring to those who hold the opinion that Superman is not a “serious” sort of character; that kind of tone (they might say) is more fitting of Batman – and (they might add) what’s up with everyone trying to copy the Nolan approach?

Man of Steel Interview Zack Snyder Man of Steel: Zack Snyder Talks Serious Approach to Superman

Well, aside from the fact that Chris Nolan has a producer credit on Man of Steel and helped shape its story, there is an argument to be made for the type of approach Snyder describes. Superman is, indeed, the “Rosetta Stone” of modern superhero mythology, and there has definitely been (forgive the term) serious question in recent years about who the character is, and what (if any) his relevance to modern times is. Man of Steel has always been facing the uphill battle of trying to answer such questions – hopefully better than Bryan Singer did with his unsubtle approach to Superman Returns (see: Lois Lane’s (Kate Bosworth) heavy-handed “Why the World (Doesn’t) Need(s) Superman” article, which bookends the film).

So, the question now becomes: Has Snyder ‘cracked the code,’ so to speak? We don’t know yet. In fact, there’s painfully little that we DO know for sure about Man of Steel, other than what the Interweb fans have speculated on, or the thematic arcs hinted at in the two Man of Steel teaser trailers. The lack of hype – and news like star Amy Adams (Lois Lane) not yet signing for a sequel – have some people understandably spooked. However, with Warner Bros. set to release their big winter tentpole soon (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), we expect the studio to finally start the marketing and promotion campaign for Superman’s next big-screen outing – at long last giving us a better sense of what Snyder has accomplished (or not).

Man of Steel will be in theaters – in post-converted 3D – on June 14, 2013.

Source: LA Times

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  1. Come next summer Superman will be back on his rightful perch as the king of superheros, Man of Steel is going to be a special movie, and I can’t friken wait! Sups is the man!

    • I think you are right Scott, but in regards to your previous post, I think you need to take another look at Superman 78. I believe a man can fly.

    • Sorry, but Sups don’t run that perch no more IRON MAN does. IM 3: about 1.2bil, MOS: around 6-700mil. Bet ya! No DC solo outing will top Iron Man while no DC team film will topple the Avengers. Btw by the time JL makes it out (if it comes out) the MCU will be on its 11th movie with plenty more a cummin. Marvel4life!!!!

      • ballZ…What are you, 12?

        Your guesses, right now, are just that. Most people with SENSE can imagine “Avengers 2″ making $1B + simply because of the precedent set by the first one (though NOT guaranteed). IM3 may be successful (MAY be), but it will not top “The Avengers”.

        Nice try.

        As for the DCU, their redux is, at present, an unknown entity. They may, indeed, fail miserably, OR they may thoroughly trounce whatever’s come before. No one can be sure…not even fanBOYS like you.

        • I never said IM 3 would make more than the Avengers. I said it would pull around 1.2bil, Avengers made 1.5bil. Which I feel is reasonable for the first film after and follow up to the megaton franchise Avengers. IM3 has the poster child of the Avengers as it’s lead character and the Marvel hype train is still going strong. So yeah, 1.2bil totally reasonable

          • Nah…you’re dreaming. The rest of my response, I also still stand by.

          • The avengers made 1.5 billion TDKR made 1 billion. I can see the Justice League making more than the Avengers movie especially people have wanted Batman and Superman movie forever!

            • I don’t know. I’m kinda thinking people would be more intrested in Avengers 2 than the JL.

              • The average moviegoer won’t be a DC or Marvel comic reader with pre-established preferences. They’ll go watch any superhero movie that’s marketed well, has a good trailer or good reviews. If the JL movie is done well plenty of people would be interested in watching it.

        • Oh, and DC WON’T FAIL I can just about promise u that. But I can also promise u that there gonna be Marvels b**** for at least a good while. No amount of Batman are Sups can save them this time neither.

        • ballZdropped? (6-^)

          • On DCs head.

            • lol (^-^)

      • Oh yeah, and while were at it add two seasons of the SHIELD tv show (which is part of the MCU) and the buying of ILM to that 11 movie lead. DC’s screwed!

        • You and I are simply going to disagree on practically all of these points. I’m okay with that. BTW, silly me…how could I think DC has a chance to succeed and (perhaps) even surpass Marvel in these various mediums? For example, on television, DC didn’t recently finish up a TEN YEAR show about one of its heavies and start another (so far) successful show about one of its other, somewhat more minor, heroes. Oh, wait…it DID.


          • DC will succeed. Just not near far as Marvel

          • Smallville was a succees I guess but still a terrible show. When ever it becomes an event for Superman to fly or wear his costume something is horribly wrong. Arrow is just the biggest TDK ripoff ever! another terrible show. DC has real compitition NOW so they better step it up. But sadly they don’t have tools to step far as they need to.

        • You’re a wierdo. Marvel isn’t physically sucking money from DC. How well their movies do isn’t going to ‘screw’ DC.

          What’ll make or break DC’s films is whether the s***** ignorant comic-hating suits at Warner Bros finally get their act together. DC’s biggest weakness is the fact that they’re owned by an incompetent studio that doesn’t care about them the way Disney does about Marvel.

      • Josh Whedon forgot to turn on the Iron Man thingy and it was off and on and off and on under the Iron Maiden t-shirt! Epic Fail Josh Whedon!!!

  2. If I go crazy will you still call me superman?

  3. I think Snyder does have a point that Superman throughout his existence has not been viewed as a serious character, and what I mean is that while within the mythology he’s taken obviously very seriously, he’s become in some ways very dated. We associate with Superman such well known sayings “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s Superman!” and everything else. He’s almost excessively wholesome to a degree that doesn’t fit our more jaded, cynical society. Now is that a fault of the basic concept of the character, or a reflection on us? I don’t know. He doesn’t fit with anyone else because he’s not created out of some personal trauma. Obviously it is a bit of a shock that he discovers his true origins for sure. And obviously his entire race perishes, but this all happens when he was an infant so it had no impact on him. Throughout most of the different takes on him, his adoptive parents, the Kents, are very much alive, loving and supportive. His image as a good old farm-raised, corn-fed, Midwestern boy is almost too cliched to be believable. It all contrasts so much with Batman. Superman is light, Batman is dark. Batman operates at night. Superman literally derives his power from the sun. You cannot find more stark contrasts than with these two. There is a lot for person taking on a new interpretation of Superman to overcome. I think that is where Snyder is coming from.

    • Superman has been treated seriously in the comic, but also goofy and cheesy. Pretty much every film/ tv incarnation of his so far has been campy and cheesy. I think he wants to highlight the way the serious stories in the comics have not really been explored in film.

  4. I just hope we get a Superman movie with some super powerful villians & no-more Lex Luthor….to me , that’s what ruined Superman Returns – I loved Superman as a kid – and Christopher Reeve…well – Legend.
    But I always wanted to see Superman battling giant robots & monsters by now…Looking forward to Man of Steel….just get the villian right for 2013.

    • Yeah, I agree, no Luthor, at least for now. I’m sure you can come up with a way to introduce Luthor and make it work in the new context. But he obviously can’t pose a physical threat to Supes, so he ends up becoming the usual genius mastermind who uses proxies. And of course, Kryptonite wouldn’t exist without Luthor. He had to have something that he could use to neutralize Superman’s powers. By the way, I’m hoping there’s no Kryptonite in MOS.

  5. As the writer stated – I think that most people over react when Snyder (or anyone else tied to MOS) says this version of superman will be more “serious”. This does not necessarily mean “dark”. I think it just means we won’t see the traditional “apple pie” superman. It’s a world of very defined good and evil and very little grey area. This version of superman I believe will explore those grey areas and some ambiguity between right and wrong etc. This is more reflective of someone in the real world.

    • I’ve read “Superman Birthright” and I’m pretty sure it is the kind of direction this film is taking. If that is the case I think it will be great.

  6. Hopefully the trailer comes out soon and we can get a better look at what we’re in for.

  7. Snyder’s trying to imagine that no one has ever made a Superman movie previously. He’s therefore trying to shrug off all the cultural baggage that he has accumulated. We assume that people are very familiar with Superman, but remember that more people saw the original Reeve Superman movies than probably ever read any of the comic books combined. I mean literally. Movies have a much larger audience and appeal than comics do. So most people’s impressions of Superman, depending on their generation, came from the live action version of Superman that was around at the time. First it was the serials, then the TV show, then the movies. Superman has been reinterpreted and re-envisioned many times in the comics in the last 25 years or so, since John Byrne’s first major reboot. But comparatively few people read those books compared to all of the people who will likely see the Man of Steel. So while most of us here are fairly geeky and are familiar with and read the different incarnations of Superman, you have to remember where the average person who will Man of Steel is coming from.

    • “Superman Returns” stuck to the old formula. It was a love letter to a film from 1978 and not what was needed or wanted.

  8. I hope this film gets the physics right. When I see Superman lift a plane by the nosecone, I want to see the shell crushed so he is grabbing the plane’s chassis. And I want it to bend under it’s own weight.

    When he grabs a car by the bonnet I want to see his hands crushing trough bodywork to get a decent purchase. Not grab a plastic bumper and swing the car about without ripping it off.

    I don’t want to see him pick up a helicopter by the end of a ski. I want him to support it’s centre of gravity etc….

  9. Amy Adams, sign on I need continuity. Not having Katie Holmes return for The Dark Knight totally messed up Nolans’ Batman universe. I need continuity of the same actors playing the same characters…

  10. Cavill, in the lead role. This will be a flop… seen the photos, not impressed with design or content or direction this movie is going. A dark Superman? Really? This is not Batman. Trying to reinvent this character just doomed this movie. The Superman character is not dark. I see why Adams may not sign for the sequel. I’m not impressed, so maybe she wasn’t impressed either… Didn’t like photos of new uniform, nor the actor chosen for lead. This movie will end up like the first Hulk movie, over-budgeted and a flop.

    • For god sake, the FILM is darker and serious NOT Superman himself!!! Can no one grasp the obvious difference!?

      Its a case of needing a darker tone to highlight the character more, he wont be a ‘dark’ Superman but he will need the world to be in peril or what is the point in him being there?

      The ‘dark’ bit will be him struggling to fit in on Earth and the emotional turmoil of being an alien, its not as if Superman is going to start growling and wearing black!!

      Seriously it isnt hard to understand what they are trying to do with this film and I cant understand the strop people are having because this ‘dark’ thing isnt happening….serious and dark are not the same thing, serious is the right thing to do with this film. I have no doubt the next trailer will stop people worrying

      • As you can tell from my comments above (and on other threads), I agree with you. Unfortunately, those who have convinced themselves that this film is becoming some dark monstrosity refuse to be swayed for ANY reason…including reason. The next trailer likely will not help…they have simply closed the door to any possible outcomes that shoot down their raging negativity. It’s both annoying and sad.

  11. can’t wait for this film. I’m starting to think that he won’t have that outfit under his normal clothes. I mean if you are going to make it serious and all that, you can’t wear that outift under anything. No way can that cape be under a shirt

  12. Not so sure about the DC vs Marvel vibe from some of thos posts. I hope the movie does really well and is viewed as a success. The better it does the better the chance we will see more superhero movies like JL and I hope someday something like Batman vs Superman.

  13. Well it looks like with Star Trek eating up a 9 minute section of previews before The Hobbit… Man of Steel better have another plan. Little marketing ahead of time so far. They seem to be far away from looking like a blockbuster attempt. Seems it will be a bit more niche like Batman Begins was, and hopefully quality will set up quantity and sequels will happen with larger fan base.

  14. I am a huge fan of superman and i believe this film will hit box office and that’s just a hunch i have. ;) its nice to see an amazing director take seriously on the
    character and the mythology of Krypton history and more. I look forward seeing the film. If you read all the comic like u dud. Remember thus film eill show giu the roots of kryptionain way.

  15. Sorry for the typo guys. Using a old cell.