‘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. I have more concerns over it possibly going in the 3D direction but I’m optimistic with Snyder’s vision for Man of Steel.

  2. I still think Synder was a great choice. So long as he’s not writing it which I believe is the case.

  3. Bring it on Snyder.

  4. I’m very optimistic about Man of Steel. I’m sure Snyder will blow it out the park! But prepare for the onslaught of comments from people angrily comparing it to the Dark Knight…

  5. Not too big of a Superman fan bu I think it will be good. It needs to be so DC can finally make more movies.

  6. I’m looking forward to this movie more and more every day. But I don’t feel like I learned anything from this article. As far as the whole “what makes Superman Superman?” thing, we learned that from one of the first interviews that Nolan gave after he and Goyer announced that they had the idea for it.

  7. I believe in Snyder

  8. They should have just made the DC Universe trailer a movie… Because that stuff… It looks amazing.

  9. If Zack Snyder took everything from SUPERMAN very seriously we are on the Big Top

  10. In Snyder I trust, IMO “Watchmen” was a masterpiece so I have faith MOS will finally do Superman justice, I think Snyder and Nolan are the perfect duo for superhero films, they both have their certain weaknesses but together they could be brilliant, Superman is the only film I’m hanging out for, bring it on!

    • Superman was “done justice” in 1978.

      • The first twenty mins certainly. “Superman 3 and 4″ were quite poor. Reeve’s performance was great, however some of the tone and most of the effects once he became superman seem very goofy now.

        I’m not sure if Reeve and Brando can be bettered, but I’m looking forward to finding out. I’m not really sure what to expect TBH.

  11. Meh, Everyone lookin to copy Nolan’s mojo? Well not everyone as Marvel Studios/Disney outdone themselves with the best to come. But Makin Superman dark,gritty like Nolan’s Batman? Give me a break. Superman has his dark moments but is NOT dark like Batman. Im worried about the Justice League film as it’s being a quick buck just so WB/DC has a team-up film to complete against the The Avengers 2. Question on my is how many characters from the DC comics will we actually see besides the big name ones?

    • Thats why i will go see this but Christopher Reeves will always be the embodiment of Superman to me. Why couldn’t use the bad Superman from Superman III instead of video game trailer pic?

    • That, I think, is the point Kofi was making. Snyder said NOTHING about “dark” and/or “gritty” in the above quotation. He simply said he was trying to be respectful of the material and of the hero…”Serious” seems more of the antithesis to “campy” than a synonym for “The Dark Knight”.

      I don’t get how people think that’s a bad thing…?

  12. I hope it touches on how Clark/Kal-El/Superman has to maintain three (I think Kal-El is different than Superman) personalities and the psychological problems that could create; though that is probably a different movie entirely.

    • I do, too. I just hope they don’t make Clark too goofy.

    • Nice icon, thrice is rad.

  13. I

    • I did not like any of the other Superman movies, but I think, or at least hope, that this one might be the one to do the job right!

  14. I doubt there is another director in Hollywood who
    could express those sentiments and mean them and
    the fact that Zack is an elite talent I can think of no
    greater field marshal to lead the fans behind Superman.

    Zack speaking like that speaks for me and legions of fans
    whom Superman was the man growing up and still is.
    I am banking on Zack to take me home again.

    • This.

      • That

        • These.

          • Them.

  15. Good to know they are treating Superman in a respectful and different way than some of the previous movies.

  16. snyders talent towards visual effects and the use of slow motion scenes is perfect for a superman movie, i really dont understand why people are hating on him when most the movies he’s done have been pretty good (even if they get dull after heaps of viewings).

    the 2 trailers they released a couple of months back really paint the overall tone of the movie, which sounds like it’s going to be about superman belonging into a different society/culture to his own and finding his place amongst the world. those are good themes to explore for a super hero movie especially if you’re rebooting an icon as big as superman – they make for a good beginning story.

  17. I absolutely can not wait for this film!!! Superman is one of if not my all time favorite here I watched and read superman my entire life! I believe in Snyder and believe he can deliver a proper take on superman.

  18. Is anyone else worried about whether this Superman film will be able to connect to a 2015 Justice League movie properly ? I mean, the last Batman movie was awesome and all but it kind of leaves a big gap between the ending and a Justice League team featuring Batman.

    • I’m not worried at all. Especially since Nolan’s universe will have no connection to the justice league. Honestly batman is already a established character. We don’t need another origin story telling how he became batman. The justice I think will begin with all these characters as somewhat established heroes.

  19. Inb4 this movie sucks bad. These directors are always claiming that they love the source material so much but rarely show love. U_U

    • He showed it already in “Watchmen”. Proof doesn’t get any more tangible than that.

      • ^ +1

  20. The fact that Chris Nolan is somewhat behind the story, just tells me that the movie is going to be AWESOME! Or at the least a successful re-boot. I mean the man (Nolan) has not yet had an unsuccessful film and should have already won an Oscar for one of; Memento, The Dark Knight or Inception. So, if he’s in ANY way involved in the making of the movie, I look forward to it because well, the guy knows what this modern world wants and is a genious..!!!

  21. next year the man of steel will take his title back as the best superhero ever. . it as been to long. . and when it does good at the box office WB and DC should use that momentum to make a great justice league trilogy. . the son of Jor-el as spoken

  22. I really don’t understand everyone becoming so butt-hurt over the fact that directors are trying to make the characters more serious… and why that’s becoming a “cliche” approach… it’s without a doubt the best approach. The most honest too. Just because Nolan nailed it and was very successful doesn’t mean that its style should be avoided, out of it being over-done and applied to other superhero movies. These movies these days should all have the sense of realism. It SHOULD feel serious. I think if any of it WERE to every happen, it would be a serious matter. I REALLY don’t want to see Superman done like the comics… because its been done before. Do we want to see him saying s*** like… “Halt evil-doer!” *ropes up the bad guy and flies to the steps of the police station* “Here you go chief! Just taking out the garbage.” “Gee, thanks Superman!”…. No? Me either.

  23. yeah i don’t get why treating the character with respect (or any comic character) and making a more mature/serious movie has become a negative thing these days. i highly doubt they are going to change who superman is. its just the world around him will be more modernly reflected as to update him. even joss says in avengers bonus features that they wanted to base their world in reality as much as possible much like iron man 1, which i felt was just as real world based as any of the nolan batmans. but was slightly lighter because of tonys personality.

  24. What a bunch of Nolanites,Superman’s dignity being ruin by being being darker. Sad.

    • You don’t read these articles at all, do you? Look to my response to you above…

      • @ Archaeon

        Words can be decieving. After seeing the teasers, it looks like they’re starting it off just like Batman Begins pretty much & i ve stated my opinion about the costume so i won’t go into that not to mention what i read so far about the plot is similiar to what’s been done already in Superman 2, Lois & Clark, & Smallville in their own telling of the characters. Maybe if the villain was someone else id be more excited, someone like Brainiac coming to earth. Just him as the only villain. Plus imo i find CBM more exciting if they were made more like Marvel Studio’s film intead of realistic as possible touch if you know what i mean. That includes the next Batman reboot aswell.

  25. In my humble opinion the entire DC/WB film universe rest on the broad shoulders of the last son of Krypton. This film can make or break the anticipation for a Justice League film, and with 2015 shaping up to be one of the best years ever for the box office, I hope Superman can deliver.

    Disney does have the upper hand, they (Disney) can release Star Wars in the Summer to go head to head against a Justice League film or if WB goes for a holiday release, BAM! The Avengers are right there to meet them head on.

    If this was a chess match, I would say DC/WB are in check.

  26. Not exactly sure why the ‘serious’ thing would be a surprise. Watching those teaser trailers, not a bundle of carefree joy. And even when Zack Snyder does a children’s movie like Legend of the Guardians, it is underlining serious thematically( slavery, racism). There’s probably nothing to worry about. Chances are most screenranters will enjoy it immensly.

  27. Agreed.

    • @ Metal

      Not that it matters but i find it hard for WB/DC films to kick Marvel’s ass when The Avengers toppled Nolan’s Bat trilogy, namely both TDK & TDKR. WB/DC has a nat for rushing things,sadly like Green Lantern. Marvel already plans to bring lesser known characters to the big screen while imo WB/DC will less likely do so.

      It’s a shame that everyone thinks every DC hero should be similiar to Nolan’s Batman,cue Snyder’s Superman. Nolan & his wife are already gonna be involved with the Batman reboot. Im surprised every character like Flash,WonderWoman, Green Lantern,etc follow Nolan’s tone as Snyder’s Superman. I mean it’s pretty much WB/NC when it comes to the characters on film.

      • I quite enjoyed “The Avengers”, but that was ONE film. Nolan released a successful (and critically acclaimed) TRILOGY. Let’s speak again AFTER A2 & 3 come out and blow modern cinema out of the water.

        • …IF they do.

        • This..

          • ballZ…

            Not that I mind the agreement, but just out of curiosity, doesn’t this contradict, at least slightly, with some of what you said on the next page of comments?

            • I meant to say this sucks.. My bad lol!

              • What a very sweet child you are…Ahem.

        • I read a breakdown (on this site) and even without the 3-D boost, Avengers made more. Not that it matters TDKR had IMAX and that cost more than 3-D.

          • Yeah, a 3-D post conversion didn’t exactly give the Avengers any sort of major push more so than what the movie itself did on its own (the 3-D post conversion is also something they’re going to do to MoS as well anyway).
            Yeah the 3-D thing sure explains why I was able to see a regular (“2-D”) screening of the Avengers a couple months after it came out (in a theater that was having 3-D and regular showings at the same time) in a theater that was still so packed it almost p’d off some local fire martials.

            And I’m not sure what you didn’t see in the connections between the initial movies, or what you would have expected/wanted, because there was a good bit more than what you said (some a bit more subtle, others not). But yeah I’m sure they’ll be able to do even better with it now that they’ve actually had them all definatively meet up and part ways.

      • Seeing how the avengers did $1.5 billion total gross roughly and TDKR did $1 billion total gross roughly. I can see DC/WB Justice League topping the avengers!

        • Everyone i know seems it’s unlikely Justice League will top The Avengers or it’s sequel.

    • HAHAHAHAHAAHHHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just give it up already. Marvels gonna be #1 for a long time no matter how sucssesful MOS are the JL turns out. DC basicaly screwed themselves by letting Marvel get way to far ahead losing all dominence the BAT,Sups combo once had. To those who think the GA is gonna turn there back on the investment we’ve all made to the MCU when DC finally gets there shat together is in for a rude awaking. To prove my point I’ll argue that Iron Man is the biggest and most sellable hero at this current time(not the most iconic are long running tho). Iron Man 3 is gonna make more in the boxoffice than all of Bats films and the MOS, probably more than any heroes solo outing before it. Iron Man 3 will make about 1.2bil beating all other solo outings proving its Marvels time.

      • Argue all you want…doesn’t mean you’re right.

        Keep trying, though…it’s cute.

      • @ ballZdeep

        I hate to say i agree with ya. In the long run, Marvels got a head start with number of films. WB/DC pretty much only focused mostly on Batman/Superman over the years. It’s hard for me to imagine lesser known heroes of DC being shown again or for the first time in a shared universe like Steel,Supergirl, Green Arrow, Cyborg, Captain Atom,etc. Heck people on here talked a Aquaman solo film is nearly impossible,especially after Justice League runs thru theaters. Marvel is already makin plans on lesser known characters to be brought to the big screen. I think WB/DC are desperate to catch up to Marvel but don’t wanna admit it. They seen the risks Marvel took & now knows it works but they don’t wanna exactly copy them. It’s almost as if they wait to see what Marvel is gonna do next. I wonder how they’re gonna put Nolan’s touch on Flash, WonderWoman,Green Lantern,etc on justice League & beyond after MOS & of-course Nolan is involved with the next Batman reboot.