Zack Snyder addressed the reason why General Zod was a proper villain for the film:
Zack Snyder: I think the cool thing about Zod, he offers a real threat to Superman. A physical and emotional threat to Superman that is much stronger then any earth bound threat. He’s able not only to match him physically, but also represents his people—he’s a hard opponent that way… Michael [Shannon] and I talked about it in the beginning that we wanted Zod’s point of view to be pretty clear. If this was happening to your planet and you were trying to save the people that you loved, what lengths would you go to?
Michael Shannon and Antje Traue talked about what kind of fight training it took to pull off Man of Steel‘s epic fight sequences:
Michael Shannon: Krav Maga. [Long beat] I think the important thing to remember was that on Krypton, Zod does not have any super powers—he’s just a general. He’s been training for a long time, whooping butt for a long time there on Krypton. Then he comes to Earth and goes through a similar thing that Kal-El goes through when he comes to Earth. It’s basically acclimatizing to the environment. But yeah, Zod has probably been doing those moves since he was a little boy… In terms of choreographed punches, it’s no secret to anyone in this room that I’m much stronger then Henry is. There were a lot of ice packs back at the hotel for Henry… Russell really kicks my butt in this movie. I mean he’s the Gladiator so what are you going to do?
Antje Traue: …That was probably the biggest movie I’ve done when it comes to action sequences. It’s almost sort of like a dance. It’s been choreographed pretty much to every detail and you rehearse that for hours, weeks, and months and then you stand in front of the camera and it’s quite amazing when everything comes together: the costume, makeup. It’s been an amazing moment.
Henry Cavill, talked about what it takes to make characters like Superman and Zod fly:
Henry Cavill: Flight, for one, there was a lot of rehearsal involved. When it came to actual super speed flight it was mostly belly pan work. Belly pan is the mold of the front of a person’s body and you lie in it and a special gimble. So there’s a guy in a green suit and a green screen moving it depending on Zack’s direction and I just have to imagine what it’s like to fly. We had lots of help from Zack’s sort of imagery attached to it and his direction.
There was also a lot of wire work that we did during the whole stunt process, that was incredibly complex and the guys tested it amazingly. A guy called Jim Churchman just did a fantastic job on the wires. That was probably the funnest part for me in regards to flying because I got to be 40 feet up in the air and sort of just completely out of control—well, someone else’s control thank goodness. That was the stuff that made you feel like Superman.
Deborah: Well, I think the visual effects, just the action sequences and the fighting and flying that Zack had envisioned and worked on with DJ [John 'D.J.' Des Jardin], our visual effects supervisor and Damon [Caro], our fight choreographer and stunt coordinator, they were so challenging. They were pushing the limits—it was built on things we have done in the past, but it definitely pushed them further.
You do have to have this leap of faith because you set out to have this plan of how it’s going to be done and you’re moving forward with this planm but you don’t exactly know how it’s going to end up in the end. You’re just relying on all these amazing artists and visual effect houses to pull through, and you have faith in them.
Henry Cavill also addressed the longstanding mystery of Superman’s shaving process:
Henry: I think some things better remain a mystery.
Meanwhile, Zack Snyder opened up about another mystery in the film: Where is Lex Luthor?
Zack: What I was going to say about Lex Luther was, there is a kryptonite question, too, that floats around the Lex Luther question. Someone asked me if there’s no Kryptonite and there’s no Lex Luther. Well, okay, within the parameters of this story there’s no kryptonite or Lex Luther—but that’s not to say they don’t exist in the world. That’s an entirely different question.
One of the most memorable things about Man of Steel is the score by Dark Knight Trilogy composer Hans Zimmer, whose new Superman theme (listen to it below) is already finding foot as THE successor to John Williams’ iconic Superman theme song from the 1978 Richard Donner film. Snyder and Zimmer discussed the monumental taks of stepping out of the Donner/Williams shadow and creating a new sound for Superman:
Zack: Before we began working on the music, we got questions about the music from when we announced we were going to make the movie. You get on the phone and you think you’re going to talk about, ‘Oh you’re going to make a Superman movie. That’s great, what’s your take?’ But it was, ‘Are you going to use the music from the other film, from the John Williams score?’ I was like, ‘Oh God, we haven’t shot a frame of film—we don’t know that.’
But we knew that music was out there and it’s a strong piece of music. But because our philosophy out there was to act as if no films have ever been made—we wanted to act like we found these comic books underneath our beds and said, ‘Hey, this would be a cool movie, we should make this Superman into a movie’—because we have taken that point of view, there was no cherry-picking of stuff. You couldn’t go, ‘Hey, it would be cool if we just borrowed this other stuff.’ We knew that everything was going to be from zero. [To Hans] I was hoping we would talk earlier from—’You, think Chris, when you’re down there talking to Hans about your other movie, could you twist his arm or bribe him somehow into working on the Superman movie?’ I don’t know exactly how it was said, but for whatever reason he agreed.
Hans: Well, I was reluctant. Not like Russell, I have seen the other Superman movies and I just think the John Williams movie is incredible. So a couple of things happened. Chris [Nolan] said to me, ‘C’mon you can do the Superman movie,’ and I said, ‘No, I can’t do the Superman movie because the big difference is when you went into Warner Bros. with the idea of a Superman movie, you actually had an idea—I have nothing.’ Then Zack and I started talking and his vision is completely and entirely the only reason why the score exists because he took me by the hand and told me, ‘This is what I want to do.’ Then I said, ‘Yeah, I can feel that.’ The other thing is he’s a great artist. He doodles, he draws—that’s a great language for me because, David forgive me for this, but the way we started was I said, ‘I don’t want to read the script—tell me the story.’ Then I knew what was at hand.
Here’s the thing: I know what it’s like to be a foreigner, what it’s like to be an outsider. I have no super powers. The other thing that I felt, both Zack and I felt, was really important was this idea of hope—that we would celebrate something, we would celebrate an America that has not been celebrated in so long and just be genuine and write from the heart. Then came the moment after three months of procrastination where Zack said, ‘Hey, do you got anything yet?’ I told him, Well, I got some post-its on the fridge.’ Then Zack said, ‘I love post-its, I love doodles—I’ll be down on Tuesday. Then afterwards, he confessed that Chris said, ‘If you’re not going down there to Zimmer’s place, you’re never going to hear anything.’ So that’s how we did the score.
Zack: It’s funny, too, because one thing I think is interesting is one thing that comes through the score is. There’s big events in the film and the score is amazingly supportive of those events, but the thing that I think Hans did that’s amazing is—and we talked about it even before I heard it—we said it would be cool if the score, if the Superman score was humble, if there was humility in the score. Like the Superman theme, if there was humility in it—which is really hard. It’s abstract. I just said ‘humility,’ and now make that into music—whatever that means. Thank God I’m not a musician because I would never do that to him, right. I would probably laugh, but then you hear it and it’s in it. He says he doesn’t have any super powers, but then you hear whatever that is and you say, ‘Wow, that’s humble.’
Hans: Well, I have a lot to be humble about and it’s me playing the piano—one of the things I have to be humble about is my piano playing. And it’s totally weird because all these great pianists are trying to play this tune and they just didn’t sound right. It had to be the bad right hand.
Man of Steel will be in theaters on June 14, 2013.