Man of Steel is about to hit theaters faster than a speeding bullet, and once people have had a chance to get re-acquainted with Superman – as imagined by director Zack Snyder and writers Chris Nolan and David S. Goyer (of Dark Knight fame) – we know they’re going to want to learn more about what went into making the biggest Superman movie of all time.
To that end, we’ve rounded up quotes from the Man of Steel press conference, which included the likes of Chuck Roven (Producer), Debbie Snyder (Producer), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Russell Crowe (Jor-El), Henry Cavill (Superman), Zack Snyder (Director), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Michael Shannon (Zod), Antje Traue (Faora, Zod’s henchwoman), David Goyer (Writer), and Dark Knight Trilogy composer, Hans Zimmer.
Before we delve into the press conference, check out this gallery of new Man of Steel limited edition posters, courtesy of Mondo Tees:
Man of Steel Press Conference
Producer Deborah Snyder, Director Zack Snyder and Screenwriter David S. Goyer discussed the massive task of re-inventing Superman for a new era, and how they went about it:
Deborah Snyder: I think when you start thinking about the magnitude of who this character is and how big it is and how big the responsibility is, you can really get yourself paralyzed. So what you have to do is break it down piece by piece and just look at it as the process. First, it was getting the story right, and at its core I think Superman has been around for 75 years because of the story. Then it’s about day to day seeing what task is at hand and choosing the right people to bring Zack’s vision of it to life. Casting these wonderful people, the right people to bring these characters, to make them alive. Choosing the right composer to making the music as powerful and moving as it should be. I think you just have to look at it day by day piece by piece.
Zack: …Debbie and I went and had lunch with Chris and Emma [Nolan] and we talked about this Superman project. I remember the first time when we were setting the meeting it was like, ‘Hey, you guys want to have lunch and if we talk about Superman is that weird?’ We thought, ‘No, no, Superman is cool.’ I was worried about Superman honestly as a project because it was a thing that I was interested in. But then on the other hand, I was scared because Superman is Superman. It seemed at the time like a lot of work to make work, though I will say after I read David’s script and after talking to Chris, there was no fear in the script and the idea. The idea was very straightforward and very confident and I think that’s what gave me this feeling of confidence that I felt like there is a thing in there to make cool, there’s a thing in there that I’m interested in. Maybe I need to just let go of the fear of this icon.
I do like Superman as a character and I have followed him throughout the years. The fear for me was that, could I honor what he’s been and what he has the potential to be? I think David did an amazing job with the script and that was in there—we just had to go after it. I think the vision was sort of an unapologetic Superman movie that we wanted to make. I felt in the recent past, people have been apologizing for Superman a little bit for his costume, for his origins, for the way he fits into society. We just wanted to say ‘No, no. This is the mythology and this is how it is, and it’s supposed to be this way.’ And I think that’s kind of the movie we made. We wanted to enshrine him where he belongs—and whether or not that’s making it too important, I don’t know, but it was the way we wanted to do it. It was fun to do.
David S. Goyer: It’s a huge challenge, I remember five or six years ago someone asking me at a Batman junket whether or not I would want to do Superman or not. At the time I said no. It’s an enormous responsibility. People have a proprietary relationship with Superman. A lot of people would say that’s my Superman, but there’s the Reeve Superman from the ’50s, the Fletcher Superman, Lois & Clark Superman, and the Donner Superman. It’s important to respect the iconography and respect the canon, but…at the same time you have to tell a story.
And once you sort of land on who you think the character is and what his conflicts are, you have to let that lead you. You have to throw all that other stuff away and not be worried about this epic responsibility or it will just crush you and paralyze you… For me it was very simple: it’s a story about two fathers. While I was writing this script, I became a step-dad, and a dad, and my own dad died. I never thought that my own experiences would find their way into something like this, but if you boil it down to that, it’s about a man with two fathers and he has to decide which kind of linage he has to choose. My Kryptonian father or my Earth father? And in the end, it’s kind of both that make him the man that he becomes.
Henry Cavill also addressed the intimidation of taking on such an iconic character:
Henry: First I don’t think it’s about finding my way into an icon. Playing an icon, you don’t try to be an icon because that defeats the purpose. The responsibility attached is enormous and the realization that it actually really, really, matters meant that I wanted to put the most amount of work into representing the character properly… What would people do otherwise apart from talk about it? I don’t necessarily think that he speaks to the outsider alone, he speaks to everyone—or that ideal speaks to everyone. We all need hope no matter what century we are in, whatever state of life we are in, whether we are going through tragedy or not. It’s just hope that everything will be okay, and if tragedy and disaster happens I hope we can overcome it. I don’t believe it’s solely for those who are outsiders and those who think they’re alone. It’s for everyone.
As far as the conflict that he went through or the journey, it wasn’t about classic Superman material. So when you see Clark traveling through the world and trying to work out what and who and why he is, I didn’t go to source material for that, I just applied my own life to that. As actors, it’s quite a lonely existence unless you have someone traveling with you the entire time. You spent a lot of time by yourself and you meet new people and you make temporary families and you love them. And then you never see them again, potentially, apart from the press conference. You just apply that to the character and that’s exactly what he experiences. New groups of people constantly, and then disappearing again and having to introduce himself to these other people and prove to them he’s a nice guy who tries to do all the right stuff. And then all of a sudden, he disappears again. So it’s just that lonely aspect that I applied to it opposed to any classic Superman material.
One of the surprising things about Man of Steel is that it borrows the Batman Begins style of non-linear narrative when establishing character and backstory during the first act. Goyer and Snyder addressed the reason why they chose such an approach:
David: Anytime I’ve been involved in a non-linear story, you start it in a linear manner first just to make sure it makes sense. Then you chop it up and move it around and that was a process that we started when Zack came on board, and some of it shifted as we were moving along.
Zack: I think that it’s a cool way. You’re with Clark and he’s making his way and you’re sort of getting these cool insights into the why of him. I think it’s fun to do it in that way, rather then when he’s facing a decision. You get to see the why of why he’s making those decisions. Presenting it that way allows the momentum of the story to keep going and you also get an insight into the man in a way that is interesting. It serves the movie in a really fun way, too.
David: Also, I think it was arresting to go from the craft impacting in Kansas into—boom!—33 years later he’s on a crab boat and just sort of playing with peoples expectations.
One thing most comic book fans always want to know: how familiar are the cast and filmmakers with the source material they’re adapting?
Henry: I did not take anything from the other characters that played it before. As an actor, the way I do it and the way I viewed it is that all the actors that have come before, it’s their interpretation of the source material—source material being the comic books—and I wanted to have my interpretation. Not out of a sense of ego, but in a sense that it might be a disjointed performance if I have someone else’s personality and their influence affect the interpretation of the character. So I went straight to the comic books and saw the older movies, but I did not apply those performances to mine.
Amy Adams: I grew up watching Superman and loving the characters and I let it be known that I auditioned several times—this was my third time. So thank you, Zack, for letting me play Lois. When I talked to Zack about this incarnation of Lois, what I loved was that she was still this intrepid reporter, that she was somebody that was going to be a part of the solution not just part of the problem. She was going to have more of an inner track on Clark and sort of be on the inside as opposed to being on the outside, and I really liked that and I thought that was a very unique idea. I really loved that Zack wanted it to be this really big, amazing film, but that was also very important to him to focus on the characters and the truth, grounding the characters in reality as much as possible in this amazing world that he created…he wanted all of the characters to have a really true heartbeat and we spent a lot of time talking about that, and that impressed me about Zack.
Russell Crowe: I have a confession, might just get it out. I’ve never seen any other Superman movie. Haven’t seen one with that fellow in it, or the new young fellow—I didn’t see that either. I didn’t have any references in terms of cinematic experiences. The only Superman reference I have is the black-and-white Superman TV show that was on TV after school when I was a kid. So I really had nothing to draw on. The simple thing for me is I read the script and thought it was a complex and really cool story in and of itself. And I thought the problems that Jor-El faced in terms of his decisions as a father was a very interesting thing to do and get involved.
With parenting clearly being a theme of the film, how did Superman’s parents (Russell Crowe and Diane Lane) approach that very human and grounded side of the film?
Russell: I had a very interesting experience being a father on this movie, I think Zack employed four babies as the recently born Kal-El and unlike my own experiences as a father of two, I’ve managed to dodge all the piss and the poo even though I’m pretty slick with a nappy. But on this movie, I got farted on first and that was okay. Pissed on and that was a little bit inconvenient. Then the topper happened under those hot lights. It was after lunch, to be expected, and I got a handful of the essential Kryptonian material. So I learned a lot, I had new experiences as a parent on this movie that I hadn’t previously had—so thank you, Zack.
Zack: I just want to add to the tapestry of your life as best as I can.
Diane Lane: …Once you’re a parent, it informs everything that you do. This is such a unique scenario having an alien come into your barn and you raise it and happens to be a very beautiful human specimen. Actually, it has a lot of other things going on. You know the challenge and the backstory that Zack and Kevin and I really enjoyed discussing—which was not part of the script—is imagining what it would be like to temper a young person’s attitude adjustment, that’s required in the rearing of children, when they have the powers that Clark has.
It was fun having those conversations and you can fill in the blanks and maybe there will be some funny ones written for future story plots. I feel the love that one has for one. Once you fall in love with a being that needs you, you imprint and you want it to represent your belief system. How does that manifest and what is sacred to you? And that winds up being conveyed eventually when you’re not even there to see it. That’s the hope of parenthood. So A for effort and there you have it.
…I love that line that we’ve managed to come up with where she says, “Nice suit, son.” Because it’s been waiting to be revealed, and if anyone is holding their breath anymore than mom, I can’t imagine who it would be. Talk about your son coming out! It’s kind of built in—sorry, Chuck. So yeah, I’m sort of relived and grateful and a bit overwhelmed by the havoc that it has brought. Coming out of the collapsed house, I love the metaphor of the family album that one would grab. What does one grab in a tornado or when something like that happens to your home? It’s the memories and it’s the value system of human life. And what is the value system of human life, really? And the imprint that we provided to Clark.
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.