David S. Goyer: ‘Man of Steel’ Being Approached ‘As If It Were Real’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 2:04 pm,

Hanry Cavill Superman Man of Steel David S. Goyer: Man of Steel Being Approached As If It Were Real

Ever since Man of Steel was announced as being written by David S. Goyer and executive produced by Christopher Nolan, the claims of the film being a case of Superman getting ‘the Dark Knight influence’ have persisted. Even though the two men come from, literally, entirely different worlds.

But according to Goyer, this incarnation of Superman (Henry Cavill) isn’t going to be trading realism for fantasy, or hard questions for special effects. In fact, Man of Steel isn’t being approached as a comic book movie at all.

While Marvel may have found success developing comic books into movies without removing much of the humor and wonder seen in the source material, Goyer and Nolan did something different with their take on Batman. Removing or re-imagining elements in order to update an aging story or to help the material speak to modern audiences may be seen as blasphemy by some, but to Goyer, it’s all in the service of a stronger story.

In the latest issue of Empire Magazine (via CBM) Goyer outlines his approach to a story familiar to nearly everyone. While staying respectful of the films that preceded Man of Steel, fans should expect something very different this summer:

“We’re approaching ‘Superman’ as if it weren’t a comic book movie, as if it were real… I adore the Donner films. Absolutely adore them. It just struck me that there was an idealist quality to them that may or may not work with today’s audience. It just struck me that if Superman really existed in the world, first of all, this story would be a story about first contact.

“He’s an alien. You can easily imagine a scenario in which we’d be doing a film like ‘E.T.,’ as opposed to him running around in tights. If the world found out he existed, it would be the biggest thing that ever happened in human history… It falls into that idea of trying to humanise the inhuman. He’s made out of steel, he’s not made out of flesh, metaphorically speaking. We are portraying him as a man, yet he’s not a man.”

The scriptwriter pulls no punches in his characterization of Superman as an alien (his suit already makes that clear), and not the simple embodiment of “truth, justice and the American way” to which he is so often reduced. However, in the process, Man of Steel seems to be as much a story about societies and how they view outsiders. Specifically, how the entire human race would view something as ‘outside’ our own experiences as a full-blown alien entity.

Superman Man of Steel Not a Comic Book Movie David S. Goyer: Man of Steel Being Approached As If It Were Real

It’s not hard to see the themes of immigration, belonging, and communal identity that Goyer is driving at (claiming that this is a movie he feels “the world needs right now“), but conceiving of a Superman who is so markedly removed from mankind takes this reboot into entirely different realms. As Goyer alludes to, Richard Donner’s Superman (1978) never concerned itself with showing how the government or people on the street would react to an alien revealed to have been hiding among them.

Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) jumped even further into acceptance of Superman as a celebrity, not just a superhero. But Cavill’s closing lines of dialogue seen in the full Man of Steel trailer posed the question to all viewers quite plainly: “My father believed that if the world found out what I really was, they would reject me… what do you think?

That willingness to face prejudice, fear, paranoia, and even hatred without sugarcoating humanity’s, shall we say, less flattering tendencies, promises a film that is at least new, if not universally-pleasing. The themes at work have impressed executive producer Christopher Nolan, as has director Zack Snyder’s vision for the big screen. But how do you tell such a serious, grounded story about a superhero from another world?

Russell Crowe Talks Man of Steel David S. Goyer: Man of Steel Being Approached As If It Were Real

That’s a question that has yet to be asked by DC superhero movies, since Nolan and Goyer’s previous work on Batman was an extremely personal story of suffering and trauma. The task is a more difficult one, but at the end of the day, the story of Superman can be reduced to one core question of identity. A question hinted at in the pair of teaser trailers, but hinging on the ability to make it feel real:

“It is obviously a much longer process with a character like Superman. It is much easier to do a realistic take on Batman. You know nothing can hurt Superman, presumably other than Kryptonite. The challenge was simply: Can we figure out a way to make those elements work, quote unquote, in the real world? It’s very much a story of a man with two fathers.”

Nobody ever accused David S. Goyer or Zack Snyder of making things easy on themselves. And as if pairing such a personal struggle alongside massive” action and backdrops, the word out of Warner Bros. is that much of the direction and feasibility of any Justice League movie will rest on how Man of Steel is received by the public.

The report comes from Variety, with Warner Bros. President Jeff Robinov explaining that the studio is “awaiting the results” of Snyder’s Man of Steel before moving forward. That fact has been assumed to this point, but this certainly puts a damper on anyone expecting massive secret announcements at Comic-Con 2013.

What do you think of Goyer’s approach to grounding Superman, and facing the world’s reaction to his presence head on? Is this the story you’ve been waiting to see told (on film) or the wrong direction altogether?

Man of Steel hits theaters June 14th, 2013. Pick up Empire‘s March issue on newsstands this Thursday.

Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: Empire [via CBM] & Variety

Follow Andrew Dyce on Twitter @andrew_dyce
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  1. Very surprised there isn’t any Marvel vs DC bs in this thread and that no one is arguing!

    • Having said that, Marvel can kiss my ass. Us DC fans are getting ART.

      • Art?!

        • Yeah its like those people that drink expensive bottled water and do not want to believe it comes from the same source as a cheap bottle of water.

          Maybe he was just being funny….

          • So Coke or Pepsi? How about ummm Chris Nolan or John Favreau?

            • No there is a difference. They are both sodas and cost the same.

              Art is VERY subjective and in most cases expensive.

              However expensive bottled water is most times no better then tap yet people believe it is just cause it cost more.

              So your idea that Superman will be ‘Art’ is very subjective and like bottled water. With a twist of lemon.

        • Re-watch the trailer. Re-watch The Dark Knight Rises :)

          • Edit: THE DARK KNIGHT. Not The Dark Knight Rises. I can admit that movie was a bit of a let down. Still infinitely better than Marvel’s family films though.

            • Spence! Not Daryl lol

              • are Daryl and spence the same guy?

            • @ Daryl

              Are you asking to watch TDK. Or watch Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker?

      • LMAO. People would call anything ART,lol.

      • HOW MANY GOOD MOVIES DOES DC/WB HAVE???? thats whatI thought, Look at the B/O returns! THATS what/who REALLY decides ALL…$$$$$$ if there is none of that THEN there is NO MORE OF THEM FILMS. PERIOD

        Until DC finally maesa good movie MARVEL takes the TOP spot!
        I hope this movie does GREAT so we can watch Marvel Vs. DC in 2015 FOR REAL

  2. I think this is the perfect way to approach this movie! Think about it. If suddenly there was an indestructible alien flying around in a blue suit and red cape, the world would flip! The other Superman movies (excluding Returns) were the right movies for their times. I’m so excited! This is tied with Star Trek 2 for my most anticipated movie. See you there opening night!!!

    • @Huntress: Agreed! As a hardcore Batman fan I will be there on opening night for Supes! And don’t let there be a Batman/Bruce Wayne cameo in this film or I will overdose on the awesomeness right there in my seat.

  3. Marvel can think on their own? Aren’t they just the top grossing arm of Disney? The Nolanverse delivered. This will be a continuation of that success. Change has been good… Imagine if Burton had given us Superman? Imagine if Superman Returns was a success, we wouldn’t be waiting to see this film come out. Superman Returns should have never happened. This is what we deserve.

    • ‘We’? ‘deserve’?

      Please I would like an explanation as to why ‘we’ ‘deserve’ this?

        • ahhhh OK so true fans of Superman deserve this…… Not just the fans of Superman but the TRUE fans….

          (slowly tip toes away)

        • Was all that missing from Superman Returns? Really?

    • Superman Returns was well done fyi…And why do we really “deserve” this?

      • Another thing- Wasn’t Superman Returns kinda realistic compared to Reeve’s movies, take out the hero celebrity part?

        • Dont take it as celebrity more as their hero and they were happy to have him back. A few small changes and Superman Returns would of been awesome! The original Richard Donner Superman will always be my favorite Superman movie. Truth, Justice and the American Way!

  4. Now all we need is a found footage shaky cam thrown in there-sarcasm.

  5. Lets face it. If there were ever a real alien, or alien invasion. 1/4 will panic, 1/4 will respond,1/4 will go to top of roof buildings and greet them the final 1/4 will call off work, and go back to sleep.

    • the gov will try to keep it a secret as much as possible. you won’t have 1/4 doing this and 1/4 doing that. most will choose not to believe until they see it themselves and when they do well history shows the one who is different is single out. we seen it with a black person, hence separate bathrooms, seperate baseball leagues, schools etc. and that was just like 40 years ago. x-men did an interesting take on this, with some humans not accepting the mutants. people nowadays fear a non existent nwo, illuminati. even in modern times humans show examples of fearing the unexpected

      • You say non existent, I say Obama. LOL

      • @Meh.

        You watch too many sci movies.

        On the outside remote and I do mean remote chance a scenario like ID4 actually happens?
        Government will be hard pressed to keep it a secret.

  6. most times when some writer starts talking they kind of talk in a circle and don’t really sell it. most times it’s a foregone conclusion whether or not i will see the movie anyway. so i tend not to read what they say. cause i don’t want to hear them embarrass themselves. i want it to feel real. i really hate it when filmmakers wink at the audience. cause it tells me they are incapable of putting that extra inch in to sell their vision.

    this time however… i really like what i’m hearing. Goyers come a long way from deathwarrant let me tell you. the man isn’t just writing super hero fluff. he’s talking epic masterpiece territory. Casablanca type stuff.

    i really like what i’m hearing.

    • Well said. Let’s hope you’re right.

  7. soooooo ready for this movie!

    • me X 100

  8. So they are going for a big budget Oscar film?

    • both i hope

      • sorry. misread. thought you were asking if they were going for big budget OR oscar film

  9. I’m excited for this take on the character. In the comics and movies Superman was easily accepted as the all american hero without a second throught or question. The guy was able to hide behind a pair of glasses for goodness sakes. I like the fact that it will make take a global catastrophic event to allow a jaded society to accept this alien as it’s guardian and protector.

  10. Approaching it as if it weren’t a comic book movie huh?
    I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s somewhere between intrigued and disappointed…

    I hope they don’t try and make this super realistic though. I just can’t see that working well. It’s easy enough (relatively speaking) to ground the movie and introduce a sense of realism – like ‘Iron Man’ or ‘The Incredible Hulk’ – but going the real-world route (ala TDK trilogy) just isn’t a viable option for Superman IMO.

    Still super excited for this though. Come on June!!

      • sounds to me as if they might not mention ANY other characters! it ALL depends on how this movie goes over with the public, if they are going the “real” route and this will be a movie about us (humans) accepting an alien as our protector HOW THE HECK are they gonna mention OTHER HEROS?? to me that just sounds stupid! if we are just trying to accept him how are we (all of a sudden) in one movie gonna hear about a WW or a Flash, we know that GL did not go that route and BOMBED! how will they explain that? NOPE NEVER HAPPENED? this is DC/WB’s Iron Man, if it bombs we will never hear of any of the other JL members

          • *Going to have more human drama ^

            sorry about that.

  11. Everything in the DC world is riding on this movie. If it bombs or underperforms, JL may never happen. That is a lot to put on any o e movie. Can any movie live up to that kind of hype or pressure?

  12. I don’t trust Goyer.

    Why? His track record.

    1. The made for TV, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield…. starring David Hasselhoff
    2. Both Ghost Rider movies with Nicolas Cage
    3. Blade III
    4. Jumper (Worst dialog in any movie, and this is recent Goyer!)

    Anytime Goyer has the sole writer credit, NOT collaborating…… it sucks. Sure he has comic book street cred but have you ever read his comic books? The Justice Society? Ick….

    Nolan’s Batman Trilogy is due to Nolan.

    • Nolan co wrote Man of Steel…

      • johnathon nolan not chris though ..

        • Actually, Jonathan has nothing to do with Man of Steel. Goyer wrote the script, and I think Chris Nolan is possibly credited as a co-writer. (On wikipedia, it says screenplay by Goyer, but story by Goyer and C. Nolan)

    • I’m wary as well…but ya gotta admit that in the movies/TV you’ve mentioned, the quality of acting wasn’t exactly…good. David Hasselhoff? Nicolas Cage? and (worst of all) Hayden Christiansen?!? That movie (Jumper) had potential IMHO, but was rendered unwatchable by Christiansen. Sometimes, a writer’s only as good as the actors delivering the lines.
      …and I rather enjoyed Blade III but yes, even Wesley sucks.

    • Ugh, you had to bring up Blade 3 & Ghost Rider. First GR was ok but the 2ns was god awful.

    • true on Goyers list, lets give him a break he`s collaborating with Nolan meaning he did well with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight…working with Nolan though

  13. Don’t forget the SUPERGIRL spin off ? That should be rebooted. We need to get Superman’s cousin fit into “The Man of Steel” sequels just like the original Superman films did. Cause, I like to see Jor-El’s brother Zor-El and his family of Argo City who survive from Krypton’s Disaster.

    The Incarnation of SUPERGIRL is twisted backwards and she is born on Krypton before her cousin. I think the Superman Mythology has got everything confuzed since the original SUPERGIRL died around 1985 from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. That made Superman “The Only Survivor” to his home planet.

  14. I’m for the realism to a certain degree. Superman has these amazing powers and he really was the all American hero, but if you make him this unaccepted alien isn’t that going away from who he was in the comics? Doesn’t that make him like Spiderman? Even that doesn’t bother me much, but what does bother me is the realistic approach of Nolan’s universe took away powers, like scarecrow, Ra’s, and Bane to a certain degree. You can’t do certain characters like killer croc and clayface that way. And if we’re going to think in a realistic tone and take away powers couldn’t we make the case of someone just sniping Bane or the Joker and we wouldn’t have 3 hours worth of terror I mean Bane did get shot at the end.

  15. Guess everyone of us knows that Goyer has not done consistent gd work on his scripts, therefore i do not trust Goyer (Ghostrider, Jumper etc.)
    He is talented, usally he has got the touch for his scripts, as long as he has some backup and as already mentioned, i do not see any Goyer in Christopher Nolans Masterpieces of (BB and TDK … uhh i’ve forgotton something intentionally)
    I was dissapointed by TDKR, and Snyder has made some slight mistakes, but i am optimistically because the combination of thoese three highly talented ppl’s makes me hope, it is like they’ve stolen my idea of a superman movie with deepness, realism and the different view on superman’s person in generell (The more i loved Smallville, the more i hated it), the actors are great now just get the arc of suspense right and gd damn make flying exciting again

    • “Snyder has made some slight mistakes”? Such as?

  16. I think in Man of Steel (Part 2) The Supporting Characters like Jimmy Olsen, General Sam Lane, Lex Luther shall be reunited.

    • It seems you have zero faith in this movie working.

      He has two fathers, now that isn’t him being taught two different things by two different men, it’s more to do with loyalty. Is he going to remain loyal to the human race he was brought up to be a part of or will he shun them as they shunned him by treating him as a threat and thus turning him towards his real father’s line of thinking?

      A realistic approach can and will work and besides, he never mentioned The Avengers because guess what? That’s a movie by the other side and Goyer is talking about realistic according to the previous DC and even previous Superman movies.

      • What was his fathers (biological) line of thinking? I believe as I stated the El family was a respected family and his father was a lead scientist that no one believed. You could say he was shunned but still did right by his family.

        So I dont see the disconnect between how and who he was raised by compared to his biological family.

        What do you think his biological fathers line of thinking is? (or has it been hinted to?)

        What the heck do movies from other places have to do with this? You know why he didnt mention The Avengers? I dont but I know why I mentioned The Avengers.

        Realistic according to the previous DC movies not including Nolans Batman? Not including GL? What about Arrow?

        I have hope it fails as a DCFU tent pole movie as it is my belief it will cripple the DCFU. And lets say it does succeed. What then? What happens in ‘x’ years when someone else is trying or needs to try (to incorporate another line of heroes) and they dont have the same vision?

        As much as people scold The Avengers for being a comic book movie (and those movies before it and coming after) it never strayed from what it truly is and is based on. That is why it was so successful. It was a comic book movie come to life.

        Not a comic book movie with someone elses vision as to what it should be just because it worked ok with another property.

        You don’t know if that approach can work. Only time will tell.

        • A realistic Superman has already been done. Way back when Secret Identity was written, and again with Red Son, and again with New Frontier. It’s not exactly a new concept, and the idea of Superman being feared as an alien being, as in Secret Origin, New Krypton, or Morrison’s current Action Comics run, isn’t exactly new, either.

          • Im unfamiliar with Secret Identity. Was that a storyline or a one shot/mini series type thing? Or are you referring to Identity Crisis?

            Red Son and New Frontier are not part of the main stream Superman history.

            How do those stories though relate to a realistic Superman story?

            More asking then questioning you as an FYI.

    • WOW….20min to read and all i can say is WOW!! Bro just dont pay to see the movie, its really OK and JUST A MOVIE! I can send you a valium if you need it! just let me know buddy before your heart explodes!!!

      • Thanks I dont know what I would have done without your expert medical advice. If I may impart some unwanted advice such as yours? You may want to take a reading class to brush up on your skills if it took you 20 mins to read it. Furthermore you may want to avoid sites such as this where people are expected to voice their opinions on various subjects. That may help you from giving out free medical advice you have no business doing.

        • OK i see u dont need a valium it is a BUBBA or maybe a Pacifier you need…. I keep forgetting that you DC whiners Cry a bit too much for the Marvel fans!!! SORRY next time i will bring you a blankie and your wubbie……

          • DC whiners does that mean Im a DC fan or I whine about DC movies? Your sentence structure has me confused, much like cave paintings.

            Would you like to bring anything articulate to the conversation or will you continue to troll to get a heated response?

      • MA,

        Thanks I do agree with your second sentence. However with the way it is being stated and what I have seen with Batman, I just get the feeling its going to turn out poorly.

        Before anyone says Batman was a success yada yada yada. Batman worked that well because quite frankly he is just a man. Superman I don’t believe will transfer as well. I could be wrong. Part of me wants to be wrong so we can see the JL. However the other part of me doesn’t. This is based on quite a few number of things. The future being one of them.

        I replied about his upbringing in direct response to Dazz “He has two fathers, now that isn’t him being taught two different things by two different men, it’s more to do with loyalty.” I didn’t (and still do not) understand that statement.

        Addressing why he is different comes with anything. That would be like explaining to a child why they have two fathers or are a different race then the parents. Granted it is on a grander scale but being different happens all the time.

        The missing morals bit was just being thrown out there as ‘plot’ twists in the movie (along with the other 2). Its hard to convey tone in text. Supes crashes he gets raised (properly) he is now an adult, So now whats the big twist? What is the realism angle?

        You bring up first contact with aliens. I brought up I thought it happened in GL? Regardless. How do they know he is an alien? Why did they learn to fear him? He has been here for 20 years (hopefully legally adopted) he is now a citizen. (little joke there) Its not like (well I hope not) he is running rampant smashing buildings, robbing banks, planting the seed of distrust.

        While I agree the US and world will want a piece of him I just dont see how you make that so compelling and real to make it (supposedly) the roots of the movie.

        The Kents were good people from all indications the Els were good people. Is most of the movie going to be about Supes being emo about getting shunned by his parents until he finds out they actually saved him?

        What is he going through? To have all this power and not be able to save everyone? As stated he was raised by people that along the way told him this. They explained all of this.

        You are explaining a teen angst emo what ever thing we have seen thousands of times before. Heck we have seen it in the FF movie. The Thing was concerned with his strength. Did we need to see him become a fisherman just to find himself?

        Superman is difficult to relate to period. While it is part him it is mostly the Kents. A great deal of us could not relate to the upbringing the Kents gave. We know why he is the way he is. Because he was raised properly in a nurturing, loving home.

        Everything you have said we already know. So now we get to see/hear it again. Only this time its real.

        Maybe you are right. It will be a coming of age story just using a Superhero. I guess im just dismayed that people (Directors) have to put their twist on stuff they touch. Im set in my ways. I know what I like and to have someone come in and appear to tinker with something that has over 70 years of a proven track record just baffles me. Especially when those 70 years contain enough drama, action, comedy, horror, etc you could choke a cow with.

        I still stand by with my “it sucks” “hope it fails”. However i will come back and let you know if I was wrong.

  17. What I would like to see is Superman obey the laws of physics, aside from ftl travel.

    What I mean is that when Superman picks up a bus, or a plane, or a ship, he shouldn’t be picking it up, but penetrating through it, because although he is strong enough to lift objects of immense size, those objects would have all that force focused only on his hands, not distributed across the whole surface. This would make him somewhat tragic because he can’t save everyone because he’s “too strong.”

    • He is an alien his body projects a field of sorts to stabilize that from happening…..

      • If that’s the case why does it stop there? Why not have telekinesis or a frickin kamehameha?

        My version’s better.

  18. I honestly this this is a GREAT approach to this movie!! REALITY, I love it! we all love the CB’s but just as stated they are a little outdated and need some freshness! In reality if there was a Supes, we would freak as a species, the way we act who the heck knows what would really happen, OUR govt. would probably try to capture him and test him you know all the stuff we do to strange creatures of our deep oceans or deep in our own rain forests! we kill it and bring it back to study it, THAT IS WHAT WE DO! I really hope this movie does good so we finally get a JL movie, It is all hinging on 1 film

  19. Completely off my task of bashing this attmept at realism….

    Ive just realized what the picture up there reminds me of….

    The Absorbing Man. Just imagine jusst below the shot is his hand holding a ball and chain……


  20. I don’t understand why none comic book approach would not work. My interpretation is that superman will be superman. None comic book part will come from way everything around reacts.
    People will have different type of reaction. Government is not gonna be so useless like other superman movie(this, I am guessing). I don’t know.. I dont understand why it cannot work? Imagine the real world .. and just drop a real superman .. why wouldn’t that work? Back in early 1900.. if people told them everyone would be carrying around a computer that fits in your hand, it would seem impossible.. So why not superman someday among us? Why not?

  21. Don’t overthink Superman–a genetic superbeing from another planet may be a yawn in 200 years, if fiction becomes reality.

    On a side note: I would like to see Superman vs the Hulk or Doomsday!!
    I would like to see Paul Satterfield or Brandon Routh as the Eradicator.

    And…Will Reeve in a camoe part


  23. It’s being approached as “real” so… this means… Superman gets sued for saving someone’s life and destruction of public property?



    • Lol. you’d think Wally since supes isn’t around here, or our galaxy. Batman’s a vigilante but supes always has Lois to write good stuff about him despite what gets damaged in the real world,lol. Unless we see supes rebuild stuff like Reeve’s Superman with the great wall of China in Superman 4.

  24. Realistic Superman movie = “Why do you look exactly like Clark Kent?”

    • lol.

      Or, everytime Clark runs off or dissappears, Superman appears right on on time. Even Lex Or Lois should put 2&2 together & figure out it’s the same guy,hmmmmm.

  25. This is a very workable approach. Superman: Earth One( volumes 1&2), Superman: Birthright, and the new 52 are using this approach and they are very well received. Personally Earth One is one of my favorite storylines, Birthright is really good as well.