'Man of Steel' Musical Score & Visual Effects Heads Promise Passion & Realism

A little over two months remain before the release of Zack Snyder's big-screen reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, which stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Michael Shannon as antagonist General Zod. Aside from the central characters, and rumors of an appearance by Lex Luthor, the entire project is being kept tightly under wraps with very few details revealed about the plot. In fact, the only thing that the cast and the crew have been able to talk about at length is the tone of the film and its themes.

An early screening reaction described the film as "a [Christopher] Nolan story with Snyder effects/action," and from what we've heard so far, it sounds like Man of Steel will discard a lot of what was in the older comic books in favor of giving the film a more realistic feel, though Clark Kent's origin story will remain intact as Snyder explores the fall of Krypton.

Man of Steel's composer, Hans Zimmer, has spoken to CNN about being tasked with writing the score for the film, and was asked if it had anything in common with religious-themed TV miniseries The Bible, which is playing on the History Channel this year.

"Yes. Yes is the answer. Once you see Superman, you'll see how close you are with your question.

"Both stories are passions ... about a struggle to do the right thing. For Superman, it was a really simple question for me. What does it take to become a good man? To be good? And what does that mean in our more and more complex society? Do any of these values still resonate with us?"

Of course, when you think of the words "Superman" and "music" together, the first thing that comes to mind is almost invariably John Williams' unforgettable theme for Richard Donner's 1978 film. Zimmer confessed to being intimidated by the prospect of scoring a Superman film, knowing who had gone before him:

"Look, that was daunting. Seriously. He's the greatest film composer out there, without a doubt, and it happens to be one of his iconic pieces of music, so I spent three months just procrastinating and not even getting a start on the thing, because I was so intimidated: 'Oh my God, I'm following in John Williams' footsteps.'

"I remember [Christopher Nolan] going, 'Of course you can do it. What's the big deal? I did Batman.' And I said, 'Excuse me, you went to Warner Bros. with an idea of how you were going to do Batman, and you're saying I'm supposed to do Superman, but I don't have the idea in my head.' I have to sneak up on it!"

The composer gave CNN an idea of what he put together once his three months of procrastination were over, and what we can expect to hear when Man of Steel hits theaters. Zimmer attempted to recreate the "wide-eyed" impression of America that he'd felt himself, coming to the country as a foreigner (like Kal-el), and do so using "a grouping of pedal steel guitars (instead of the usual string section), banging titanium and steel sculptures." He also organised a drum circle consisting of "a who's who of drummers," including Jason Bonham (son of Led Zeppelin's John Bonham), N.E.R.D's Pharrell Williams, and Prince collaborator Sheila E.

Zimmer isn't the only Man of Steel creative dropping hints about the film. Bleeding Cool spoke with VFX supervisor Joe Letteri, who also worked on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Avatar and King Kong with his company WETA Digital, to find out more about what he'd been working on for Man of Steel. Though Letteri couldn't talk specifically about any scenes that he'd worked on, he did reveal a little more about what audiences can expect to see in Zack Snyder's interpretation of the Superman story:

"I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, but overall it’s the story that’s most exciting. It’s a nice re-envisioning of the story of Superman leaving his homeworld and coming to this new one.

"If you look at what Zack [Snyder] has done you’ll see that they've abandoned a lot of the pretense that was in the comics and asked 'Can we still make this work?'

"They’re sticking to realism as much as possible. Fantastic elements are still there but a lot of it that been trimmed back to make it feel as though this actually happened."

Letteri's account more or less correlates with what we've heard previously, with screenwriter David S. Goyer saying that fidelity to the tone of the comic books was not a priority, and instead they approached the Superman story, "as if it weren’t a comic book movie, as if it were real." This may or may not sit well with fans of the comic books, despite Snyder's promise that he "took the mythology seriously," but it bodes well for the film's ability to appeal to a broader audience beyond the core fanbase

Based on this, and the involvement of Christopher Nolan as one of the writers, there has been a lot of speculation that Man of Steel will be the Dark Knight of the Superman franchise. Nolan has acknowledged that this is "somewhat" true, but also hastened to add, "I wouldn't want people to think we’re doing for Superman what we did for Batman.”

Hans Zimmer also commented on the differences between Nolan's Batman and Snyder's Superman, saying that the central focus of Man of Steel is the Midwest town of Smallville, rather than an urban sprawl like Gotham, and saying that Henry Cavill as Superman, "isn't complicated in the sort of flawed way our Dark Knight is, and isn't political in any way." It's certainly true that the majority of what we've seen in the Man of Steel trailers so far has been set in Smallville, on Krypton, or out in the wilderness and on the open road, with only small glimpses given of Metropolis or The Daily Planet.

How do you feel about the simple, small-town-focused, realistic approach to Man of Steel, and the shift away from a "comic book" feel? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Man of Steel will be in theaters on June 14, 2013.

Source: CNN and Bleeding Cool

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'Man of Steel' Musical Score & Visual Effects Heads Promise Passion & Realism