As if Zack Snyder's Man of Steel didn't have enough weight on its shoulders, anyone watching the superhero genre knows that DC and Warner Bros. are hoping the film sets the stage for the rest of their iconic characters. Rumors even claimed that not only was a Justice League movie in development, but Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale were attached, and David S. Goyer would continue penning the super-scripts.
Speaking about Man of Steel, Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov has now explained that Nolan is most certainly not attached to a Justice League film (without confirming or denying its existence in the process). But that doesn't mean the studio isn't moving towards a shared universe for the rest of DC's heroes. As he sees it, Goyer, Nolan and Snyder have all created a Superman universe that leaves plenty of room for other heroes to inhabit.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly as part of the magazine's spoiler-filled exclusive coverage, Robinov made sure not to overstate the studio's intentions concerning Superman and the rest of DC's catalogue. For starters, explaining that Man of Steel would set the tone for the type of superhero movies the studio intends to make; in that sense, preparing audiences for more heroes, but not featuring cameos or 'set-ups.'
"I think you’ll see that, going forward, anything can live in this world...[Nolan’s] Batman was deliberately and smartly positioned as a stand-alone. The world they lived in was very isolated without any knowledge of any other superheroes. What Zack and Chris have done with this film is allow you to really introduce other characters into the same world.
"We’ll announce something in the next several weeks that will hopefully position the DC characters and the movies we’re going to be making."
A few things jump out immediately from Robinov's comments: first, one must wonder if Robinov's description of Man of Steel's world means that the world already has knowledge of other superheroes existing (communicated via headlines, tabloids, or TV news reports) or if he simply means that post-Kryptonian invasion, people wouldn't be as surprised to see someone flying. Snyder has made it clear that any connections to other Justice League members are under secrecy, so we don't expect those questions to be answered until the movie is released.
Secondly, the announcement forthcoming from Warner Bros. will help any comic book fan get excited for the future. We've been expecting Warner Bros. and DC Comics to announce something at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, but Robinov's wording doesn't point specifically to a slate of films or scheduled release dates. The "something" to be announced could be a deal in place with a filmmaker charged with 'overseeing' DC's adaptations - as seen with Marvel and Joss Whedon, and Fox's deal with Mark Millar.
If Warner Bros. intends to find a talent with comic book credentials and knowledge - and if Man of Steel is as strong a film as the early reviews have suggested - then the obvious choice is to bring in Zack Snyder for creative supervision. If Christopher Nolan is interested in producing, all the better. But as Robinov correctly points out, Nolan has other things on his plate, beginning with his sci-fi thought piece Interstellar.
But before we put the cart before the horse it's important to remember that if any plan is to succeed, Man of Steel needs to stand on its own. That task falls to the writing of David S. Goyer and the vision of Zack Snyder, with the former known for his history with Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy and his approach to the Superman story "as if it were real." Even though Man of Steel isn't going to be another dose of The Dark Knight, Goyer claims he's put lessons learned to work with his next (potential) franchise:
“One of the things we dealt with on the Batman films is, Chris dislikes it when you plan something, when you say, ‘I’m going to follow this up in the next film...He’s always said put everything you have into this film and then worry about the next film later. That gives the film its own integrity as opposed to being part of an overall plan. So of course the comic book fans, it’s hard not to think about [crossovers] but I, having done three Batman films and worked in that way, it’s definitely the approach we took with Man of Steel.”
In today's climate it's becoming increasingly difficult to believe that art and business can be cleanly divided; but Nolan's trilogy does offer compelling evidence that Goyer speaks the truth. Batman Begins functioned as a strong start, and a fairly well-rounded look at Batman in a modern setting. If Goyer can do the same with his first chapter in a new Superman story - make an iconic comic book hero relatable to everyday audiences - then its message should stand on its own two feet with ease. Even if he may already be writing the sequel.
There's no way of knowing just how much of a plan DC and Warner Bros. currently have; and even if they've got a strategy for bringing their most successful characters to the screen, there's no reason to believe that the assembled talent will be as interested in making it a reality. For now we'll allow ourselves some optimism, since Robinov is obviously the one in the conversation most concerned with the business side. Goyer - the one who constructed the story with Nolan - seems to be saying all the right things.
What is your take on the possibility of Man of Steel leaving the door open for other heroes to walk through? Would you prefer the film focus on introducing one superhero successfully, or plant other seeds for future films? We have reason to believe that a Luthor will be teased for a sequel, but anything's possible.
Man of Steel will be in theaters on June 14th, 2013.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
Source: Entertainment Weekly