Man Of Steel Producers Interview: “Sometimes, There Are Casualties”

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Man of Steel is on release now and the publicity campaign is finally winding down. Just before the curtain closed, however, I was able to sneak under and have a very quick chat with the film’s producers Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder.

Here’s some of what they had to tell me, starting with their comments on Zack Snyder, their director – and in one case at least, husband.

Charles Roven: He’s just an amazing filmmaker. He’s got amazing cinematic visual skills. He can do things that are really jaw dropping, seeing in his mind’s eye just what something is going to look like at the end, no matter how complicated the shot is. There are some seriously complicated shots in this movie – both in terms of the world creation of Krypton and in terms of the way he has handled the fighting. And just when you think that Zack is out of trick arrows  pulls something out of his quiver again. He reinvents something… no, not reinvents. He invents something.

Deborah Snyder: And he’s super-hard-working. When we finish our work day he goes home and draws and he draws every single frame of the script. He’s been in meetings the whole day and then he got up at four in the morning and starts drawing.

He really makes the movie when he’s drawing it. Then, when he gets on set he really can deal with the performances and the actors. His enthusiasm is endless and whatever time it is, he’s always up. I feel like his sets are a really unique place because they’re very positive and they’re very organised and it allows people to really be creative. He’s open to the actors’ collaboration but he definitely has a particular point of view. In turn they can trust him because they know he has planned it all out.

Roven: There’s never a time on a Zack Snyder set when you are sitting around waiting for him to come up with what the next shot is going to be. That’s decided well before we ever arrive on set.

The discussion process with Zack and Debbie coming on board was us saying “This is where we are but now we need you to tell us where you want to take it and what your vision is going to be.” And once that handover was made, that’s it, and we’re in support of his vision.

Snyder: I think that Chris Nolan, being a director himself, and knowing what that’s like made him an amazing producer. Once he knew what Zack’s vision was he was totally supportive of that. 

Snyder: When you’re in the process of casting, sometimes things will get out there and we haven’t even met with these actors. There’s just lots of false information out there. I’d like [the on set spying] to stop but only because it makes our job difficult.

We had a lot of pyrotechnics when we were in Smallville. It was very dangerous and there were people trying to get into the set, in and around barricades and that’s dangerous. But also sometimes what they actually shoot on the set might not be an indication of what the final product will be after we’ve done a colour treatment or something in visual effects . So it’s a little premature for that material to be commented on. The buzz this generates, whether or not it’s positive or negative, doesn’t always accurately represent what the film’s going to be.

Snyder: I think these films, today, come with an expectation of amazing spectacle and action, but for me, what was most interesting in the script was seeing a vulnerable Superman, somebody I could relate to more. Seeing him on this journey of self discovery, seeing him lost in the world, and trying to do good but it’s hard to do good. Sometimes the choices he has to make are hard ones.

And it’s a great adoption story. We see the sacrifice one father makes to give his son a better life, and how his [Earth] parents struggle to give him a morality to live by. We see how he adopts Earth and how Earth eventually adopts him.

Roven: The 21st Century is really complicated. The decisions are harder. What I love about this script and this story is that a guy who had superpowers has growing pains, like we all have growing pains, and that to do good is not easy. Choices are complex, and even when you make the right decision, sometimes there are casualties. The unintentional negative consequence to a good decision. 

Snyder: Our goal always was to make Superman relevant again. There’s a whole generation of kids that might wear the T-shirt but don’t necessarily know who this guy is. We know that he is part of a greater universe, that he is the pinnacle of a whole DC universe. Obviously there are little easter eggs in the film that nod to that but our focus was on telling his story the right way.

Roven: There have been many attempts, at least a few I know of, of Warner Bros to jump start Justice League. There was the script that George Miller was involved with and there were other incarnation, but I don’t know how far they got. But it was obviously a big agenda and so it should be. DC comics has Justice League, and Justice League can be a big brand.

We’re all huge fans of the work that we did together here. We had a great time doing it and we really loved the collaboration. If this movie works, we’d love to see there be more. There’s no reason we wouldn’t. We’ve had conversations with the studio that I would call musings. “If this is successful shouldn’t we think about doing something else?” If you really want to know what’s going to happen next then we should be having this conversation in a couple of weeks.

Of course, that conversation isn’t about to happen, I know that, but I do hope to speak to Roven and Snyder once more when the next film is coming around.

Thanks again to them both for their time.

Man of Steel is in cinemas now. All three of the Bleeding Cool team to review it have now published our reviews, and we all liked it. I think you probably will too.