Director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David Goyer knew they had a great weight on their shoulders with Man of Steel. Superman is one of the most popular superheroes to appear in comics and on the big screen. The last incarnation of the Kryptonian wasn’t well-received (Superman Returns), so Snyder and Goyer felt lots of pressure from the start. They’re armed with a new cast and an abundance of time to perfect their film. They’ve been in post-production for roughly a year. In our interview, Snyder and Goyer go into detail about how they sculpted this version of Superman’s origin story.
What were some of the challenges of taking on the Superman franchise? Why didn’t you include Lex Luthor in this first film?
David 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 but it’s an enormous responsibility. People have a proprietary relationship with Superman. A lot of people would say that’s my Superman but you would think there’s the Reeve Superman from the ’50s, the Fletcher Superman, Lois and Clark Superman, and the Donner Superman. It’s important to respect the iconography and respect the canon—Henry was talking about this earlier —but at the same time you have to tell a story. 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.
As a writer, what do you think is Kal-El’s ultimate struggle?
David Goyer: For me it was very simple… it’s a story about two fathers. While I was writing this script I became a stepdad 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 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. In the end, it’s kind of both that make him the man that he becomes.
One of the most simple sources of beauty in this film is the non-linear narrative. Why did you decide to go that route?
David Goyer: 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. That was a process that we started when Zack came on board and some of it shifted as we were moving along.
Zack Snyder: I think it’s fun to do it in a way…rather then…when he’s facing a decision you get to see the why on 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 Goyer: 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.
We keep hearing the term “Zack’s vision,” What were the magic words that got you this gig?
Zack Snyder: Kickback I think was the word. Debbie [Snyder] and I went and had lunch with Chris [Nolan] and Emma [Thomas] 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 of 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 straight forward and very confident and I think that’s what gave me this feeling of confidence that I felt like I can.
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 that just didn’t…..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 suppose 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.
The music in the film was great. Can you talk about how you guys came up with the score?
Zack Snyder: 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 say hey this would be a cool movie, we should make this Superman into a movie. Because we have sort 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 borrow this other stuff. We knew that everything was going to be from zero.
Man of Steel opens in theaters everywhere June 14.