Man Of Steel: Producers Debbie Snyder and Charles Roven

Man Of Steel producers Deborah Snyder (yes, she’s the director’s other half) and Charles Roven (of the Dark Knight trilogy fame) talk about the crafting of a Superman not just for a new era, but perhaps for a new universe as well, with Man Of Steel .

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Zack Snyder – why was he the right director for the job?

CR: “He’s just an amazing filmmaker. He’s got amazing cinematic visual skills. He can do things that are really jawdropping in terms of his ability to understand in his mind's eye what something’s 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. Just when you think that Zack is out of the trick arrows in his quiver he pulls something out again and reinvents something. Not reinvents; invents something.”

DS: “And he’s super-hard-working. I mean, he draws. When we finish our work day he goes home and draws and he draws every single frame of the script. It takes him months. And everyone’s always like, ‘Are you done?’ and I’m like, ‘He’s been in meetings the whole day and then he got up at four in the morning and he started drawing.’

“He really makes the movie when he’s drawing it, so that when he gets on set he really can deal with the performances and the actors and his enthusiasm is endless. Whatever time, he’s always up so 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 and I think in turn they can trust him because they know he has planned it all out.”

CR: “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.”

How did Zack work alongside Christopher Nolan?

DS: “Being a director himself and knowing what that’s like made Chris an amazing producer because he was totally supportive once he knew what Zack’s vision was; he was totally supportive of that. And always there to balance things, you know. I think it was a really unique opportunity for both of them because for producers, I get to work with many producers on projects so I always have partners that I can bounce things off of. But for directors they don’t really get to interact with other directors, especially in this manner, so I think it was a very unique and, in terms of Zack’s point of view, a very positive, amazing experience to be able to collaborate with Chris.”

When did Man Of Steel stop being just a Superman reboot, but a potential stepping stone to a Justice League movie as well?

DS: [Laughs] “Well, I’m sure the studio would have said from the very beginning! Listen, I think our goal always was to make Superman relevant again. There’s a whole generation of kids that wear the t-shirt but don’t necessarily know who this guy is. That was our focus. Whether other people had other notions… I mean, we know that he is part of a greater universe, that he is the pinnacle of the DC universe and obviously there are little easter eggs in the film that nod to that but our focus was on telling his story the right way.”

CR: “I think the simplest way is to put it this way: 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 was some other writer/directors who were involved with other incarnations; I don’t know how far they got. We weren’t involved with them. So that was obviously a big agenda and well it should be. DC comics has Justice League , Justice League can be a big brand.

“With Chris’s Dark Knight trilogy, his universe was just Batman and there was no other DC heroes. In the creation of Man Of Steel , it wasn’t: ‘Let’s make sure it’s a stepping-stone.’ It was: ‘Don’t put us in the same box as the Dark Knight trilogy and preclude the possibility – let’s put in a couple of easter eggs and who knows what can happen?’ Our willingness to do that, our desire to do that, has taken on a life of its own.”

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Why hasn’t Justice League worked out so far?

CR: “Gosh, that’s a really good question. I thought that the George Miller movie was going to happen. I thought that movie was going to go, it went way down the road. They did casting. I honestly don’t know what caused Warner Bros to pull the plug on that one.”

DS: “Nor do I.”

CR: “Like I said, we did have discussions back then and it was very clear that the Chris Nolan Dark Knight universe was its own self-contained universe and the movie of Justice League was going to have a different Batman. It was never going to be Christian.”

DS: “And maybe that was the problem too because I think it’s hard for two things to exist in the same world. I think that’s difficult.”

With two guys playing Batman at the same time?

DS: “Yeah, I think that’s a difficult concept, just personally.”

CR: “But we never had a conversation where somebody said, ‘Hey guys, we’re going to pull the plug on this if you’re not going to let Christian Bale be in it.’ That conversation did not happen. So there must have been – I’m not saying that they didn’t talk about it – but I am saying that never entered our discussions and I honestly have no idea why George Miller’s movie never got made. It could have been budget, it was extremely expensive.”

Are all those guys who take snaps and make videos during the filming a pain you’d like to see the back of, or a bonus in that it’s all free marketing?

DS: “I’d like it to stop. 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, and in and around barricades and that’s dangerous. But also sometimes – whether we do a colour treatment or whether we do something in visual effects – what they actually shoot on the set might not be an indication of what the final product will be. So it’s a little premature for it to be commented on. The buzz, you know whether it’s positive or negative, doesn’t necessarily always accurately represent what the film’s going to be.

“And if 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.”

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What were some of the more bizarre rumours you heard about Man Of Steel ?

CR: “Well, we’ve heard some insane rumours all along the way. I heard a rumour that we had Lex Luthor in the movie and we cut him out of the movie.” [Laughs]

DS: “Or that, we have a character, an intern called Jenny, who was actually Jimmy Olsen! That we had replaced Jimmy Olsen with Jenny. She’s just a character.”

CR: “For us, we ultimately really want the audience to go to the movie and be thrilled by what they see and not know too much about the story that they are going to see. That ruins it. So even if some rumours are right, we don’t want to comment on those because there are so many that are wrong. It’s a double edged sword, all of that buzz, it really is. You love the fact that the fans have that keen interest and you certainly don’t want that to go away but you also need to make sure that you hold their interest in perspective and don’t let it deter you from what the focus is of the path you are going down otherwise you’re just going to have a mash-up.”

Man Of Steel is on release now.

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Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.