Immersed in Movies: Snyder, Cavill and More Talk Unapologetic 'Man of Steel,' a Father's Day Superman Gift
- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from TOH
Capone says MAN OF STEEL flies off the screen with help from strong supporting players
- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from Ain't It Cool News
in Chicago here.
The point at which I knew that writer David S. Goyer, director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan were doing something very smart and very different with their version of Superman in MAN OF STEEL was early on, when we're having the history (it's not really an origin, in the classic superhero sense) of Kal-El (who will eventually grow up to be Clark Kent when he reaches Earth) revealed to us in flashback. In this version of events, the men and women of Krypton have advanced so far that natural birth is a thing of the past, and every child is genetically engineered for certain functions--leaders, scientists, warriors, etc. Kal-El's father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) is a scientist, and he and his wife (Ayelet Zurer) decide that their son will have a choice in his destiny, which will not be fulfilled on Krypton, which is a dying planet. They have a natural birth and send their son across the universe to Earth, with the literal future of Krypton resting with him (I won't explain that further).
What's inherently intelligent about this setup is that MAN OF STEEL's "villain" isn't a bad guy at all. General Zod (played with an intensity that seems branded to his face by Michael Shannon). Zod is a man whose entire existence is built around the idea of protecting the Kryptonian people, and when he learns that Kal-El's very being is the only thing standing in the way of him carrying out a function that is literally built into his DNA, he gets... frustrated and a little aggressive.
This aspect to the main storyline is just one of the reasons MAN OF STEEL works so well, and probably will continue to do so upon repeated viewings. There are layers to this that other superhero films have attempted on a much smaller scale, and I'm including Nolan's BATMAN movies, although THE DARK KNIGHT is still a superior film for different reasons.
I also fell hard for the idea that Clark's father (Kevin Costner, who hasn't dug into a role or my heart in this way in quite some time) is so intent on keeping his son safe that he talks young Clark (played at 9 by Cooper Timberline and 13 by Dylan Sprayberry; both do wonderful jobs) into not using his remarkable powers, even if it means saving the lives of dozens of people. There's a powerful moment you may have seen already after Clark saves a school bus filled with his classmates where the boy asks his father, "Should I have let them die?" to with Coster replies, "Maybe." Coster not only sells the line, but he makes us understand the sentiment. Clark's mother (Diane Lane) is largely silent while her husband is still alive, but when we see her in the present, she seems more agreeable to Clark taking on the role of hero.
As an adult, Clark (Henry Cavill from IMMORTALS and Showtime's "The Tudors") wanders the world picking up odd jobs as a laborer, but whenever he is forced to reveal his power to save someone, he immediately hightails it out of there for parts unknown. Aside from being ridiculously handsome, Cavill brings the right sense of torment and brooding to Clark. This is a man who is still haunted by his father's vision of his life of solitude. He also knows he's not of Earth, although I like that he clearly identifies himself as American.
Around the time that Zod and his team discover where Kal-El is residing, a smart veteran reporter named Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has caught wind of reports of someone out there exhibiting superhuman abilities in one town, then another, and she basically tracks him (or his mother) down using good, old-fashioned investigative tools. I love this version of Lois Lane. Not only is she a key player in the storyline (still taking orders, but doing so without being klutzy or screaming all the time) but she also makes for a worthy emotional partner for Superman, without stuff getting all mushy.
I can't believe I've made it this far without talking about Snyder's revelatory action sequences. I'm never seen fight scenes done this way, and when Superman and Zod go toe to toe on the streets and between the buildings of Metropolis (pretty much leveling the city--I can't even imagine the death toll), you can feel the screen vibrate with each impact. But as a result, watching the final third of MAN OF STEEL might simply wear you out, but that's hardly a complaint. The filmmakers do a credible job blending vintage characteristics of the Superman legend with some wonderfully modern elements (the sequences on Krypton were so beautiful that I hated to leave them). The changes to the Superman canon aren't anything I think die-hard fans are going to complain about, and even the sometimes corny dialogue that Clark says is pretty charming (remember, he's really just a boy from Kansas at heart).
I know part of the reason MAN OF STEEL was made in the first place is to set up a universe in which other characters from DC Comics can be added to the mix. Not that I'm not curious where these and other characters go from here, but I'm not here to judge this film as a jumping-off point. Simply as a stand-alone work, it's a glowing triumph that is perfectly paced, creatively designed, beautifully acted, and even has room for subtle elements to enhance its big-picture vision. Check out some nice supporting casting choices in Harry Lennix, Christopher Meloni and, of course, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White to see what I mean. You may find fault in small corners of this film, but the overall piece has so much going for it and is almost endlessly entertaining.
-- Steve Prokopy
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Mr. Beaks And David S. Goyer Go In Depth On MAN OF STEEL! Part One Of Two Action-Packed Interviews!
- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from Ain't It Cool News
Reinventions, reimaginations and reboots are the order of the day in modern Hollywood, especially when it comes to franchise building. For the most part, big-screen iterations of our major pop cultural icons have run their course in one way or another, passing out of fashion and thus requiring an overhaul to appeal to a new generation of movie fans with different expectations and a different way of processing media. Sometimes there is a logical progression with these characters (e.g. James Bond); others prove a little more resistant to change. And then there is Superman, who, despite the clever efforts of some great comic book writers over the last seventy-five years, has steadfastly remained Superman. How much can you reconfigure Superman and still have him be the good-hearted Superman people know and love?
This was the challenge taken up by David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder as they pressed forward on MAN OF STEEL, the first completely new big-screen take on the character introduced to the public in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The film is a bold departure from the old-fashioned mythologizing of Richard Donner's 1978 blockbuster; it emphasizes the science-fiction elements of Superman's origin in order to explore the notion of Kal-El as not just an outsider, but as a literal alien. While you've never seen Superman portrayed quite like this, what's important is that, by the end of the film, he is as much Superman as any other iteration of the character has been.
When I chatted with Goyer a couple of months ago for the premiere of his Starz series DA VINCI'S DEMONS, there was the promise that we'd have a nice, lengthy conversation about MAN OF STEEL once the film was released. Now that it is ours to examine and deconstruct, this promise has been honored, and I am pleased to present our wide-ranging conversation in two parts. The first part is without spoilers; everything discussed in the below interview has been officially disseminated by Warner Bros. I have therefore not included a spoiler warning anywhere in the piece. And yet I know people have different ideas about what constitutes a "spoiler", so if you're one of those people who feels like the trailers and commercials give too much away, perhaps you should avoid this until you see the movie. Everyone else should feel free to dig in.
In this interview, Goyer talks about how he found his way into the Superman universe, the nature of his collaboration with Nolan and Snyder, and the challenges of working in the shadow of Donner's film.
Mr. Beaks: I'm really impressed with how you've managed to give us a Superman who is both familiar and completely unlike any version of the character we've seen before. In many ways, I think Superman is the hardest superhero to get right.
David S. Goyer: It's, no pun intended, super hard, and not just because of the character and the boy scout potential. The only real public conception of Superman beyond the comic books is the Donner films - because the Singer film is basically Donner redux. I'm not saying that's good or bad, that's just what he intended to do. But it feels like Superman has been preserved in amber since 1978, so it was a really daunting task. It's been interesting to see people's reactions; they're generally very positive, but a couple of people... it seems to be the people who liked the Singer film don't like this one, and vice-versa. We knew it would be a complicated and daunting task, and we didn't realize how daunting until we were in it. All of the decisions going into updating the "S" or whether to use the underwear or whether to use the spit curl, every little thing became this subject of controversy - even more so than Batman. And yet we all felt that if Superman couldn't be sort of reinvented, then he might never be reinvented.
When we were doing BATMAN BEGINS, there was initially some resistance to what we were doing before the movie came out. But gradually, as some of the promotional materials came out, people became more and more acclimated to how this might be different from their expectations. I was going back and reading some of this, and people freaked out about the Tumbler. Now you compare the Tumbler to the Burton Batmobile, and no one wants to go back to the Burton Batmobile. I love the Burton film, but you realize there's just resistance to change, even if the change ultimately fits the times. And then there's the secondary question of whether or not we did it right.
Beaks: I think that your leeway with Batman was so much greater because the franchise had been run into the ground.
Goyer: That's true.
Beaks: Whereas Superman has been left up in the air. While the Singer film has its fans, no one really knew what to do with it. It was this uncertain thing of "Do we stay in the Donner-verse? Do we continue to use Brandon Routh?" He was good, I thought. The movie is not terrible, but what is it exactly, and how do you build off of it?
Goyer: That film came out in 2006. I took my nieces to see that film, and my nieces were like ten and twelve. They hadn't seen the Donner films, and they were totally confused. They were like, "Where's he been? What's he doing?" They didn't understand. It was interesting. And I remember sitting down with Chris and later with Zack, and saying, "You realize that a giant chunk of our audience wasn't born when the Donner film came out, and they might not have ever seen it. They might not have even seen SUPERMAN RETURNS!"
Beaks: I'm old enough to remember people having problems with SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. Otis was a hugely divisive character, and people didn't like the goofy tone of Luthor's exploits. Expectations are tough. Each fan has a fixed idea of what they want from a Superman or a Batman movie to the point where it's a no-win proposition in a way. So I think you have to speak to the greater mythos of the character, and get the essence right.
Goyer: That's what we did. As Zack has said, "No detail was too small." Every aspect was talked about and debated, whether or not we should modify it. No matter how successful the film is, I know there will be detractors who will be dissatisfied because we didn't use the John Williams score, or because we didn't have the underwear. But that way lies madness. There's a huge chunk of the audience that doesn't care whether we use the underwear. And Zack said, "If you decide you're going to do something new, and you're going to act as if the prior Superman films didn't exist" - which is what we did with Batman - "You can't then just cherry pick certain aspects of the previous iteration because then it becomes confusing." Some people say we could've used the John Williams score. That would've sent a completely mixed message.
Beaks: What is the process like at Warner Bros when you're making a Superman movie? When you come in and say, "I have this new take on the character," how protective are they? How difficult is it to set in motion an actual Superman film, to actually get it before cameras?
Goyer: It's a much different proposition if you've got Christopher Nolan as your godfather. Chris is in a unique position at Warner Bros. I believe he's the most successful filmmaker they've ever had. He'd already had huge success reinventing Batman. I'd heard tangentially that different people were still percolating about trying to make a Superman film post-Bryan Singer. Just like everyone else, I'd heard that he was going to possibly develop a sequel. And I had heard rumors that various things were being talked about or possibly in the works. But when Chris heard my take, the process went pretty quickly. There was relatively little interference. I think they had an enormous amount of confidence in Chris and, to a lesser extent, me because we were the team that had done it initially on BATMAN BEGINS. So I could certainly see how, from their perspective, talking to their shareholders, "Hey, no one's going to throw fruit at them. Let these guys take a crack at it." On the face of it, it seems to make sense. And then they liked the script that I wrote.
Beaks: How long did it take from treatment to script?
Goyer: I spent about six months on it, which is more than I normally do.
Beaks: Intensively on this script? Nothing else?
Goyer: Yeah, and it was a really difficult script for me to write. I remember when I sat down to actually start writing page one. I'd written maybe twenty pages of notes and outlines and things like that, but I just got severe writer's anxiety. I was like, "Oh, my god, I can't take the pressure!" The first scene I wrote was the scene in which Jor-El and Lara give up baby Kal. And I said, "Alright, I'm going to write it initially as if they're not on Krypton. I'm going to write it generically as two parents that have to give away their son. The kid could be saved from the concentration camps... whatever." I just wrote it like that. And from the emotion of "What would it be like to give birth to your son, and then half an hour later have to put him in a pod and hope that he won't get killed?" I wrote that scene, and it felt emotionally right to me. And from that point onward, anytime I was writing something that was heavy science-fiction or involved crazy superpowers, I would write the scene as if Krypton didn't exist first, and then I would go back in and add the science-fiction stuff. That was the way that I found that I could make it make sense and relatable, I guess.
Beaks: Given that the Donner film starts on Krypton, were you concerned with starting your script there as well?
Goyer: No, only because I knew that we were going to be on Krypton much more than the Donner film. I think in the first draft we were on Krypton for thirty-five pages, and I knew that our intention was to depict a truly alien world and culture. I had even written an appendix that described Kryptonian religion and Kryptonian history, and some of that stuff got embedded into the production design and costumes and things like that. Then once the production designer and costume designer came on board, we would workshop this backstory as well for the culture. So I was less worried about that because I knew we would be depicting much more of an alien world. I also knew that our depiction of the world was so far removed from the kind of crystal structure. I thought once people saw our Krypton, that wouldn't be relevant. What did you think?
Beaks: It wasn't the design of Krypton so much as the handheld aesthetic that surprised me. I felt thrust into the middle of that world.
Goyer: Zack gets all the credit in the world for that. When I first met with Zack... he met with Chris first. He read the script, then he met with Chris, and then Chris called me and said, "I think we're going to go with Zack." Then Zack came in and met with me, and Zack said, "I think I'm going to shoot most of the film handheld, and only one camera at a time." And I got really excited because... look, I like 300 a lot and I like WATCHMEN, but Zack had developed this style that was mostly set-based, a lot of greenscreen and a lot of high-speed photography. And he said, "I want to shoot it much more vérité, even the stuff on Krypton." That's when I knew Zack was the right guy. I had never met Zack before, but I said, "Wow! That just immediately reframes it." At one point, I had written some scenes that involved dilating time and showing Superman grabbing bullets out of the air like The Flash, and Zack said, "He could do that, but I'm not going to shoot it that way. I sort of want to do it from the perspective of a human." You've seen the fight scenes, and I just thought that was a really smart decision on Zack's part.
Beaks: Another thing I wanted to get into about approaching Superman is that, while it can be viewed as an immigrant's tale, you've presented it primarily as a first contact story. This way, it becomes more of a science-fiction film.
Goyer: But Superman was always a science-fiction story. He comes from an alien world, he arrives here in a UFO. It doesn't mean that there aren't these other elements.
Beaks: Right, but the science-fiction-y details here, like the Codex, are really specific. These are things that were broad-brushed in the films. I guess the comics could get more specific...
Goyer: Although sometimes even in the comics... I'll give you an example. One of the things that was broad brushed in the films and even in the John Byrne comics... it always bothered me that Jor-El just knew about Earth. I remember in the John Byrne version, there's this panel where Jor-El is talking, and on a screen to Lara there is this picture of farmers in Kansas in overalls with pitchforks full of wheat. I just thought, "How does Jor-El know Earth exists? How does he know that his son can survive the atmosphere?" At the very least, it suggests that at some point prior to this Krypton had had unmanned satellites or space probes or things like that. For us, if you start down this path, if you're going to treat it in a more realistic way as a science-fiction film, then you just have to follow everything to its logical conclusion. My first thought was, "Wow, at the very least there must be unmanned space probes near Earth." Then my next question was, "But if there are unmanned space probes near Earth in recent memory, why can't the Kryptonians gets off Krypton before it is destroyed?" So I thought, "What if we set it back in the past? What if they used to be spacefaring, and they used to have space colonies?" If you look to Earth's history, our history is filled with examples of empires that set out and established colonies, and then those colonies faltered because they stopped being resupplied with food and money, whether it was because the homeland collapsed or there was a political reason. So I said, "Okay, if they used to be spacefaring, for a variety of reasons that colony program was scrapped, and all the outposts were left to wither and die, then I understand how they could've discovered Earth." That led me to the exciting idea of "What if one of these probes had landed on Earth 20,000 years ago, and that becomes the genesis of the Fortress of Solitude." And that leaves open a possibility: I'm sure not every single colony collapsed. Some of them might've been self-sustaining out there in the universe. So maybe one day we can find some other Kryptonians.
Beaks: At what point did you come up with the Codex?
Goyer: Again, one of the things that I wanted to do was depict Krypton as truly alien, and I liked the idea that Byrne had suggested, that Kryptonians were not gestated in the womb. I think he called them "birth matrices". I liked a lot of what Byrne did when he reinvented Superman in the '80s. I believe he was the first to suggest that Kryptonians might've been gestated outside of the womb, and I thought that was interesting. Then we started talking about Krypton being more like a BRAVE NEW WORLD society, where they were genetically bred and there was a caste system; you've got warriors that are seven or eight feet tall, and scientists that are bred for different things. There's much more of a sense of predestination on Krypton, and that led to the idea of what would the Phantom Zone villains want. We never bought the idea that they just want revenge on Jor-El's kin. It's a long way to go, especially if the world doesn't exist anymore.
We determined early that we didn't want to have kryptonite. It doesn't mean it doesn't exist in this universe, or that it might not happen in later films, but we didn't want to use it in the film because I always thought it was a real crutch - as did Denny O'Neil when he got rid of kryptonite in the late '60s and early '70s. So if you decide to go down that path, you have to ask, "What are his weaknesses?" Yes, there's Martha or Lois, his allegiances to other human beings, but what we wanted to do was put Kal in this situation where, no matter what he did, he had a terrible choice to make. So we came up with the idea that what the Phantom Zone villains have the opportunity to do is to revive the Kryptonian race, but the knock-on effect of that is that humans will die - not because they're tyrants or despots, but just because that's the way it is. We thought that was an interesting moral quandary to put Superman in. To my mind, it felt very original. I can't think of another comic that's done that. Maybe there is.
Beaks: It puts humans in the position of being like Native Americans.
Goyer: Not only that. If white settlers had come over here and the Native Americans who were here... well, obviously the white settlers just said, "Screw it. We're taking over." White settlers did the same in Australia with the aborigines. But if the choice were literally, "The two can't coexist," there would be no question. It wouldn't be a moral thing for the settlers; it would just be, "Hey, it's you or us." I thought that was an interesting quandary to put Kal in.
Beaks: Which is all the more interesting because, as we see in your flashback structure, Kal/Clark is so out of place. He's incredibly unhappy, and has limited connection to humans. Does he have an allegiance to them in general? Throughout the film, we're not sure how he feels about humans.
Goyer: There have been lots of stories where you have an outsider, and it takes an outsider to teach humans how to be human. A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and things like that. In some ways, that's the story of Jesus. Gilgamesh is the same story in some ways. That was the goal. A lot of people were initially worried, I think, that because we were involved in the Batman trilogy that we would do this emo, dark, brooding Superman. I don't see MAN OF STEEL as dark and brooding. It is more serious, but I also think it's fundamentally a hopeful film, and we didn't betray the DNA of the character.
Beaks: The decision to show Kal being overwhelmed by his surroundings because of his heightened vision and hearing is something I don't think I've seen before in Superman.
Goyer: And forgive me because, if it has, I don't remember it either. I haven't read every single Superman comic book. There may be some instances where I did something similar to a comic, and it was just created independently.
Beaks: But that struck me as a bold and frightening choice. That's awfully intense for a Superman movie.
Goyer: Well, our process - and this is kind of Chris's process. He's a big proponent of this. You just have to track thing back to the roots or their logical conclusion. If he can potentially hear people from a mile away, he's going to hear a lot of unwanted things. He's going to hear, as a kid, people talking about him; he's going to hear too much and see too much. He's going to see through walls. He's going to see naked people when he shouldn't. He's going to see all sorts of things. Hell, he might see his parents naked. But I think that's interesting. And it strikes me that one of the things he would've had to have learned how to do is filter that information. He's getting too much, and I think initially it would've been too painful. Probably those abilities developed gradually, but also he had time to develop a normal way of dampening them down when he needed to - and the knock-on effect of that is once the Phantom Zone villains are exposed to our environment, they're developing new abilities, but they haven't had the time to develop defenses. We thought that was interesting, too: on one hand, they're equalized. I think Zod and Faora say that effectively he's become "soft" because he has been living amongst the humans. But living amongst the humans has also given him this ability to dampen his senses, and they don't have that ability.
Beaks: In figuring out your portrayal of Zod and Faora, was there a previous version of those characters from the comic books that you favored?
Goyer: I have to be honest: not really. The only version of Zod in the comic books that I've liked was the one that Geoff Johns did relatively recently. He did a story arc in ACTION COMICS that he co-plotted with Donner, and I liked that take on the Phantom Zone villains. But in the comic books, I never thought they did him justice very often. They have more recently. Also, [DC] knew a while back where we were going with the film, so they've sort of steered some stuff in that direction. Once we were shooting, or the film was greenlit... we did have a couple of meetings with Dan DiDio and Jim Lee and Geoff Johns. If given the opportunity to tack in relatively the same direction, they'd love to do that. They knew we were introducing a new costume, which led to, I believe, the new Jim Lee version, where they're introducing a new costume.
Beaks: MAN OF STEEL is kind of relentless in its pace and action. Was that a reaction to SUPERMAN RETURNS being criticized by some fans for being light on action?
Goyer: It wasn't in reaction to SUPERMAN RETURNS. When I came up with this take, it was very much the version I wanted to see as a person who's watched those films, who watched the Donner film, watched the Singer film, watched LOIS & CLARK back in the '90s, watched some SMALLVILLE and read a lot of the comic books. I would say that the finished film is seventy-five percent like the first draft that I had written. All the characters and everything are there. I really just wrote the movie I wanted to see, and one of the things I wanted to see was more action. I also wanted to see Clark Kent in action. And I wanted to see, once I knew I was using the Phantom Zone villains, a level of destruction that I'd never seen in a superhero film before, as would happen if you had people with those kinds of powers fighting. And then Zack loves action of course. But we didn't add action once Zack came on board; in fact, we even cut an action sequence out. As big as the movie is, there was one more action sequence, and we just didn't need it. It was too much. Initially, when the Phantom Zone villains arrive, they give an example of the kind of destruction they can mete out if their demands aren't met. That was a six or seven page sequence that was crazy, but we just felt it wasn't necessary.
Beaks: How about the balance of the two father figures?
Goyer: I think Kevin [Costner] had said that Jor-El gives Kal his DNA, but Jonathan gives Kal his moral compass. I'd determined fairly early on that it would be the tutelage of both men combined that turned Clark or Kal into Superman. And that I related to from becoming a stepfather and a father while I was writing this script. I was dealing with my stepson, and having conversations with him where he would be mad at me and say, "I don't have to listen to you. You're not my dad." That's where that one scene in the film comes from, almost verbatim. So I was dealing with these issues of nature vs. nurture, what it must be like for a kid to have two fathers, and what it's like for a stepfather who's helped raise a kid but also knows he's not his biological father. I thought it was interesting that Jonathan was the one who says to Clark, "You're going to have to make a decision, and it's going to have to be an intentional decision, when you decide to introduce yourself to the world, because there are going to be vast repercussions." I think intuitively, John felt his son wasn't ready to do that, he wasn't mature enough to introduce himself to the world. And what's interesting to me is that later on the film Jor-El - the artificial intelligence of Jor-El, the ghost of Jor-El or whatever you want to call it - is the one who says to him "Now you're ready." All of that was intentional. It takes two fathers to make a Superman, I guess. And mom gives a lot of input, too.
Beaks: I like how involved Martha is in this film.
Goyer: That was another thing that had always bothered me, is this idea that no one would ever, especially if they were aliens, be able to figure out that Superman might've been from Smallville. I just thought it would be interesting to threaten Smallville itself and Martha. If you're attempting to apply pressure to someone like Superman, that would be the best way to pressure him.
Beaks: One thing that surprised me is that this Superman universe feels compatible with Nolan's Batman universe. I could see how Superman exists in that universe.
Goyer: From Chris's perspective, they are separate. He's said that various times. They're separate. The Batman films exist in their own universe. But I think it's a testament to how hard we tried to make Superman relatable that you feel that they could be in the same universe.
Beaks: I'm not looking for you to speak for Chris, but just in my mind, playing it forward twenty or thirty years down the line, I was like, "I could see where we get to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS from here."
Goyer: Well, look... I can only speak to things Chris and Zack have already said. Chris has already said that his Batman films are their own complete universe, and that Batman is the only superhero within that universe. But Zack has said that a version of Batman/Bruce Wayne could exist within the MAN OF STEEL universe. He put "Wayne Enterprises" on the side of a satellite Zod trashes in the movie, in the same way you see a LexCorp tower in the background. That's Zack's way of saying that he would be open to a shared universe.
Beaks: How much have you thought of what you would do with Luthor?
Goyer: It would be disingenuous to say that we haven't talked about it. We sometimes sit around the set for hours at a time while we're waiting for a shot to be set up. Zack and I are big aficionados of those comic books, but it's nothing more than musing. I know Warner Bros would love to do more with the universe, but the film's ten days from opening, and I think everyone just wants to make sure we don't get too cocky.
Beaks: Did the studio apply any pressure about using Luthor in this film?
Goyer: They really didn't. The one thing we benefitted from on this film was that Chris had always wanted to approach the Batman films one at a time. He had always encouraged, whether it was me or Jonah, or, later on, Zack and me, to act as if there won't be another film, to put all of your best ideas in there. Occasionally, we would come up with a notion and say, "You know, down the road we could possibly do A, B or C." And Chris would say, "Look, if you can find a way to do it in this movie, do it, because you don't know if there's going to be another movie. Don't save anything." The inverse of that is sometimes you have to take a certain stand, and maybe you write yourself into a corner. There were a couple of instances on BATMAN BEGINS where we didn't know for sure that there was going to be a DARK KNIGHT, and Chris didn't want to engage in the idea of planning ahead. He really wanted to focus on the one film. So we really didn't start talking about THE DARK KNIGHT until two or three months after BATMAN BEGINS had opened. The same thing happened after THE DARK KNIGHT RISES [after THE DARK KNIGHT], except it was even longer; it might've been four months after. And there were a couple of times when I felt, "Oh, I wish we hadn't said that!" But it's hard to argue with Chris's approach. By the same token, those movies have an integrity to them. I think for Chris, and I'm just basing this on little things he's said here and there, I think he feels that the Batman films and hopefully MAN OF STEEL have a timelessness and a broad appeal beyond the core comic book crowd. Obviously, THE AVENGERS was not just the core comic book crowd. You can do easter eggs that might appeal to a certain segment of that audience, but if you try to make a film that's too much for that audience, I think you lose the broad audience.
Beaks: And you cheapen it.
Goyer: You get into the territory of sequel bait. There's a fanboy aspect of my personality that enjoys those kinds of things, but I also, as a moviegover, sometimes have a negative reaction to things that are obviously sequel bait, where I feel I'm being played too much.
This is the end of Part One. The last part of our discussion covers everything right up to the last scene in the film, so you definitely shouldn't read it until you've seen the film. We also talked about Season Two of DA VINCI'S DEMONS, the status of the 100 BULLETS show Goyer is trying to bring to television, and the possibility of Krypto appearing in MAN OF STEEL 2. It's damn good stuff.
So is MAN OF STEEL. Get out and see it this weekend.
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- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from TOH
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- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from TOH
Capone's Art-House Round-Up with the documentaries DIRTY WARS, SOMM, and PANDORA'S PROMISE
- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from Ain't It Cool News
in Chicago here, with a few films that are making their way into art houses or coming out in limited release around America this week (maybe even taking up one whole screen at a multiplex near you). Do your part to support these films, or at least the good ones…
There are times while watching writer and subject Jeremy Scahill's documentary DIRTY WARS that I thought, "This is simply too much to endure." And I wasn't referring to the sheer volume of information that is given to us in this film about a substantial and elaborate covert military force known as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), an organization that is sanctioned by the president but essentially runs itself and justifies its existence by creating kill lists of enemies of America (including a few US citizens living abroad) and systematically kills the people on its every-growing list. Not surprisingly, JSOC's crowning achievement was the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Scahill is a highly regarded investigative journalist for The Nation and author of a detailed book about the mercenary army known as Blackwater. The film begins as Scahill is sent to locations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he kept hearing about these mysterious night raids that would result in the taking or killing of specific targets, but often would see many innocent civilians killed as well. Soon Scahill is traveling to places such unstable locations like Yemen and Somalia to find out more about these raids and who exactly carried them out. As much as his discoveries are jaw dropping, his skills as an investigator are remarkable and just as fascinating from a cinematic perspective.
The closer the Scahill gets to his truth, the more isolated and paranoid he begins to feel. He finds out his computer has been hacked, and he gets mysterious phone calls from potential confidential sources, who might also be trying to set him up. Directed by Rick Rowley, there are many shots of Scahill looking pensive, worried, tired, thoughtful, but based on what he goes through in this film, the looks seem earned. Even his narration takes on a surprisingly personal tone; he is in no way attempting to be unbiased about what he's discovering. It goes against everything he's grown up believing in what the United States and its military is supposed to do in its efforts to protect the country. What he's learning is challenging and destroying what he believes in freedom and justice, right and wrong. And it will demand that you do the same.
The film also covers the talkshow rounds that he made with this information and what he uncovered about Blackwater, including one where Jay Leno asks him, "How are you still alive?" A fair question, and one that the Scahill doesn't think about too much, lest he get even more paranoid than he already is. DIRTY WARS is absolutely captivating, essential viewing, and it makes it clear that political parties and who's in charge of the country doesn't really matter when it comes to the war on terror. Is JSOC a necessary evil, or is it the cause of future evils to come? Killing innocents leads to hostility in other nations that in turn fuels the birth of new enemies. It's an ugly, dangerous cycle that seems never-ending, and it's the reason this film is both difficult to watch and so very important to understand.
I'm kind of a sucker for documentaries about food, chefs, anything having to do with higher-end restaurants, probably because I know I'll never have the chance to truly experience these things and places myself to any large degree. But even I was impressed and caught up in the drama of a small group of sommeliers studying for the ultimate challenge of acquiring the knowledge and skills it takes to become a certified Court of Master Sommelier. The exam to get to this level is only given once a year, and only a small number of the 50 or so who attempt the combination taste test, theory and service exam actually are tapped to become members of this elite group, who almost immediately go on to get incredible jobs in the service or wine industry.
But the real thrill of the documentary SOMM isn't the test (although that's a close second). What absolutely drew me in was the obsessional lengths these (mostly) men went through to memorize every aspect of wine making imaginable. And to watch one of these "somms" go through a tasting is unforgettable, especially when they get it right in makeshift competitions among their peers. Partying with these guys is a whole other adventure.
Directed by Jason Wise, SOMM also dives into the personal lives of these contenders, who openly discuss (as do their significant others) the strain that preparing for the Master Exam has on their lives and relationships. Both parties look forward to the sommelier passing so that the piles of flashcards and hours of studying per day will go away. I'll admit, I was surprised who out of the group Wise follows is earns their title and who doesn't this time around. I won't say why because the drama is so wonderfully executed, I wouldn't want to ruin it. Cameras are not allowed in the actual exams, but we get to hear the sommeliers compare notes, especially on the wine tasting results, and it's clear immediately that some in the group got many wrong.
With nearly unlimited access to this process, great interviews with longtime Master sommeliers, and a glimpse of the mindset it takes to get to this level of perfection, SOMM is a fun and tense experience that will make you want to line up the wine and start downing glasses just to relieve the stress.
One of the rarest of all issue-driven documentaries are ones in which people who were once on one side of a hotly contested issue switch over to the other side and openly admit it. And yet in the truly thought-provoking film PANDORA'S PROMISE, there are several such educated environmental experts, all of whom are quite nervous about not just global warming but the painfully slow pace America is going to slow emissions to the point where it might actually make an impact. But these folks aren't changing their minds about global warming; they're changing it on the role nuclear power generation will play in slowing a climate meltdown.
Gathering a group of one-time anti-nuclear activists, director Robert Stone has, as the title suggests, opened a can of worms on the topic of this clean, non-CO2-emitting power source that will do a job that wind- and solar-driven energy simply can't do enough to effectively end the country's use of coal and natural gas. And as the world sees more and more third-world nations rise up to join the rest of us as car-driving, energy-using locations, the global warming issue is only going to get worse, according to experts.
PANDORA'S PROMISE examines the process that each activist and expert went through from anti-nuclear to pro-nuclear thinking. People like Michael Shellenberger, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas and Richard Rhodes clearly are as stunned about their turnaround as those who followed them still are, in many cases. But after doing extensive research on the true, measurable, well researched effects of nuclear disasters recently in Japan, as well as legendary ones at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, they have come to the determination that the aftereffects weren't nearly as terrible as they once believed, and the risk is worth it when put next to the much worse impact if nuclear isn't used.
Those profiled understand that nuclear power has always had an unfair link to atomic weapons, but one of the biggest eye openers in the film is that a huge percentage of the nuclear material that is used currently in US power plants comes from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons that these companies purchased, to the point where the former Soviet Union has no such weapons left. These long-feared devices are lighting our homes with no detriment to the environment. If ever there was a film and subject worthy of serious, fact-driven discussion, it is PANDORA'S PROMISE, which backs up its controversial ideas with facts, which don't hold as much stock in the world as they once did, but now is as good a time as any to change that.
-- Steve Prokopy
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Schwarzenegger Confirmed For EXPENDABLES 3!!
- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from Ain't It Cool News
This comes as no particular surprise, but Arnold Schwarzenegger has confirmed his appearance in the third EXPENDABLES film - he says he'll begin filming in August. This per TheArnoldFans website.
While some of the film's casting doesn't appear to be finalized at this time, it's looking like Schwarzenegger will be joining Mel Gibson, Milla Jovovich, Wesley Snipes, Nicolas Cage, and possibly Jackie Chan - all of whom are being added into the returning mix of established franchie regulars (Stallone, etc).
Patrick Hughes (RED HILL) will direct this time around. Look for EX3 Summer 2014.
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MAN OF STEEL Writer David Goyer On Future MOS/DC Movie Possibilities!!
- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from Ain't It Cool News
With MAN OF STEEL exploding onto screens this weekend and already breaking records, it's impossible not to wonder where the Superman franchise - and other DC properties which might be destined for the big screen - might be headed.
David Goyer offers some insight into this matter in a set of recent interviews.
Regarding Bruce Wayne/Batman's appearance in their newly defined SupermanVerse, Goyer says...
Zack [Snyder] has said that Bruce Wayne exists in this universe. It would be a different Bruce Wayne from Chris’ [Nolan] Dark Knight trilogy, and it would be disingenuous to say that Zack and I haven’t had various conversations on set, around ‘what if’ and ‘moving forward’.
Warner Bros has hopes that there will be more Man Of Steel films, and that this will be the beginning of a shared universe. We could meet Batman, or Wonder Woman, or the Justice League in these movies. But they all hinge on box office reception.
This per HeyUGuys.
Over at DenOfGeek, Goyer expands upon what kind of Luthor we might see should another MoS movie evolve.
Previous depictions of Lex Luthor on film depict him as a bit bumbling. Even though Gene Hackman's depiction was fun, we've indicated with Lexcorps that you can infer that Lex in this world is more a Bill Gates or Rupert Murdoch like character. He's probably a multi, multi billionaire. He's not a crook.
I won't give anything specific away here, but I will say that MAN OF STEEL is seeded with at least one overt and one rather subtle shout-out to the possibilities mentioned above. So, they were indeed thinking ahead, as Goyer indicates. As this weekend will clearly determine so much about when, or if, or how we'll see further DC universe on the big screen, it'll be fascinating to see how MoS performs - which already looks hugely promising given current numbers.
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Trailer Watch: J.D. 'Salinger' Documentary Digs Into the Mystery of the Enigmatic Author
- 14 June 2013
- Curated by SW from TOH