'Superman' director Zack Snyder on the Man of Steel: 'He's the king of superheroes.'

Zack-SnyderImage Credit: Armando Gallo/Retna Ltd“Super-awesome. Super-excited.” Filmmaker Zack Snyder says the phrase at least three times in a brief conversation about his new film project: Superman, to be produced by Christopher Nolan, the director of Inception and The Dark Knight, and written by David S. Goyer, who also penned Batman Begins. Of course, “super-awesome” is one of the few things Snyder can say about the hush-hush endeavor, which Snyder will begin working on right after wrapping work on his upcoming sci-fi fantasy Suckerpunch, in theaters next March.

Synder first began talking with the Nolan and Thomas about helming a cinematic revamp of the DC Comics legend last month. “They’re just super-smart, super-educated about the character. It was an amazing conversation and it went from there,” says Snyder, whose current movie, the animated Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, is now in theaters “I’ve been a fan of the character for awhile. It’s really a treat and super-delight to do this.” He pauses, then adds with a laugh: “By the way: There’s going to be very little I can say here, just so you know.”

The movie — which will be financed by Warner Bros. and Legendary Films — has no cast, and no official start date. The last time Superman was on the big screen: 2006’s Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth and directed by X-Men’s Bryan Singer. The film grossed $391 million worldwide, but was considered a disappointment among comic book fans despite many admiring reviews. After discussing a possible sequel with Singer, Warner Bros. decided to take a step back and reassess. Earlier this year, the studio decided to bring in Nolan to produce a rebooted franchise and Goyer to write the script.

So what’s the Zack Snyder vision for Superman? Again, too early for him to say. But don’t expect the man who helmed the revisionist superhero epic Watchmen (adapted from the acclaimed comic saga by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons) to go all post-modern on the Man of Steel. “They are totally different characters, totally different worlds,” says Snyder. “I wouldn’t want to compare them at this point.”

Snyder’s comic book passions do run adult and edgy; he cites alternative, underground-minded comics like Heavy Metal and Cobalt 60 as formative influences. But he says he’s long had a keen interest in Superman, especially as a cultural icon. “I’ve followed Superman over the years,” he says. “I wouldn’t say I was a huge devotee, but I’ve kept an eye on the character in the pop culture, and as the pop culture has regarded him, for the past 10 years, especially. I think there’s a real opportunity here. He’s in the perfect place to do something.” When asked to elaborate, he says: “Think of where Batman was when Chris took that on earlier in the decade. I think Superman is in a very similar place, in terms of being available and in terms of his relationship to where the culture was at that time. Superman is right there. He’s ready. And can I be any more cryptic?”

Asked if he’s ready to take on another comic book franchise that will be eager anticipated — and intensely, obsessively scrutinized — by fans, Snyder says: “All I can is that this is super-awesome, and I’m super-excited, by every aspect of this. He’s Superman. He’s the king of the superheroes.”

Read more:
The Superman movie has a director, writer, and producer. But who should be the star?
Zack Snyder to direct ‘Superman’

Comments (104 total) Add your comment
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  • therealeverton

    Superman is what everyone thinks is king of the superheroes, like The Lion is king of the Jungle and the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Madonna were massive movie stars because they were always on the covers of magazines. I get the iconic thing but Superman has hardly ever been the most popular or best selling American Superhero, it was TV shows and such that meant he was recognisable. Less popular than Batman at Dc and, like everyone other than Batman, almost consistently outsold by any number of Marvel comics, from Spiderman to the X-Men since the 60s. Now with Marvel characters getting genuine big screen treatment since Blade and X-Men at the turn of the century; and with Marvel studios having created their Marvel Movieverse With Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and the rest of The Avengers trying to make Superman relevant, especially to the level that the media thinks he is, but that movie tickets and comic book sales show he isn’t and hasn’t been for some time.

    More to the point is it simply possible that nobody other than Christopher Reeve is capable of pulling of Clark Kent to such a degree that you can suspend disbelief in the nonsensical Glasses as a disguise bit. No one else has come close and none of them seem to get the Superman is the character, is the man, Kent and everything else is the act.

    • Brian

      VERY relieved he doesn’t want to deconstruct Superman.

    • Dave

      While Superman is not my favorite superhero, it’s obvious that he is actually the BEST superhero. Maybe he’s not as popular as some others like you point out, but Superman has the best superpowers and is more powerful than any other hero, thus making him the king of superheroes.

    • jj

      actually, you’re an idiot who pretends to be smart…superman and action comics have continued to be the best selling comics worldwide and in the us over 50 years…including the last 10….again, you’re an idiot pretending to know something you don’t

      • Dave

        JJ, you’re the one that actually has no idea what he’s talking about. Any comics fan will tell you that the Superman books are middling sellers, and have been for years. Anyone who doubts that can check the ICV2.com sales charts. The last time that Superman was NEAR the top with any consistency was in the early ’90s. In August, Superman was behind Brightest Day (a DC event that he isn’t in), multiple Avengers and X-Men titles, Justice League (of which he isn’t currently a member), Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, and Batman. The first Superman book doesn’t appear on the chart until #21, and that’s only because it’s part of an arc by well-known writer J. Michael Straczynski.

      • J.

        You’re forgetting that in the eyes of the general public (people who don’t exactly go to comic book stores) Superman is this mythic pop-cultural icon, whose history goes back over 70 years. Most people won’t cares if he sells comic books; they’re just looking for the next big reboot.

    • BlackIrish4094

      I love many various characters you listed above and i have to say: you are reading too much into this. For cultural purposes, Superman is indeed the King of superheroes and that was what he was saying. People like yourself overanalyze the fun out of everything.

      • J.


    • ajay C

      While I agree with your sentiment of Chris Reeves, let’s not forget that he only shined in the first two Superman movies. In other words, it’s not a difficult undertaking to find an actor who can do what Revees had done.

    • Brian

      I think Superman’s completely relevant, especially with so many other superheroes going so dark. Superman’s supposed to be the best any of us can strive to be–the inspiration to be better. That’s why he’s relevant, because he rises above the darker world and brings light to it.
      The reason his comics don’t sell well is because most writers don’t give him adequate challenges. They treat him like some perfect, infallible god instead of what he is–an alien raised by humans. His villains are totally fine, as long as the sense of scale is kept in check–they’re just as much of a threat to Superman as Batman’s villains are to Batman (and honestly, do you ever think Batman’s actually going to die? Of course not). Very few shows/movies have treated them as such (Smallville and the 90s Animated Series are two of the big ones who were successful in that area).

    • tim

      Lois said it perfectly in superman two. “you are a pretty tough act to follow” the samr can be said about christopher reeves

  • bitter gay mark

    Whats with this constant rebooting of films? Its getting rather tiresome, this trend of abject mediocrity… I mean have any of the “reboots” been any good at all? Or for that matter, actually MADE any money? At present, I am drawing a blank on both counts…

    • Brett

      “Star Trek”.

    • Jerry

      Those Batman films Nolan made have made a couple bucks from what I heard.

      • leemats

        And James Bond has been rebooted several times.

  • Brett

    Somewhere within that briar patch of words, a point was trying to be be made. It’s still unclear. But if therealeverton thinks Christopher Reeve was the only actor capable of pulling off Superman/Clark Kent, he’s giving short shrift to a lot of actors out there. Oh, and some would argue that you’ve got it backwards: Clark Kent is the man who puts on the persona of Superman. Clark was raised as Clark Kent. People claim that Bruce Wayne is simply a character that the Batman inhabits when he’s not fighting crime. But they claim the opposite of the Superman/Clark Kent dynamic.

    • Brian

      Personally, I prefer the Smallville approach: Superman and Clark Kent are both the real man, just two different sides of him. I think it’s a mistake to just pick one side–why give Clark such a unique origin at all if you’re going to do that? Clark’s Kryptonian and human sides should be equally developed, strong, and present in his Superman and Kent personas, respectively. It makes for a more interesting character.
      And especially when it comes to the Chris Reeve version, making Kent a bumbling cartoon really does do a disservice to humanity (though Reeve was brilliant in the technical aspects of that performance).
      For Batman, I would argue that both sides are simply the tools he uses to better Gotham, like they were in the 90’s Animated Series–Bruce is a respected, non-playboy do-gooder who tries to help people through his company and money, while Batman is the more direct approach to crime.

      • BlackIrish4094

        Smallville blows and doesn’t represent the universe these characters inhabit, it’s a seperate canon. It’s cool you like it but don’t try to make these movies like your corny show.

      • Brian

        Every show/movie series/cartoon/comics era is a separate canon. How is one any more representative of the universe than another? They’re all different takes on the source material.
        I don’t see why you would eliminate the chance for a more complex Clark/Superman by making one side of his personality a disguise just because Smallville has his Kryptonian and human sides equal. A good idea is a good idea, whether you like the show or not.

      • Sandy

        Even if you think Smallville is corny, it does bring up the question that Clark or Superman sometimes doesn’t make good choice, and he has darkness inside of him. It also gets a little X- file- ly with the alien and government side of it’s mythology. Having Lex Luthor obsessed with finding who the alien is or traveler is brings up a reason for him to hate superman and not be so one dimensional…

    • kyle_bc

      the thing is that Clark Kent doesn’t exist. if Superman is ever outed as Clark Kent, Clark Kent would cease to be. why keep putting the glasses on after that? Clark Kent is no more than a clever disguise. Superman is Kal El, plain and simple

    • tim

      I think people sometimes forget, Clark Kent is Superman’s discise. He superman all the time. Batman needs his custom. Spiderman is strong too with or without his custume, but that is from radiation.

  • Jeff

    They need to do whatever it takes to get Jon Hamm as Superman

    • jon

      He’s not the best choice, but is the most deserving: Tom Welling

      • darclyte

        He at least deserves SERIOUS consideration, and not just “lip service.”

    • John

      Jon Hamm is 39. I don’t want to see that guy trying on the suit at 45. Please, no. Also, could we at least get a guy over 6’2″ to play him? Superman is supposed to be a big guy.

  • Mike

    Jon Hamm all the way. FTW. Done. Boom pow, right in the kisser.

    • darclyte

      He’ll be 40 when this starts shooting next year. Much too old.

    • kyle_bc

      i want Ron Livingston from Office Space as Superman in the worst way.

  • Michael Sacal

    I have high hopes for this movie. I hope it doesn’t follow any of the comics from the last decade. The writers and editors responsible for them did nothing short of bending Superman over and having their way with him.

  • Renaton

    I’d love for Superman to be John Hamm, but I highly doubt they will resist making the character below his 30’s. Hollywood always wants their actors younger an younger in these reboots.

    • Michael Sacal

      Hamm as Lex Luthor works just fine.

      • TJ

        exactly… Hamm did a Lex Parody for Funny or Die a while back, and he works as Luthor… its just a matter of changing the tone from absurdist comedy to drama.

  • Patty

    Congratulations, Zack Snyder. You’ve just been handed the opportunity of a lifetime. Here are a few simple rules to remember: First, keep it simple. Second, keep the semblance of verisimilitude intact. Third, don’t, and I repeat, DON’T go dark. DON’T make him pessimistic or an angry god. And finally, don’t waste unnecessary money on casting a new Supes. You have one out there, and his name is Brandon Routh.

    • Nina

      I agree with everything except for casting Brandom Routh. He wasn’t excellent nor he was horrible. Routh was just kind of average. We need an actor to really own this role like Downey to Stark or Bale to Batman. Dean Cain, Tom Weiling and Christopher Reeve seemed to light up the screen and brought Superman to life. Routh just kind of flickered like a wavering flame. I felt like he was under so much pressure that he held back. We need an actor to carve out his own mark in the role.

      • Nina

        Oops! Spelling error mishap: Brandom should be Brandon.

      • Stephen Monteith

        Brandon Routh was an unknown, relatively untried actor thrust into the spotlight, trying to become the “king of superheroes” when he’d never even been a leading man before. Now, almost five years later, he’s grown as an actor and has a much wider range than before. And with Snyder as director instead of Singer, he’d be given more room to make the character “his own”.

  • Briana

    I am PUMPED!

    • darclyte

      Me too! Great creative team. I expect Goyer to come up with a very good script, and Nolan/Snyder to cast well.

  • Terry

    The problem with all the Superman movies dating back to the first Reeves movie, is they are always trying to put too much comedy in the films. Lex Luther has always been Superman’s bitter enemy because of what happened when they were teenagers, (losing his hair). To make him a comic, sardonic, figure takes away from the hatred he has always had for Superman. The closest portrayal to Clark Kent, that followed the comic Clark has always been George Reeves in the old Superman series. He never played Clark as a bumbler or coward, but as someone that was witty, charming and smart enough to fool Lois Lane. To have a successful re-boot, the writers have to look back at what has made Superman popular from the beginning. He is the hero that all the other comic characters look to as the best.

    • jon

      You can blame that on Richard Lester, the director who took over the series after the producers booted out Richard Donnor

      • commdoc

        Actually, the first film, directed by Donnor, began the campy take on Lex Luthor. Movie adaptations of classic superheroes Superman and Batman usually don’t know how to play it straight–thus Nolan’s faithful Batman movies demonstrated you don’t need camp to sell the story. This Nolan produced version could be the best.

      • Brian

        Nolan’s movies aren’t really faithful to the comics at all–Batman was off fighting vampires in some of his earliest appearances, for example. Supernatural and science-affected villains do exist in Batman’s comics world, and it’s better for it (as long as it doesn’t go overboard like the Schumacher Bat-films). There’s simply more variety. And Nolan’s Batman himself feels less like a superhero and more like a thug in a batsuit.
        Powers, gadgets, and a heightened reality don’t equal campy.

  • Anna

    Hmm I’m excited because I love Superman, but even with the great production team, if the right actor isn’t picked I’m going to have trouble getting on board… Jon Hamm I’m iffy about… I could see him as Lex though.

  • Shaun

    JON HAMM for Superman, PLEASE!! I’m not sold on Snyder as the director, but I trust Nolan’s judgment and guidance on this film. Just cast Hamm and all will be right. Or at least A LOT better than Stalkerman Returns was.

  • James

    I have not fallowed Smallville in a while, but I looked it up it being the Last Season and all and I was very impressed at how Tom Welling has grown into looking like a Viable Clark Kent as well as Superman. That Smallville Character is set to launch off and Become Superman at the close of the Series. It would be awesome to see him as Superman. Been preparing for for 10 Seasons. Now, I know they won’t, it would be a shame to have to retread and reboot over growing up in Smallville again, but I’m tellling you, I like he would be a great Superman

  • Gee, I can hardly wait.

    If it’s anything like his other movies, be prepared for an over indulgence in bullet-time flow-mo and a cast of actors who have zero chemistry with one another. Of course the pretty pictures will look like they come right out of a comics panel so the fundamentalist nerds (who can’t tell the difference between quantity and quality) will eat this “faithful” sh@t up like its candy.

    • jon

      That’s true what you say of Snyder’s previous movies, but I do have faith in Nolan’s judgment of picking him

    • BlackIrish4094

      Not to be overly picky but it’s not bullet time slow mo he uses it’s more ramping (speed up, slow down) stuff. I think Snyder will do a great job (although after Watchemen not sure why I have that confidence).

      • Gee, I can hardly wait.

        Whatever it is, it reeks of someone self-consciously screaming “LOOK HOW COOL MY MOVIE IS!”

  • JT

    Superman is one of the heros/characters that is waiting for the right script/director to come along in a Batman Begins way.

    There was hope with Superman Returns, but it wasn’t meant to be. One day they will get it right, but we may have to wait a while to see it.

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