Casting Screenplay & Production
The actors that were on the shortlist for the role of Superman before Henry Cavill was finally cast are as follows:
- Matthew Goode
- Armie Hammer
- Matt Bomer
- Joe Manganiello
- Zac Efron
- Colin O’Donoghue
Henry Cavill was also the front runner to play Superman in another Superman movie, which had the working title Superman: Flyby, but the movie failed to be greenlit. He was also considered for Superman Returns (2006) but Brandon Routh was cast instead.
Cavill was also runner-up to Daniel Craig for the James Bond role in Casino Royale (2006), but he lost out as he was considered too young to play the role. He also auditioned for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins (2005).
According to Zack Snyder, Henry Cavill was made to wear a Superman costume to see how well he fitted the role. Even though the outfit he wore was a lighter blue color and had red trunks, no one laughed at Cavill when they saw him in the outfit and that’s when Snyder knew that Cavill was right for the role.
British actor Henry Cavill is the first non-American actor to play the role of Clark Kent, although the now deceased London-born Lee Quigley played Superman as a baby, (Baby Kal-El) in Superman (1978).
Both director Bryan Singer and actor Brandon Routh had expressed interest in reprising their positions from Superman Returns (2006) for this film; Singer had originally outlined several sequels to follow his story, and Routh was contracted as well. When Warner Bros. announced this film as a “clean reboot” from Singer’s film, Routh still expressed interest in returning before director Zack Snyder confirmed that this movie would have no ties to any previous cinematic incarnation of the character.
Director Zack Snyder wanted Superman to have a big, muscular stature similar to comic drawings by artist Jim Lee. So in order to get into the right shape Henry Cavill had to work very hard to build a big, muscular physique to get the look envisioned by Snyder. To help Cavill get in shape Snyder enlisted the services of Gym Jones whom Snyder had worked with previously on 300 (2006) and then subsequently has collaborated with them for all his films to get his cast into the right physical shape.
To get into the right physical shape for his role Henry Cavill embarked on a special four-month training regime by his trainer Mark Twight. He gained weight by drinking five 1000-calorie protein shakes a day, then he did cardiovascular workouts to burn away the fat and build muscle, and finally he underwent a grueling two-hour workout to build up his muscles and abdomen. According to Cavill, the real problem he faced was the workout’s intensity, he stated: “Mark based his technique on going beyond yourself. Instead of slowing down towards the end of the workout, he asked me to actually work harder and harder for the body to reach its limits. His point was that if his client is able to walk out of the gym, he had not worked hard enough.”
Zack Snyder has said that he included shirtless scenes of Henry Cavill in the film because throughout the film you see him in a form-fitting body suit where he appears extremely muscular. He said the audience would think it was all rubber muscles, so it was important to show them it was indeed all real and Henry Cavill’s body in that suit.
Henry Cavill refused to take steroids to muscle up for the role and he also refused any digital touch-ups or enhancement to his body in his shirtless scenes. He stated it would have been dishonest of him to use trickery while playing Superman and he wanted to push his body to the limits to develop his physique into one that was worthy of the character.
Henry Cavill has stated that the most difficult part of making the movie was definitely his two shirtless scenes. He had been training for months prior to filming began but for his shirtless scenes, he specially went on extremely difficult calorie restriction diet and training regime that cut his calorie intake from 5000 to near 1500 for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks he reached a body fat level of just 3% which is the level achieved by professional body-builders during competitions. Henry said this was done because he wanted to make his abs as pronounced and his muscles as defined as humanly possible to create the best possible Superman physique. Cavill returned to a more manageable routine after the scenes were shot but felt his effort was rewarded when audiences and critics alike praised his physique for the true embodiment of what Superman would look like. After he had shot his shirtless scenes, director Zack Snyder gave him a tub of ice cream and pizza to reward him for his Herculean effort for the shirtless scenes.
While coming up with the aesthetic of how the Superman physique should look, trainer Mark Twight said the he wanted the classic V shape – broad shoulders and narrow waist, which Henry Cavill naturally had, he just had to pack on more muscle to his frame. Additionally, he said he looked to Steve Reeves’ physique in the film Le fatiche di Ercole (1958) as a model for Superman, as to attain a Greek God ideal. Snyder was subsequently very impressed with the results of Cavill’s 11 month hard training and called his physique “a great accomplishment”. Cavill said that even he was surprised by how big he looked in the film.
Cavill naturally has a hairy chest and left it untouched for the shoot of this movie. He insisted that Superman have chest hair in this film and rejected the notion that just because you are muscular, you should not have chest hair and cited the Superman comic book “The Death of Superman” as being an iconic representation in which Superman had a hairy chest.
About his role as Superman, Cavill has stated: “There’s a very real story behind the Superman character.” He explained that everyone’s goal has been to explore the difficulties his character faces as a result of having multiple identities, including his birth name, Kal-El, and his alter ego, Clark Kent. Cavill also stated that, “He’s alone and there’s no one like him,” referring to Superman’s Ashlin. “That must be incredibly scary and lonely, not to know who you are or what you are, and trying to find out what makes sense. Where’s your baseline? What do you draw from? Where do you draw a limit with the power you have? In itself, that’s an incredible weakness.”
Henry Cavill and Russell Crowe had met years previously when Henry was an extra in Proof of Life (2000) and he received words of encouragement to pursue acting and an autographed picture from Crowe, who was his favorite actor.
On the search for Lois Lane Snyder the filmmakers stated: “There was a big, giant search for Lois. For us, it was a big thing and obviously a really important role. We did a lot of auditioning, but we had this meeting with Amy Adams and after that I just felt she was perfect for it.” Before Amy Adams was finally chosen, these are the actresses that were considered:
- Natalie Portman
- Charlotte Riley
- Anne Hathaway
- Dianna Agron
- Kristen Stewart
- Malin Akerman
- Rachel McAdams
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead
- Kristen Bell
- Lake Bell
- Olivia Wilde
- Mila Kunis
- Jessica Biel
This is Amy Adams’ third time auditioning for the character of Lois Lane. She first read for Lois Lane in Brett Ratner’s abandoned Superman: Flyby movie, then for Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006). Adams has stated that it became ridiculous and felt that this time she had to play Lois and finally put her stamp on it. Adams was confirmed to play Lois Lane in March 2011. While announcing the role, Snyder said in a statement, “We are excited to announce the casting of Amy Adams, one of the most versatile and respected actresses in films today. Amy has the talent to capture all of the qualities we love about Lois: smart, tough, funny, warm, ambitious and, of course, beautiful.”
On portraying Lois Lane, Adams stated that the film would feature a Lois Lane who is an “independent, feisty woman, but set in a more identifiable world.” Adams said that “She has become more of a free-ranging journalist, someone who likes to be hands-on. The nature of the newspaper business has changed so much. There is so much more pressure.”
Viggo Mortensen was considered to play General Zod before Michael Shannon was finally cast.
On choosing Michael Shannon for the role of General Zod, Snyder stated: “Zod is not only one of Superman’s most formidable enemies, but one of the most significant, because he has insights into Superman that others don’t. Michael is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.”
When David S. Goyer was asked about why Zod was chosen as the villain for this movie, he stated: “The way (Christopher) Nolan and I have always approached movies as well is you never say, ‘Hey, which villain would be cool for this movie?’ You start with the story first. What kind of story? What kind of theme do you want to tell? So we worked that out. Then, usually the villain becomes obvious in terms of who’s going to be the appropriate antagonist for that. When you guys see the movie, the only villain we could’ve used was Zod and the Kryptonians. I mean, when you see what the whole story is, nothing else would have even made sense.”
Michael Shannon commented on his portrayal in comparison to Terence Stamp’s original take on Zod, “To follow Terence Stamp’s iconic performance in the original, it is daunting, but I just focused on one day at a time. It’s interesting that when we started with this, we did a lot of training together and I think that kind of helped loosen things up a little bit. It is a very physical movie at the end of the day. That’s a good way to find your way ‘into it’ as an actor.”
Sean Penn and Clive Owen were considered for the role of Jor-El before Russell Crowe was cast.
Russell Crowe becomes the second Oscar winner to portray Jor-El after Marlon Brando.
Crowe incorporated how his own fatherhood informed his reading of the script to portray Jor-El, stating that “It was one of those things where that’s how it was connecting me. That’s the question that Jor-El faces, that’s the situation that he’s in.” Crowe also comments on his preparation for the film stating that: “When I signed on… well, one, I didn’t realize that I would be wearing Spandex, ’cause you know that’s Superman’s costume, I didn’t realize that I’d have to fit into it as well. But, I also didn’t realize the type of organizer that Zack Snyder is, ’cause this was really old school prep. This is sort of David Lean-level preparation, and I really appreciated him. And I was on the movie for three-and-a-half or four months before I even got in front of the camera.”
Both Russell Crowe (Jor-El) and Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) have shared the role of Robin Hood: Costner in Kevin Reynolds’ Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (2010). Both have also played law officers bringing down mobsters: Costner as Elliot Ness in The Untouchables (1987) and Crowe as Richie Roberts in American Gangster (2007). The connection continues as Kevin Reynolds would later direct Henry Cavill in his first major film role in The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) starring James Caviezel, who was once a frontrunner for Superman. Caviezel currently stars on the series Person of Interest created by Jonathan Nolan brother of Christopher Nolan.
For the role of Superman’s biological mother, Lara Lor-Van, initially Connie Nielsen was considered for the role but then Julia Ormond was cast, but when she dropped out then Ayelet Zurer was cast in her place.
On casting Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent, Snyder explained his reason for his casting the on-screen couple was solely for the realism: “I think the thing you realize when you look at Diane and Kevin, in our decision to cast them so far, you sort of get a sense of how tonally we’re looking at the movie, and what you realize is that those guys are serious actors, and we’re taking this movie very seriously in terms of the tone of having those guys. You’re talking about having a situation where whatever the action is or whatever the drama of the movie is, our first priority is to make sure it’s rendered in the most realistic way we can get at.”
Before Kevin Costner was cast as Jonathan Kent, these are actors that were considered for the role:
- Dennis Quaid
- Bruce Greenwood
- Michael Biehn
- Kurt Russell
Before Diane Lane was cast for the role of Martha Kent, these are the actresses that were considered for the role:
- Julianne Moore
- Lisa Rinna
- Jodie Foster
- Sela Ward
- Elisabeth Shue
Diane Lane was the first cast member to join the film since Cavill. Snyder stated in the release: “This was a very important piece of casting for me because Martha Kent is the woman whose values helped shape the man we know as Superman. We are thrilled to have Diane in the role because she can convey the wisdom and the wonder of a woman whose son has powers beyond her imagination.”
Laurence Fishburne is the first African American to play Perry White in a live-action film. Fishburne based his performance as Perry White on CBS correspondent Ed Bradley, he stated: “Ed was a friend, a mentor, and a role model for me. Particularly because he worked in journalism, and he was the kind of guy who walked with kings, but he had the common touch. And so he was my inspiration for Perry.” In homage to Bradley, White has an ear piercing.
The following actresses were considered for the role of Faora, which was played by Antje Traue:
- Diane Kruger
- Rosamund Pike
- Alice Eve
- Lindsay Lohan
Christopher Meloni (Colonel Nathan Hardy) was the voice of Hal Jordan / Green Lantern in the animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) which is another character from DC Comics and fellow member of Superman in The Justice League of America.
Alessandro Juliani, who plays Officer Sekowsky also played Dr. Emil Hamilton on the Superman TV series Smallville. Richard Schiff who plays Dr. Emil Hamilton in this film actually shares a few scenes with Alessandro Juliani in this film.
Actress Christina Wren caught the attention of Zack Snyder after her role in a memorable commercial for Athenos Hummus, after which she was cast in her role as Major Carrie Farris, one of several military officers monitoring Superman’s activities. Also her character’s name is a slightly modified version of Caroline ‘Carol’ Ferris, who is also the longtime love interest of Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.
At least 5 actors from this movie played in at least 1 episode of Smallville. Amy Adams (S1, E7), Mackenzie Gray (S5, E15 & S10, E1), Tahmoh Penikett (S6, E19 & E21, & S3, E15), Alessandro Juliani (S8, E15 onwards with 14 episodes in total), and David Paetkau (S8, E15).
This is the first live-action Superman movie to feature the character of Steve Lombard (Michael Kelly), a Sports journalist at the Daily Planet who often bullies and insults Clark Kent.
Apparently Amanda Seyfried auditioned for a role but was turned down.
The character of Whitney Fordman was not in the original DC comics but was created for the Superman TV series Smallville, which was based on Clark Kent’s time in high school.
Mackenzie Gray, who plays the role of Jax-Ur, previously played an adult clone of Lex Luthor in Smallville.
Aaron Smolinski, who plays a communications officer, previously played baby Clark Kent in Richard Donner’s Superman (1978).
This is the third theatrical Superman movie to not feature Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor. The other films were Superman III (1983) and Superman and the Mole-Men (1951).
This is the first Superman movie not to feature the character Jimmy Olsen. Not only was the Jimmy Olsen character in every live action Superman movie prior to Man of Steel but he was also in Supergirl (1984).
Screenplay & Production Casting
In June 2008, Warner Bros. took pitches from comic book writers, screenwriters and directors on how to successfully restart the Superman film series. Comic book writers Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer were among those who pitched their ideas for a reboot. Morrison stated: “I told them, it’s not that bad. Just treat Superman Returns as the Ang Lee Hulk.” Waid stated: “The Incredible Hulk has proven the audience will forgive you and let you redo the franchise.” Morrison’s idea was similar to his work on All-Star Superman (2011), while Waid’s was akin to Superman: Birthright. Mark Millar, teaming with director Matthew Vaughn, had also planned an epic eight-hour Superman trilogy, each installment released a year apart, similar to The Lord of the Rings. Millar compared it to The Godfather trilogy, in which it would chronicle the entire life of Superman, from the early days of Krypton to the finale where Superman loses his powers as the Sun starts to supernova.
In August 2008, Warner Bros. suggested a reboot of the film series. Studio executive Jeff Robinov planned to have the film released either by 2010 or 2011. He stated: “Superman Returns didn’t quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to. It didn’t position the character the way he needed to be positioned. Had Superman worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009. Now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman without regard to a Batman and Superman movie at all.” Paul Levitz stated in an interview that Batman holds the key to the Superman reboot. He went on to explain: “Everyone is waiting for Nolan to sign on for another Batman, once that happens, the release date for Superman and all other future projects will follow.”
In February 2009, McG, who previously planned to direct Superman: Flyby, expressed interest in returning to the Superman franchise. August 2009 saw a court ruling in which Jerry Siegel’s family recaptured 50% of the rights to Superman’s origins and Siegel’s share of the copyright in Action Comics#1. In addition, a judge ruled that Warner Bros. did not owe the families additional royalties from previous films. However, if they did not begin production on a Superman film by 2011, then the Siegel estate would have been able to sue for lost revenue on an unproduced film.
Due to his success with the Batman franchise Christopher Nolan was brought on to help develop this reboot of Superman along with screenwriter David S. Goyer. This was merely as a creative consultant, it was never intended for Nolan to direct. When Zack Snyder was later brought on as director, Nolan then decided to hand all creative control over to Snyder and focus on The Dark Knight Rises (2012). According to Nolan’s wife/producer Emma Thomas, “They [Nolan and Goyer] brought it to an appropriate screenplay and it’s now Snyder’s picture.”
Christopher Nolan, recalling the moment when Goyer presented the idea of a modernized Superman: “He basically told me, ‘I have this thought about how you would approach Superman’, I immediately got it, loved it and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I’ve never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting. I wanted to get Emma Thomas and I involved in shepherding the project right away and getting it to the studio and getting it going in an exciting way.”
The plot of Man of Steel has a nonlinear narrative which tells parts of the story in flashback. In 2010, during story discussions for The Dark Knight Rises (2012), David S. Goyer told Christopher Nolan his idea regarding how to present Superman in a modern context. Impressed with Goyer’s concept, Nolan pitched the idea to the studio, who hired Nolan to produce and Goyer to write based on the financial and critical success of The Dark Knight (2008).
Nolan admired Bryan Singer’s work on Superman Returns (2006) for its connection to Richard Donner’s version, stating that: “A lot of people have approached Superman in a lot of different ways. I only know the way that has worked for us, that’s what I know how to do.” He emphasized the idea that Batman exists in a world where he is the only superhero and a similar approach to the Man of Steel would assure the integrity needed for the film. “Each serves to the internal logic of the story. They have nothing to do with each other.” Nolan, however, clarified that the new film would not have any relationship with the previous film series.
Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, spoke to Entertainment Weekly, and allowed a peek over the wall of secrecy surrounding their DC Comics plans: “It’s setting the tone for what the movies are going to be like going forward. In that, it’s definitely a first step.” Plans included for the film to contain references to the existence of other superheroes, alluding to the possibility of a further DC Universe.
Apparently Guillermo del Toro, with whom Goyer worked on Blade II (2002), was considered to direct but he turned down the position on the reboot because of his commitment on a film adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness.
Before Zack Snyder was hired in October 2010, these are the directors that were considered:
- Robert Zemeckis
- Darren Aronofsky
- Duncan Jones
- Ben Affleck
- Tony Scott
- Matt Reeves
- Jonathan Liebesm
Ben Affleck turned down directing the film because he felt he wasn’t experienced in VFX shots. He stated: “A lesson I’ve learned is to not look at movies based on budget, how much they’ll spend on effects or where they will shoot. Story is what’s important.”
Casting began in November 2010. Zack Snyder also confirmed both Booster Gold and Batman references in the film, furthering the DC Cinematic Universe possibility.
According to Goyer, the story’s major theme is first contact, he stated: “We approached Superman as if it weren’t a comic book movie, as if it were real. He’s an alien. If the world found out he existed, it would be the biggest thing that ever happened in human history. Just his existence would change the face of the Earth forever.”
Many scenes were taken from the Superman graphic novel “Superman: Birthright” written by comic book writer Mark Waid.
This is the first Superman feature film that doesn’t incorporate the word “Superman” in its title. Interestingly enough, Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film did not have the word “Batman” in its title and like the Man of Steel it uses the main character’s nickname.
Zack Snyder expressed reluctance to shooting the film in 3-D, due to the technical limitations of the format, and instead chose to shoot the film 2-D and convert the film into 3-D in post-production, for a 2-D, 3-D, and IMAX 3-D release. Snyder also chose to shoot the film on film instead of digitally, because he felt it would make the film, “a big movie experience”.
In August 2011 Principal photography began at an industrial park near DuPage Airport, in Chicago, IL under the codename “Autumn Frost”. But it was such a badly kept secret that on September 6, 2011, the Chicago Tribune published a full article about it (“Code Name: Go Figure”). Production then took place in Plano on August 22 to 29, 2011.
The production filmed in the Chicago area, California and Burnaby’s Mammoth Studios was transformed into Superman’s home planet of Krypton and myriad extraterrestrial aircraft. Filming took place in the Chicago Loop from September 7 to 17, 2011. The Chicago shoot was a unit project, meaning that filming could partake numerous establishing shots as well as cutaways and may not necessarily include principal cast members.
Metro lands on Vancouver’s North Shore waterfront hosted the shoot for the dramatic oil rig rescue that introduces audiences to Superman. Ucluelet and Nanaimo, BC, feature prominently in the film’s first hour, the trademark winter mist and rough seas are passed off as Alaska in the film. Vancouver production took place from September 21, 2011, to January 20, 2012.
Filming was expected to last for two to three months. According to an interview with Michael Shannon, filming would continue until February 2012.
John “DJ” Des Jardin served as the visual supervisor for Man of Steel, with Weta Digital, MPC, and Double Negative providing the visual effects for the film. Des Jardin stated: “Zack Snyder wanted the film to appear very natural because there’s some very fantastical things in there and he wanted people to suspend their disbelief, and we the visual effects team had to make it as easy as possible for them to do so.” Des Jardin noted that the intent in shooting the film was to utilize handheld devices to make the film feel like a “documentary-style” film. He commented: “We had to think about what that would mean, since we also had to photograph some crazy action. So for a lot of the previs we did, we’d start to think where our cameras were and where our cameraman was. A lot of the rules are the Battlestar Galactica rules for the space cams that Garry Hurtzel developed for that miniseries, where we want to make sure if we’re translating the camera at all it makes sense. Unless the action is so over the top, like in the end where Superman is beating up Zod, we had to break it a bit.”
According to designer Peter Mitchell Rubin, Krypton’s look was majorly influenced by the 19-20th century Art Nouveau style (“Art Nouveau designers assumed that nothing could ever be as beautiful as what nature creates, so we tried to be as true to that ideal as we could.”) and electron scope/macro/micro-photographs of biological systems, primarily bones, bark, fungi, insect shells and dried plants. Alien-like planet environments, creatures, and landscapes were digitally placed to further enhance details of the planet Krypton in the film.
Professor Christine Schreyer, an expert in anthropology and linguistics at British Columbia, was hired by the filmmakers to create the Kryptonian language. She developed an object-subject-verb sentence structure, contrasting the subject-verb-object structure of English, e.g. “I see him” in English would be “Him I see” in Kryptonian, to reflect that people on Krypton had become selfish and materialistic.
According to Christine Schreyer, the inscriptions in Krypton’s Ruling Council Chamber read: “The Light of Rao warms us / The Four Moons of Yuda protect us / The Wisdom of Telle guides us / The Beauty of Lorra inspires us.” It was the first four Kryptonian phrases Schreyer formulated, and are her favorite phrases.
According to costume designer Michael Wilkinson, the Kryptonian costumes are based on the wardrobes of the Versailles aristocracy, prior to the French Revolution. The designers etched into velvets and embroidered and screen-printed on fabrics to create overelaborate indulgent costumes.
Production designer Alex McDowell described the Kryptonian technology in the film as “geo-tech, scientifically advanced but also less glossy and more organic than the styles on Earth. There’s no rock or stone or metal; Kryptonians had perfected the ability to manipulate DNA, for thousands of years they built almost anything by biological means.”
The VFX experts described the Kryptonian computer displays as liquid geometry, Weta Digital visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon explained: “It’s a bunch of silver beads that are suspended through a magnetic field, and the machine is able to control that magnetic field so that the collection of beads behave almost like three-dimensional pixels, and they can create a surface that floats in the air and describes whatever the thing is you’re supposed to be seeing.” The beads of the display, which up close would appear to be pyramids with a slight bevel, were designed to create a surface of the object to depict inside a “console-like” figure.
In the modeling and animation aspect of the liquid geometry, visual effects artist Brian Goodwin explained: “We had to develop a pipeline to bring in assets, so instead of going through the route of reducing the polygon count to something usable what we would then do is you would take the model in whatever way it was made and just scatter discrete points onto it, and extract the matrix onto the animation and copy these points onto the matrix and have these sparse points behaving in a way that the model would.” After the animation, artists duplicated the beads onto the animated geometry for a pre-simulated lighting version to get approval on how the object would read. Goodwin stated: “Sims were then run on all the targets which would be discrete beads floating around on top of the surface which would have its own set of parameter. The bead size or the turbulence that would crawl along the surface constantly updating the orientation was based on the normal provided by the surface. That was then saved to disk and we would use that sim as the final target for the simulation.” After the simulation process, Weta Digital ran every bead through a temporal filter to remove jitter to control the noise. Lighting solutions directly worked on the set. Weta utilized RenderMan to take advantage of improved ray tracing and instancing objects.
The robots in the House of El are named Kelex and Kelor and these were the names of robots that also aided Superman at his Fortress of Solitude. Kelex is said to have served Jor-El for his entire life, and assumed to have fallen in the destruction of Krypton. A recreated version of the robot soon took over the Fortress security and maintenance. This film added even more functionality to Kelex, and is even mentioned by name, along with fellow robot Kelor. In the 1979 mini-series “World of Krypton” Kelex and Kelor were assistants in the House of El at the service for Seyg-El and later for his son, Jor-El.
when Jor-El first makes his escape from Zod’s forces, the remnants of what looks to be a shattered moon stands out in the skies of Krypton. According to the comics this moon is Wegthor, one of Krypton’s two moons that fell victim to the experiments of scientist, Jax-Ur. In the comics, Jax-Ur accidentally fires a nuclear warhead at Wegthor, destroying the moon and becomes the first Kryptonian eternally condemned to the Phantom Zone. While in this film Jax-Ur eventually escapes with Zod’s forces, his failed experiment caused Krypton to ban all space flight. This correlation isn’t stated outright in the film, but Wegthor remains nonetheless.
The idea that Superman’s S-Shield on his costume means “hope” is taken from Mark Waid’s “Superman: Birthright” comic where the S-Shield is the Kryptonian symbol for “hope”, and Superman (1978) created the concept of the Shield being a Kryptonian herald for the house of El. Waid explained: “I thought it was a family crest, but if it was, it certainly came to mean more than that to these people. Wars were fought over it. Entire cities were built on it…it became a promise. A sign of people fighting to make a better world. A symbol of hope.”
The Superman costume used in this movie is based on the costume seen in DC’s New 52 comics and was designed by Jim Acheson and Michael Wilkinson. The costume preserves the color scheme and “S” logo, but adopts darker tones, and notably does not feature the red trunks usually worn by Superman. Zack Snyder said the costume is “a modern aesthetic”. He and the producers attempted to devise a suit featuring the red trunks, but could not design one that fit into the tone of the film, leading to their removal from the suit.
According to screenwriter David S. Goyer, Superman’s costume is defined in this film to be an undergarment, he commented, “All the battle armor goes on top of the suits. But since Superman’s a refugee, his outfit doesn’t have that gear, and would make him defenseless on his own Kryptonian turf.” This inadvertently continues the running joke that “Superman fights in his underwear.”
Costume designer Michael Wilkinson said that while the Superman suit emphasized and highlighted Henry Cavill’s muscular physique, for the scenes where he is playing Clark Kent, they tried to hide his physique by giving him layers of clothing and baggy clothes so that he could blend in more. Only in once scene does Clark wear a form-fitting T shirt which reveals that he is powerfully built, but that is when he is with Martha who knows his identity.
In the majority of the action scenes a CGI cape is used for Superman. Superman’s cape and costume were scanned in high detail, the cape in particular became a direct extension of Superman’s actions.
General Zod wears a black astronaut suit which is based on the Modern Age comics, where he wore a special red suit that filtered sunlight. Throughout the “Man of Steel” and “Action Comics” issues of the early 2000s, Earth had a dictator of the fictional city-state Pokolistan, named General Zod. His warlord uniform had a similar red-and-black color scheme.
Due to the substantial weight a practical suit would yield, the Kryptonian armor for General Zod was constructed through CGI to allow Shannon freedom of movement.
In the film there’s a photo of young Clark winning first prize in his science fair project with Jonathan stood next to him. A closer look at the photo reveals a small sign behind them that reads ‘Weisinger Primary School.’ This is a nod to comic book legend Mort Weisinger who as editor of DC Comics oversaw much of the Golden Age of Superman comics and he also introduced key elements of the Superman story, such as his powers coming from Earth’s yellow sun, and many science fiction elements to the Superman canon.
Most of the Smallville scenes were actually filmed in Plainfield, IL. Coincidentally, a massive tornado actually destroyed most of the 4,500 person town in 1990 killing 29 people. In this film, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) is killed in a tornado outside Smallville.
In Perry White’s office at the Daily Planet there is a bugle trophy on top of the shelf. This is a reference to the Marvel Comics newspaper office the Daily Bugle (most famously seen in the “Spider-Man” comics).
The Kent family dog is named Shelby, the name was also used in TV series Smallville and Superman Returns (2006).
The Fortress of Solitude shown in the movie is a Kryptonian spacecraft concealed in the Arctic. This combines various comic versions of the Fortress of Solitude: an Arctic location with a key; the “Silver Age” (1958) comics, an artifact from previous Kryptonians; “Adventures of Superman” (1989), and an abandoned ship; the “New 52” (2011) comics.
Before the film’s release DC Comics published a prequel comic book about the crew of the derelict Krypton scout ship that Clark finds frozen in Canada. In the comic book, the ship was piloted by Kara Zor-El who, in the comic books, is better known as Supergirl.
According to Zack Snyder, the Superman shield is designed after post-World War II versions, specifically the 1950-60s shields. He stated: “I feel he was born again in that era, he came to represent the American fighting machine and the way America exported its morality to the world. I was drawn to that, and I wanted to get back to a more elegant and sophisticated shield.”
The character of Glen WoodBurn (Chad Krowchuk), the blogger who Lois gives her story about Superman to leak, is an oblique reference to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two reporters who received classified information from a government source revealing the Watergate Scandal.
In the scene when Clark embraces his powers and learns to fly, he has a short flyover towards the camera. This is an homage to the previous movies in which Superman would fly over the Earth and then smile at the camera. Also in the same scene when Clark is learning to fly, in the beginning he is only able to make a few gigantic bounds. This is a reference to the 1930’s Superman, who was not able to fly, but could only leap one eighth of a mile.
Zod’s broadcast to Earth can be heard in the following languages:
In the scene where Clark talks to Father Leone in church, there is a stained-glass window behind him which contains a painting of Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. This was where Christ prayed for strength to undergo the ordeal he will face, and parallels Clark’s own need for support before his surrender.
MPC handled the visual effects for the “Smallville encounter” sequence. Before providing the visual effects, the shots were previsualized for the fight choreography. After the previsualizations, live action portions of the scene would be filmed in small pieces. The MPC visual effects supervisor Guillaume Rocheron stated: “If say Superman was being punched and would land 50 meters away, we would shoot our start position and end position, and then bridge that gap with the CG takeovers.” A camera rig would then obtain key frames of the choreographed actor. The visual effects supervisor, Des Jardin then commented: “It’s a six-still camera rig that’s built on a pipe rig so that you can run it in at the end of a setup and get stills of key frames of a performance or an expression, and then we could use those hi-res stills to project onto the CG double and get really accurate transition lighting and color right from the set.”
The sequences where Superman utilizes close-combat fight scenes with the other Kryptonians proved to be a major challenge for the filmmakers and the visual effects crew. Visual effects supervisor Des Jardin explained: “When we do these fights and these hyper-real things, we don’t want to do the traditional, ‘OK I’m a cameraman, I’m shooting a clean plate, I’m going to pan over here to follow the action that’s not really there yet but we’ll put the action in later.’ Because that’s us animating the characters to the camera. So we would do that animation with the characters – grappling, punching or flying away – and we would take the real guys up until the point until they were supposed to do that and we’d cut. Then we’d put an environment camera there and take the environment. And then a camera for reference of the actors and get each moment. So then we had a set of high-res stills for the environment and the characters. Then, in post, we take the digi-doubles and animate them according to the speeds we want them to move in our digital environment.”
On set, a camera rig was used to capture the environment of the fight sequences. Dubbed “enviro-cam”, the visual effects crew would mount a Canon EOS 5D and a motorized nodal head, allowing the crew to capture the environment at a 360-degree angle with 55k resolution for every shot, the process would take approximately two to four minutes. The set capture resulted in lighting and textures that could be reprojected onto geometry. Full-screen digital doubles were a major component for the fighting sequences. Digital armor was also added, along with the energy-based Kryptonian helmets. Cyberscan and FACS were conducted with the actors, and polarized and non-polarized reference photos were taken.
Zod’s ship is named the Black Zero, after a Kryptonian antagonist of Superman. In the comic “World of Krypton” Black Zero was a terrorist organization that destroyed Kandor, Krypton’s capital, during a revolution about the rights for the clones that Kryptonians used as mindless sleepers in order to repair their physical damage.
Double Negative handled the visual effects for he sequences involving the terraforming of the city Metropolis. In order to construct a Metropolis that seemed convincing and realistic, Double Negative utilized Esri’s CityEngine to help procedurally deliver the city. Double Negative visual effects supervisor Ged Wright stated: “That was a much more sci-fi based role, so we took what they had done and extended it a great deal. The work we were doing was based around the Downtowns for New York, L.A. and Chicago and that gave us the building volumes for heights. We’d skin those volumes with kit parts, but most of it then had to fall down! So we had to rig it for destruction and use it for other aspects of the work as well.”
For the destruction of the buildings, the studio rewrote its own asset system to focus towards its dynamic events. The Bullet physics software was a heavily-impacted component for the utilization of the destruction. Negative visual effects supervisor, Wright stated: “We wanted to be able to run an RBD event and trigger all these secondary events, whether it was glass or dust simulations, all of those things needed to be chained up and handled in a procedural way. One of the advantages of this was that, because it was all based around a limited number of input components, you can make sure they’re modeled in a way they’re usable in effects, you can model something but they’ll be another stage to rig it for destruction.” Fire, smoke, and water stimulation tools were developed at the Double Negative studio. The studio transitioned between the existing proprietary volume rendering software to rendering in Mantra for elements such as fireball sims. Double Negative also used the in-house fluids tool “Squirt” to handle larger scale sims and interaction for more tightly-coupled volumes and particles.
Regarding the battle between Superman and Zod, Double Negative implemented real photography onto its digital doubles.
Earlier in the film during one of the scenes at the Kent house, a double tanker truck passing by in the background bears the “LexCorp” brand name. Also, later in the film the logo appears atop a skyscraper close to Zod’s initial attack on Metropolis and later on you can see it again on a tanker truck. This is the company run by Superman’s arch rival, Lex Luthor, and hints at his appearance in a sequel.
Superman’s conversations with General Swanwick were based on scenes from the graphic novel “Superman: Secret Identity” written by Kurt Busiek.
Clark is only referred to as “Superman” once in the entire film. In the comics, government agents (known classically as “G Men”) would refer to him in code over transmissions as, “The S Man.”
In the scene when Superman and General Zod are fighting on top of a the construction building you can see a sign that says “This job was worked 106 days without an accident” and when Zod throws Superman into the sign, it makes it go down to 0 days.
In the final battle when General Zod and Superman fly into outer-space they both hit a satellite with the “Wayne Enterprise” logo, which is the company owned by Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Zack Snyder proposed that Superman kill General Zod, in order to set up Superman’s classic “never kills” motto. He wanted it to be brutal and jarring, so that it would forever keep in Superman’s mind.
Hans Zimmer initially denied popular rumors that he would be composing the film’s score. However, in June 2012, it was confirmed that Zimmer would, in fact, be writing the film’s musical score.
This is the first Warner Bros. Superman film to not incorporate John Williams’ iconic Superman score, this was so as to completely distinguish this film as a new and separate film.
Composer Hans Zimmer and director Zack Snyder used what they considered the best drummers in the world to perform on the film’s musical score. Zimmer created a single drum track for all of the drummers to play at the same time, but encouraged them to maintain their own unique styles. The drummers included Danny Carey, Pharrell Williams, Josh Freese, Sheila E., Jason Bonham, Toss Panos, Satnam Ramgotra, Matt Chamberlain, John JR Robinson, Jim Keltner, Bernie Dresel, Curt Bisquera, Ryeland Allison, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Trevor Lawrence Jr.
Warner Bros. and DC Comics won the rights to the domain name manofsteel.com, in use by a member of the public, for use for the film’s official website.
The first appearance of the character of Superman was in “Action Comics #1” in 1938. This movie was set to be released in June 2013 which would be on the 75th anniversary of Superman.
On November 20, 2012, for the release of The Dark Knight Rises DVD and Blu-ray, Warner Bros. launched a countdown on the film’s website where fans could share the countdown on websites like Facebook or Twitter to unlock an “exclusive reward”. On December 3, 2012, the “exclusive reward” was revealed to be an official Man of Steel teaser poster. The poster, which depicts Superman being arrested, generated a positive response and much speculation about the film’s story.
On December 10, 2012, a website appeared at dsrwproject.com that provided audio signals to be decoded by viewers. It was discovered to be related to the film due to the copyright on the website. By December 11, 2012, the decoded message led readers to another website with a countdown that led to the public release of the trailer.
Viral marketing campaigns for the film began when the official website was replaced by “deep space radio waves”. The message was decoded to reveal a voice that said “You Are Not Alone”. The official site continued to be updated with new static files that slowly revealed the symbol for the film’s villain, General Zod. Shortly after, the website was replaced with a “message” from Zod, who requested that Earth must return Kal-El to his custody and told Kal-El to surrender within 24 hours or the world would suffer the consequences. Then a viral site called “IWillFindHim.com” was released that showed a countdown to the third trailer for the film.
Warner Bros. enlisted a Christian-based marketing firm to help spread the Christian themes of the film to the religious demographics. Special trailers were created outlining the religious tones. Hollywood studios frequently market movies to specific religious and cultural groups. Warner Bros. has previously marketed films such as The Blind Side (2009), The Notebook (2009), The Book of Eli (2010) and the Harry Potter series (but not Green Lantern) to faith-based groups.
The pair of Man of Steel teasers trailers; one narrated by Kevin Costner, the other by Russell Crowe, showed glimpses of a young Clark, overlaid with words of wisdom from his father(s). The Jor-El teaser had lines that were a modified version of those seen in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman, hailed by many as one of the best Superman stories to date. These are the lines as they appear in the comics: “You have given them an ideal to aspire to. They will race, and stumble, and fall and crawl, and curse, and finally they will join you in the sun, Kal-El.” The monologue used in the teaser trailer by Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) is taken directly from Geoff Johns’ “Superman: Secret Origin”, considered a definite creation comic story for Superman after the Infinite Crisis Events.
In anticipation of the film, Mattel unveiled a toy line which includes Movie Masters action figures. In addition, Lego will release three Man of Steel sets, inspired by scenes from the film; Rubie’s Costume Co. also released a new line of Man of Steel-inspired costumes and accessories for both kids and adults.
On June 10, 2013, it was announced that director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer would both be returning for a Man of Steel sequel which is being fast tracked by Warner Bros. Goyer had previously signed a three-film deal, which included Man of Steel, its sequel, and a Justice League film featuring Superman. Christopher Nolan is also expected to return as producer, albeit in a lesser role than he had in this film.
On June 16, 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that the studio is possibly planning to release the sequel in 2014. However, on July 20, 2013, Zack Snyder confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con International that the sequel to Man of Steel wouldn’t be released until 2015 and it will have Superman and Batman meeting for the first time in a cinematic format. Goyer and Snyder will co-write the story, and Goyer will write the script. Cavill, Adams, Lane, and Fishburne are confirmed to reprise their roles for the sequel.
According to Snyder, the sequel will take inspiration from the comic “The Dark Knight Returns”. Goyer stated at the Superman 75th Anniversary Panel at Comic-Con, that Superman and Batman would face off, and titles under consideration are Superman vs Batman or Batman vs Superman. The production will start filming in Toronto, Ontario, instead of Vancouver in 2014. Warner Brothers confirmed that the sequel would also be filmed in Detroit and other areas in Michigan.
On August 22, 2013, The Hollywood Reporter announced the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman, along with the film’s release date of July 17, 2015.
Take a look at the cast and crew interviews here:
Take a look at the 13 minute behind the scenes featurette here:
Still want more trivia? Then visit the official movie website.
Total Trivia Entries: 123
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