Since DC announced that the tentatively titled Batman vs Superman (BvS) would be delayed a year, details on the project have been very thin. Man of Steel Director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) recently opened up on how the project came about, his approach, and how themes and mythology are interwoven in modern superheroes. In an interview with Forbes (via CBM), Snyder explains what the character of Batman can add to the film:
Batman and Superman, in the sense that they teach us about ourselves. I think Batman – now after Chris [Nolan]’s movies and the way we track Batman through his cinematic history – he does have this license to enter our world and be a real character and not a complete cartoon, and he’s able to tell us about the way we live and our society. He moves with us, his morality – I think Superman probably less so, but I think Batman definitely sort of reflects us in a more personal way
It seems that Snyder intends on using Batman to define the morality and ultimately to shape the character of Superman. Man of Steel was a true origin story. The huge battle from Smallville to Metropolis occurred in just a couple of days. The events of the first film should prove to be a lot for Superman to digest and should give actor Henry Cavill an emotional center to chew on. Lets not forget to mention that the film will feature a new interpretation of Lex Luthor to be played by Jesse Eisenberg. Many have speculated that Luthor’s character will substitute and be the voice for the audience’s backlash of the sloppy job Superman did saving the city. Setting up a scenario to question if he truly is a hero or menace to Metropolis and the world at large.
Superman Returns was the Bryan Singer directed sequel to the original Superman film franchise, that began in the late 1970’s. So Man of Steel was the first time in over 30 years that the character was reinterpreted on-screen. Snyder explains his approach to modernizing the character:
…I think with Superman we have this opportunity to place this icon within the sort of real world we live in. And I think that, honestly, the thing I was surprised about in response to Superman was how everyone clings to the Christopher Reeve version, you know? How tightly they cling to those ideas, not really the comic book version but more the movie version… If you really analyze the comic book version of Superman, he’s killed, he’s done all the things- I guess the rules that people associate with Superman in the movie world are not the rules that really apply to him in the comic book world, because those rules are different. He’s done all the things and more that we’ve shown him doing, right? It’s funny to see people really taking it personally… because I made him real, you know, I made him fell, or made consequences [in] the world… We really wanted to show it wasn’t just like they thought, like the PG-13 version where everyone just gets up and they’re fine. I really wanted to show the violence is real, people get killed or get hurt, and it’s not fun or funny. And I guess for me, it was like I wanted a hero in Superman that was a real hero and sort of reflected the world we live in now…
While not a total disaster of a film, Superman Returns failed to connect with much of general audiences and turned off modern comic book fans. Comic heroes constantly evolve and change with the times. Much of the trepidation with adapting Superman is that the general populace registers Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the character as canon. It must be kept in mind that even Reeve was drawing inspiration from comics that are now over 40 years old. In recent comic book story lines such as Birthright, the character, his personality and outlook has very much kept up with modern times. It makes sense to adapt the modern version of the character for modern audiences. In fact, using the character can shed light on what is happening currently and BvS creators intend on layering those themes within the sequel:
I believe superheroes, they’re our modern myths. They’re our mythology in the modern world, and myth is designed to tell us about ourselves. In the ancient world, a volcano would go off or the stars would fall from the sky, and they would make a myth up around it to help ancient man to sleep at night or understand it, or at least to have a way of dealing with these things that were outside of their control. So, they’d make a story about a god on a mountain or whatever it is. And I think that’s kind of what our superheroes can do for us, they can help us explain our world a little bit.
This viewpoint sheds light on not just superheroes, but on geek culture as a whole. The X-Men franchise is successful because it speaks to people’s feeling of being marginalized or discriminated against. The Dark Knight worked as an action-filled crime drama, but it also highlighted our society’s unspoken fears of terrorism and the darkness we all potentially can have inside us. Captain America: The Winter Solider taped into society’s fears of governmental corruption among other themes. A good (geek) film always has subtext to the spectacle which gives the action meaning and its seems that Snyder is well aware of this notion. Fans of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman should be able to exhale a little. With the knowledge that the filmmakers in charge of their first team up on-screen, are looking to give meaning to the inevitable explosive action coming our way. Snyder said this about the first time he saw the super trio in person:
Even just for a test, you really have to go, “Wow, that’s crazy!” Not only is it the first time that I’m seeing them, it’s the first time they’ve ever existed together on screen in a movie. And that’s kind of a huge deal. Even just Batman and Superman standing next to each other… [I]t’s kind of epic. You do sort of sense the weight of the pop culture iconography jumping out of its skin when you’re standing there looking at the two of them and Wonder Woman. It’s crazy. But it’s fun.
It seems that the filmmakers are at least taking the correct approach to such a huge task and should allow nervous fanboys a reason to relax a little. Fans are eagerly awaiting 2016 when they can all share in Snyder’s joy of seeing these “mythological” heroes together on screen for the first time.
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SOURCE: Forbes, CBM, WB