Written Interview: David Goyer (“Man of Steel”)

June 15th, 2013 by

An excerpt from an Crave Online interview with David Goyer who co-wrote the script for Man of Steel with Christopher Nolan:

CraveOnline: In Batman Begins you took some of the aspects of the character that people considered strange or outdated, and you made the “cool” and special again. What elements of Superman did you want to take a crack at and make different than they were before?

David Goyer: Well, one of the methods of working that Chris Nolan and I developed while working on Batman that we applied on Superman was, we accepted very early on that we were dealing with an iconic character that has existed for 75 years. When you have a character that’s existed for that long, that’s already gone through so many iterations in other mediums, whether it be film, or television, or radio, or novels, or comic books, it’s important to boil down that character to his essence. So we did a survey of the comic books and tried to look for the various themes that were sticking over the decades, and after a while certain themes bubbled to the surface and we decided those are the enduring themes. They represent the raw DNA of the character, and those are the things we need to pay attention to.

And there were elements of the savior character. Obviously some people have drawn comparisons to Christ, but there’s also an Old Testament quality. There’s a little bit of the Moses story, in the bulrushes, and Superman as well. I think there were antecedents Hercules, and the epic poems like Gilgamesh and Beowulf. I’ve heard Siegel and Schuster reference those in interviews during the Seventies.

But in that way we said, this is a story about a guy who is a god, who has one foot in the land of humans and one foot in the land of the gods, and he’s got to make his own way and decide which world he wants to live in. It’s a story about two fathers. And it’s a story about an outsider, the ultimate outsider, an alien, and it fits in with this tradition of stories of using someone who is inhuman to show us our humanity.

So we said those are the things that we need to pay attention to. We’re not going to shy away from it, we’re not going to apologize for it. We’re going to lean into it. We also decided that we are not going to lean on the cinematic crutch of kryptonite. So in some ways that made our job even more difficult, because we wanted to have the audience empathize with Superman and potentially exhibit some weaknesses for him, but we couldn’t use kryptonite because we wanted to make our lives difficult.

For the rest of the interview, go here.

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