Atlas Entertainment President and producer Charles Roven is not only intimately involved in the DC Cinematic Universe, he was key in changing the landscape of the superhero genre as we know it with Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Suffice it to say, the guy has some experience in bringing DC superhero characters to screen, and he faced one of his toughest challenges yet with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel follow-up that not only serves to expand the DC universe by introducing a new Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), but also laying the foundation for Warner Bros.’ inter-connected universe going forward.
Steve recently got the chance to sit down with Roven for an extended interview tied to last week’s trailer debut for Warcraft, which he also produced, but inevitably the conversation also moved to the DC Universe and, more specifically, Batman v Superman. He spoke about when we’ll next see new footage (hint: very soon), the grounded nature of the film, and more, but first he addressed the concept of “superhero fatigue” and how Warner Bros.’ slate of films hope to keep audiences engaged on an emotional level:
“I think like any genre, the movies have to be good and you have to keep the audience engaged. One of the things that we’re doing when we’re bringing together the DC Justice League Universe is we’re creating not only stories that work for the individual film but they have some resonance to the other films that we’re doing. And I’m hoping that what’s also gonna keep the interest very keen is we’re telling hopefully compelling stories. I mean, one of the great things about dealing with superheroes in general, at least from our standpoint, is they’re both inspirational and aspirational characters, so you’re hoping that the audience is gonna want to be like some of them but you’re also hoping that the audience can relate to some of them, that if we make their stories compelling and relatable, interesting and emotional, that you’re going to really want to spend more time with them. So you talk about Man of Steel and I felt that Clark’s relationship with both of his fathers was pretty emotional and you can relate, certainly people who lost a loved one can relate, and we all have at some point in our lives lost loved ones. So I think even with Batman v Superman we wanna have characters that touch us, and if we can continue to make films like that, the I think they’re sort of ‘genre proof’”.
“You will definitely understand when you see the movie why we call it Batman v Superman… I’m excited to have people see it. I think it’s really a wonderful film. I think Zack [Snyder]’s done an amazing job, all of the actors who are in it, we were so lucky. Just think about the cast that we have, from Ben [Affleck] to Henry Cavill, to Amy [Adams] to Jesse [Eisenberg] to Jeremy [Irons] to Larry [Lawrence] Fishburne. Just amazing, and they all really bring it. Really great. Very happy.”
Roven went on to say that the film has about 1,500 visual effects shots so it’s still very much in post-production, but he teased that we can expect to see new footage before 2015 is out:
“Honestly, you’re going be seeing something very soon… I don’t know how you define soon but certainly before the end of the year, how about that?”
While Steve joked that he’d like to see a 4-hour version of the film, Roven actually revealed that something a little longer may be available eventually, though he was vague as to whether it’s an extended cut or if he’s just cheekily referring to the finished film itself:
“I don’t know if you’ll ever get the 4-hour version, but there may be something that’s coming along that might be slightly less long than that.”
Speaking to the post-production process, Roven praised Snyder as a filmmaker while admitting that the production phase is his least favorite as a producer:
“I love the development process, I’m really happy with the pre-production process. I’m not crazy about the production process, because it’s really tense for a producer, particularly when you have a great filmmaker working on it. But the post-production process is so great because you’re shaping something, right? You shot it, and you shoot –if you’re smart- more than you can use because you want the ability to shape it. So part of the process of looking at all these cuts is you start with the longest version of the movie that you could possibly have and then hopefully it’s gonna be painful to bring it down to some sort of size, and you’re learning wonderful things about your characters that you shot. Because even though you have a script which is your blueprint, the actors bring so much and when you have a visual filmmaker like Zack, just what he’s shooting brings so much. So the process is a very rewarding one to go through, seeing your first cut to what is very close to the last cut.”
But it all starts with a script, and Roven echoed everyone else’s comments about the film’s screenplay, which originated with a draft by David S. Goyer and was then subsequently rewritten by Oscar-winning Argo scribe Chris Terrio:
“First of all, Chris Terrio is a fantastic writer, you said it earlier, he won the Oscar for Argo. David Goyer is a fantastic writer, and I think that we were very fortunate that even though it wasn’t a collaboration it was a very good blending of the two guys’ talents.”
Steve brought up the fact that some fans are concerned the movie will be overstuffed, with a very large ensemble cast on tap to be serviced, but Roven isn’t worried:
“I don’t think that’s an issue for this film at all. I really don’t… I think that the film is called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so there’s a reason it’s called Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and not Dawn of Justice: Batman v Superman. So you’re gonna invest mostly in Batman v Superman and I think that you’ll find other characters in there that you hopefully will want to see more of.”
And finally, Steve asked about how Batman v Superman will balance its grounded approach with another superhero character like Wonder Woman, to which Roven replied by citing their approach for Man of Steel in the shadow of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy:
“Let’s start with what we’re doing with Man of Steel, because Chris’ Dark Knight trilogy was actually different in the sense that the Dark Knight trilogy had no superheroes in it, none whatsoever. It had a man who made himself both mentally and physically into the best a man could be, and the villains in that were also humans who whether they were aberrated or not were also heightened in terms of their ability to accomplish their goals through their own methods. Very real, very grounded, but of this Earth.
On Man of Steel we also tried to make things feel as real as possible, but we took you to Krypton. We started on Krypton, we gave you Krypton technology and Krypton science and we tried to do it in a way that if there was this planet, what was their culture, what was their language, what were they thinking about, what was their science, what was their technology. And we did try to make that real but we were also taking you into an alien world, and I think we’ve tried to follow that, so make it feel grounded but also otherworldly. So whatever we do with any of these characters we’re gonna want them to be grounded, we’re gonna want the science to feel real whether it’s of this world or not of this world.”
Roven continued by discussing how this approach applies to Batman v Superman:
“We tried [to make it all feel real] when we brought it here, when Zod came here, we wanted to make sure that we followed that. We actually talked about what would that technology translate to here. And I think you’ll see in Batman v Superman we stayed true to that, we were attempting to stay true to that, how are things affecting Superman here, Batman is still human, he’s not Meta, he’s just a human, Wonder Woman is Meta, if you will, although some might think that she’s a God.”
That approach worked well enough in Man of Steel, but I’m mighty curious to see how a character like Aquaman is brought to the screen within this Warner Bros. universe. Look for more from Steve’s Charles Roven interview soon, but if you missed our previous coverage, click the links below.
- Producer Charles Roven Reveals the DC Brain Trust, How Directors Alter Their Plans
- Producer Charles Roven on the ‘Warcraft’ Movie and Atlas Entertainment