One of the most highly anticipated summer blockbusters is Man of Steel, which takes the Superman story back to its origins, in a fresh and more grounded way. When the young Kal-El/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth, he struggles with becoming the hero that he’s destined to be. From director Zack Snyder, screenwriter David S. Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan, the film also stars Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Laurence Fishburne.
At the film’s press junket, producer Charles Roven spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how much the story changed from the first script to what we see now, what made him most nervous about the script, casting actors at the highest caliber of talent, how Man of Steel compared to other big-budget films that he’s done, that he stays involved through the entire production process, and whether or not he’s interested in an inevitable DC Universe film. He also talked about what it will take to make a kick-ass video game movie, and that he hopes Warcraft (which starts shooting in February 2014) will be it. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
CHARLES ROVEN: Well, thank you!
From when you first got involved with this, how much did the story change from the script you first read to what we see now?
ROVEN: I would say that the basic story was there. I’d say that the script got more focused, both in terms of the precision of the action and where that action took place in the story, and in terms of the emotionality of the script. Those two things became more focused, during the course. We shrunk it down a little bit, too. The size of David’s first script was pretty long.
When you first read the script, was there one thing that made you most nervous?
ROVEN: There were a number of things that made me nervous, but they were also the very same things that really got my interest. It’s good to be scared and nervous, in a good way. The idea of trying to do it again, by taking a huge brand and trying to make that work, after having had amazing success with The Dark Knight trilogy, we knew that it had to be unique, to itself, and not cover the same territory. We really tried very hard to be true to what Superman called for. The other thing was just that the size and scope of the movie really scared the shit out of me.
When you take on something like this, that clearly puts its own stamp on the mythology and the relationships, and knowing that you have this actor at the center who really is relatively unknown to American audiences, was it important to get the caliber of talent that you have, surrounding that?
ROVEN: Yes, is the short answer. It was important for us. That’s why we tried to get those actors. The film wasn’t greenlit based on us getting those actors. The studio felt that we were starting with an incredible brand. So, when you have something that so many people around the world know the name – and even if you call it Man of Steel, they still know it’s Superman – and the symbol is the second most famous symbol in the world, you know that you can get people to go to the movies. But, to have those actors respond, both to the script and to working with Zack [Snyder], we knew that we would be able to elevate the material, and we feel we’ve been very successful in doing that. Through the emotionality of the characters, we really wanted you to believe what was going on. When Russell [Crowe] is saying goodbye to his son and Ayelet [Zurer] is crying, and when Kevin [Costner] is talking to his son and trying to explain to him who he is, that’s really great stuff. I don’t care what kind of a movie it is.
You’ve made a lot of big-budget movies, in your career. How did Man of Steel compare?
ROVEN: It was definitely in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises zone. It’s in there. It’s big. That’s what it was one of the things that scared me, in a good way. The script was really good. I closed it and went, “Wow, it’s big!” We had to figure out a way to make it big and emotional, and I feel really good about that.
Do you stay involved in the editing process, or are you just involved in pre-production and production?
ROVEN: I’m involved in everything. I’m one of those guys.
ROVEN: I am involved in the post-production, but I’m not intimately involved in the cut. I see different stages of the cut, along the way. As the visual effect passes are coming through, I look at literally every shot and probably 90% of the shots, I’m just going, “Wow, that’s great!” But sometimes, I go, “Well, what about that?” And I heard the early things that Hans Zimmer was doing. I’m one step removed ‘cause I didn’t want to get in Zack’s face. I more wanted to be a sounding board for Zack, and sometimes say, “If this is what we’re trying to accomplish, let’s think about this.” I actually see the building blocks come together, but it’s all in pieces. It is a very thrilling experience, particularly if the movie is working, to see it all together, the first time.
Considering the success you’ve had with Batman and Superman, are you interested in creating a DC Universe film?
ROVEN: I definitely think that the studio has said that they are going to do it. I hope they’re successful in accomplishing that. I want this movie to get open. I don’t really want to think more than that about anything ‘cause I like to bring to conclusion the thing I’m working on, before I move on to something else. But, this movie does allow for the fact that there’s nothing in it that would stop it from happening. The Dark Knight trilogy didn’t allow for a universe in which that could happen.
Being attached to the Warcraft and Uncharted movies, what do you think it will take to make a really kick-ass video game movie?
ROVEN: I really feel that, if you have these big spectacles, but you can make them relatable to people and engage them emotionally, no matter how big the spectacle is, then it will work. I think we’ll get there, and I’m hoping that Warcraft is the one. We start shooting it in February, and I think that Duncan [Jones] is a really, really spectacular filmmaker. I’m really happy to be working with him on it.
Man of Steel opens in theaters on June 14th.