David S. Goyer Says He Wrote MAN OF STEEL “As If It Were Real,” Not a Lowly Comic Book Movie

     January 28, 2013


David S. Goyer‘s resume is a mixed bag, ranging from a story credit on the stellar The Dark Knight to full authorial control as writer/director of the tepid The Unborn.  Goyer conceived the story for Man of Steel with Christopher Nolan and wrote the screenplay.  The latter fact may be cause for concern when Goyer says things like this:

“We’re approaching Superman as if it weren’t a comic book movie, as if it were real.”

That’s the kind of sound byte that makes Matt Goldberg want to punch things, but I will try to give Goyer the benefit of the doubt.  What I hope he meant is that he wants to take Superman’s world seriously, to ground a larger-than-life story in genuine human emotion.  The problem is what he actually said, distancing his serious work of art from the lowly comic book source material.  That’s silly: Superman is the most comical of comic book characters, a superhero with every strength and practically no vulnerability.  An accomplished screenwriter should be able to distinguish between treating the comic as a real world and the real world.  Of course, Goyer did elaborate, so hit the jump for the full context.

david-s-goyerIn the latest issue of Empire [via CBM], Goyer compared his take to the two Richard Donner Superman movies:

“I adore the Donner films. Absolutely adore them.  It just struck me that there was an idealist quality to them that may or may not work with today’s audience.  It just struck me that if Superman really existed in the world, first of all this story would be a story about first contact.”

I don’t know that I want someone who uses the phrase “today’s audience” and implies there’s no room for idealism in a modern fantasy movie writing modern fantasy movies.

Thankfully Goyer followed up with a more reasonable pitch:

“He’s an alien.  You can easily imagine a scenario in which we’d be doing a film like E.T., as opposed to him running around in tights.  If the world found out he existed, it would be the biggest thing that ever happened in human history.  It falls into that idea of trying to humanize the inhuman.  He’s made out of steel, he’s not made out of flesh, metaphorically speaking.  We are portraying him as a man, yet he’s not a man.”


This I can get behind.  Superman has a crazy premise, and Goyer should embrace the supernatural rather than sand off the edges.

And then Goyer brought it home:

“It is obviously a much longer process with a character like Superman.  It is much easier to do a realistic take on Batman.  You know nothing can hurt Superman, presumably other than Kryptonite.  The challenge was simply: can we figure out a way to make those elements work, quote unquote, in the real world?  It’s very much a story of a man with two fathers.”

The father-son dynamic has been explored pretty thoroughly on screen, but once you acknowledge your central character is an invincible alien, it is a great idea to build on such a simple, relatable theme.

So there you go.  Goyer has some good ideas and said some stupid things—maybe that’s just who he is.  Here’s hoping director Zack Snyder harnesses more of the good than the bad by the time Man of Steel hits theaters on June 14, 2013.

Around The Web
  • Scullibundo

    That quote sounded pretty good to me. Maybe Collider’s writers need to try and keep their awful opinions out of their news pieces?

    • Nerdgasm

      LOLOL this isn’t a news site. wtf. this is TMZ for movie nerds is what this is. yes they don’t talk about relationships and whose fucking who LITERALLY but most of the shit that comes out of this site is movie related and RUMORS which means if THEY think it’ll sink or make a movie they will let it known. SHUT THE FUCK UP Scullibundo you dumb idiot. they are a blog that’s all meaning its all gunna be personal gab. you are dumb.

      • Scullibundo

        Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?

      • Shawn

        LMAO, ok , I trash Matt usually. I think I’ll be cheerleading behind Matt while he pummels you with his semi-stinging windmill punches for comparing his site to TMZ.

  • Six Demon Bag

    I really wish they would have gone the way of Captain America and made it a period piece. The idealism inherent in the comics would fit perfectly.

    • SeanPB

      Absolutely spot on.

      Tom De Haven’s It’s Superman! would be the perfect fit.

      The intro to that novel, the prologue if you will, is spine tinglingly good. Its… well, its superman.

      • Steve

        I actually love that idea. But Man of Steel needs to be commercially successful. And audiences haven’t always warmed up to fantasy period pieces, Captain America notwithstanding. The Rocketeer, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow were all period and pulpy and I love them all but they didn’t do so great at the box office.

        Additionally, the Superman movies are difficult because Superman is such a boyscout. That is a difficult archetype to pull off these days. Superman Returns had the iconography, the reverence for the source material, but the core audiences hated it because Supes didn’t really punch anyone. So the makers are always going to disappoint someone with any version of Superman they try to put on screen.

        I actually think Goyer is heading in the right direction, although making Clark’s alien identity part of the story is rather odd. It’s tip toeing into science fiction, and it’s such a preposterous premise to begin with — human, god-like beings existing on Krypton. I think Superman works best as American iconography and mythology. When you stray too far from that, you no longer have a Superman story.

        We shall see.

  • Billy Jack

    Goldberg needs to take his [BULLSHIT] opinion & shove it up his ass – where it belongs. When MAN OF STEEL comes out that hypocritical imbecile will be there opening night to see it despite all the crap he’s been talking about it. When it ends he’ll get on his Iphone6 & write another garbage review on how “Snyder & Nolan’s Superman experiment doesn’t properly depict the notion of heroism as a superhuman appropriately but rather paints a discerning image of grim mortality…blah blah blah” That guy doesn’t have an ounce of integrity in his writing nor a shred of creativity in his brain. Fuck him.

    • Jose

      Damn dude, you just went off. Lol

    • ap30


    • arnold

      Hahahaha lololol agree

      • arnold

        If hes giving unpleasant reviews on 2 of my most anticipated films of 2013, The Desolation of Smaug and Star Trek into Darkess, i’m gonna comment with a bunch of foul words on those reviews, I don’t care.

      • Um, Sure

        If you feel that strongly about Matt’s reviews, then simply stop reading them. Find movie critics with whom you do agree with and see what they think, or better yet, stop reading reviews if you’re that sensitive to differing opinions. Do differing opinions change the way you feel about a movie? Or do you just want everyone to reflect your sensibilities? Flying into a fit of rage because someone doesn’t like stuff you like is childish.

    • -

      “When MAN OF STEEL comes out that hypocritical imbecile will be there opening night to see it ”
      You could say the exact same thing about film critics who go to see Transformers. It’s their fucking job, guy.

  • sense 11

    I cant fkin wait for this movie

  • HCK

    Listen, retards… If you don’t like what people are writing then don’t come to the site. These are folks who are taking their time to provide a service for you, something you obviously don’t appreciate.

    • Shawn

      TurdBerglar seems to have great breaking story connects, like a good sportscaster . It’s his 2 cents we loathe. He can manage a great website evidently , stop micromanaging is all most of us ask. We just want his scoop.

      • HCK

        It’s now my goal to go through life never having to proclaim that I just want another man’s scoop.

      • DannyD

        I have to reply to HCK’s comment. Probably one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while. Well done good sir, this *slow clap* is for you.

      • Shawn

        Jimmy the reporter asked for some scoops “literally” in the original movies. This thread and Goldberg I know hope for a return to this type of speak in the new movie. Also, please avoid that strange area at Pornhub where these replies and claps you speak of come from.

    • Anonymous

      Lets get this straight. They aren’t “taking their time to provide a service” this is their job. This isn’t free work for them. This site is monetized by the 85 ads you see along the side of the page.

      And to be upset about someone saying they wrote a movie as if it were real is ridiculous. Is it worth the vitriol and hate people have spewed over it? No, but it’s still a stupid thing to get upset over.

      But don’t go calling these people the patron saints of film news or anything. They wrote and got paid for everything on this site.

      • sloan

        Lol, you see ads?

    • Weeks

      I’ve never been a big fan of the argument you’re using. Yes, there is plenty of good writing on this site–that’s why we keep coming back. The problem is that a lot of the insight, reviews, and news we seek gets reported with the unnecessary editorial annoyances that people are complaining about. We have no choice but to read it because the other writers aren’t writing about it!

  • Pat

    Way to take the story/ statement way out of context. I just read the full Empire article. At no point does anyone in the article snobbish talk down to the comic book movie genre. Goyer, Nolan, Snyder talk about bringing the material up to date (not showing the Kent’s as ridiculously elderly or out of the 1950s, not having Kryptone look like something on a disco club floor, making elements of the film self referential, and making Clark Kent a caricuture, etc). Seriously, read the article, not some edited snippet by the idiots from CBM.

    • Weeks


    • Alan B

      Pat for President.

    • All I ask for is Logic

      What Pat said.

    • stylus59

      Attention Brendan Bettinger !

  • Billy Jack

    A “service”??? Goldberg’s writing is a DISSERVICE to all mankind. Uninspired bullshit from the depths of deuchebag hell that unfortunately comprises the majority of reviews on this cool site. Eventually Collider will realize what an insult Goldberg’s written works are & they’ll stop spreading his garbage along with his international traveling budget (making thousands of prostitutes around the world happy). Shit, I can just imagine that fat fuck after five minutes with a pro: “The sexual intercourse was a questionable amalgamation of fatigue & premature ejaculation resulting in a weak yet mildly satisfying venture into homosexual eroticism & exercise in economizing.” One day his bullshit will end. It has to.

    • Jay

      I like a good insult, but you’re overdoing it. It makes you look desperate.

    • Shawn

      I got temporarily banned from this site for trashing Turdberg on his DKR review. He really is a buzz kill. High five B.J.

  • Grayden

    Guys, like him or not, Goldberg is the editor-in-chief of the site and all your trips to his reviews to bash him just generates traffic on the site, which generates hits on ads, and revenue. If you really want to “get rid of him” then start by ignoring his reviews and giving the other writers and staff your attention. He’s relevant because you make him relevant. Herp Derp!

    • douchebox

      I’ve tried to preach this and have realized It will never work brah…people are to eager to bash his life (and rightfully so) that they ignore the caution and generate tons of traffic. Obviously I’m here so I’m guilty of it too but it won’t ever carry over to enough people to make it matter anyways IMO. Like that old hag over at Deadline…she’s 100x worse than Goldberg but still does all their major articles.

  • Ty

    All I’m saying I. I’m excited for the film when batman begins came I out it took some settling before I liked it. Thi is one way to approach the story, a different approach, how many different takes have we seen in superman comics. I believe in Nolan/Snyder, goyer is a gamble, some people will love this movie some will not.

  • douchebox

    I just envisioned Matt Goldburger getting mad and punching things. In my head he looks like a little boy having a tantrum screaming bloody murder because they messed up the adaption of his favorite comic book. Oh and the punches he is throwing are pathetic and girly looking. YEP that’s the sequence that I get.

    • Um, Sure

      Judging from some of the comments, that kind of man child tantrum isn’t exclusive to Editor’s-in-Chief.

  • Karkaju

    I have to say that, after reading all this comments, I’m a little relieved. I thought I was the only one who thinks Goldberg’s reviews make him sound like a guy who’s stuck with the notion that being acid and unforgiving is a trait of intellect and refinement. A shame too, because seems to know a lot about the movie industry.

  • Shawn

    TurdBerglar seems to have great breaking story connects, like a good sportscaster . It\’s his 2 cents we loathe. He can manage a great website evidently , stop micromanaging is all most of us ask. We just want his scoop.

  • Alan B

    Well done, Brendan Bettinger. Your intent was to provoke (fake) controversy over a deliberate misreading of Goyer’s words, but what you actually incited was further hate of Goldberg. It’s like taking this quote – “it’s very much a story of a man with two fathers” – and then asserting that the film is pro-Gay Marriage.

  • Billy Jack

    Bettinger probably hates Goldberg. Everyone hates Goldberg. “Editorial: Batman The Movie” – what a fucking dickface. What’s next? “Editorial: I’m a terrible writer & to prove it I’ll fill every article in this site that I can get my hands on with bullshit”. At least that would demonstrate honesty, but Goldberg ain’t man enough. If he had any fucking heart he’d realize 100% of the people who read his shit wanna bash his skull immediately after & he’d just stop writing. But no, this will go on until Collider accepts the fact that the only traffic surrounding Goldberg’s articles is negative traffic. Right now they’re like the studios who finance Len Wiseman/John Moore films. They don’t realize they’re paying a guy way too much money to deliver dog shit.

  • Michael Horne

    Goyer doesn’t say that comic book movies are ‘lowly’. It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with and what people think.
    Now, just to be in keeping with the comments section of this site, please mentally add references to sex to the above comment, drop a few shits and f-bombs in there, too. There, doesn’t that fit in well with the perceived age and mental capacity of most of the previous comments? Yes? Excellent.

  • Whysoserious

    Great – this just sounds like another Batman to me. Something that used to be fun, now turned deadly serious as if it were real?! People used to goto the movies for escapism. They were fun. Now it’s like turning in the TV and watching the damn news almost – tired of ‘gritty’. Unfortunately the young uns seem to like dark depressing violent movies – probably due to being weened on a diet if routinely nihilistic console games. And the fact nearly every US movie has to reference 9/11 in tone these days, it overshadows everything. Still. Look at all the film stills – looks like somebody has not noy drained the film of its fun, idealism, but colour too! Supes was always the most shamelessly optmistic of the superheroes in spirit. Hoping that is still then case, but this looks like self reverential head stuck up its backside angst film making. Thanks Nolan for draining the fun and spirit from family blockbusters!

    • douchebox

      Yes because Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were so much fun…really bro?

      • Whysoserious

        I’m not your Bro. “Dewwde”.

        And those films were shite. Obviously. Poor examples and a rather obvious grasp at making a point. But you know what, I’d rather have a shite film that’s fun, rather than a film that takes itself so seriously that it destroys the fun of watching a fantasy movie…..

        Go back to your xbox sonny.

      • Alan B

        “But you know what, I’d rather have a shite film …”

        Wow, so you would prefer the Schumacher films.

  • Kaspar Hauser

    Usually I would just respectfully disagree. But this article is so obviously biased by distorting Goyer’s words (because I don’t really think that the writer misinterpreted it by stupidity, but by grudgingly) I’ll just say that a little bit of journalistic ethics is necessary even when the site proposes to talk about “lowly” things as pop culture and comic book movies.

  • Nomis1700

    Goyer didn’t said anything stupid. Just because some people think there is only one adaptation possible of THE superhero doesn’t mean it can’t get such a treatment as they’re going with now.

    In fact, I think this version benefits the character. There is so much more to him than just his superhero being in all it’s glory. I love it that we get to see their version of Clark Kent/Superman because it’s about the character, not just about great effects and for the sake of putting on an even bigger franchise.

  • LEM

    Why do they over think this? Just have Superman kicking ass in amazing high flying action sequences within a thin story borrowed from the comics and for the love of god don’t do an origin story because even you’re wrinkly old grandma knows who Superman is.

  • Pocketses

    Lets get this straight. They aren\’t \"taking their time to provide a service\" this is their job. This isn\’t free work for them. This site is monetized by the 85 ads you see along the side of the page.

    And to be upset about someone saying they wrote a movie as if it were real is ridiculous. Is it worth the vitriol and hate people have spewed over it? No, but it\’s still a stupid thing to get upset over.

    But don\’t go calling these people the patron saints of film news or anything. They wrote and got paid for everything on this site.

  • hg

    collider is full of idiots goyer didn’t say 1 dumb thing you just took his comment way out of context

    collider learn to read

  • Kenderos

    This article clearly takes goyers comments out of context. The guy clearly has a mixed bag or good and terrible movies but this movie looks fantastic and I’m not even into Supes very much. The reason for all of these reboots need for origin stories is that both bats and supes tanked last time out. They want a new post Donner franchise and the most logical place to start is the beginning.

    And I can do without comic booky movies. Haven’t we learned from daredevil or the fantastic 4? The avengers Was the only good movie like that and it had a ton to do with buildup and star power. But the plot was garbage and all the mind control and bonk on the head almost killed it. And don’t get me started on all the bad guys just randomly dying at the end.

  • Shoerki

    An idiotic concept that surprises nobody, since they are shoveling this pile of shit movies that try to look more serious than a K Bigleow movie and they still feature superheroes.
    “Not a Lowly Comic Book Movie” what an imbecile cretin pretentious numb nuts. Your movies are nowhere near the greatness that comic book can achieve.

    • Alan B

      He never said “Not a Lowly Comic Book Movie”. Learn to read and/or read in context.

  • Yahzee

    … congrats Collider, way to take one single phrase and blow it out of proportions. Where did Goyer said comic books are something “lowly”? I like the approach their taking to Superman this time. If you want the most silly things about comic books on film go watch The Avengers…

    • Yahzee

      … they approach THEY’RE taking… damn, there goes my rant’s credibility, much like Matt Goldberg’s….

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  • Mike

    Collider: Please stop writing in the first person and just report the fucking news. Thanks.

  • fitzchiv

    it seems brendan bettinger is taking a leaf out of matt goldbergs book, throw out some unwarranted incendiary comments about an upcoming blockbuster and watch the comments section explode, more hits, more advertising revenue, kerching! and i still think matt goldberg must have intially bankrolled this site or something, its the only explanation for his prominence!

  • Sean

    How was anything Goyer said “stupid” or unreasonable? It’s the same stuff they’ve been saying from the beginning and which we would expect from Goyer and Nolan. This article reads like you’re looking for a story where there isn’t one. They want to tell a Superman story that explores what would happen if this obviously unreal character appeared in our real world. I don’t think they’ve ever actually used the word “dark” to describe the film. They just don’t want to make it campy (which apparently is what Goldberg wants).

  • It’s A Trap!

    No need to get all worked up at this point. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that what Zack has in store for us is something new and awesome and less Sucker Punchy! From the trailer this movie looks promising and although it will inevitably displease some I’m hoping Zack knocks it out of the park so we can see a Justice League flick.

  • It\’s A Trap!

    No need to get all worked up at this point. Let\’s just keep our fingers crossed that what Zack has in store for us is something new and awesome and less Sucker Punchy! From the trailer this movie looks promising and although it will inevitably displease some I\’m hoping Zack knocks it out of the park so we can see a Justice League flick.

  • Hrothgar

    Superman is probably the most challening comic hero to translate to the big screen. I hope they get it right, I’m feeling optimistic.

    But seriously, someone needs to proofread this article agan, there seem to be a lot of errors.

  • keptfresh

    Collider continuely proves to be a great source for collective movie news.
    But the way this news is presented is horribly biased. I want information, not opinion.

    It’s like getting all the correct answers for an exam just before you write it, but from a smug, self righteous asshole.

    • Sean


      In one of their podcasts (which was about snarky reviews), Goldberg admitted he was hired because of his ability to write snarky.

  • Snacks

    Batman 3 was a terrible, dark, boring superhero movie, in which Batman was actually rarely in the movie. Batman seemed to have forgotten his utility belt at home. He threw slow punches, blocked most punches with his face, and moved almost in slow motion. Did the director ever watch a Bourne movie or a Bruce Lee movie? That’s entertaining fighting. That being said, supposedly Batman movies are routed in (dark) realism. But serioulsy would a dude deciding to run around in a Batman outfit challening criminals not have to be a little special? Like a super athlete? If Batman can miraculously suddenly heal from bad knees and a back condition, is he not special? So now if Superman is super invulnerable, would he not also be super confident and a super ladies man, and quite possibly a little funny. Even if he has to deal with the dark badness in the world, he can’t easily be hurt, he can laugh at some who challenge him. If anything zipping around the world must be fun. Flying up to tigers, lions, and gorillas or swimming alongside a great white shark is a casual thing for him. There was an article about facebook that said that many people actually have negative experiences with facebook, and this is most often due to viewing frequent travel/vacation photos of ‘friends’. Supes is the ultimate traveller/vacationer and thus should be super happy. He can even travel in space. Don’t make the movie overly dark, otherwise it won’t be a ‘realistic’ movie.

  • Steve

    And besides, Devin Faraci is currently filling that role.

  • Alan B

    Brendan Bettinger and Other Collider Staff to Readers

    “Nikki Finke is a big meanie and unprofessional, that’s why we don’t publish Hyperlinks to her website. But we don’t see anything wrong with writing biased rants that distort the intentions of the original source. You see, that’s apparently OK …”

  • gimpsuit

    Superman is just too, nice. It worked for 70′s Superman and Chris Reeve pulled off the goofy charm, but this isn’t what they are going for in this movie. Seriousness will ruin this film. It’s a hard character because Superman is lame, he’s vanilla, hold the sprinkles. And invincible, except for the green stuff and intersteller beings, none of which humans find relatable really.

    • Thank You

      To often people mistake seriousness with good art. One does not equal the other.

      • Alan B

        Just because something is realistic doesn’t mean it’s bad.

        And, OK, this is just confusing: “Superman is just too, nice. It worked for 70′s Superman”. Are we talking about the same ’70s in which the US President resigned as a result of a cover-up, the US finally ended the Vietnam War after more than a million people died, Syria and Israel began fighting, the 1973 oil crisis put a dent in economies, and terrorism grew in Europe? Yeah, I can’t draw ANY parallels between the economic crises, natural disasters, unpopular wars, fighting in the Middle East and political corruption of the ’70s and the problems of today. Everything was apples and sunshine in that period. gimpsuit, I suspect that you might be some kind of History Professor, given your obvious understanding of the ’70s. Do you have one PhD or two?


    Yep, it’s going to be really realistic and shite. From the Asshole who directed Sucker Punch and the bro what wrote Ghostrider, Jumper, The Unborn and Blade Trinity and the asshat who directed Dark Knight Rises and Prestige. We got a real winner in the works, LOL!

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  • Snacks

    Superman can fly so fast he can reverse the spin of the earth. He is super strong. He has super breath. He has laser beam eyes. This is part of the problem with making a movie about him. Make him fly a little slower, etc. Show him actually tiring from zipping around and stopping crime. Show some limits to his powers. This is much better than having it always come down to kryptonite stopping him. And for a guy with all those powers… why does have have to keep fighting Lex Luthor, an ordinary human. Tired of Lex, and tired of General Zod. Given him new powerful enemies. Must be lots in the comics. Have him battle a legion of vampires or Aliens attacking, or something other than Zod and Luthor.

  • patuniverse.com

    How about some of you shut the fuck up until the movie comes out? People already have strong opinions and judgements about a movie that isn’t even in the theaters. Again, shut the fuck up and go see the movie when it comes out, then you have my permission to say whatever you want.

  • Snacks

    The universe does have some unusual creations.

  • Supermarket Soundtrack

    The film style in that still is probably the best and most inspiring thing I’ve seen from this movie since launched production. Very Nolan-esque. But then again he’s just mentoring and doesn’t have a say in the final product. My grain of salt shaker is here with Snyder after the Watchmen and Suckerpunch debacles

  • swivler

    in reality, superman could exist without getting his identity easily discovered: http://manofsteelforreal.blogspot.com/

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