18 Jul Author Dan Wallace Talks Henry Cavill and Man of Steel in New Book

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Daniel Wallace is a comic book expert, sci-fi sage, and lifelong geek, and author/co-author of books including The Jedi Path, The Art of Superman Returns, DC Comics Year by Year, The Marvel Encyclopedia, and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters. Other universes he has worked with include Smallville, Indiana Jones, and Supernatural. We asked him some questions about his new book, Man of Steel: Inside the Legendary World of Superman and Henry Cavill as Superman.

 

Did you get to meet Henry Cavill while researching your book?

Unfortunately, I came on board for the book while Man of Steel was in post-production, meaning Henry and the other cast members had already wrapped shooting. However, that didn't mean I was without resources! While at Warner Bros. Studios in L.A., I read the script, reviewed hours of interviews in which Henry had discussed his motivations and what the character meant to him, pored through thousands of behind-the-scenes on-set photos, and most importantly spoke with the people who worked directly with Henry during casting and filming. This included director Zack Snyder, producer Christopher Nolan, and producers Deb Snyder, Emma Thomas, Wes Coller, and Charles Roven. Zack provided some really fond memories of working with Henry, including the fact that both he and Henry went through strength training together under the Gym Jones regimen. I think what you see on screen in terms of Henry's physique is a pretty good endorsement! Charles Roven was very close to the casting process, and revealed that Henry was one of the actors on the short list for Bryan Singer's Superman Returns film, but they kept coming back to him no matter how many other actors they screened for this part. The chemistry between Henry and Amy Adams when they screen tested Clark and Lois together was electric.

Physically speaking, this Man of Steel looks nothing like any of the previous film incarnations. Henry Cavill got into incredible shape for the role of Superman, adding bulk and muscle, something that is really highlighted by the new suit. Do you think that this defining aspect of the character came from Henry or from Snyder or Nolan?

I think the physicality really comes from Zack Snyder. Going back to his film 300, you can see how the Spartan warriors are in such incredible physical shape, and how it really helps sell the visual experience of ancient, armed combat. Superman is similar. His powers come from his genetics, not his muscles, and neither Christopher Reeve nor Brandon Routh is hugely muscular. But Superman is powerful, and having an actor who just looks powerful is strong visual shorthand. Superman in the comics is a pretty bulked-up guy, and when you see Henry Cavill with his shirt off in that one scene where he climbs onto shore following the oil rig rescue, you really feel like "this guy is a straight-up superhero"!

How is this version of Superman different from previous versions?

What I really appreciate about this new cinematic incarnation of the Superman legend is that it's not reliant on everything that has come before. Don't get me wrong, I love the previous Superman movies too, but as iconic as Christopher Reeve is in his movies, if Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill didn't attempt to make a clean break with this portrayal we'd still be living in the shadow of previous films. Henry has a raw physicality that is amazing, but he also has a very guarded, haunted look to him, particularly in the beginning of the movie while he's still living on the fringes of society. This is Superman as an outsider, and it will be fascinating to see him become more confident of his place in the world in future movies, not to mention how Henry will portray that confidence. We get glimpses of it in the final scene of Man of Steel when he's talking with General Swanwick.

You wrote a visual guide to the Superman Returns movie with Brandon Routh. How would you compare the two movies, the two actors and the two very different-looking costumes?

I'm a big fan of Superman Returns and think it's underrated, both as a movie and in Brandon Routh's strong portrayal of both Superman and Clark Kent. But , Superman Returns was very clearly Bryan Singer's homage to the previous Superman movies by Richard Donner, specifically Superman: The Movie and Superman II. Even the Superman Returns costume was a very faithful interpretation of the classic costume using modern materials. I really like that Man of Steel went a different route with its costume and its approach to the Superman/Clark Kent dynamic. I especially enjoyed how the movie removed the love triangle aspect of Lois-Superman-Clark, by making it very clear that Lois is in on his secret from the beginning. I can't wait to see how that plays out in the future.

Henry Cavill has talked about his resources for the movie, what did Zack Snyder draw on for inspiration?

I met with Zack Snyder in his office for a very long discussion in which we talked about the character and Zack's artistic influences. He definitely knows his comic, that’s for sure. One area that he kept coming back to was the portrayal of Superman during the 1940s, where he was a symbol of American power during World War II and during the birth of the Atomic Age. Zack was very intrigued by the metaphor of the character as a powerful tool that could be viewed with fear or viewed as a savior. In fact when designing the "S" symbol on his chest, Zack went back to the version that was used in the comic books during the early 1940s and patterned his design after that glyph.

What was the experience of writing this book like for you?

I've been a lifelong Superman fan, so the opportunity to look under the hood and see a bunch of other Superman fans — Zack Snyder included — putting together such an amazing movie is like getting to open my Christmas presents early. Even after reading the script and seeing so many behind-the-scenes details, the actual experience of going to see Man of Steel in a darkened theater blew me away. It's amazing to see everything coming together, from Henry's performance to the music and visual effects. What a ride!

 

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