‘Man of Steel’ star Michael Shannon baffled by Comic-Con culture

Jan. 18, 2012 | 7:11 p.m.

When we spoke to Michael Shannon late last year, he had flown into Los Angeles from Vancouver during a brief break from making the new Superman movie, “Man of Steel.” Shannon began work on the film last August, wrapping the second season of “Boardwalk Empire” on a Wednesday and finding himself on an Illinois farm the next morning to begin life as Superman’s nemesis, General Zod.

The movie isn’t due out until June 14, 2013, but Shannon admits it’s all most people want to talk about. And when he does talk about it, the conversation usually gets him in a “tremendous amount of trouble” with the film’s producers and Warner Bros. gatekeepers.

“I got signaled that less is more,” Shannon said. “It’s kind of curious. It is Superman. So I think everybody kind of knows what happens, you know? Nothing’s going to be a huge shock.”

That said, Shannon understands. Sort of. “Man of Steel” marks his first foray into Comic-Con culture, a realm, he admits, that completely baffles him.

“There are legions of fans salivating, who will literally spend the next year and a half looking at the clock, waiting for this movie,” Shannon said, shrugging his shoulders. “That’s just the way it is. I don’t know why. Me, personally, I’m not a huge fan. I can’t even read comic books. I don’t know which panel to look at next. I hardly ever know what any of the characters are talking about. So, no, I am not one of them. But there are a lot of them. They’re out there. And they really want to talk to me about this movie!”

Terence Stamp as Zod. (Warner Bros)

Which is not to say that Shannon isn’t enjoying himself as Zod. Well … except for the special effects scenes (“that really ugly green [screen] is everywhere … it starts to slowly drive you insane”) that require him to wear a motion-capture suit (“a unique form of humiliation, I must say”). He’s happy (but, again, a bit baffled) that director Zack Snyder thought of him for the role and more than a little daunted by the prospect of following  Terence Stamp’s iconic performance from the Christopher Reeve films in 1978 and 1980.

“Stamp was really smart about it,” Shannon says. “He created a sense of gravity by doing very little. It’s hard to feel like you’re not twirling your moustache when you’re playing a villain. Me and Zack are constantly trying to bring as much variety and complexity as possible. He’s very good about that. No matter what I come up with on the first take, he comes up with a good way to explore it and change it up to keep it interesting. You don’t want it to be: ‘I’m a bad guy. I hate you!’

“One thing we’re doing …” And then Shannon stops himself. “You know, I think I’ve already said too much. I don’t want to be getting another one of those phone calls. I have to go back to work on this Monday…”

– Glenn Whipp

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Comments


20 Responses to ‘Man of Steel’ star Michael Shannon baffled by Comic-Con culture

  1. Jay in LA says:

    It's fun to hear from a smart actor, isn't it?

  2. mike says:

    Good job hiring a guy who doesn't even like or "understand" comics…once again the people in charge at studio "system" working wonders!!!…. Idiots!!!

    • mm90607 says:

      Take a pill Mike. It's a movie and there isn't a planet Krypton. It's all good fun, when done right. I've been to Comic-Con and can understand the underlying bewilderment of Shannon. Reminds me of the episode of SNL when William Shatner addressed ComiConnies and told them to get a life. You wouldn't be a truther by any chance? BTW I love comics but I know the diff between business and fun.

    • John says:

      Seriously, fanboy mike, do you really think it's necessary to understand the rabid cult following of comic book heroes (by grown adults!) to render a brilliant acting performance? Come back in a year and a half and tell us again how idiotic you think his casting was.

    • Doc says:

      I have to say, I agree! Why on earth would you hire someone to play a part who isn't familiar with the mythos? It was quite obvious that Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) was attempting to play Christopher Reeve playing Superman. This indicates that he had only watched the movies, but had no actual love for the character.

      Yes, there is no actual Krypton. That said, isn't it the point of a good movie to make you believe that there is? The best characters come from actors who believe in their character. Heath Ledger… need I say more?

  3. ellen says:

    No surprises, huh? Gee, people are really going to want to go see this. The studio wasn't able to keep him quiet. How about this? If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all…..at least without a script.

  4. chaoswhimsy&euphoria says:

    Baffle this: It's a HUGE dedicated fan base with disposable income and the tendency to spend it. It also can back or break the movie before it comes out including the future attitude toward the star. You can be Spiderman or you can be The Phantom. The choice is yours.

  5. LPB says:

    There, there, Mike. We ALL know it would be a better picture, perfectly executed as to every single aspect, if you were the producer. Other people like you would wrack their brains trying to find a single flaw to criticize, so they could call you an idiot. But their every effort would be thwarted by your genius and vision.

    But PLEASE, don't keep us hanging; start making your own movies, ASAP, so we won't have to put up with stuff like this any longer.

  6. Justin says:

    He doesn't have to read comics to embody a character. Characters are not tied to a medium, but rather to a story. As long as he gets this version of Zod and the character's backstory, it doesn't matter if he's a big comic book fan. I'm a huge Superman (and specifically a Zod) fan, but that doesn't mean I'm anywhere near a good enough actor to effectively portray the character on screen. It's great when the actors are fans of the source material, but it's certainly not required.

  7. john honeycutt says:

    actually its better to have an actor that doesnt know what the character is about! most actors that play super heros do a great job in the part because theyre not poisoned by the many characteristics from comics. look at Tom Welling who knew nothing about Superman or Christopher Reeves as well and most of there cast members too. They werent fans before but they are now. I say great job for hiring Michael Shannon!

  8. Keith Allen says:

    He don't mind getting paid. I hate people like him or the director of Green Hornet downplays the comic culture. Comic fans are die hards and faithful. We support film industry and toy companies. So you must respect us.

    • John says:

      "He don't mind getting paid"? And we need to respect you because you buy toys!?! Hilarious. Also, it's hard to respect anyone who had a free education, yet is virtually illiterate.

  9. TerryKeefe says:

    He's a great actor. I love comics, but it doesn't matter whether Shannon does or not. He hits it out of the park every time in a variety of roles.

  10. DaveTehWave says:

    June 14, 2013? Why the Eff is is taking so long? That is a LOT of post production!

  11. donavan says:

    it smells like fish i want apples mando sucks

  12. Uncle Frank says:

    Stupid comments reign supreme. Do you think Christian Bale reads comic books?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Bale did before doing Batman Begins, which is his best performance as Batman, IMHO. "But the two that I like particularly were ‘Dark Victory’ and ‘The Long Halloween’ – really fantastic imagery and the severity of Batman and everything. I would kind of imitate those positions, adopt it, practice it.”

    But the truth of the matter is this: Most Americans don't read comics. Most actors probably don't either. If we were basing casting off of who did or did not read the source material, probably over 90 percent of the actors in superhero movies would have to go away

    And yes, it's a GREAT bonus. But not really a requirement.

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