Zack Snyder: ‘Man of Steel’ sequel explodes Superman, Batman universes

March 03, 2014 | 4:57 p.m.
supes lex21 Zack Snyder: Man of Steel sequel explodes Superman, Batman universes

Jesse Eisenberg will star as Lex Luthor in the upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel. (Jim Lee / DC Entertainment; Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

supe alfred1 Zack Snyder: Man of Steel sequel explodes Superman, Batman universes

Jeremy Irons will play Alfred Pennyworth in the upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel. (Brian Bolland / DC Entertainment; Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

supes affleck Zack Snyder: Man of Steel sequel explodes Superman, Batman universes

Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman opposite Henry Cavill's Superman in the upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel. (Ethan Van Sciver / DC Entertainment; Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

supe galgadot Zack Snyder: Man of Steel sequel explodes Superman, Batman universes

Actress and model Gal Gadot, best known for her work in the "Fast & Furious" film franchise, has been cast as Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder's upcoming "Man of Steel" sequel. (Alex Ross / DC Entertainment; Handout)

The untitled “Man of Steel” sequel hasn’t yet gone into production, and it’s already the most controversial movie in fandom.

Chalk that up to director Zack Snyder’s somewhat unconventional casting choices. First, comics stalwarts expressed surprise and skepticism in August with the revelation that Ben Affleck would inherit the cape and cowl from actor Christian Bale, taking on the role of Batman opposite Henry Cavill’s Superman in Snyder’s much-anticipated superhero sequel, the follow-up to his 2013 blockbuster that grossed more than $668 million at the worldwide box office.

Then came the announcement that Israeli actress Gal Gadot, best known for her work in the “Fast & Furious” films, would play Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the movie, and the uproar started anew. Just last month, fresh fandemonium was heaped upon the movie with the announcement that boyish “Social Network” star Jesse Eisenberg, 30, had claimed the part of Superman’s traditionally burly, bald and middle-aged arch nemesis Lex Luthor.

PHOTOS: The roles that led Ben Affleck to Batman

A month before physical production on the Superman-Batman movie is set to begin – and just days before the Friday opening of the Snyder-produced “300: Rise of an Empire,” director Noam Murro’s follow-up to Snyder’s revolutionary 2007 action film “300” — Hero Complex caught up with the filmmaker who revealed exclusive details about his latest directorial project. (Look for more on “300: Rise of an Empire” later in the week.)

Snyder spoke candidly about keeping tabs on fanboy “talk-back” and how outcry is “reassuring and frustrating at the same time.”

"Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder in New York on June 10, 2013. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder in New York on June 10, 2013. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Hero Complex: Have you started filming ‘Superman-Batman’?

Zack Snyder: We’re getting ready to start shooting in a month or so. It’s going great. I’m very excited. It’s very fun to get into this world with different heroes coexisting in the same universe, but a lot of balls in the air as they say. As a fan, it’s an amazing opportunity. You know, Superman and Batman in the movies have never existed in the same frame together. So it’s an interesting historical thing. We were just testing the suits, right? The new Batsuit and the Superman suit. It wasn’t even with the actors, right? It was just to see ‘em. I was standing there, they were standing next to each other. And I was like, “Guys, someone take a picture! This has never happened before.” We slightly dork out. Like, “Are you kidding me?!”

HC: How surprised are you by all the outcry over some of your casting choices? From Gal Gadot to Ben playing Batman? Jesse as Lex Luthor?

ZS: There are two ways to think about it. We know the material. Unfortunately, the fans don’t know the material. So, we’re casting according to what’s happening in the script. And we’re hoping that leads to enough originality, enough perspective on what we’re doing that you get something fresh and exciting. I understand the canon. I’m not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint. I think Jesse is going to be an amazing Lex. Let’s not forget he was nominated for an Academy Award. It’s not like I just grabbed my friend to play the guy! This guy’s the real deal. By the way, in looking at all the talk-back, you can get all different perspectives in there too. Some people are hating to hate. Some people — someone did some fan art. And you look underneath and someone wrote, “I guess I can see it.” Honestly, are you kidding me? Just stop it! It’s reassuring and frustrating at the same time.

HC: It seems like you’re not insulating yourself from fan dialogue about the project. You’re out there listening to what people have to say. But ultimately, you are trying to serve the material. So what you’re saying is, fans should take heart in that.

ZS: Not just that. [The movie] literally takes the “Man of Steel” and “Batman” universes and explodes them. You’re not as tied to the mythology. In “Man of Steel,” we had to create an origin story, a mythology, and there’s a lot of energy into that, which we love doing. Don’t get me wrong. But when you think about how fun it is too — now that you’ve got these characters — to now let ‘em loose. That’s fun!

– Chris Lee | @LATHeroComplex

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