Zack Snyder has his Superman now with Henry Cavill all set to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but when the director closes his eyes and thinks about comics, which version of the Man of Steel does he visualize?
The director of “300” and “Watchmen” is clearly conversant in funny-book history and the question gave him pause.
“There are so many interpetations, so many artists,” he pointed out, and, yes, that’s absolutely true. There’s the pioneer pencil of Joe Shuster and contemporary drawing board of Frank Quitely and scores of interesting candidates in between. Do you go with the old-school steadiness of Wayne Boring, the mythos-reshaping clarity of John Bryne, the singular sinew and crackle of Neal Adams? Perhaps the polished cosmic tableaus of George Perez or the memorable-moment work of Jerry Ordway?
For Snyder, he narrowed it down to a two-man split decision: Jim Lee and Curt Swan.
Swan’s work on Superman spanned five decades and there was a sort of noble, even gentle aura to his work and an absence of flash and grit — the bank robbers in Metropolis even wore coats and ties to work — that create a time-capsule vibe now. In the summer of 2006, the U.S. postal service released a new Superman stamp featuring the art of Swan (inked by Sheldon Moldoff ) and the elemental appeal of the image still sticks with Snyder.
“It’s funny, I have that stamp image — it’s him tearing open his jacket. Its got a retro vibe to it, it’s cool. That’s the background on my iPad. It’s Curt Swan and the way he draws that jawline, it is like Mt. Rushmore, totally, or like ‘The Incredibles.’ Swan is really good.”
Swan is viewed by some as a Norman Rockwell-type figure in DC history and that appeals to Snyder but, on a pure fanboy level, he’s more impassioned by the work of Lee. The artist’s run on the “For Tomorrow” storyline (“Superman” No. 204-215), for instance, captured the brawny and heroic male ideal that, no surprise, resonates powerfully with the director of “300.”
“My taste level goes to the more, I guess, muscular Superman. The bigger, more muscular Superman, the way Jim draws him. Those tend to be the artists I like in comics. So Jim’s Superman, for sure. That’s not to say that’s how the movie will be, of course, but as far as the comics. It’s an interesting thing to think about though. There have just been so many incarnations and so many great ones. As a fan you don’t really to have to pick, you can enjoy them all.”
— Geoff Boucher
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