It was Superman Saturday as filmmaker and longtime comic book aficionado Kevin Smith hosted the "Man of Steel" Fan Event — which streamed live right here on Yahoo Movies — in anticipation of the summer blockbuster's imminent Blu-ray and DVD release. While not much was revealed about any future cinematic adventures of the Man of Tomorrow (no real juicy "Batman vs. Superman" scoops, unfortunately), the event did offer some buzz-worthy tidbits about the somewhat controversial superhero extravaganza that's had some fans in an uproar over its supposedly un-Superman-ish elements.
The "Clerks" director, sporting his trademark hockey jersey reworked with the "Man of Steel" logo, kept things fun and lively as he moderated a Q&A with director Zack Snyder and actress Amy Adams, with the Man of Steel himself, Henry Cavill, being "beamed in from the Fortress of Solitude" (Smith's affectionate term for London). Fans got to ask questions via video feed or Twitter, and here's the news that's fit for a special edition of the Daily Planet.
What really got some fans in an uproar more than the sight of Metropolis buildings collapsing left and right was the film's climax in which — SPOILER ALERT — Superman snaps General Zod's neck, effectively murdering the Kryptonian general and making Kal-El, indeed, the "Last Son of Krypton."
Zack Snyder pointed out that the idea of Superman never taking a life is a notion that has come from "the way he's been popularized in movies and television. That 'rule' doesn't exist in the comics — in the comics, he's actually killed Zod a couple of times. In the comics he's more of a 'practical' hero — his aversion to killing won't stop him from doing it if it's the only solution."
Interestingly enough, Snyder also hinted at the possibility of Kal-El facing the repercussions of taking Zod's life in the next film ...
While Kevin Smith would like to imagine that the Battle of Metropolis actually took place on a "work holiday" with empty office buildings, Zack Snyder estimated that "about 5,000 people" were killed as Superman and Zod grappled with each other. But it was all a part of bringing a sense of tragedy to the film — and a necessary experience as Superman learns to truly be, well, Superman.
"There are real consequences [to the action]," said Snyder. "There's a sadness to the end of the movie — there's a human price, and that's what weighs on Superman. This is his first time out — he's learning."
And, to be fair, it's an intimidating enemy he's battling for his first time out.
"He's fighting his equal — he has no advantage," said Snyder. "Zod's a warrior, has trained his entire life, can fight 100 times better than Superman. Technically, he's outgunned in that scenario, and he should lose." Snyder said that ultimately it's Superman's upbringing on Earth that gives him the upper hand: "Because he's able to make choices, and Zod can't, he's able to win."
One of the fan questions presented to Henry Cavill was what the actor hoped to convey with the concept of bullying, one of the film's central themes. Cavill felt that bullying is something that becomes more difficult for Superman to deal with as he grows older.
"The first example of bullying in the film comes with Young Clark, in that even if someone makes you feel diminished, you shouldn't let them take charge and have your ego take over," said Cavill. "Later, he's bullied and he trashes the guy's truck, which wasn't the right thing to do."
And later, of course, Clark must deal with the biggest bully in the world, and unfortunately the question of how to stop that kind of bullying "has no peaceful answer."
Kal-El and Jor-El have great chemistry together on screen, and that might have something to do with that fact that Henry Cavill actually met his Kryptonian father, Russell Crowe, long before they worked together on "Man of Steel."
"I met Russell Crowe when I was in boarding school, when he was filming [director Taylor Hackford's 2000 film] 'Proof of Life,'" said Cavill. "I was an extra and I went over and shook his hand and told him I was thinking of becoming an actor."
Crowe shared some simple but honest thoughts on his profession — "Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not" — but later provided Cavill with some much more inspiring words.
"The next day I received a personalized autograph from him saying 'Dear Henry — A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,'" said Cavill. "And then we worked together on 'Man of Steel,' and he remembered me. He was at the beginning and at the end of my journey."
For those who may be unfamiliar with its adolescent charms, "Heavy Metal" is a sci-fi fantasy magazine known for its outrageous storylines and bold imagery, which often involves buxom heroines and lots of sex. It's decidedly not for kids ... though by accident it made quite an impression on young Zack Snyder and later influenced his visionary interpretation of Krypton in "Man of Steel."
"I'm a huge fan of 'Heavy Metal,'" said Snyder in response to Kevin Smith describing how the film's opening on Krypton looks like "a '70s album cover." Snyder said, "By accident my mom gave me 'Heavy Metal' instead of comic books when I was young and I thought it was the most awesome thing ever."
Indeed, "Heavy Metal" ended up kind of spoiling young Zack Snyder ... and giving him unreasonable expectations when he was later introduced to the world of perhaps more family-friendly superheroes.
"When I started reading normal comic books, I thought, 'When are they gonna start having sex with each other?'" he joked.
A fan asked Henry Cavill what kind of martial arts training he underwent in preparation for "Man of Steel." His answer, somewhat surprisingly, was "none at all."
"On a previous movie I'd learned the basics of martial arts, but [on "Man of Steel] the stunt guys said 'Forget everything you know,'" said Cavill. "Superman would never know a martial art, he wouldn't have trained for it, so bring it back and become a brawler -- big wide punches, stuff like that."
Actually, maybe if Superman had better fighting skills and not made those punches so big and wide, some Metropolis real estate might have been spared? Perhaps he'll get lessons from Batman (a highly trained martial artist) in the next movie.
Kevin Smith told Amy Adams that his favorite scene of hers in "Man of Steel" — and perhaps his favorite acting moment of all time — is the part where Superman flies in and rescues her from falling from the World Engine, with her face a perfect mix of "fear, relief and unbelief." Adams' own favorite scene from the film also doesn't contain any spoken words.
"My favorite scene is one where we don't talk at all, it's after [Superman is] at his lowest point and he's had to make this really hard decision and I come in and I comfort him and you really feel a love and a friendship and it's really pure," said Adams, describing the moment in the train station after Superman has killed General Zod.
Adams — who said she had auditioned for the part of Lois Lane several times in earlier projects — also revealed that her first experience with a "Superman" movie was on VHS ... and took place at a slumber party.
"I saw 'Superman II' at a gymnastics sleepover," said Adams, who was especially taken with the Kryptonian bed accessories at the Fortress of Solitude. "Later I had my Barbies sleep in tinfoil because of those sheets."
In a pre-recorded session with Zack Snyder and General Zod himself, Michael Shannon, a fan asked Shannon what his biggest inspiration was for playing the Kryptonian villain. Shannon revealed that the key was sort of becoming the "anti-Terrence Stamp," drawing a "reverse inspiration" from the "Superman II" star's imperious performance and consciously staying as far away from his portrayal as possible.
Shannon found inspiration from other sources as well — including the memoirs of a prominent Civil War figure.
"I had to rely on my imagination more than any other role. He's not like me at all," said Shannon. "I thought about being a general ... I read Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs, and wondered what it was like to wake up and have so much responsibility."
9. Superman's cape was largely computer generated to hone its 'acting style.'
Most of the shots featuring Superman "at rest" feature an actual cloth cape as part of his costume. But during dramatic walking and, of course, flying scenes, the cape is CG animated because, in many ways, it's as much a character as the guy wearing it.
"I needed to control its 'performance,'" said Snyder. "The cape needs to act in this scene, too" And speaking of the cape ...
10. Young Clark wears a red 'cape' as an instinctive homage to his Kryptonian ancestry.
So just who is Young Clark pretending to be as he's running around his Smallville farm wearing a makeshift red cape? "Superman" doesn't exist yet, so what is inspiring this soon to be iconic costume choice?
"It's inside of him — he's pretending to be Kryptonian without knowing it," explained Snyder. "It's an affinity towards what's natural in the Kryptonian culture."
Snyder also pointed out that this moment is being witnessed by Young Clark's Earthling father, Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner), which allows him to see his son "as Superman" at least one time before he dies.
Finally, the subject of Superman's next cinematic adventure was raised, which teams him up with his DC Comics colleague, Batman, for the first time in a live -action feature film. No matter what the details are of their seemingly antagonist relationship, Snyder is intrigued by the "emotional" aspects of their pairing.
"Whether they start off fighting and then they're friends or they're friends and then they fight, the question is emotionally how do they fit together?" he said.
Smith then offered a possible reason for them being at odds through a rather meta approach to the material.
"Ben Affleck plays Batman ... and he kissed Diane Lane, who plays Superman's mom in 'Man of Steel,' in 'Hollywoodland' [in which Affleck played former Superman actor George Reeves]," said Smith. Snyder joked, "Would that mean that Superman was like, 'That's not cool, bro. You made out with my mom!'"
Whatever the reason for the conflict, fans are foaming at the mouth to see these two titans square off on the big screen. Indeed, the strong reaction to the "Batman vs. Superman" logo that was unveiled at this summer's San Diego Comic-Con inspired Snyder to ask a few artists to try to capture that energy in some striking pieces of original artwork that feature the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel squaring off.
And you can have this artwork hanging on your own wall — the paintings are being auctioned via the popular comic book-themed charity organization, We Can Be Heroes.
It'll be a while before we can witness this long-awaited superhero mashup, as "Batman vs. Superman" won't be hitting theaters until July 17, 2015. But you can own "Man of Steel" on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday.
[Related: Relive 75 Years of Superman History]
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- Zack Snyder
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