Thanks to his ridiculous set of powers and clear moralistic views, Superman has long been a tricky character to get perfectly right in a major blockbuster, but in 2013 director Zack Snyder tried his hardest to bring the story of the original superhero back to the big screen with Man of Steel. It’s a film that is controversial in many eyes, particularly given events that play out in the third act, but Henry Cavill’s introduction wearing the cape is celebrated, and it’s certainly an epic retelling of the classic origin tale. Nearly seven years after its release it has a legion of fans – but even all of those individuals may not know all of the cool behind-the-scenes facts and stories.
With Zack Snyder prepping to do a special live watch of Man of Steel this week, we figured we’d take a look back at the history of the blockbuster and highlight some of the most interesting parts of its production – based on home video featurettes, interviews, and more. So let’s dive in!
They Hired A Linguist To Make The Kryptonian Language Authentic
In the making of Man of Steel, the filmmakers found themselves confronting a strangeness that has existed as long as the character: the fact that Superman wears an “S” from the Latin alphabet on his chest despite the fact that he is an alien. Rather than just letting the weirdness exist unexplained, the production opted to do something about it, and in the process wound up going to some crazy lengths to define the language of the Kryptonians.
Hiring professional linguists to aid in process, the work started based on the idea that the “S” shape is a symbol for hope, and from there the professionals went about creating an entirely new alphabet and syntax for the alien culture. The work is prominently featured in Man of Steel’s production design for Krypton, as what appear to be scribbles all over the walls on the planet are actually various phrases that can be translated by those familiar with the language. There also was apparently a sequence where Russell Crowe’s Jor-El speaks Kryptonian, but it wound up being cut.
There Was A Scene Shot With Clark As A Baby That Got Cut For Being Out Of Place
With a lot of story to get through with the character as an adult, Man Of Steel doesn’t feature an abundance of scenes from Clark Kent childhood, with the audience simply getting a few of flashbacks where he first struggles with his hypersensitive senses, saves a bunch of kids in a bus, and refrains from taking on a bunch of bullies threatening him. At the end of the day, these bits are all the movie needs – but it’s still noteworthy that there was a sequence shot that featured Clark as a baby getting checked out by a doctor.
According to screenwriter David Goyer, there was an extra scene filmed for Man of Steel that didn’t make the theatrical cut of the movie and had Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) bringing their newfound child to a pediatrician for a checkup. In an attempt to test the baby’s hearing, the doctor uses a device to emit sounds directly into his ear, and Clark winds up crying so loudly that it smashes windows and causes car alarms to go off. The scene was initially going to play out in between the Kryptonian ship crashing on Earth and adult Clark being introduced on the crab boat, but it was decided that it “felt out of place” and was removed.
Zack Snyder Didn't Want To Do The Boat Sequence With Green Screen, So He Put His Crew On The Ocean
As demonstrated by many, many scenes in Man of Steel, visual effects can be used to accomplish extraordinary things in modern filmmaking – but at the same time there are certain things that can’t be fully and properly captured about reality in a computer. Green screens can be amazing, but they also aren’t yet a total substitute for on-location shooting. It’s arguably why Clark Kent’s time on the crab boat in the first act of the movie looks so authentic, as while there were originally plans to film that sequence in a studio, Zack Snyder ultimately decided that it would be better to be shot on an actual boat.
This led to the rental of the Debbie Sue, as is revealed on the Journey of Discovery featurette on the Man of Steel Blu-ray – which was a boat that was sailed up from Seattle to Vancouver Island for the production. As a bonus, it turned out that Henry Cavill was quite adept at handling himself on the deck of a boat, which naturally made the whole experience a lot easier.
The Farmer Who Owned The Kent Farm Location Had To Change Their Crops For The Movie
Scouting locations for a film is a job filled with pitfalls. While there is always pursuit of perfection – with rigorous searches done for ideal places that suit all of the needs of a given production – more often than not there is a need for compromise. Man of Steel is an interesting case, though, because when the blockbuster required a farm that could be used for the Kent homestead, they found a mostly great place and then made some major steps to totally change it.
As revealed in behind-the-scenes footage on the Man of Steel Blu-ray, one part of this effort included building a whole farmhouse on the property, but far more nuts is the fact that the production got the farm to change its crops. The land was originally used for growing soybeans, but it was requested that a switch to corn be made, and all of the farming had to be done early enough in the season so that the stalks would be tall enough for when cameras would be rolling.
There’s A Specific Reason Why Superman Has Hair On His Chest
When it comes to bare-chested action heroes, Hollywood history has demonstrated a certain bias for shaved over hairy. It’s an extension of the industry’s unfortunate standardized definitions of sexiness – but Henry Cavill decided to take a stand for furry men everywhere in the making of Man of Steel. Fighting back against the idea that any exposed muscular chest must be perfectly waxed, Cavill opted to go a different route with his version of Superman, and even had comic book history to help support his argument.
As explained by Henry Cavill in interviews, he specifically used artwork from the iconic “Death Of Superman” run in the comics to prove his point. During his battle with the deadly Doomsday, Supes’ costume gets torn, and underneath it you can see that the Kryptonian has a fair bit of chest hair. Clearly it was an argument that Cavill won at the end of the day, with the evidence being featured in the still above.
Richard Schiff Made Himself The Hero Of Man Of Steel With A Behind the Scenes Photo
It’s pointed out by Richard Schiff on the Man of Steel Blu-ray that his character, Dr. Emil Hamilton, is actually one of the most significant heroes in the entire film, as he is the one who makes the final move pressing the “button” that destroys Zod’s ship. That in mind, it’s funny to know that he set up a funny photo opportunity behind the scenes of the movie that saw him not only take down the Kryptonian hero, but also win the affection of the leading lady.
During the filming of the blockbuster’s interrogation scene, featuring Dr. Hamilton observing a conversation between Superman and Lois Lane, Richard Schiff convinced the on-set photographer to take a special shot of him – specifically one where Amy Adams was kissing him on the cheek while he landed a punch right on the side of Henry Cavill’s face. Unfortunately, it appears that the picture has never been uploaded online.
Zack Snyder Personally Swished Superman’s Cape Following The Smallville Battle
This cute detail isn’t one that’s specifically highlighted anywhere, but you can clearly see it happening in the Man of Steel behind-the-scenes footage. Fans will remember that there is a scene immediately following the battle between Superman and Zod & Co. in Smallville where the hero steps out of the destruction and is recognized by the members of the military that are present as an ally. As he walks, Supes’ cape gently flutters by his ankles – and it’s Zack Snyder who you can thank, as he got hands-on with the shooting of the scene and evidently shook the cloth himself.
You can’t see Zack Snyder’s face in the footage, as the angle is obscured by the camera shooting the movie, but the tattoos on his arms are prominently visible. Why did he give himself that particular task when it could have been performed by anyone working for him on set? Perhaps he just had a specific vision for the movement and followed the old line, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
With the Man of Steel live watch with Zack Snyder scheduled for this week, this probably won’t be the last time you see us writing stories about the making of the blockbuster, so stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for that, as well as more about the ever-changing future of the DC Extended Universe.