IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Screenwriter David S. Goyer Talks 'Man of Steel,' 'Godzilla,' 'The Invisible Man,' and the Legacy of 'Blade'

Monday, 25 March 2013 19:00 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Screenwriter David S. Goyer Talks 'Man of Steel,' 'Godzilla,' 'The Invisible Man,' and the Legacy of 'Blade'

There is no doubt about it, we are definitely in the modern age of the comic book movie, and we really have one man to thank for that … David S. Goyer.

In my opinion, 1998’s Blade is the film that really ushered in the modern era of the comic book movie and made super hero films a viable commodity in Hollywood for the last fifteen years. In fact, Goyer’s script is still to this day used as the template for most super hero and comic book adapted movies, and the film also proved to the world that there is an audience for movies based on even the most obscure comic book character. Since penning Blade, Goyer has gone on to write such comic book based films as Blade II, Blade: Trinity (which he also directed), and Batman Begins. Not only did he help director Christopher Nolan reinvent one of the most beloved super heroes of all time, but he also developed the stories for The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and even Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Now the screenwriter has taken on one of his greatest challenges yet, rebooting the holy grail of comic book super heroes with this summer’s Man of Steel, which will reintroduce the modern world to Superman and opens in theaters on June 14th. The highly anticipated new film was produced by Christopher Nolan, and based on a story he developed with Goyer, who wrote the screenplay. Visionary director Zack Snyder (Watchmen) helmed the movie, which features an all-star cast including Henry Cavill (Immortals) as Clark Kent/Superman, Academy Award-nominees Amy Adams (The Fighter) as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do With It) as Perry White, Diane Lane (Unfaithful) as Martha Kent, and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) as General Zod, as well as Emmy Award-winner Richard Schiff (TV’s The West Wing) as Dr. Emil Hamilton, and Academy Award-winners Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves) as Jonathan Kent, and Russell Crowe (Gladiator) as Jor-El.

I recently had a chance to sit down with screenwriter David S. Goyer, who is also known for penning the Justice Society of America based comic JSA for DC comics, to talk about his new Starz series Da Vinci’s Demons. While we will run my video interview with Goyer about the new series closer to its April 12th premiere date, I wanted to let you know now what he had to say about Man of Steel, as well as his work on Godzilla, and The Invisible Man. The busy screenwriter discussed the upcoming reboot, his concept for Man of Steel, how his previous comic book work helped prepare him for writing the film, collaborating with director Zack Snyder, his first reaction to seeing Henry Cavill on set in the iconic Superman costume, whether or not Lex Luthor appears in the film, if the rumors are true that the Jimmy Olsen character is now female, casting Laurence Fishburne as the first African American Perry White, not planning a trilogy, which DC Comics characters he would like to see in the sequel, as well as exactly what his contributions were to the Godzilla script, the current status of The Invisible Man, and a look back at the legacy of Blade.

Here is what he had to say:

IAR: To begin with, you’ve previously stated that your original concept for Man of Steel was exploring man’s first contact with an alien and a boy growing up with two fathers. Can you talk about the themes that you wanted to explore with your screenplay and the process of developing the story with Christopher Nolan to reboot the franchise?

David S. Goyer: Yea. I can’t say much about that other than Superman is an incredibly well known iconic figure and I think my challenge was to try to figure that out. To a certain extent he is sort of cinematically frozen in amber, I mean a lot of people when they think of Superman they think of the (Richard) Donner films, and its been thirty-five years or so since the first Donner film came out. It’s been a long time and the world has moved on. I loved those movies and my goal was to figure out away to recontextualize him perhaps and figure out how to make him relatable. I thought, even though he is inhuman and he is an alien, if I can find a way to humanize him then hopefully I will have done my job and people will care about him. He is a tough character because he is invulnerable so you have to give him emotional vulnerabilities and hopefully that way he can become more accessible to the audience. 

Since you have been a comic book writer and have worked on comic book adapted movies for so long, did you feel that your extensive knowledge of comic book folklore and the mythology of this character helped you in writing the screenplay?

Goyer: It did help! Although, writing Batman Begins, even Da Vinci’s Demons, and now Superman, I mean yes, I would go to the comic books but I would also call from a lot of sources that don’t have anything to do with comic books. I read a lot of mythic poems and versus for Superman, Beowulf and Gilgamesh, hero legends and things like that. Not just comic books. 

Did you have a lot of involvement with director Zack Snyder during production?

Goyer: Yea, I was involved a lot. I was on the set about half the time. We kind of overlapped with Da Vinci’s Demons but I would come and go. I love Zack to death and he’s a blast to work with. 

When you were on set and saw Henry Cavill in the iconic Superman suit for the first time, what was your initial reaction?

Goyer: Henry is also a really nice guy and it’s not always that way. I was like, holy crap that’s Superman! I mean I tell my sons that I work with Superman and Batman. I went and visited the set with my six year-old and I timed it so that Henry was in the suit. We showed up and he was like, “Wow, you do work with Superman!” So I got a lot of cred with my kids for that. 

What did you think about Snyder’s choice to cast Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, making him the first African American to ever play the role in a live-action film, and the online controversy that it sparked with the fans?

Goyer: I thought it was an awesome choice. I think that it is silly that people are like, “You can’t have a black guy named White.” But I’m like, well what about Barry White? I thought that was stupid. You just want to get the best actor. 

There have been rumors that the Jimmy Olsen character has been changed to a female, can you address that issue?

Goyer: I can’t comment on that. 

Can you talk about your decision to not include Lex Luthor in Man of Steel?

Goyer: I don’t think anyone has every confirmed that we haven’t included him. 

Have you planned Man of Steel as a trilogy, and if not, do you currently have ideas for future sequels?

Goyer: I haven’t planned a trilogy. That I sort of took from Chris (Nolan). He always says, “Put everything you have in this film and worry about the sequel once the movie is done.” 

As a fan of the source material, are there classic characters from the Superman mythology that you would like to introduce in possible sequels?

Goyer: Sure, but I won’t say who they are. 

Do you want to keep that a secret for now? 

Goyer: … The Wonder Twins.

Changing subjects, can you talk about your contributions to Godzilla?

Goyer: You know, relatively minor honestly. I didn’t have a lot of time and I just came on and did about three weeks of what they call script doctoring. I don’t even think it was enough to get credit. I just did a little character work and stuff. 

What is the current status on The Invisible Man?

Goyer: It’s still languishing in development hell, but maybe one day. 

Finally, your work on Blade really ushered in the age of the comic book adapted film, and to this day is still in many ways the template for the modern super hero movie. Looking back, you must be incredibly proud of what you achieved with that project, correct?

Goyer: Sure, yea, and obviously it preceded X-Men and things like that. I think that the other thing that happened with Blade is that prior to that there was a feeling that Marvel and DC maybe each had about a half dozen characters that were viable as film properties. Then with Blade you think, my God, it is such an obscure character that if you can make a viable franchise out a character like Blade, then you can make a viable franchise off of any of these characters. So I definitely take a lot of pride in that and I’m happy that we did help usher in the modern era of comic book films. 

Then you had a chance to reinvent Batman as well with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, you must be extremely proud of that too, right? 

Goyer: That was awesome, and now Superman. I like what I do. I have no complaints. 

Man of Steel opens in theaters on June 14th.

To read our exclusive interview with Richard Schiff about Man of Steel, please click here.

To watch what our exclusive 2011 Comic-Con video interview with Henry Cavill about Man of Steel, please click here.

Godzilla is currently in production.

To watch the video of our exclusive interview with David S. Goyer about Man of Steel, Godzilla, The Invisible Man, and the legacy of Blade, please click on the video player below. 

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