Updated: ‘Man of Steel’ to Look Like a Superman Comic

By  · Published on May 16th, 2012

UPDATE: After speaking with the head of WETA’s marketing, we can confirm that the sizzle reel mentioned below was not WETAs. Again, this IMDB posting should be taken at arm’s length, and there’s also the possibility that Rothbart got the effects company wrong, but if these scenes are real, they are not the work of WETA. Original posting follows:

There was never much doubt that Man of Steel would have a comic book feel. It was only slightly less guaranteed than it looking like a Zack Snyder movie. The Warners mulligan on Clark Kent is set for theaters in June of 2013, but apparently WETA just showed two scenes as part of a sizzle reel that played at a fancy gathering with smoked salmon and a bunch of visual effects artists.

Allegedly, one of those effects wizards, Jonathan Rothbart (Avatar, Priest, Iron Man), posted a description of the scenes on the film’s IMDB message board. He was pretty excited.

Here’s what he (spoilerifically) had to say:

“I’m a visual effects supervisor for the upcoming film After.Earth, the M. Night picture. I’ve also done work on Avatar, Iron Man, and Sin City. I’m on IMDb. I’ll admit I check my own page from time to time. It feels good.

I frequent this board often, I’m a huge comic book fan (as shown by the movies I’ve worked on). Last night at a VFX conference there was a sizzle reel shown by Weta. In this sizzle reel there were two beta level(most likely from a trailer) clips shown. One only about 6 seconds long, the other much longer.

The former was Clark Kent grabbing a truck with a crying man inside of it while flying through the middle of a tornado. It looked incredible. Henry Cavill can fly, and he can hold a truck in one arm. Zack Snyder brings his usual visual flair, but somehow is still unlike anything he has made before. It felt like a Superman comic. Real heroism.

The longer clip was even more stunning, but the more I think about it, slightly concerning. The clip consisted of Superman in full costume in a verbal argument with Zod in the center of Smallville with Christopher Meloni yells at them through a megaphone next to a tank. Meloni warns them he will fire if they do not surrender. While he says this Zod sizes Superman up. Shannon looks evil as he can be. Bone chilling even. And is DEFINITELY sporting enhanced muscle. Cavill’s Superman is a wonderful sight to behold in motion. Cavill’s pure size makes him the most believable Superman to date. Zod speaks in Kryptonian “Do you know your native tongue, Kal-el?” Superman looks stunned, and responds in English, “Who are you?” (there isn’t enough Superman dialogue to judge Cavill’s performance fairly, but I’d say he did well. Nothing spectacular from this clip.) Meloni curses, then into a walkie talkie orders the tank to fire. Superman hears this and turns to the tank. Zod takes this opportunity to sucker punch Superman(in Zack Snyder slow-then-fast-mo) then when the tank fires Superman rushes in front of Zod, despite the punch and catches the exploding missile near his stomach. The flames ripple around him, hit his face, his cape, his eyes. The shrapnel hits him and bounces off. The same happens to Zod to a lesser extent. Meloni’s shocked expression when they remain standing, silhouettes in a cloud of smoke, ends the clip.

It was incredible, it really was. And absolutely visually stunning, but my qualm is its typical Zack Snyder. It doesn’t look glossy like his films do. It instead has a more clean cut, colorful look. Like Thor, or Iron Man. But it is the same slow-mo styling that people expect from him. Maybe it just happens in this one scene, but it happens twice. Makes me a bit hesitant, despite the fact it looks phenomenal”

Calls to his representative went unanswered (because it’s, like, 5am in LA at the time of this writing), so take it with at least a single grain of salt.

However, there’s nothing crazy here. Was there any doubt it would bear Snyder’s signature? Or that WETA would craft some spectacular visuals? Or that Michael Shannon would look insanely villainous?

Still, it sounds like two cool scenes, and it’s always impressive to see a VFX pro impressed by the work of another company, so there’s definite reason to be hopeful here. Of course, the movie also has to make sense and have a story to it. That, and not the visuals, might be the real hurdle of making this character compelling again amidst a sea of superheroes.

What say you? [IMDB, via Collider’s eagle eyes]

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