While the world and their wife are currently debating the role that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be playing in "The Dark Knight Rises" (we don't want to add to the fuss, but we met someone down at the pub last night who swore up and down that he'll be King Tut), Zack Snyder is quietly assembling his cast for the other big DC Comics movie of 2012, "Superman: Man of Steel." British actor Henry Cavill landed the title role at the start of the year, and Diane Lane and Kevin Costner have been cast (perfectly, it should be said) as his adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent.
With the director's latest film, "Sucker Punch," hitting theaters on Friday, we're only likely to see things accelerate from here on out, and Snyder's been hitting the promotional circuit in the last few days revealing some new tidbits about his superhero flick. Probably the biggest piece of news being in regards to someone who won't, as it turns out, be in the film. The only name to be firmly linked with the villain of the piece, General Zod (previously played by Terence Stamp in the two Richard Donner pictures) was Viggo Mortensen, who was said a month or so ago to be at the top of Snyder's wish-list to play the Kryptonian fascist.
Latino Review sat down with Snyder over the weekend and, while they were stonewalled by the helmer on pretty much every Superman-related question, the director did confirm that Mortensen is out of the running, telling them that, "Viggo is not going to be in the movie, let's say that right now. I can clear that up." Most have assumed that the casting of the "Lord of the Rings" star alongside Kristen Stewart and (possibly: she's still not confirmed) Charlize Theron in "Snow White and the Huntsman" has ruled him out, which seems likely, although it's also entirely possible that, had the picky actor wanted to do both, the schedules could have been worked out.
It's a shame, as Mortensen was a solid choice for Zod, but we're sure that it won't take long to fill the part -- vague whispers have suggested that Snyder wants to reunite with his "300" lead Gerard Butler in the role, while there's plenty of other actors out there who could work -- we suggested some a little while ago. We're sure it won't be long before the casting for the role, as well as some of the other characters (there's at least one female lead to be cast, probably two) is announced.
But what of Snyder's approach to the film in general? The director talked to io9 as well, and delved a little more into his specific take on the character. Most importantly, he revealed that, despite his reputation as one of the more stylized directors out there, the new film will follow the lead of Christopher Nolan's Batman films (and indeed, most contemporary superhero flicks), and be grounded in a recognizable world: "I've said to the studio that this will probably be the most realistic Superman movie ever made. It takes place in the real world much more than [my previous films]... I mean, I've just never had the subject matter that needed that, you know what I mean? Like everything I've done up to this point really has the benefit of existing in a stylized world. It's fun for me that the most realistic movie... I've ever done is a movie called Superman!"
Presumably this'll see him calm down his hyper-kinetic style a little which, after a film featuring scantily-clad ninja girls fighting dragons from blimps, can only be a relief. Snyder also hints a little at the theme established in David Goyer's script, which hopefully means there's a little more substance to the film. "I feel like what we're trying to do is we're going to make him as relevant as we can, as culturally relevant as we can, and I don't know if that sort of big blue boy scout image... does he work today? That's the question, and I'm not going to answer that here, but you sort of start to think about that and if that makes sense to a modern Superman."
Finally, the director also comments on the casting of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, the latter of whom is a mere eighteen years older than Cavill, defending the decision to go with relatively young actors as Pa and Ma Kent: "My idea was that Superman's parents should be vibrant, like real people, not like some doddering ancient cliché. I think the thing you realize when you look at Diane and Kevin, in our decision to cast them so far, you sort of get a sense of how, tonally, we're looking at the movie, and what you realize is that those guys are serious actors, and we're taking this shit fucking seriously in terms of the tone of having those guys. You're talking about having a situation where whatever the action is or whatever the drama of the movie is, our first priority is to make sure it's rendered in the most realistic way we can get at."
Realism is very much the watch word here, which isn't entirely surprising, considering the huge success of "The Dark Knight" et al. We'd be lying if we said that we weren't secretly hoping for something a little more gonzo and out-there, a la Grant Morrison's "All Star Superman" (which Snyder acknowledges is "the big version of Superman"), but then again, considering that the one superhero movie this year to take a more cosmic approach, "Green Lantern," also looks by some distance the worst, maybe it's better that Snyder's keeping his feet on the ground. "Superman: Man of Steel" begins filming this summer, for a release at the end of 2012.