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The Untold Truth Of Man Of Steel

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's "Man of Steel," the film that introduced Henry Cavill as Superman. For many fans, Cavill is the definitive version of the Last Son of Krypton because he looks eerily like the character from the comic book. Even director Zack Snyder insisted that once he saw the actor in the suit, he knew he was the right person for the role.

Cavill aside, much has been written about the actual film, with some heralding it as one of the most underrated comic book movies ever, while others deeming it one of DC's worst superhero outings. Regardless of where everyone stands on this debate, there's simply no disputing that "Man of Steel" found an important place in pop culture discourse and continues to be discussed years after its release. Just look at how many other comic book movies were universally well-received upon release but are now largely forgotten.

The road to "Man of Steel" wasn't quite a scenic trip to Smallville, however. There were many obstacles and challenges that both the cast and crew had to endure in order to make this feature a reality. From ludicrous studio notes to an almost entirely different actor playing Superman, here is the untold truth of "Man of Steel."

Joe Manganiello nearly soared as the Man of Steel

Remember when fans thought the only person who could ever be fit to carry Christopher Reeve's cape would be Tom Welling from "Smallville"? While the Brandon Routh experiment didn't work for its own various reasons, Zack Snyder's choice of Henry Cavill as Kal-El remains one of the most popular superhero castings around. Well, fans have "True Blood" to thank for Cavill's casting, since Joe Manganiello was all but set to take first flight in "Man of Steel" before HBO grounded his Superman ambitions.

Talking on the Happy Sad Confused podcast (via ComicBook.com), Manganiello discussed how close he came to portraying Big Blue. He disclosed how he held meetings with all the big players and Snyder himself, before events took a turn for the worse when Warner Bros. asked HBO for the actor's measurements to make a suit for him. This put the network on high alert, pointing out that the actor was still under contract for "True Blood." No matter how much the various parties pleaded to get some kind of workaround, HBO said no. "I'm a sensitive guy," Manganiello said. "I was rocked by the whole thing." While the Superman role fell through, the actor was eventually cast as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke in the DC Extended Universe. However, the proposed plans for his character amounted to simply a cameo in "Justice League" after all the changes to DC movies at Warner Bros. Poor Manganiello simply can't catch a break.

Christopher Nolan was against Zod's neck snap

To this day, one of the most talked-about moments from "Man of Steel" is when Superman snaps General Zod's neck as if it were a twig. There are two sides to the debate here: Some fans understand that Kal-El is left with no choice and this action, while painful, sets him on the path to becoming a better hero in the long run. Others believe that it's a fundamental misunderstanding of a character that's meant to be pure and always finds a way to do the right thing, especially when it feels as if there are no other options.

In a conversation with Empire, Zack Snyder explained that the original plan was to send Zod into the Phantom Zone; however, he felt that the neck-snap would help explain Superman's desire to never kill again. Screenwriter David S. Goyer explained how even executive producer Christopher Nolan took some convincing to agree to the controversial ending. "Originally Chris didn't even want to let us try to write it but Zack and I said, 'We think we can figure out a way that you'll buy it,'" Goyer said. "So I came up with this idea of the heat vision and these people about to die and I wrote the scene and gave it to Chris ... And he said, 'Okay, you convinced me.'"

The baby Clark Kent scene that didn't make the movie

Judging by Zack Snyder's filmography, it's clear that the director loves to shoot a lot of material, hence the fan demand for the director's cuts of his various films. There hasn't been a loud cry to release the Snyder cut of "Man of Steel," though David S. Goyer revealed to Empire that it would likely be a futile exercise, since most of what they planned was included in the film. That said, there were a few smaller scenes that were axed because they impacted the overall pacing or were deemed superfluous in the grand context.

Goyer discussed one specific scene that he found hilarious but also wouldn't have worked so soon after the destruction of Krypton in the film. He explained how it involved the Kents taking baby Clark to the doctor since they were concerned about his hearing. "So the doctor starts increasing the amplitude of the tones and then baby Kal screams and blows out all of the windows of the doctor's office; the windshields; the cars outside," Goyer said.

Henry Cavill had auditioned for an earlier Superman film

Before securing the red cape, Henry Cavill had some of the worst luck in the world. He tested for the role of James Bond in "Casino Royale" and was told he was overweight (via Men's Health). He was also "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer's first pick to be Edward Cullen (via Meyer's official blog), even if he didn't receive a call to audition. It gets worse, though: Before "Man of Steel," he auditioned alongside Brandon Routh for the unmade "Superman: Flyby," which was written by J. J. Abrams and set to be directed by McG.

The audition footage of an in-costume Cavill leaked onto the Internet, and the actor eventually addressed the failed project in an interview with Collider. The British actor stressed that he didn't audition for "Superman Returns," but the project that was meant to happen before that. "Yeah, the McG movie and then when Bryan [Singer] came on he had his own script and his own idea and I wasn't a part of that process," Cavill said. His fortunes turned around in the years afterwards, but he must have spent a lot of time in his own Fortress of Solitude, wondering if he was cursed.

Wait, Batman nearly directed the Man of Steel?

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" brought Ben Affleck's Batman face to face with Henry Cavill's Superman. It was the first time that the two DC titans had appeared in a live-action film together, squaring off as adversaries before putting aside their differences and becoming Super Friends. However, it could have been someone else under the cape and cowl altogether if Affleck had taken an earlier opportunity that presented itself.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, Affleck was shortlisted as a possible candidate to direct "Man of Steel." Reportedly, Warner Bros. was high on him after the success of "The Town," which he produced, directed, co-wrote and starred in, and even met with him about the possibility of helming the brand-new Superman project. According to THR, though, Affleck turned it down rather quickly. Other directors who were supposedly in the mix for the gig were Duncan Jones, Darren Aronofsky, Tony Scott, Jonathan Liebesman, and Matt Reeves.

Henry Cavill didn't base his Superman on any previous actors

Taking over an iconic superhero role is never an easy feat for an actor. Quite often, the first criticism that's leveled at their performance is how it isn't like the previous incarnations of the character. In the case of Henry Cavill, he had two specific portrayals looming over him like heavy shadows: Christopher Reeve's timeless version and Tom Welling's fan-favorite performance.

While it would have been all too easy to borrow from the actors who have played the big blue boy scout in the past, Cavill decided against it. "I didn't want to watch the other movies or any live-action stuff because I felt it would influence my interpretation of the character," Cavill told Tim Lammers. "I wanted my interpretation to be purely from the source material, which are the comic books." In a separate discussion with Interview magazine, the actor opened up about the comics in question that he used for inspiration, mentioning the likes of "The Death of Superman," "The Return of Superman," "Superman: Red Son," and "Superman/Batman: The Search for Kryptonite."

Wonder Woman nearly showed up

Taking a look at Zack Snyder's films, it's clear that he enjoys working with the same actors and bringing them back for other projects. As seen in the instance of Joe Manganiello, he even tries to find ways to include people who might have missed out on a previous role due to scheduling conflicts or HBO sending Warner Bros.' calls to voicemail. Speaking of "Man of Steel," there was also another actor who was meant to appear in the movie but couldn't, yet ended up scoring a better role in a future film.

Speaking to Xnet (with a translation provided by Batman-News), Gal Gadot discussed how a stroke of unexpected good luck changed her entire career's trajectory. As the Israeli actress explained, she received the offer to play Faora in "Man of Steel"; however, she had to turn down the part because she was four months into her pregnancy, so the role went to Antje Traue. By not playing Faora in "Man of Steel," this enabled Gadot to test for and secure the role of Wonder Woman.

A Creeper reference almost snuck into Man of Steel

Since "Man of Steel" was the start of the DC Extended Universe, it needed to do a lot of worldbuilding for potential future entries in the franchise. There were some clear tributes, such as the LexCorp and Wayne Enterprises Easter eggs scattered in the film, but there was almost the chance for an established character from the comics to make an appearance (only in a far more tongue-in-cheek manner).

DC Comics fans will be well aware of Jack Ryder — the journalist or sometimes newsreader — who eventually becomes the superhero known as the Creeper. In a conversation with Empire, David S. Goyer revealed that Ryder's name was set to be the pseudonym that Lois Lane uses when writing her article about Superman in the movie. "DC Comics wouldn't let us do it," Goyer said. "I don't remember the issue that stopped it from happening, I think it was a rights thing, but we only found out three weeks before production started so we had to think quick." Lane ended up using the name of Glen Woodburn.

Henry Cavill didn't think Man of Steel was dark at all

Scrolling through Film Twitter, one will find various complaints about how "Man of Steel" was supposedly too dark for its own good. From the dark blue chosen for Superman's suit and lack of red underpants to the overall tone and color grading of the film, there are a few critics who didn't want the Sun getting real low on Kal-El. For Henry Cavill, he didn't agree with the notion that it was a "darker" version of the character.

"I wouldn't say it's darker. I think it's more realistic," he told Interview magazine. "The story exists in a darker world maybe in comparison to some of the other tellings, where Superman is more accepted and the colors are brighter — it's literally darker." Cavill added that even though "Man of Steel" was heavily rooted in realism, which might not always be pretty, he found that it also had its fair share of hopeful moments, too, and his character was never nihilistic. Maybe a bushy mustache would have made the moments feel even lighter and brighter, right?

Man of Steel's Kryptonian chamber doubled as a skate park

Even just glancing at "Man of Steel," no one can dispute that it features gorgeous scenery and picture-perfect comic book-esque shots. Zack Snyder's reimagining of Krypton, in particular, inspired the "Krypton" television show as it found the right balance between fantasy, science fiction, and postmodernist architecture. In a "Man of Steel" watch party and Q&A session hosted on Vero (via The Hollywood Reporter), the director revealed an interesting detail about the Kryptonian chamber that was seen in the film.

While the chamber held special significance for Kal-El, since it was his birthplace, Snyder and the crew decided it was the ideal place to hang ten and practice their skateboarding moves. They turned the set into a stylish skate park for when they needed some downtime between scenes. Everything went well until someone hurt themselves, so producer Deborah Snyder had to cut the fun and insist it no longer be used for skating. The only question is, did Henry Cavill participate and are there photos of him doing a kickflip in the Superman costume?

Zack Snyder insisted he stuck to comic book canon

Upon the release of "Man of Steel," the film received a mixed reception from reviewers, sitting on 56% critical approval on Rotten Tomatoes. It wasn't the first or last time that Zack Snyder's comic book movies would come under fire, as critics believed the director strayed away from the essence of Superman and changed the very fiber of his being. Appearing on the Hall of Justice podcast (via CinemaBlend), Snyder defended his adaptation, stating it was always meant to be a new version of the character and not a repetition of the Christopher Reeve films that people were familiar with.

"People are always like, 'You changed Superman,'" Snyder said. "If you're a comic book fan, you know that I didn't change Superman. If you know the true canon, you know that I didn't change Superman. If you're a fan of the old movies, yeah, I changed him a bit. That's the difference." Snyder added that he found a version of Superman that would fit in the more realistic world that the film was set in, but he took the lead from the source material in the comics.

Warner Bros. sent a face-palm note to the filmmakers

Most fans are aware of Warner Bros. Pictures' dramatic influence on the entire DCEU timeline. From the studio's enforced reshoots on "Justice League" to its insistence on taking over the editing suite of "Suicide Squad," there have been more than a few instances when creative control has had to be relinquished to the big shots in the boardroom. That being said, there was one studio note for "Man of Steel" that even left writer David S. Goyer shaking his head in disbelief.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Goyer discussed the highs and lows of his time in the movie biz. Responding to a question about the least-valuable studio note he ever received, the filmmaker recalled the one he got from Warner Bros. about Big Blue using his pod — the one that transported him to Earth as a baby — to take down General Zod. The studio insisted that it needed to be altered. "We asked why," Goyer revealed. "They said, 'Because if Superman uses that pod and it's destroyed while saving the city, how is he ever going to get back home to Krypton?' There was just this long pause and we said, 'Krypton blew up. You saw 30 minutes of it!'" If only it was canon for 80-plus years that the destruction of Krypton was the reason Kal-El came to Earth in the first place ... Oh, wait.