Zack Snyder Talks Sucker Punch and Superman
It's been a whirlwind journey for Zack Snyder since 300. His fascination with graphic novels and comics have only intensified with Watchmen and Sucker Punch (opening today). As the kinetic director now sets his sights on his greatest challenge, Superman: Man of Steel (which goes into production in July for a Christmas 2012 release), he spoke to us about his creative evolution, his latest use of VFX and his passion for mythology.
Bill Desowitz: What was it like coming to Sucker Punch after Watchmen?
Zack Snyder: Watchmen prepared me for anything. I don't know if you've watched it lately, but it was on the other night, and I thought, "Oh, my God! That was a lot of work!" You forget. But it prepared us to be leaner and meaner for Sucker Punch, and we got a lot of bang for our buck, if you know what I mean.
BD: What were the overall challenges in each of the set pieces?
ZS: On "Samurai," the big challenge there was the scale issue of having to fight someone 10-feet-tall that's not there. It's really about knowing the volume that you're working in and knowing the size of the adversary and then making sure the choreography is adequate to those size differences. With "World War I," I think the biggest challenge was just the raw physicality of that one. That was probably the hardest -- you had stuntmen in masks fighting the girls literally hand-to-hand. We all got just got literally beat up on that one. And the big challenge on "Dragon" was just trying to understand the scope and scale we were trying to create, and you're going down on the ground to up in the plane and all over the place, and that was tricky. And on "Bullet Train," the big challenge was the one shot, which was insane -- and that stitches so many CG doubles. All that stuff with Emily [Browning] when she's fighting those robots was done one shot at a time and then stitched all together with the CG double to get from one camera angle to the next.
BD: And as far as CG challenges?
ZS: I think the CG challenge for me on this one was really starting to delve into, as deeply as I can, the digital double transition -- the stitch -- where you have a live actor that's flying off the ground and there's a CG double that gets you from one position to the next. But in a way where I can show it to you and ask, "When is she CG and when is she not?" And you have a hard time finding those moments exactly.
ZS: We never got that ambitious on the previous films with having the characters in the shot change fully from CG and then back to live-action photography.
BD: It's weird that Sucker Punch follows last year's Shutter Island and Inception. So, in a sense, we're prepared for your mind-bender.
ZS: It is weird, isn't it? That's how I felt. We designed this as a super radical thing for eight years and you just had these two kinds of training wheels. Now the idea of a dream within a dream is no big deal. Now they say, "I can handle this: What've you got?" I think it's a good thing, by the way. We all want to create our own revolution, but it's nice that you can have help.
BD: So how does this help you segue into Superman?
ZS: It's funny because the thing about Superman that's stylistically interesting to me is that he's relevant if he's real. That's what Chris Nolan and I talked about early on. The only way I could do this is if Superman were living in the real world with us. And I think that helps him to be credible. It's just funny because, for me, I haven't made a real film.
BD: A film so grounded in reality?
ZS: No, I was never interested in it, to be honest. But it's kind of fun to think of it for this.