MAN OF STEEL Storyboard Artist Jay Oliva Talks Action - Part 1

The action in Man of Steel is pretty much unprecedented, and one of the people responsible is storyboard artist Jay Oliva, who discusses those sequences as well as the controversial ending in this excerpt from an exclusive Q&A session.

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By EdGross - 7/9/2013
Interview conducted by and copyright Edward Gross


Man of Steel storyboard artist Jay Oliva has had a long career in animation, where has has brought his storyboarding skills to such TV shows as Extreme Ghostbusters, RoboCop: Alpha Commando, Godzilla: The Series, The Batman, Justice League and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, as well as the animated films Superman: Dooomsday, All-Star Superman, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. Additionally, he's directed Young Justice, Batman: The Dark Night Returns and the soon to be released Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, among others.

In the first part of VFK's interview with Oliva, we look at the action of Man of Steel, particularly the last twenty minutes or so, exploring the thought process that went into those sequences and, of course, the controversy that has surrounded it.

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VOICES FROM KRYPTON: I liked Man of Steel the first time, and I liked it even more the second time.

JAY OLIVA: I’ve heard that from a lot of people, because I think with the initial watching of it, when a lot of people left the theater there was something that bugged them. I think it was from the initial shock of how different it was from what they’re used to. And then when they watched it the second time, because they knew what to expect, they just wanted to watch it because there was so much there. I know when you watch it, something will happen, and then you’re thinking “Why did they do that? I don’t know why they did that,” and because of that you’ll miss 30 seconds that follow. Then it starts compounding as the movie goes along. I’ve noticed that for a lot of people. At the same time, some people just love it, and some people just loathe it.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: The splitting of people on this thing is amazing. And I do have to say the one thing that stops it from being a great Superman movie in my mind, and it is one of the things people are criticizing I think, is just that when he and Zod are fighting, we should have seen more of a reaction from him about concern for people – they’re knocking down these buildings left and right, and you know there are thousands of people in these buildings that are all dying. But there’s not an instance of him saying, “Hang on a second…”

JAY OLIVA: One of the things that I’d mentioned to Zack is that I didn’t want to do what happens in Dark Knight Rises, where Gotham is empty. It’s supposed to have a two million population, but there are, like, 100 guys who are able to patrol the whole thing and the public is saying, “Oh, there’s a bomb on the island. I’m not going to leave.” Are you kidding? If that happened here in L.A., everyone would be fleeing! And so that was one of the things we discussed – I remember I was asking Zach, maybe we should try doing that — to show people fleeing — and I remember we tried doing that, but there was no time in terms of the relentless attack that was being planned for Zod and Superman. It was just constant. It’s almost like, if you were fighting a lion, you wouldn’t have time to look around to make sure your surroundings were okay, because at any point there could be an attack. People are saying, “How many times can you slam a guy into a building?”, but, really, it’s because they’re trying to position themselves because at any moment Zod could snap Superman’s neck or vice versa, if you think of it that way. Now there was, of course, a lot of destruction, but a lot of it had happened from the initial attack by the Black Zero in Metropolis. So I figured a lot of people had already evacuated the buildings, and in fact The Daily Planet is one of the closer buildings to the epicenter, so a lot of people there had already started fleeing the city. We did have a few shots of people fleeing across a bridge, but that was cut in the end. Obviously I didn’t write the script, but when I was storyboarding it, I tried to make sure that it was as relentless as possible.

I do think that a lot of the things that people didn’t like could also lead to what Superman will eventually be in Man of Steel 2. I have no idea what they’re going to do with it, but that could be an arc. I do remember that there was a discussion after I read the script and talked to Zack where I said, “Really? Superman is going to kill?” He said yes, and then I thought about it. We discussed it a little bit more and I thought, “OK, I can get behind this, because you have to give a reason why he has this no killing code,” if you know what I mean. Also, it’s “Superman Year One”; he’s fallible. One of the things that people who were never fans had a problem with was that previously Superman was too “goody-goody” or he was too perfect. As soon as he finished in Smallville, he was, like, “Ah, ha: Truth, justice and the American way!” I think this different take actually gives you a reason for why he feels that way. Like I said, maybe the aftermath or backlash in 2 might be a good way to bring in Lex Luthor to rally the country against Superman. Everyone assumes that just because Superman is here, everyone is going to be, “Yeah!” Like in Superman Returns where everyone expects Superman to save them. I think this is a little bit more of a realistic take in the sense of what would happen to the general public? If this was comic books back in the ‘70s or ‘80s, people might have just accepted him with, “Oh, yeah, it’s Superman. He’s a good guy.” But today people want a lot more realism in their superhero movies and comics and it also leaves a nice little arc for Superman. Who knows, you might get this backlash in number two where he isn’t what everyone wants him to be and he’s struggling to help everyone, but at the same time people are against him. Even if we do carry over that Christ theme through there, it would actually work. If you think about it, everyone turns on Jesus in The Bible and I think that would be an exciting arc.

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When it’s all said and done — whether through a Justice League movie or sequels to this one — you’re going to see a nice arc. If you look at the Donner film and the three sequels, the third and fourth started to fail because they didn’t know what to do with Superman. They didn’t continue the love story with Lois; they just lost it. It was almost like we saw his arc in Superman: The Movie, then in part two we saw a little bit more in the sense that he wanted to help people and he had to fight against the super beings and that was it. And at the end of the movie there’s that kiss of forgetfulness and his relationship with Lois goes back to normal. I think that’s why the franchis ended up suffering. I mean, I watched it as a kid and I still love those films, but looking at them today from a filmmaker’s standpoint, or even from a writer’s standpoint, where would you go? At least with this reboot I see a lot of possibilities, and I like the fact that the audience is polarized. I’d rather have them polarized where they love it or they hate it than be either right in the middle or they all hate it. I think this is kind of cool, because the people who hated it, when number two comes up, hopefully the trailers will touch upon the things people have problems with. It will be one of those things where after watching 2 or 3 or however many we do, when you go back and look at the first one you’ll be, like, “Oh, I can see where it was going. I can see it more episodically.” I remember when The Empire Strikes Back came out and everybody panned it. Everyone was, like, “How could they not end the movie?” I look back at it now and that’s my favorite one. I can watch that over and over again and it’s genius. But back then it was so shocking to end that movie with, “I am your father,” and have the Empire win! There was no Deathstar sequence at the end or big explosion. It was a very small, personal story where it was a big revelation. I think as time goes on — and, again, I’m not involved in the wirting process, I only come in after the fact — that’s my hope of what we’ll eventually see with the sequel or sequels, or Justice League. How exciting is that? Now that we’re sort of rebooting the DC Universe, it’s kind of how it was in the comics where Superman was the very first superhero, and then after that you start to see Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest. But a lot of people are, like, “I want my Christopher Reeve version of Superman, or this other version of Superman.”

To read the rest of part one of this interview with Jay Oliva, please click HERE.
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188 Comments
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JoeMomma29 - 7/9/2013, 9:43 AM
Loved the action!!!!
Brail1975 - 7/9/2013, 9:46 AM
Faora: You will not win. For every human you save, we will kill a million more.

Great movie. Will see it a few more times before it's out of the theater.
JoeMomma29 - 7/9/2013, 9:47 AM
@SuperCat

8 pages it usually ends up around 9! Of course four pages of that is hate!
Brainiac13 - 7/9/2013, 9:48 AM
@supercat

Give it 10mins. Lol!
GoILL - 7/9/2013, 9:50 AM
@SuperCat and JoeMomma29

LOL.
BIGBMH - 7/9/2013, 9:50 AM
Didn't read the whole thing, but it seems like a pretty interesting interview. I disagree with a lot of what he said, but there does seem to be reason behind it.

Btw, I finally finished my review. If anyone you all have some time on your hands, please click the picture link and check it out!

BboiBlack - 7/9/2013, 9:52 AM
Wow, this guy just stomped on half the fanboy critics out there.

lol fighting a lion..."" want my chris reeve," the one that leaves the city mid fight and the villains stop and later follow.
TheDude - 7/9/2013, 9:53 AM
Loved the movie, and this is exactly what I was thinking when I saw it. Yes a lot of people died, most probably evacuated, and superman was a little preoccupied with zod on and the big planet smasher.
Can't wait to see lex rebuild and rally the people against him.
Hope we get brainiac from piece of kryptontion tech that lex finds.
heisei24 - 7/9/2013, 9:56 AM
Hexagram - 7/9/2013, 10:04 AM
Bring on the sequel! This film was shot in summer of 2011, so lets get MOS II in theaters by summer 2015!
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 10:04 AM
5) AVENGERS
4) X2
3) DARK KNIGHT
2) SPIDER-MAN 2.1
1) MAN OF STEEL

BEST CBM EVER

HONESTLY CAN'T WAIT FOR MORE.

FORGET JUSTICE LEAGUE, WORLD'S FINEST WILL BE BEST TEAM UP CBM EVER
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 10:06 AM
ITS FUNNY HOW IN THAT PICTURE THEY MAKE CHRIS REEVE SEEM SHORTER, THE MAN WAS 6'4". CAVILL IS 6'1"

That's like comparing Diesel to the Rock, even if Cavill was more buff
AsianVersionOfET - 7/9/2013, 10:07 AM
Love this [frick]in movie. Only seen it twice in theaters and I'm ashamed.
Havenless - 7/9/2013, 10:08 AM
@Knight3000

Man of Steel better than Batman Begins? Iron Man? uh... no.
komikboy - 7/9/2013, 10:08 AM
its a good starter for both Superman Franchise and DCU movie Franchise.
never been so exicited like this since Star Wars
EdGross - 7/9/2013, 10:10 AM
I wish I could explain it, but I have seen this movie quite a number of times already and even with some issues I'm enjoying the hell out of it.
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 10:12 AM
Havenless- I LOVED BATMAN BEGINS, but the end kinda felt rushed. IRONMAN was GREAT, But incase you didn't notice I chose the best from that set of films. But yes in most ways I actually enjoyed IRONMAN more than AVENGERS, but Avengers had a sweet team up. So If I were to change...


5) IRON MAN
4) X2
3) DARK KNIGHT
2) SPIDER-MAN 2.1
1) MAN OF STEEL

jcfrommars9 - 7/9/2013, 10:15 AM
Jay Olivia: "People are saying, 'How many times can you slam a guy into a building?', but, really, it’s because they’re trying to position themselves because at any moment Zod could snap Superman’s neck or vice versa, if you think of it that way."

The 'How many times can you slam a guy into a building?' was definitely me because it felt redundant. I can understand them trying to position themselves but I was wondering they were going to realize that it wasn't working.
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 10:15 AM
Havenless- I really expected more out of the end of BATMAN BEGINS, cause the build up was EXCELLENT. But I think somewhere around the end when they let off the toxin, just kinda feels "shaky" and not in a good way.
Jollem - 7/9/2013, 10:16 AM
hey, supes did have a moment of "oh damn, i better be careful". it was when he was looking at the explosion of the parking ramp. he's looking at it like "oh, that's not good"
HeadPool420 - 7/9/2013, 10:18 AM
Great movie! Can't wait to add it to my Blu collection!!!
Jollem - 7/9/2013, 10:18 AM
also, i love the way they respectfully represent the american military. they don't seem like "the bad guy" how some movies tend to do
Reni - 7/9/2013, 10:23 AM
"Now that we’re sort of rebooting the DC Universe, it’s kind of how it was in the comics where Superman was the very first superhero, and then after that you start to see Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest. But a lot of people are, like, “I want my Christopher Reeve version of Superman, or this other version of Superman.”

Thank you for this.
Brainiac13 - 7/9/2013, 10:23 AM
Ed.....I loved too!

Brainiac13 - 7/9/2013, 10:24 AM
#this
Brainiac13 - 7/9/2013, 10:26 AM
I hate typing on my phone.

Pitt - 7/9/2013, 10:27 AM
@ hope420

Same here MOS 3D, expect a late Sept mid Oct release
gmoney0505 - 7/9/2013, 10:33 AM
How many buildings can these two people go through?
Just about as many aliens The Avengers can put down without the aliens getting not one hit on any of them in the whole 20 minute battle. Just being there for punching bags
NeoBaggins - 7/9/2013, 10:35 AM
Man of Steel is the sickest CBM yet, but I have to think it over against the Dark Knight series which I view as graphic novels on film, and the Avnegers which I crown the most comicbookish CBM of all time with it's color and tone. I saw Avengers twice in theaters, but haven't bought the DVD yet and never finished it on netflix. I'll have to wait to see how MOS stands up to repeat viewings. But the film is crazy. The performances and drama may put it over for me.
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 10:36 AM
I can't complain that they trashed Metropolis, cause that's the story. Then Luthor rebuilds and ends up owning more than half the city. Luthor also takes whatever Alien tech he can find to make WMDs, plus weaponizes Zod's armor for himself
naterator - 7/9/2013, 10:39 AM
I loved the film. There are a couple of things that they can improve upon and one of thise things would be the fluidity of his flight control. I understand that in this first movie the reason his flight is so violent and strong is perhaps becuase he was still trying to get a grasp on his abilities. One of the things I enjoyed about SR was the way that they were able to show supermans ability to just flow throught the air instead of zipping back and forth.I would like to see the fluidity incorporated a little more in the following films.

Also,
Mike89 - 7/9/2013, 10:43 AM
@KNIGHT3000 When Zod took off his armor both he and Superman where in a construction site with Lexcorp logos on it. I think the aftermath of the destruction of metropolis and Zods armor lying around would be the perfect way introduce Lex Luthor.
Tony93 - 7/9/2013, 10:44 AM
That's how it was in the cartoons and comics.. Anyone wanna post the final fight between darksied and Supes? Before he punches him they go tumbling down the daily planet floor by floor and it showed ppl inside lol I like seeing destruction, lives lost in movies bcuz that's how it would really be like.. Ppl will die bcuz he can't save everyone
ProfV531 - 7/9/2013, 10:44 AM
I love jay oliva. What he does with the dc animate films is incredible so it's no surprise his hands were all over this. @knight3000 I totally agree. It's a pretty funny look at both of them standing side by side but it's probably to help clarify the differences in the way they both look in costume.
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 10:46 AM
Mike89- Exactly, It all makes perfect sense, and they represent all sides of that as best as they can, without spoon feeding to the contrarians
KidGoku - 7/9/2013, 10:47 AM
I loved the Avengers, it was the most faithful CBMs ever as far as being most like a Comic Book... and I feel like that's why I haven't bought it or watched more than 2 times actually. It's just not it for me. Man of Steel is my kind of CBM to the point where it might be my favorite of all time. I've watched it like 4 times in theaters and I'm currently/impatiently waiting for the Blu Ray
knocturnalzen10 - 7/9/2013, 10:49 AM
don't know how people expect a city to look like after to superhuman aliens are fighting in it , but i'm up for suggestions
SpectacularJoShFest - 7/9/2013, 11:01 AM
The action was badass but Zod's fight was too short.
KNIGHT3000 - 7/9/2013, 11:02 AM
knocturnalzen10- Don't be too hard on them, judging by their responses, the comics they read don't deal in that level of power. So for them its unthinkable, unimaginative, or even incomprehensible, that something outside of their spectrum could be as powerful as it is. Even if it has been around 75 years
deanwilkins - 7/9/2013, 11:03 AM
I can't imagine ranking MOS in my top 20 CBM's. I know guys loved it immensely and I know a lot of people hated it. I'm in the middle. I wanted to like it, but they lost me. I won't go into the reasoning now. If you can say that you love it and I have it accept that, you can accept that I say the film was terribly flawed.

Just as a sidenote... how many times did Superman scream in the film? 50? 100? And was he even called Superman?

Top Ten CBM's in my opinion:

1. Avengers
2. Captain America
3. Superman 2
4. X-Men 2
5. Dark Knight
6. Superman 1
7. The Crow
8. Iron Man
9. Iron Man 3
10. Batman (Burton)
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