A nation thrilled as Man of Steel launched in UK cinemas last week. So as writer of the screenplay and co-author of the film’s story, it’s an exciting time David Goyer right now. And the excitement is on-going, as his near-future SF thriller Heaven’s War launches in paperback next month. This is the second in the SF adventure trilogy which he writes with Michael Cassutt. So what better time to talk to David about Man of Steel, his books and many other high points.
1) You’ve written the screenplay to Man of Steel, plus collaborated with Christopher Nolan on the story. Can you tell us how writing for film is different to writing a graphic novel or novel, thinking of your Heaven science fictional novels?
Every medium is different. With film, you have less time in which to communicate your ideas. With the Heaven novels, Michael and I definitely have more latitude in terms of length. For instance, when adapting Heaven's Shadow into a screenplay, I had to compress and/or eliminate characters. If I had done a straight adaptation, the screenplay would've timed out to over four hours. Television is both shorter and longer -- the individual episodes are roughly 50 minutes long, but if you are telling a serialized story, you have the opportunity to stretch that story over 10 or 13 episodes. In the case of Game of Thrones, they are using 10 episodes to adapt each of Martin's books (actually 20 episodes, when it comes to Book Three!)
2) Writing for film seems very collaborative and you’ve also co-written your novels with Michael Cassutt. It must be fun to play with those big ideas when working with others, but how does collaboration differ when comparing film work and books?
Most of the time, when I write for film, I write by myself. I've collaborated with Chris Nolan on story, but when I went to script, I worked on the script on my own. With the Heaven books, it was a true collaboration with Michael, with the two of us sending scenes and drafts back and forth, providing suggestions for each other's work, etc.
Man of Steel and the Heaven books are both science-fiction stories. They are also both ‘near-future’ stories. Stories that occur now, on Earth (largely), to a group of people that modern readers and viewers can relate to. Those are the science fiction stories I enjoy telling the most (as opposed to a story set in the distant future or on a completely alien world). I like the idea of essentially changing ‘one thing’ -- introducing a super-being into our society or a near Earth object (NEO) into Earth's orbit. Then I like spooling out the ramifications of that ‘one thing’.
3) What do you feel appeals to people when thinking about the enduring appeal of Superman stories and space exploration, as in your books?
When science-fiction and horror and fantasy are working at their best, they function as allegories for our present world. Look to Fahrenheit 451 or even the kinds of post 9/11 subtexts that Chris Nolan, Jonah Nolan, and myself explored in the Dark Knight Trilogy.
4) The dramatic last book in your trilogy, Heaven’s Fall, is out in August for you and Michael Cassutt. How does it feel to conclude this epic adventure? Does this closure feel any different to you compared to the aftermath of a big film release?
In finishing the Heaven trilogy, there was a sense of both satisfaction and of sadness -- which is similar to what I experienced when The Dark Knight Rises was released. I'd been working on the project for a decade. I was relieved it was over -- but also saddened. I believe Michael and I have been working on the Heaven project for about five years now. So it's taken quite a bit of time. There’s definitely a sense of pride. I'm happy with how the final book finished.
5) You’ve written or co-written huge projects such as the Batman films, Blade and the TV series Flash Forward to name just few. So what is next for you in film or TV?
In terms of television, we're currently shooting the second season of Da Vinci's Demons. I'm also developing two new cable series, which may go into production next year. One of them is an adaption of the Vertigo comic book, 100 Bullets. In terms of film, we're still working on the adaptation ofHeaven's Shadow. And now that Man of Steel has been released, we are in preliminary discussions about future DC movies.
6) If you had your choice on who would play the top three roles in your Heaven books, on the big screen, who would you choose?
Wow - tough choice. For Zack, Daniel Craig. Or perhaps Will Smith? Hugh Jackman? But there are dozens of other talented actors who could do it. For Megan, maybe Rebecca Hall? Amy Adams? For Rachel - Chloe Moretz? Hailee Steinfeld?
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Click on the links below for more information on the Heaven trilogy by David Goyer and Michael Cassutt:
Heaven's Shadow (out in HB, paperback and ebook)
Heaven's War (out in HB and ebook, out in July in paperback)
Heaven's Fall (out in August in HB and ebook)
See here for more blog posts on the site from David and Michael or on their books.