David S. Goyer On Developing Batman, Superman, Plus The Changing Industry

David S. Goyer is responsible for some of the recent blockbusters The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man Of Steel, and the popular TV series Da Vinci’s Demons, just to name a few.

At the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters Series audience Q&A, Goyer talked about making Batman and Superman and his views on Hollywood as it relates to writers on which he had some strong opinions according to a piece published in The Guardian.

He gave some pointed advice to producers,

“Hire someone you think is talented, and then get the f*** out of the way. Park your ego. It’s a lesson very few studio executives manage to put into practice, but if more did, I believe the film industry would be much healthier.”

Goyer, who sits on the Writers Guild of America board, states the number of movie writers has fallen from 2,000, ten years ago, to 1,500 now while television has seen almost a 20 percent increase in script writers in the same period of time.

“Television is no longer regarded as a second-tier medium,” he said.

David S. Goyer also stated actors are gravitating there because of better roles.

“Television is more profitable than film: it’s a higher margin business and international co-productions are booming,” he said, citing Da Vinci’s Demons – co-produced by Starz (US) and BBC Worldwide(UK) – as a prime example.

Da Vinci's Demosn on Starz

He adds that television is making the epic productions that film used to bring to life and believes that writers in the US are more “empowered” than their brothers and sisters across the pond. He asked for more creative freedom in the UK.

Goyer says the television industry is booming, where writers get more respect than they do in Hollywood, although he is quick to add that he has done well for himself.

The prolific writer talks in particular about his partnership with directors Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) and Zack Snyder (Man Of Steel). Singling out Nolan for the creative partnership that revived the Batman comic book character to turn it into one of the most successful franchises in recent times with The Dark Knight Trilogy between 2005 and 2012.

“Chris had never read comic books: he didn’t know the world. So he trusted me on that franchise and with Superman to know what was canon: what could be changed and what couldn’t be changed,” said Goyer of Nolan. “Early in Batman Begins he said ‘does he have to have a utility belt?’, and I said ‘yes’. And he said ‘why?’. And then he showed me a design and it was all black. And I said ‘it has to be yellow’, and he said ‘oh…'”

The writer identified the “10 commandments” that absolutely had to make it in the Dark Knight and told Nolan as long as those items were included in the film “we’ll be good.”

Man of Steel poster

A crucial part of the development of the Batman character in the Nolan trilogy included a visit to New York to talk to the comic book writers for two days and ask their opinions on the upcoming version.

“We said ‘what do you think should be in a Batman film, and are there any rules that you absolutely would not break?,” Goyer says. “It sounds simple, but none of the other writers had bothered to do that. They dismissed the comic books and their creators. We earned their trust.”

One pointed note is that Batman and Superman were never to cross paths in Nolan’s vision,

“Chris made it very clear that he wanted those three Christian Bale movies to stand alone and be their own thing. I knew there was no chance whatsoever that that version of Batman would ever cross over with Superman,” said Goyer.

The Dark Knight Trilogy by Christopher Nolan

David S. Goyer is currently involved with scripts for Godzilla(2014) and the Zack Snyder sequel to Man Of Steel, Batman vs. Superman scheduled for release in 2015.