YVRSHOOTS Series – Now that’s a MAN OF STEEL in the new Superman
Published November 4, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
Director Zach Snyder is so secretive about his new Superman movie that crew must check their cell phones before entry into Mammoth Studios in Burnaby and paparazzi had to climb trees in Ucluelet last month to catch glimpses of the filming.
So it came as a shock last week to see the Man of Steel himself and shirtless to boot on a big green screen set on the North Shore. Henry Cavill, the first non-American to play the iconic role of Clark Kent/Superman, is best known to me for playing Charles Brandon on The Tudors. While Brandon is a handsome rake he didn’t look buffed-up like this so kudos to Cavill and his trainer Gym Jones. These aren’t CGIed muscles as some of the abs in Snyder’s 300 are rumoured to have been.
Man of Steel filmed in the small town of Plano and the big metropolis of Chicago, Illinois, this summer before heading to Vancouver for the autumn to film mainly in studio. Local paparazzi haunted Mammoth Studios in Burnaby in the early weeks but only Russell Crowe was spotted on a smoke break dressed in Kryptonian costume as Superman’s father Jor-El. Crowe’s presence in Vancouver is well-documented by his almost daily workout tweets, like this one on September 24th — “24 km bike out to Horseshoe Bay. This place is beautiful” — and by his surprise appearance on stage with his Aussie pal Keith Urban at the country star’s Rogers Arena concert.
So where was Henry Cavill? August casting calls in Ucluelet and Nanaimo foreshadowed that the Vancouver Island west coast town would play an Alaskan fishing village and that a Nanaimo dive hotel would play an Alaskan loggers bar. In early October, Cavill and crew spent time battling the ocean swells off the coast of Ucluelet in boats. Two enterprising Vancouver paps snapped him on land as Clark Kent (no black glasses) in a grey sweatshirt working on a fishing net. From Ucluelet, Man of Steel moved to Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island to film at the old, turquoise-roofed Cassidy Hotel, with four prop logging trucks parked outside. I know that hotel, having spent a summer during university working as a surveyor on the Island highway outside. And in another strange coincidence, I arrived on a ferry to Departure Bay for the Thanksgiving weekend just as Henry Cavill and Man of Steel crew wrapped filming there.
Man of Steel is said to have filmed at Whistler the following week but I haven’t seen any photos or any confirmation of that yet. Meantime, someone tweeted that she’d spotted AF signs (Autumn Frost is the production codename for Man of Steel) on lower Lonsdale and that was the first indication of the green screen helicopter pad being built east of Vancouver Drydocks on Vancouver Ports private property. On October 19th, ace photographer John Biehler put up a photo of the under-construction set on his Flickr page. I checked it out two days later in the rain and put up the photo below on my Flickr page, later damaging my Blackberry by trying to force it in the downpour.
So I was without a working Blackberry on Tuesday morning when a friend told me that someone had tweeted about a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flying at the Man of Steel green screen set. Filming had begun. I headed for the seabus not expecting to find more than the usual green screen stunts with no cast. When I got there late morning I spotted two paps below me on the Lower Level Road arguing with RCMP about their right to be there. Man of Steel had hoped they could keep photographers back up where I was by citing safety concerns, but the paps won because the roadway is public property.
I soon understood why the paps had fought for that vantage when a shirtless man appeared on set. I photographed the Henry Cavill resc