If Wesley Snipes is the face of the Blade franchise, David Goyer is its soul. Goyer wrote all three films, infusing the series with his brooding, conflicted, haunting vision. Before that first screenplay, the world had never seen a dark comic hero; audiences still expected their heroes to wear red capes, fight for the "American way," and save kittens from trees. Goyer's Blade changed all of that. And now, with Blade: Trinity, he expands his role even further, serving as the film's writer, producer, and director.
You've written all three films in the trilogy, what did you want to bring to this film that wasn't brought in the two other films as a director?
Goyer: I think it's a natural progression. I started getting involved with some producing just as a way of getting closer to the directing process, to prepare myself. Cravenly, me becoming a producer on Blade II was to give me more of an excuse to be in the editing room, to ask Guillermo questions. But it's good. It's much more fun to direct your own script than to have someone else do it.
But that also means you're stuck with having to cut things that you might have fought for if you were just the writer. You have to make a whole new level of choices.
Goyer: Yeah. I remember talking to David Fincher after Seven. A lot of people don't know that he was going to direct the first Blade, I even developed the script with him. He said that he thought that only 13% of Seven is what he intended to get onscreen. His highest quotient was maybe 30% on Panic Room. That seems a little ridiculous, but making movies is a whole series of compromises because there's a whole series of things that are out of your control. I'm happy with about 80% of this film, but then that's the percentage that I'm happy with for the first two as well, so it doesn't surprise me. I think when you get in you say, "I'm doing it now so I'll be happy with 100% of it," but sometimes you lose a location or it rains and you've only got two hours to shoot a scene and not ten.
In the film vampires fight humans, how is that possible when vampires are much faster and stronger than humans? I don't think I ever saw any humans fighting vampires on the previous Blade films?
Goyer: Yeah I know, but you know what its a Blade movie so why not.
As an online journalist, so much has been made of Wesley Snipes not participating in the promotions in this film, which is so strange since he is one of the producers and the main star of the film. Reports have it that he is disenchanted with the studio and the franchise. Can you share any light?
Goyer: Well you got to remember, Wesley didn't do any promotions for Blade 2 neither. Listen he (Wesley) had last say on the script. If he wanted to change the script then we've would've done it period. As far as tension on the set, yeah you had some here and there but nothing that was out of proportion. There is always some kind of tension in any set not just this film. I've got a great relationship with him for 10 years and I respect him for him. I mean come on I directed him before. Those reports that were out there were way out of proportion.
Your first film as a director was Zig Zag, which was a smaller film. How was the transition for you into the big action stuff?
Goyer: I don't think it was as hard as it might have been for someone who hadn't been me, because I had been so previously affiliated with the Blade films. I knew the basic vocabulary and I had been onset for the other movies, so I knew what worked and what hadn't worked, as opposed to somebody coming into the franchise completely new. So I think that gave me an advantage.
I think the special effects were the biggest change. I didn't have any in Zig Zag and I have a ton in this one. And just the physical endurance – I remember both Guillermo and Norrington saying that was the hardest thing on a movie of that scale. Zig Zag, which I had done in 26 days, was comparatively very easy.
This film is funnier than the first two. What made you decide to go that way?
Goyer: I'm not funny right now, I'm just waking up. But I always wanted to inject a bit more humor into the first two Blade films. There was a bit more in the first Blade, but it doesn't come immediately to Norrington or Del Toro. I just decided it was the third time out, if we did the same old same old we'd just get the die hard fans and nobody else. It just seemed that the third time out we could be more subversive. I wrote a pretty funny script – at least the studio and cast members thought so. Then when Ryan (Reynolds) came on we really bonded. I would say 70% [of his lines] was scripted, but when he came onboard we had a lot of late night drinking sessions and he just kept on embellishing. And we did a lot of improvisation on this movie, much more than on the other films. I really like to improvise, I had done it a lot on Zig Zag, so I cast a lot of actors out of the independent film world to do that, and surrounded Wesley with – Wesley, at least on the Blade films, had never improvised. I forced him to do it more.
Was he OK with that?
Goyer: Yeah. I think this cast gave him a run for his money.
Is this the end for Blade? Do you see Wesley Snipes reprising his role or do you see another actor like Michael Jai White doing Blade?
Goyer: I wounldn't do another Blade film if it's not with Wesley. I can't see anybody else play Blade but him. It would be like a big disrespect to him. As for it being the end of Blade? We'll have to see. Never say never.
You've said that there will be a boxed set of the three Blade DVD's. Are you still doing a joint commentary with Stephen Norrington and Guillermo Del Toro for all three films?
Goyer: Yes, I can't wait just to sit with them and just start talking while watching all there films.
I heard that you guys shot a scene with a werewolf. Why did you not use that?
Goyer: We filmed an ending with a were-hyena, if you want to get technical, and it was just lame. Sometimes you do it – and I had a cameo in that, as well, so you know it was lame for me to cut it out of the film. I do a stunt, Ryan Reynolds punches me in the face and flips me onto a roulette table. We did it ten times. I was really hurting. But it's on the DVD.
Sometimes you do a scene and it doesn't gel and it's just bad. Since that scene was very modular and we didn't need it to tell the story, I said screw it and cut it out. There was a scene in the first Blade film that I finally got to do a good version of in this film, with the body farm. A lot of people said if Deacon Frost turns everyone into vampires how are they going to feed? There was a scene that I scripted that we did film that addressed that, and it's on the omitted scenes in the DVD of the first Blade, but it's just bad. It was just a sucky scene.
How did you get the gig for Batman Begins?
Goyer: The easiest way possible – Nolan just called and said, "I want you to do it." I didn't try out for it. I knew him a bit. I was on pre-production for Blade already and he called me up and said he was doing Batman. I said, "Really? Do you really think that's going to get made, because they've been trying for so long with so many different iterations." He said, "No, I'm getting it made, and I want you to do it."
At the time I said I couldn't, but I talked to him for an hour and said, "If I did do it I would do this, this and this, but you can have my ideas for free." He called me back a week later and said that I had to do it. So I said, "OK here's the deal – I've got 7 weeks until I go to Vancouver for Blade. So I have 7 weeks." I ended up doing a draft and a half of the script. After that I said they have to do their own revisions.
But he didn't have any starting point, he didn't have any villains, hadn't decided to do an origin, didn't have anything.
Do you know how much of your script is in the final version?
Goyer: About 75%. The entire story, every single character, every single set piece is exactly from my script. I had worked it out with Chris anyway. There are some portions where he moved scenes around or he changed some dialogue.
How does it look? Is there a cut?
Goyer: There's no cut yet. I've seen all the dailies, but he should be finished with a cut around Christmas time.
Can you talk about why you choose these two villains Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow
Goyer: I remember the very first discussion I had with Chris, we were talking about that and at that point it hadn't even been decided we were going to do an origin story yet, the very first discussion, but very quickly over the course of 10-15 minutes we decided we had to tell an origin story. I felt very strongly that we should use characters that hadn't been depicted in the films before, fortunately I was familiar with the sort of rogues gallery of Batman foes but fortunately I felt in the case of Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul, they were two really great villains that hadn't been used. I just happen to think Ra's Al Ghul is unique as a Batman villain because his goals, although they are certainly perverted, he is more realistic as a character and Scarecrow is unique because it allowed the opportunity, I think, to depict a villain that is truly scary and frightening.
I thought it was smart that you didn't bring back any of the other villains from the Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher films...
Goyer: You see now you can do them. You can do them in the subsequent films because we will of sort of re-introduce everybody to Batman and they will be use to the fact that this is different Batman story.
Are you involved with the sequels? Did you discuss ideas for 2 and 3?
Goyer: I laid out a loose road map. Chris and I certainly talked about various things, there are pieces in place for them to do things for the next two or three films. And Warner Bros said they're probably going to be calling to do another one. Right now everyone wants Chris to do another one and he's not saying boo. He's waiting until he finishes his cut – in a way he doesn't need to do another one. I wouldn't do another one if Chris doesn't do it.
Of course obviously you know by now we did the first script review for Batman Begins, were you pissed off at us for it?
Goyer: Well I personally don't like scripts to be reviewed before (as a filmmaker) the movie comes out because I think it spoils so much. And I know you can post spoilers and things like that. When I was a kid growing up reading comic books you got to end of the comic book and you had to wait a month to find out what happens and I miss that. And I hate the fact that as part of this community (Online) I know so much about the movie before I go in that it's so hard to keep a surprise anymore. So I understand why you guys do it but personally as a filmmaker I don't like it just because…And the script was well received so on that hand I was really glad and so was Warner Bros, but it wasn't like what had happened with Superman were the script wasn't well received. So on one hand I was happy that it well received but also because it was well received I wish it hadn't gotten out because people can experience it.
I read the script and before we posted the script review there was a lot of stuff we took out just because we wanted to leave it out for the fans for example the tumbler scene, which is like a comic relief.
Goyer: Well I'm glad you guys did keep certain things out. And yeah it was a comic relief and it was something that was meant for the fans. So just let them see it when it comes out. So that's cool. I'm glad that you guys…I like it when the sites sometimes exercise some restraints. I don't like the sites that just put up anything and they don't care. I don't think they're even doing anyone a service when they do that.
Do you thinks some studios are Internet savvy?
Goyer: Warner Bros…they're still getting up to speed with the Internet and comic book conventions. They didn't know at all what to expect when we went to Comic-Con for Batman.
Yeah I know I was there. They never showed the teaser trailer and they just put up that intro with Chris Nolan and Christian Bale.
Goyer: And I was telling them "Don't do that, don't do that, don't do that." And that's why we ended up showing some footage at Wizard World in Chicago. They (Warner Bros) realized that they've screwed up. But they are still learning, they are still in the learning process but they are really early in the learning process with comic conventions.
Comic-Con was their first.
Goyer: Yeah AND THEY LEARNED. (Laughs) You can't show up at Comic Con with a movie like this with out showing any footage you'll get laughed off the stage.
I mean for X-Men 2 Bryan Singer had shot some scenes for like two weeks and he went down to Comic Con to show fans footage.
Goyer: I know, trust me I was telling them that and they hung me out to dry when I walked out on the stage. That was not fun. What can I say, they learned.
You said you had other comic books that you were being consulted on, one at D.C. and one at Marvel?
Goyer: I read the WONDER WOMAN script and I just give them my opinion and things like that. I read the scripts that they were doing with IRON MAN. For the first Spider-Man movie I read those scripts and the treatments and things like that. I get asked a lot would I just read them. Just as a favor. And most I do and most of them I do just because I'm interested from a fans point of view.
How can studios work with the online film community to generate interest with any fans?
Goyer: I think it's a matter of…I think a site like yours it's a matter of developing a relationship and there being communication back and forth. The studios don't expect the sites to just be nice to them all the time and do what ever they say. But the fact that sometimes you guys exercise some restraint…I think the more responsible the websites are the more cooperation you'll get from the studios.
In the beginning it use to be that Ain't It Cool News and Dark Horizons were sort of the only ones, but now we go to your site, Superhero Hype, Coming Soon and CHUD.
Your opinion on Bale as Batman?
Goyer: I think he's a perfect casting. He's certainly one of the only guys we were talking about from the very beginning.
Were there any other candidates?
Goyer: We talked about Jake Gyllenhaal but I think that we always felt that it was important to cast someone who's a real good actor sort of what they did with Spider-Man but not so big that their bigger than Batman. Let them become a big super star because of Batman, but Batman is bigger than the star, Batman is bigger than the actor.
Dont't forget to also check out: Batman Begins