22 November 2005

LOOOONG Superman Update

Hey guys, it's Donnie...Bryan Singer recently spoke at the first (hopefully annual) Christopher Reeve Lecture series in Princeton NJ. He showed the ComicCon reel (GAAAHH I still really want to see that footage!) and did a whole lotta Q&A. One Princeton native, Tim of local band LUZER, chronicled the whole thing and was nice enough to send AICN a full account. It's extremely detailed and real interesting, and yet it doesn't contain any kind of major spoilers, so feel free to browse through it at your leisure. Not included in this account is the news that Singer is not, as of yet, signed on for any sequels, which is a little curious I suppose. They've got Routh and others signed to multi-picture deals, but I'm sure that if this movie performs the way I think it will, they'll be able to get Bryan back without a lot of fuss, although I'll be interested to see if he takes the Chris Nolan route and takes on Logan's Run before returning to Metropolis. Big thanks to Tim for the enlightenment.

I had the pleasure of attending the first (hopefully annual they tell us) Christopher Reeve Lecture series tonight at the Princeton Public Library in, you guessed it, Princeton, NJ, featuring "acclaimed film director Bryan Singer". My somewhat-kick-ass-advance-tickets were for the cafe directly outside the double doors of the main "community room" where the lecture was being held, but thanks to a local traffic accident a good majority of the full-on-kick-ass-main-room-ticket holders were apparently M.I.A. leaving us cafe folks with an invitation into the main room.

The event finally got going with Bryan entering the room with Superman Returns exec producer Chris Lee and Bryan's Video Blog main man Robert Meyer Burnett (HDV camera in hand). Also in attendance was Bryan's parents and Christopher Reeve's mother Barbara Johnson (which made for some very touching words exchanged later in the evening, not to mention her striking resemblance to her son). Princeton Borough Mayor Marvin Reed moderated the event (sometimes a bit painfully slow with the questions, but was plenty polite to make up for it). They started off by touching on how Bryan got started in movies, eventually leading to The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, the X-Films and finally Supes. Somewhere in there Mayor Reed asked Bryan if we could expect an X-Men 3. Bryan assured him there would be an X-Men 3 (to a small chuckle from the geeks in the crowd), but that he will not be involved. The mayor innocently told Bryan that he would have to get out sometime before there was an X-Men 8, 9, 10.

So onto that little topic of Supes. Bryan started by talking about how he had been a Superman fan since he was a small child, originally of the George Reeves Superman, and eventually seeing Superman: The Movie at "a twilight showing" right down the road from Princeton back in '78. Being informed by his parents as a youngling that Chris Reeve was a Princeton boy, he was amazed that "Superman wasn't from Krypton or Kansas. He was from New Jersey!" I must say it was quite cool to see the full circle of Bryan Singer sitting in Princeton, talking about watching the original flick there almost 30 years ago, especially with Chris Reeve's mother in attendance.

He talked a bit more about the basic premise of the movie, and soon set-up the clip we had been promised. I figured it was no coincidence that the lecture was the same day as the trailer was released attached to the Harry Potter & The Hendersons flick, and fully expected to just get the trailer. To our surprise and delight, he had the full Comic-Con four minute reel instead. I'm sure there's tons of descriptions out there from Comic-Con, but I have to say that Brandon completely won me over once I heard him say a few lines. It really makes the difference on his age too. I'm totally sold. It also features James Marsden's character asking Lois if she loved Superman. Producer Chris Lee later told me her response is his favorite line in the movie. "Everybody loved Superman". Oh, good answer Lois, but then Cyclops comes back with ,"But do you?".

So after the footage was shown to a big round of applause, it was time for some Q&A where the geeks finally got to ask some questions. Here's the highlights...

* When a gentleman asked if the goofy aspect that he loved about the old Superman flicks would be in Returns, Bryan answered that he is trying to steer clear of "goofy" but it is definitely the most romantic and humorous film he has done to date.

* There is no truth to the rumor that there is a clause in Brandon Routh's contract to do a Superman/Batman crossover flick, only a standard Warner Brothers multi-picture deal. Although I was later told that even though it most likely will never be seen in the movie, the set was so detailed that the Daily Planet newspapers were all filled with stories, including a "Bat Creature" being spotted in Metropolis with a picture of a shadowy Batman jumping off of a building with Jimmy Olsen photo credits. Very cool. Bryan also mentioned that the only time he ever considered a Batman/Superman movie was when Wolfgang Peterson was attached, and just thought how he would do it. "Who would be the bad guy? It'd have to be Batman. But he can't be that bad...he's Batman!" He said tonight was the first time he had thought about it since then.

* As confirmed already Noel Neill (The Adventures Of Superman's Lois Lane and Lois Lane's mother in Donner's '78 film) will be making a cameo, which Bryan described as a important one, in addition to Jack Larson's cameo featured on Bryan's Video Journal #25 and in the Comic-Con footage.

* When asked about Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Lex Luthor (whether he was a scientist, billionaire, etc.), Bryan said that Lex is "fresh out of jail" and that his history with Superman and/or Clark doesn't tread one way or another over the groundwork left by Smallville. Only that the two characters have some kind of history as we join them in the movie.

* Bryan agreed with someone in the audience that the biggest change to the Superman mythos he made was giving Lois a kid with James Marsden's character (not a raised S logo). He thought this was something that you've never seen Superman deal with before that his version brought to the table. You've seen Superman save every disaster, but how would he deal with this? The world has moved on a bit, but it seems Lois has completely moved on.

* To keep Clark's disappearance under wraps, Martha Kent sent postcards to Lois during his Daily Planet hiatus. In the Comic-Con footage Martha asks Clark "What about that nice girl you used to talk about? The one you had me send post cards to?" or something to that effect.

* There's roughly 1,400 effects shots to be completed to the movie, and although obviously an expensive movie, the budget has been exaggerated a bit on the net, and is still roughly under 200 million.

* Bryan had pitched his idea to the Donners in a hotel several years ago when he was working on the X-Men films if he ever were to make a Superman movie. Richard Donner loved the idea and the idea of Bryan doing a Superman movie, which really gave Bryan the confidence to pitch it to Warner Bros. years later when the opportunity presented itself.

* The crew of X-Men 1 religiously watched Superman: The Movie during the production of the movie to decide how to base their superheroes in a reality based movie.

* The opening credits will feature John Williams classic Superman march, with a new score by editor/composer John Ottman integrating old and new themes. I believe I also caught a mention that the opening credits will feature some of Superman: The Movie.

* Acknowledging Barbara Johnson, Bryan attributed Clark being a bit "annoying" to Chris Reeve's genius in playing the role. He played him as the kind of guy that you don't really want around, that is just kind of there functioning, but you don't really look at. If anyone looked too hard they might see the man in tights.

* Although he had a tough time narrowing down his favorite moments from the '78 Superman, Bryan said that he thought Superman's responses in Lois's balcony interview was a great template of the character. (Lois: Why are you here? Superman: To fight for truth justice and the American way. Lois: Unbelievable. Superman: Lois, I never lie.) "That's Superman." He then went on talking about how he thinks it's a good time to have such an idealistic character in such a cynical day and age. That's one of the things that made it so appealing to him to tell a modern Superman story.

Finally, we ran out of Q&A time, and Barbara Johnson talked briefly to Bryan about how she had mixed feelings when she first heard there was going to be a new Superman movie, but seeing the footage and talking to Bryan completely won her over and she wished him the absolute best of luck. It was quite a touching moment actually.

They then showed the clip again, and sent everyone out into the library to a small reception to meet Bryan and his entourage. There we picked up a few more cool tidbits from Chris Lee and Robert Meyer Burnett…

* There's a huge plane action scene, briefly seen in the Comic-Con footage, that may run 20-25 minutes and is going to be BREATHTAKING and UNBELIEVABLE.

* A huge amount of time and effort went into fighting gravity so there wouldn't be any "droop-age" when Superman flies, including clever camera maneuvers and several green covered men puppeteering the cape at any given time.

* Superman being able to breathe in space (and underwater) is addressed in the movie, and yes he has to breathe in Bryan's Super-World. He is "too logical" in his thinking to let these things fall under the suspension of disbelief category.

* The raised S under the suit is addressed, as is the costume's origin in some way.

* The sets are incredibly detailed, down to the stack of business cards on Perry White's desk, and some of the props have already gone on sale at the prop department for cheap as heck. (Someone has already snagged Lex Luthor's smoking jacket for twenty bucks.)

Finally before they kicked us out, Bryan took some pictures with fans and eventually his mother and Barbara Johnson. Bryan started by telling her how much her son embodied Superman to him, and then she talked for several minutes about how much torture Chris went through in the flying harnesses, and would come home covered in bruises. Bryan mentioned that he heard that there were several mishaps where they flew him into trees. She laughed and said that that was true, and then the scene got cut.

It was a very amazing night for a huge Superman fan such as myself, and especially special seeing Chris Reeve's mother tell Bryan stories about her much missed son. I for one really can't wait until June 30th now…or more likely midnight on June 29th.



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