We had a chance to attend a panel discussion and roundtable forum with the much revered Bryan Singer. Currently, he is still working on the long awaited Superman Returns. After many false starts, Singer has proven himself to be the man to get the story of the Man of Steel back on the big screen. Through his answers it is apparent that this is a person that not only “gets” comic book movies, but movies. Period.
Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic action-adventure, Superman Returns, a soaring new chapter in the saga of one of the world’s most beloved superheroes. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman’s bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space.
After finding out that the podium microphone was the best mic to speak from, Singer started fielding as many questions as time would allow. When asked about the dual identity of Clark Kent/Superman, Singer stated emphatically that “Clark Kent is definitely a disguise.” He went on to say that he didn’t grow up “reading comics”, and that he drew on several different influences for this new film. He drew from the George Reeves TV show, the 1978 Richard Donner film, the Alex Ross comics, etc. When asked how he was able to attend Comic-Con while in the midst of this production he stated that he felt it was worth it because Comic-Con “is Superman.”
When asked why he changed the colors of the Superman suit he said, “It had to be a suit that had the essence” and “silk screen felt dated” but ultimately the “suit had to fit the man.” He also talked a little bit about the new script he is writing for the updated version of Logan’s Run. Specifically, he talked about the “palm crystals”. Initially, someone thought the crystyals could be on the inside of the characters hands, but right away Singer knew they “gotta be on the outside of the skin.”
He says that “Warner Bros. has been extremely supportive” of Superman Returns and that the version that will arrive in theaters “will be the director’s cut” and most likely “be over 2 hours.” “It is first and foremost be a love story.” He said when someone asked if this new film will challenge the Lois and Clark relationship. “I definitely think so” he continued, but acknowledged that the film “plays on an established relationship between Lois and Clark.”
Shot with a new Genesis digital camera he described the look of Superman Returns as a “1940s love story.” He punctuated that comment with “Rebecca (the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film) in color.” Singer then stated that “Jor-El will be in the movie in a very small role and he’ll be played Marlon Brando.” He later stated that for him “Brando was always the face of Jor-El.” Also, Superman Returns “comes off the first Superman movie (directed by Richard Donner).” When asked why he wasn’t doing X-Men 3 he said he has a “wonderful relationship with Marvel” comics and the “same with DC” comics, but that the Superman movie presented itself and he “took advantage of the opportunity. If I could split myself in half I would be doing both movies.”
When asked how he was having Kevin Spacey portray the role of Lex Luther he said with “humor” and a “very dark side.” “It’s been a great time” Singer offered about the man who played Keyser Soze. John Ottman who has worked with Singer in the past will be composing the music, but they will also be incorporating John Williams legendary score.
Singer was then asked what Superman meant to him. “I’m adopted. An only child. I am American.” He stated. “Superman is an only child... and he’s the ultimate immigrant.” After this Singer showed us a clip of Superman Returns, to show how the “character’s look”. It begins with a majestic shot of the Kent farm. It is as if we are seeing Superman’s childhood in just a few seconds. Then we move to the city where we see Lois Lane, who is with a new man, and has a child out of wedlock. At various times we hear Brando’s voice over this, which is used to good effect because it helps us orient ourselves back into the story. Kevin Spacey is also revealed as Lex Luther, and the trailer ends with a sort of Biblical reference in which Jor-El explains very briefly(in a voice over) why Superman has been sent to earth. This trailer was recieved with such an uproar that it was given a standing ovation and allowed to play again. This trailer was cut by Dan Harris who is one of Bryan Singer’s writers.
Click below to listen to the various interviews with the director.
Superman Returns opens June 30th, 2006 from Warner Bros. Pictures.