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Ruminations: The man in blue (tights) is back

Ruminations: The man in blue (tights) is back

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Stop here. Go no further. Download this trailer.

Now take a few moments to watch it. Don't worry. We will all still be here when you get back.

Okay. You can say it. "Wow"!

As one fan put it, "I love the teaser trailer, but you could show a guy mowing the lawn to that music and I'd get excited!"

So when I saw that Wondercon was going to have Bryan Singer, the director "Superman Returns," as one of the guests, I knew I was hooked in going to the City for the event.

This project has a long history, dating back to the mid-Nineties. The list of names attached to it at one time or another reads like "Who's Who in Hollywood." Director candidates have included Tim Burton, Oliver Stone, Brett Ratner, Michael Bay and Joseph "McG" Nichol. Some of the actors who were supposedly donning the blue tights included Nicholas Cage, James Caviezel, Henry Cavill, Matthew Bomer and even Johnny Depp.

Kevin Smith took a stab at writing a screenplay for the project, under the influence of then-producer Jon Peters. Kevin has shared some tale of those days at various events, and yes, Wondercon was no exception. For the best telling, check out the DVD "An Evening With Kevin Smith." Hearing Kevin tell about Peters' insistence on the addition of a giant spider is a gem. (And while we won't see that in "Superman Returns," he did finally get his giant arachnid fix in the extremely disappointing "Wild Wild West" movie.)

Thankfully, the folks making the decisions at Warner Brothers picked the guy to direct this comic book hero film. After showing us all what he could do (so well) with other stories in the genre with "X-Men" and "X-2 : X-Men United," Bryan Singer gets exactly what these characters and their worlds are all about. Those two films show audiences that he can tell these stories in a modern setting keeping the compelling points intact. And now, he is doing it again, but crossing from the Marvel Comics to the DC Comics universe.

The Wondercon event kicked off with Bryan taking the stage to generous applause. With a line of folks ready, the microphone was opened for questions. The first question brought up the subject of villains and did Bryan have any thoughts about who he would like to see as the nemesis in the next Superman film. Frankly, he seemed a bit stunned that fans would already be thinking that far ahead as this film hasn't even been shown yet. He did mention that the video game to accompany this film will have other villains from the DC universe in addition to Lex Luthor, but gave no indication as to any personal preference.

Then the subject of John Williams came up and it was revealed that there will indeed be pieces of his music from "Superman The Movie" in the new score adapted by composer John Ottman. At that point, Bryan stopped the questions and showed the audience the trailer, admittedly a bit cleaner and somewhat improved over the version previously shown at the San Diego Comicon.

After the trailer, questions resumed from the audience. Stepping aside from "Superman", it was asked how he felt about Brett Ratner taking over the directing duties on the "X-Men" franchise. Bryan said that it was difficult for him to step aside on X-Men as he has close relationships with many members of the cast. Had he been able to do both X3 and Superman, he would have done so. However, he gave great credit to the Donner film and that the portrayal of a super hero was very inspirational to him in the defining the way that a super hero film such as "X-Men" should be. Yet, Bryan shared that he has known Brett for some time and that as daunting it would be to step in to such a project he felt that Brett could and would be up to the task. Having now seen a trailer for X3, Bryan said he was even looking forward to seeing it at some midnight showing with a group of friends.

Taking another break from questions, he wanted to bring out someone who had been working on the film with him. That turned out to be Brandon Routh, making his first public appearance to discuss his role as Superman.

Brandon Routh and Bryan Singer
as seen on one of the video screens at Wondercon.
Image by Roger Colton

Needless to say, it was several moments before the fans quieted down and the questions resumed. Brandon seemed a bit overwhelmed at first, but jumped right in to answering.

A woman then wanted to know how the role of Lois Lane will be played by Kate Bosworth, the gist being that would she be too fragile (as some people had commented based on the trailer) or would she be the unconventional damsel in distress, feisty and intelligent? Bryan replied that now she has other people in her life and that yes, she would continue to get "into trouble" but now she has other people in her life and that she would take those other people into those situations with her. Brandon said that he saw her character as tenacious, that Lois is always a strong reporter and that those other people in her life will bring complications along as well. "It's not as easy getting out of those situations she gets herself into."

The next question was for Bryan about his occasional writing partner, Christopher McQuarrie, asking if he was planning to work with him again. Bryan replied that he had worked closely with Christopher on several drafts of "X-Men" and that he had just finished two weeks of work in Seattle with him on a remake of the of the 1976 "Logan's Run." That brought a solid round of audience approval.

Another audience member wondered how directing "Superman" differed from both of the "X-Men" films for Bryan. This was a much more daunting experience. It was a longer shoot than the others and was done in Australia, a much longer distance from home than he had worked before. Another major difference was that this film centers on one character rather than an ensemble. In the case of "X-Men," it is many actors playing many parts. With "Superman," it was Brandon playing three parts - Clark on the farm, Clark in the newsroom and then Superman. Comparing Superman as character from the DC Comics universe to those from the Marvel universe, Superman has a kind of virtue and nobility that may not exist with the Marvel characters or even with Batman (also a DC character).

Brandon was then asked about the pop culture myth of the supposed curse surrounding actors who have played the role of Superman. While unfortunate things had happened to other people, he had never thought of it as a curse. He has enjoyed the ability to do a number of things in his life and he doesn't see this as standing in his way to continue to do so.

A question for Bryan inquired into the possibility of a sequel, and said that he takes these movies one by one. There is an intention in his mind to move it forward. It is the nature of comic books in general that the first issue is not meant to just be the first issue.

Brandon was then asked about how he felt after beating out all of the big name talents that had been mentioned for the role. He is very honored to have been the one to do this. It always felt like the right thing the way it happened. Working with Bryan seemed to make it very easy as it all happened.

Many people saw Christopher Reeve as the embodiment of Superman in his portrayal and in his life. A question from the audience asked about how Bryan and Brandon felt about the film and it's connection with him. Brandon said that he felt that each artist, whether drawing or acting has brought their own addition to the Superman character. For Brandon, the portrayal by Reeve was a basis for him to build upon, as much as Reeve's had been done by others.

A really great question from the audience asked if there was a moment in the first Donner film that made them truly want to make a Superman movie. Bryan related that as much as he loves that film, it was during the scenes where Superman is having his first date with Lois Lane.

"She's staring at him and wants to know why he is there, having fallen in love with him at first seating. She says, "Why are you?" and then realizes she has to pull it together. She says, "Why are you here?" and he replies that he "is there to fight for truth, justice and the American way." She thinks that is absurd, silly. So she says that he'll "end up fighting every politician in Washington." And he says, "You don't really mean that, Lois." And she says, "You got to be kidding." And he says to her, "Lois, I never lie," and he's very serious about it. That's the moment when everything crystallizes and his entire character forms. So I thought with all those unique powers and abilities that this one conviction ends up... being one of his greatest liabilities and yet his greatest virtue."

So it indeed does seem that Bryan Singer is the guy who really gets what this character is all about. And based on how Brandon Routh handled that first chance to talk with some of the fan base for the film, I would say that so far, he is indeed the right choice for the role.

And if this wasn't enough of a temptation for you, check out the Wikipedia reference, this link and this one too, for more goodies on what this film has in store for audiences.

Like I said last week, it's going to be a long wait until June. And it's only getting longer...

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