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Feature: Superman Returns

Bryan Singer interview

Bryan Singer takes a well earned nap!

Film Review talks to director Bryan Singer about bringing the son of Jor-El back to the big screen.

When The Usual Suspects became a huge success in 1995, director Bryan Singer became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand film makers overnight. Since then he’s made his name by proving that comic book movies really don’t have to be high-camp nonsense, with the excellent X-Men and X-Men 2. Now, Singer is bringing the Man of Steel back to the screen in Superman Returns. “The biggest challenge in making any film is just making a good film,” says Singer. “I don’t care what people will say about this film 50 years from now. All I care about is being respectful to the legend of Superman.” The director has been keen to put his own stamp on this latest episode in Kal-El’s adventures, taking the storyline of the original two films (directed by Richard Donner and Richard Lester respectively) and building on the myth. “Superman’s changed a lot since he was the idyllic kid who appeared out of the Fortress of Solitude. The world has moved on without him and Superman discovers, when he returns to Metropolis, that he’s not the centre of the universe anymore.”

In the film, Superman returns to Earth after time in exile, discovering that the love of his life, Lois Lane, has gotten engaged and his arch-enemy Lex Luthor is more evil than ever. Although the world has changed for Superman, there are many things that Singer refused to alter for fear of ruining the legend. “The suit is so iconic that you don’t want to mess around with it too much. In the film, we’ll find out how the suit was created, with Kryptonian technology,” he explains. “I looked at all of the previous suits, especially how the ‘S’ looked on the suits, and we played around with the look in order to get the right proportions for Brandon Routh in terms of the head and the chest.” Routh, a previously unknown actor, was chosen after many more famous potentials were rejected. “Brandon is wonderful,” says the director. “He inhabits the character and when you see him in the suit, you get the feeling that you’re looking at Superman.”

Singer has altered Superman/Clark Kent’s home of Metropolis though. “Richard Donner based Metropolis exactly on New York City,” he explains. “I wanted to play around with the look of the city and not be bound by having to conform to what the real New York looks like. The look of Metropolis is a cross between the New York of 1938 and the New York that exists today.” According to Singer though, filming in and around Sydney didn’t contribute to Metropolis getting a facelift. “I don’t think fans will be able to tell that we shot the film in Australia,” says the director. “There’s so many things that we’re able to do on this film, visually, that Richard Donner wasn’t able to do in Superman, because of the limits of technology. Which makes it all the more amazing what Richard was able to accomplish with that film.”

Read more from Bryan Singer in
Film Review (Feb)

Image © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Feb), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Feb)
#666, February 2006
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