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Feature: Superman Returns
Writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris discuss how they brought back the Man of Steel...
Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, the impossibly young- looking writers of Superman Returns, are building up quite a résumé. Having first written together with director Bryan Singer on X-Men 2, they are presently working on Singer’s remake of the Seventies classic Logan’s Run.
Self-proclaimed comic book fans, the pair are hoping that Superman Returns attracts new blood and helps rejuvenate the struggling comic industry. “I certainly hope so,” states Harris, “we’ve tried to integrate some of the things we’re doing with DC Comics in terms of sequels or some other kind of material, not only as an adaptation, but to support the movie in different ways. Hopefully, there will be such a huge Superman marketing campaign, a blitz everywhere that will, hopefully, extend into comics, and it will really bring people who have seen the movie and are interested in it or are getting ready to see the movie into the comics world to kind of do research or dig up stuff.’ “Yeah,” agrees an excited Dougherty, “as if we were the gateway back into comics.” Harris adds, “We want to be the gateway drug back into comics!”
How are the boys enjoying the filming process, can they tell us how the film is looking? “Everyday there is a new scene! I swear, every time we shoot something and it gets cut, it turns into our favourite scene,” explains Harris. Dougherty continues, “Then you see it again and go ‘This isn’t working’. You have to remember that when you go in and watch a scene the first time you saw it and how it was for you is how everyone else is going to feel when they watch it. It’s funny because there was a day last week when I almost purposefully stayed off set because I wanted to see just how it turned out, to watch it cut together and it was probably one of the funniest scenes I had ever seen in my life. I’m hoping that a sense of freshness is there for the audience.
“Watching stuff go from the page to getting shot on set, to editing really really quickly and the good thing is that it just keeps getting better.” Harris interjects, “The process that they have to cut while shooting is so fine tuned and John [Ottman] and Elliot [Graham] are such great editors. John is so great because he is also the composer which means he is really good with sound, so he mixes sound and does temp music, it’s so amazing. The process is so fast, literally in two or three days we can see a nearly finished conversion of the scene, widescreen, running time code, with great music.”
In the 1978 film, Luthor was played mainly for laughs. Have the writers continued in this vein? Dougherty is pleased to say they have taken a different approach. “He’s a bit more sinister, I think, and this time around he’ll get laughs, but he turns on a diamond. That’s the amazing thing about Kevin Spacey, you’ll be laughing at him and then realize how creepy what he’s just done is. The sinister and scary Lex will come out immediately.”
by David Brown
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Superman Returns © Warner Bros
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