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Feature: Superman Returns

New view

Director Bryan Singer gives us some moments of his time to tell us about his boy wonder…

As Bryan Singer leans back behind his control console, laughing and joking as he shows us some Marlon Brando bloopers from the Richard Donner version of Superman, he looks far too relaxed. The fact that he is making one of the biggest films ever made, the much-anticipated return of the Man of Steel seems to have left him completely unfazed. He may be a bag of nerves, but, if he is, he didn’t show it when he met with Starburst on the set of his biggest-ever challenge.

Superman is a comic book character firmly rooted in the Thirties, but Singer’s style of film-making is sleek and contemporary. The challenges to bring Superman into the new millennium have been reduced by the hero’s previous incarnations. “Well, fortunately others have held the torch over a number of decades, so the collective memory of who Superman is in the audience’s mind is a product of the late Thirties, the Forties, Fifties radio, Fifties television, the Sixties, television re-runs, Seventies movies, shows like Lois and Clark and Smallville. There’s a canon, an archetype that has been contemporized every decade, so an audience’s collective memory of Superman spans the decades, it isn’t just the first appearance in 1938.” Gone are the days of a Stars-and-Stripes waving Superman; this superhero is more cosmopolitan.

“Well, he’s not running around the White House and meeting with the President!” he laughs. “He’s sort of looking at the world’s problems, he steps up high above the Earth and sees problems all over the world and addresses them. He just happens to have been raised in a farm on Kansas.”

Casting this new Superman was always going to be a challenge. “I don’t remember the dates, but I did look at an enormous amount of tapes and early screen tests,” he recalls, “I saw tons of people, we had multiple casting directors all over the world. I saw two tapes of Brandon that he had made previously that I liked. There was something about him that interested me. So the day I was leaving for Australia for my first scout I scheduled a meeting with him. I met Brandon and within 10 minutes of conversation I knew I would cast him as Superman. We talked for two hours; I went straight from the meeting to the airport and went to Sydney knowing that I had my Superman. I didn’t make the decision for two months; I did some Photoshop with his face. We even painted Superman with his face on it so word got out that I might have a favourite, but nobody knew who he was. It wasn’t a known face that they were asked to paint. Then eventually, about two months later I went to the studio and told them I had my one and only choice for the role. There was no other and Alan said OK. I announced it instantly, there was a panel that a bunch of us did for X-Men 2 and rumours had already gotten out for a day or so. I said I would answer two questions about Superman. The first was ‘Is Brandon Routh Superman?’ and I said yes, and then the other question was, ‘Are you going to use the original John Williams music?’ and I said yes.”

by David Brown

Read the full interview and much more about Superman Returns in
Starburst #338

Superman Returns © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Starburst #338, see below for ordering options
Starburst #338
July 2006
ships from May 31 2006
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