Bryan Singer on Superman Returns

Director Bryan Singer made the rather long trip from Australia to San Diego, leaving the shooting of Superman Returns to greet the fans at Comic-Con International 2005, as well as to answer questions about the film and show a bit of preliminary footage. “If there ever was a time to make a long flight for a short visit, this was it,” he told the packed audience of 6,500.

After a bit of confusion about which mic to use, he went over to the podium to answer questions, turning the presentation into an “Everything You Wanted to Know about Superman Returns…” panel where the audience could ask Singer anything they wanted.

When asked about which he thought should be the primary focus of the film, Superman or Clark Kent, Singer broke the character down into three very distinct identities: the Clark Kent on the farm, being raised by the Kents; the bumbling Clark in Metropolis, and then Kal-el, the last surviving son of Krypton. (Singer was so exhausted by his long flight that he called him Jor-El by accident before being corrected by most of the 6,500 people at the panel.) “First and foremost, this will be a love story,” he told the rapt audience, “which plays on the notion of an established relationship between Clark and Lois.”

According to Singer, Alex Ross was his favorite Superman artist as far as visual style, but he also recommended the Max Fleischer cartoons, as well as the George Reeves television show for anyone interested in his film, which he admitted will be spring boarded from Richard Donner’s 1978 film, and its 1980 sequel.

Singer was faced with an inquisition about the changes in the costume, for instance the raised “S” and the darker colors, and he said that he didn’t want to play with the costume too much and wanted to keep the essence, but make something that didn’t seem so dated.

When asked why he chose Brandon Routh to play Clark Kent/Superman, Singer complimented the former soap star by calling him “a fine actor” and saying that it was always his intention to cast an unknown. As far as how his movie might affect what they’re doing on the Smallville television show, Singer said that they had been sharing material with the producers of the show. “We tried to carry the torch and respect the television show,” he said, to allay any fears from Smallville fans.

John Ottman will be scoring the film, but Singer confirmed that they will be incorporating the original John Williams theme, which he deems to be “like Star Wars.” He believes that the running time of the film will be over 2 hours.

After answering questions, Singer showed a reel that was edited together by the film’s co-screenwriter Dan Harris, which gives an overview of the film. The footage opens on a field with scenes of the Kent’s farm in Kansas with a voice-over obviously from Superman’s mother Lara, asking “Why earth, Jor-El?” The response comes from the easily distinguishable voice of Marlon Brando as Jor-El. Singer said that he had access to all of Brando’s outtakes that were never used for Superman 2, but he said that it would be a fairly small part. While they did do some recreations, he made it clear that Brando would not be an all-CGI character.

From there, we see the Daily Planet, Routh as Clark Kent with glasses, brief glimpses of Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, as well as Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. The reel gave you a good idea of what to expect from the plot, which seems to involve Superman having been gone for an extended period of time much like he was in some of the comic book storylines, such as “A World without Superman” and the period after “The Death of Superman.” At one point, there was a brief glimpse of a newspaper headline “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”, which apparently won Lois Lane her Pulitzer Prize.

Towards the end of the reel, there was a brief glimpse of a clean-shaven Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, holding an oblong crystal, which was obviously the representation of Kryptonite in the film. Singer mentioned that he’ll be splitting the difference with the character from the humorous version played Gene Hackman in the Donner film saying there will be a lot of humor, but also a darker side to the character.

The audience ate it up, applauding wildly and giving Singer a standing ovation, at which point, he did something rather unconventional for a Comic-Con presentation. He asked if the audience wanted to see it again, and of course, we all did. It was just as good the second time around.

Check back later for an audio interview with Singer, where he may answer even more of your questions.

Superman Returns opens on June 30, 2006.

Source: Edward Douglas