Superman Returns Set Visit – Part 2

On the second day of my trip to Sydney, our time to go to Fox Studios wasn’t till late in the day so my fellow internet journalists and I decided to sight see. We ended up taking the Geek Tour of downtown Sydney. Garth Franklin from Dark Horizons and Steve Younis from Superman Homepage showed us the shooting locations for “The Matrix.” We were shown the place where the “Woman in the Red Dress” scene took place, the building where Neo experienced déjà vu, the entrance to the building where the shootout took place, and more. More than a few passers by looked at us funny as we took photos of seemingly random buildings. After stops at a couple of local comic shops, we went by a few locations where Superman Returns filmed. Steve showed us where they had filmed Clark Kent running down a street. He also took us to an alley where Clark Kent ran along and revealed the Superman costume for the first time (as seen in the Comic Con footage). We were a bit of a strange sight as we stood around in this grimy alley geeking out. To make things odder, a woman who looked like a Playboy model walked down the alley carrying a giant bowl and asked us if we knew where the “Governor’s Delight” was. I’m proud to say nobody said some of the many jokes we were all thinking of. We continued our tour and saw a train station that doubled as a Metropolis hospital. After finishing our walking tour, we returned to the hotel and then departed for the studio.

We returned to Fox Studios Australia and immediately headed for the costume department. As we arrived, I saw “Red Sun – Extras Fitting Room” on a sign on the door. There we were met by costume designer Louise Mingenbach and costume supervisor Dan Bronson. Louise has worked on films including both of the “X-Men” movies, “The Usual Suspects,” “The Rundown,” “Spanglish” and “Starsky & Hutch.” Dan has worked on the “Matrix” movies, Catwoman, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Men in Black, Batman & Robin, “Forrest Gump” and more. As we entered the building we saw rows and rows of clothes. There were hundreds of jackets, trousers, dresses, and accessories. In the corner of the entry was a mannequin covered in a black blanket. As soon as we saw it, we knew the Superman costume was underneath. (Well, the dark red boots peeking out underneath were clues, too.)

Louise and Dan started out by talking about the costume and showing us some production art of the costume. While I was very interested in what they had to say, I could barely contain myself while I waited to see the suit unveiled. Soon enough they revealed the costume to us and I was quite impressed. The first thing that struck me was the colors. The red was so dark that it was practically maroon. Louise then pulled out the cape and we saw that while the outside of the cape was a solid deep red, the inside was shaded. Behind Superman is a bright red color and it fades out to the deeper maroon on the outer edges. This multi-tone works to great effect in highlighting Superman. The next thing I noticed was that there were blue lines in the arms and legs of the blue bodysuit. They are almost unnoticeable in photos, but they were quite apparent in person. The lines go a long way in breaking up the solid color in the blue bodysuit and they are yet another of the changes to the classic costume. The third thing I noticed was that every single bit of the costume was textured. For example, the cape had indentations in the fabric all over it and the blue bodysuit had little shapes all over it. But the best example of this was the “S” logo. If you get up close enough to it, you can see it is textured with hundreds of little diamond indentation shapes like the Superman logo. It’s a little touch that you can’t see easily in the photos. About the only thing that’s a solid shape on the costume is the belt.

We eventually asked about the padding in the costume and Louise and Dan did the unthinkable – they let us touch the Superman costume. My fellow internet geeks and I descended on it like sharks on a surfer. I made a point to tug on Superman’s cape (sorry, Jim Croche!) and was amazed at how heavy it was. The outside felt like latex or raincoat material while the inside was a softer wool fabric. This cape will not billow like the ones in previous Superman shows. I next felt the blue bodysuit. Contrary to initial reports that it wasn’t padded, it really is. There was a little muscle padding in the forearms, the biceps, the chest, and rib area. There was also some on the legs. (No, I didn’t feel the crotch unlike other people who shall remain nameless.) Despite the fact that there was padding all over, it was quite thin. I also felt the blue bodysuit itself and it was amazingly thin. It was thinner than spandex but thicker than, say, hose. I then moved on to the “S” logo itself. I tapped it and it felt like a hard rubber material. Louise and Dan also showed us the Superman boots. They showed us the soles and you could see at least three large Superman logos in the bottom of each of them. Whether or not they show up in the film remains to be seen, but it’s a fun little touch.

We then concluded our tour of the costume department and headed to a screening room in one of the other buildings in order to watch the Superman Returns footage that was shown at Comic Con. A large number of my fellow press members hadn’t seen it. As we entered the building, we saw props from “Moulin Rouge!” in a display case as well as posters for all of the movies that had been filmed there. We entered a small theater that featured THX sound and a DLP projector. Bryan Singer then surprised us with a visit and introduced the footage. As the Comic Con reel began, I was struck with how crystal clear the picture looked. This was my third time to see it, but I was still impressed. After we saw the footage Singer stuck around and did an impromptu Q&A before leaving to actually go work on pre-production for “Logan’s Run.” We then headed back to the Australian Museum to watch more of the location filming.

As we arrived for our second night at the museum, we again saw the many trucks with filming equipment and crew frantically running around setting things up. We were ushered yet again into the Aborigine exhibit and the cave we lovingly nicknamed “The Grotto” for interviews. It wasn’t long before we were joined by Brandon Routh. Brandon was dressed in a t-shirt that said “Breckenridge” and he was wearing a baseball cap turned backwards. He was also wearing glasses which made him resemble Clark Kent more than Superman. I had been told Routh was quite tall. I’m about 6’5″, but I found him to be a few inches shorter than me. Still, he towered over most of the press. Brandon actually went around the entire table and shook hands with every single journalist there. He even was familiar with some of the sites we represented. It was a simple gesture on his part, but one that was genuine and made me realize that he’s still down to earth despite his high flying adventures on the big screen. I think it’s safe to say we all liked him immediately. As Brandon spoke, I was shocked by how much he resembled Christopher Reeve at times. Brandon would just be chatting away, then he’d smile and you’d get an instant shock at how he looked like Reeve’s Clark Kent. It was simultaneously eerie and cool. Routh’s answers weren’t always as polished as some of the more seasoned actors we’ve interviewed, but that was OK. As Patrick Lee from SCI FI pointed out to me, it indicated his answers were more genuine. Routh’s answers were interesting and he really impressed the Superman fansite guys with his knowledge of the comics. (The Superman fans in our group later admitted that they were throwing comics questions at Routh to test the depths of his knowledge and none of them were able to stump him.) I was also impressed to find out that Routh was a fantasy and Terry Brooks fan. Brandon spoke to us for quite a long time and even offered to stay beyond his appointed time in order to chat with us. In the end we were impressed with the guy and liked him a lot. Singer has picked a good Superman.

Next up for interviewing was Parker Posey. As she entered the room I was a little stunned when she looked at me and said, “You look familiar. Have we met before?” The truth is I’ve never met her before in my life, but it was fun to be singled out by her among the geek hordes. Posey looked like she had been kicking back and relaxing before coming to talk with us. Her hair wasn’t fixed up and she was wearing a sweatshirt that had a big heart on the front that said “Mother”. She seemed a little tired, but occasionally she would perk up and answer a question with her keen sense of humor that she displays on screen. When I asked her if she had any favorite superheroes as a kid (yes, we were running out of questions) she perked up and did her best impression of Isis from the old 70’s TV show. It was really funny and got laughs from everyone. I was also amused to find out that she’s a reality TV show fan. In fact she left our little Q&A in order to go catch Australian “Big Brother” on TV.

Posey was then followed up by Lois Lane herself, Kate Bosworth. In contrast to Routh and Posey who were in casual attire, Bosworth was dressed up nicely. She had just come from the grand opening of trendy fashion store “sass & bide” in downtown Sidney. Kate wore a black cap, a black blouse, and a metal sequin shirt. Despite being one of the youngest members of the cast, she gave some of the most articulate answers of anybody we interviewed on the trip. Kate had a great sense of humor, told some funny stories, and was gracious and polite to everyone there.

Following Kate, our handlers came in to tell us bad news – we weren’t going to be able to interview Kevin Spacey. His attendants apparently let him go for the night without remembering to have him come back to “The Grotto” to chat with us. Adding to the disappointment was news that we weren’t going to get to see any filming at the museum that night. All that was left to film was a scene where the lights go out in the museum and that wasn’t terribly exciting to hang around for. (I wandered through the area they were shooting in earlier in the evening and saw the camera on a glass case filled with meteorites. It’s not too hard to figure out why Lex is in the museum.) Despite not getting to talk with Spacey, we were still going to be able to talk with Bryan Singer some more.

Singer soon arrived with his assistants and quickly dove right back in to where he left off from the previous Q&A. As usual, Singer was enthusiastic and energetic about his cast, his crew, and his story. After talking with him for quite some time, our evening was over and the set visit had officially ended. The press and I continued to sight see and hang out in Sydney the next day or so until we left for home. But as we talked about comics, movies, and Superman Returns, we were all in agreement that the movie was going to be exciting. From the cast to the crew, everyone on board is the right person for the job and they are well poised to make the film one of the best comic movies ever made.

Read Part 3 of our visit, an interview with Brandon Routh!

Superman Returns opens in conventional theaters, IMAX and IMAX 3D on June 30.

Source: Scott Chitwood