"If we can't learn to live together, we're gonna die alone"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Superman to Superman: Best laid plans of directors and the heroes they immortalized...for better or for worse

Things to think about as you read this and then hopefully read the links and hopefully start some google searching .... It is quite a path, almost needs a diagram
The relationship between Richard and Shula Donner, Joel Schumacher, Bryan Singer and How the Dye for the Modern Superhero Movie was Cast…And WHERE does Joel Silver fit in?

Shane Black- A forgotten writer with credits that include Lethal Weapon, The Last Boyscout… and the Lethal Weapon Reboot? Where does he fit in?

Christoper Nolan and David S. Goyer as overseers of the Superman reboot to be directed by Zach Snyder (sweet!) and all-around DC movie Universe Supervisors.

I’m trying to draw some concrete lines between some of Hollywood’s ruling class and the direction and tone that all superhero movies have taken since the release of Superman in 1978. There is a definitely a direction connection between Richard Donner (whom I’m a big fan of) and Joel Schumacher (who has far more arguable credibility) and somewhere mixed in there is a sprinkling of producer Joel Silver and director Bryan Singer who has, honestly, been questionable since The Usual Suspects, but is responsible for the tonality of the X-Men franchise before he jumped ship to work on the abandoned (by glitter-meister McG) Superman project which ultimately flopped, and Fox essentially jumped ship on the X-Men, relegating it to the man behind such gems as Rush Hour 1,2 and 3, non other than Brett Ratner (how do I hate thee for destroying the limited credibility the X-Men franchise had attained? Let me count the ways.)

In any event, when the dust cleared, there was much to be said about the way Singer handled the X-Men in movie one and two, casting at the time relative newcomer Hugh Jackman in what would ultimately be the lead role of Wolverine and, and cast the rest of the team in a not necessarily star-spangled manner. He also made the plight of the mutant in society (read civil rights movement) tantamount to the storytelling the way Chris Claremont did in his epic 17-yr run helming the writing duties of Uncanny X-Men. Whether or not I agreed with the feel of much of the first movie and disagreed with the way they side-swiped most of the characters in favor of Wolverine (perhaps due to the not-completely-thought-out decision to cast the team with somewhat less than dynamic personalities) is sort of beside the point. I still can’t quite understand why FOX studios is so determined to keep moving backwards in the X-Men timeline in order to tell the story forward. It’s one thing to back-story Wolverine (although if it wasn’t for the director and writer by way of story I’d be sick to death of him too). But in any event here are some links that I think are somewhat enlightening when you think about how everyone got to playing the parts they do in crafting what the world will remember of the X-Men (and Superman for that matter)

An article about Singer and how he approached the X-Men source material. Shula Donner (wife of Richard and Producer in her own right) worked closely with Singer from a production standpoint. Singer relates the atmosphere (dealing with the pressure from hokey hero flicks of the late 90’s presented by Schumacher in Batman Forever/ And Robin and Ben Stiller’s send-up(ironically titled Mystery-Men, a reference to the ultimate 4th wall hero send-up, Flaming Carrot Comics)

 An Article detailing Richard Donner’s development as a Director and list of Hollywood achievements, which include directing important and well-cannonized films such as The Omen, The Toy (one in the series of Gene Wilder/Richard Pryor films, likely as not introducing Donner to Prior and sparking the relationship that would land Prior in the Superman Franchise, as well) Directed all the Lethal Weapon films, from a script by Shane Black produced by Joel Silver, and directed THE GOONIES from a story by Spielberg, who produced the flick with Frank Marshall. Also directed the Lost Boys. Worth a read just for director details. And proof positive that Donner is world-class material. It’s sad to think about how much better the Superman franchise might have been handled if he hadn’t been pulled.


BobbyMoBetta said...

Should be noted that Singer returned to oversee and produce X-Men: First Class which is an amazing movie. The Mutant Rights movement covered from its inception and the development of the relationship between Erik and Charles really deserved this treatment. I think Matt Vaughn and Bryan Singer's dedication to a vision are ultimately what accomplished turning this "prequel" into the franchise's guiding beacon of hope. Here's to many more...

But I digress. If you haven't read the links I posted please do and then tell me what you think!

Conor said...

Sorry man, but X-Men first class was a total let down. really wanted to like it. but it just fell flat and dull. Rarely badass. it was missing the wolverine edge (ironic b/c the one of two badass moments in the flick are when they go to get Wolverine and he drops the only f-bomb in the pg13 film telling them to go fuck themselves. The other most badass moment was when Magneto used his powers to pull the knife outta the guy and stab the other guy. which also brought home the truth to badassness that they fucked up and ignored in most of the flick: visual fx do NOT make your movie more hard hitting without raw simple motivated emotion behind them. watching something as simple as a close up of someone stabbing a pin into their fingertip would draw much more of an emotional response in the audience than destroying an entire continent with CG effects. Also, thought most of the visual fx were pretty whatever (Emma Frost? come on! yeah, you are totally boring and miscast and you turn into a cartoon sugar diamond when you're trying to be badass. Not working whatsoever). Michael Fassbender was the best part of the whole thing. He's pretty badass himself. Which tangents me to another example of emotional buildup being more effective than vfx - Tarantino knows this and puts it to use well in all his movies, for ex. the whole opening scene of building tension in Inglorious Bastards, as well as the scene where Fassbender gets found out in the bar. Anyway, i guess theres hope for the next installment, as I think Singers 2nd x men was better emotionally, story wise, and over all more badass than his first, so maybe Vaughn will have so much luck. Doubtful..
PS - every other scene was the same goddamn conversation: "wahh wahh im different. It's ok to be different. be mutant and proud!" hey screenwriters - you have infinite source for story elements & dialogue in the hundreds (thousands?) of xmen comics!! go to the source and flesh this shit out already!
Sorry man. i had high hopes initially right there with ya. once again, hwood lets me down.

BobbyMoBetta said...

...But did you read the stuff about Donner/Schumaker and Singer?


Most of the Science Fiction Vehicles in the known multiverse TO RELATIVE SCALE

PANDORA's BOX - Some of what I'm Listening to..

Showing some of my most recent Pandora Station Selections. If you want a serious 90's hip-hop "fire-and-forget" party mix, I always recommend "Black Sheep Radio"