SUPERMAN – The Movies


SUPERMAN  The Movies 1978-2013


“I’m here to fight for truth and justice and the American way.”


 Richard Donner  . 1977


Deeply impressed by the money made on the latest closed-circuit  world championship fight, producer Alexander Salkind asked his producer son..


“Why can’t Muhammad Ali

play Superman?”


His son, Ilya, was no better, aiming for blond Robert Redford as Supie and Barbra  Streisand as  Lois Lane… The  Way Superman Was!  Did these founder-members of the Panamanian film industry live on Earth or Krypton? 

They did not get Steven Spielberg or George Lucas to direct, either.   Nor Francis Coppola, Britain’s John Guillermin, Bond-maker Guy Hamilton and Peter Yates. Robert Aldrich, British Ronald Neame, Mark Robson were reaching the end of their respective tethers and Sam Peckinpah didn’t help his cause  by packing  a gun for his meet with co-producer lya.

The Salkinds were luckier than they ever realised to get the affable Richard Donnor, preparing The Omen IIat the time. He  fought hard for the best actors, SFX experts and, of course, the best script. The original scernario was plain awful, the longest he’d ever read. It was  indulgent and heavy, disparaging, gratuitous action, no point of view…  and it never respected the comics. “They are destroying the legend.“   One scene had Superman  checking every baldie in Metropolis  looking for Lex Luthor  He taps one guy on the shoulder, he turns around and hey! it’s Telly Savalas, who hands him a lollipop and says, “Who loves ya, baby?“

Donner reached for a life-belt called Tom Mankiewicz.“I don’t want to do a comic book,”  said the scenarist. Donner simply said: “The most important thing when you look at it is this: Make a love story. And prove a man can fly.”

Not understanding  rhat Superman was The Star, the Salkinds, pere et fils, set about seeking A Name to give the project some kudos. And pre-production sales. Money! Once that was bagged, everything  and  everyone else –  and more money – would fall into place. They  didn’t get  Redford. They didn’t  get James Caan. Nor Dennis Quaid. Charlton Heston and Paul Newman were never tempted to be Superdad.   They let Brando win the then highest star salary of $3.7m, enabling him to bypass the first sequel. Hackman got $2m. Reeve’s $250,000 was re-mixed to $900,000 for and II). They won another name. Marlon Brando as Jor-El, Supie’s father.


“The only reason I’m here,” said  Brando,

“is because I don’t have  the moral strength 

to turn down the money.”


Superman/Clark Kent .    “Mario Puzo wrote an hysterical  script,”  said Jimmy Caan, “with Superman doing loop-the-loops and shit.   Marlon called me: ‘C’mon, do it,  too.  I need some laughs.’  I said: ‘Yeah, but you don’t have to wear the cape.’ No way I’m getting into that silly suit.” Warren Beatty agreed: having taken the suit home for the weekend,  to try it out in private, he decided he looked ridiculous  in it.  Robert Redford said:  “Nobody is going to believe me flying.”

The hunt began in 1975.  “A lot of actors wanted to do it,” reported Donner. “They gave me a list of all these names and I said: Listen. Your flying stuff is shit, and I have to create a man who flies. Even if you saw Paul Newman or Robert Redford in that costume, no one is going to believe them.“

Paul Newman rejected $4m  (that is to say, more than  Brando) to be Supie, his dad or Lex Luthor. (There followed a move to convince him  and his wife, Joanne Woodward, to play the parents). James Brolin, Harrison Ford auditioned. Plus Lyle Waggoner, Wonder Woman’s teflonesque TV boss, 1976-1979, and Playgirl magazine’s first male nude centrefold! But the new front-runners became Nick Nolte  and Jon Voight (the Salkinds had a penchant for blonds).

“They were looking for a bankable person and they had heard that I was going to get some attention for Coming Home,” recalled Voight in The Guardian in 2013. “This was not one of the times when I was overly picky; I was being completely miscast. I’m thin, I have a broken nose, I’m not classically good-looking. I mean, if you put me next to… Henry Cavill, you would laugh, and ask: What’s that skinny guy doing next to Superman?” 

Richard Donner never gave up.  He asked him to just try  the suit on. “It does the whole thing for you.”   And if it didn’t well, Donner knew an Austrian pumper of iron who could help bulk up the Voight body.  Arnold Schwarzenegger!

So, Arnie called Jon, who does a great impression of the call. “Jon, take the job!  In two months, I vill make you big as a house!  Zis job is a great opportunity, you must do zis…”

Among those disbelieving a man should fly, wear his underpants over his tights or  change into long-johns  in phone-boxes  were: John  Beck, Jeff Bridges, James Brolin, Sam Elliott, Richard Gere, Dustin Hoffman (“No? So how about Lex Luthor?”),  Perry King (third blond), Kris Kristofferson, Steve  McQueen (fourth blond but “out of shape”), Ryan O’Neal, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger (with zat accent!), David Soul (fifth blond), Jan-Michael Vincent (sixth), RobertWagner and damn nearly  Uncle Tom Cobleigh. They all refused, point-blank. More like blankety-blank.

Jeff East was too young at 20, but also seen for Jimmy Olsen – and wound  up being, after three hours of  daily make-up, the teenage Clark Kent.   John Travolta  was too unknown and, therefore, free to conquer the planet  in Grease. (Having underestimated the star-to-be of the decade, the Salkinds tried to persuade him to be Supergirl‘s guy in 1984. They failed again). Like Redford, Burt Reynolds was too famous. Charles Bronson was too earthy. Christopher Walken was just not right (better suited to Luthor). Patrick Wayne’s father, Duke, had terminal cancer. 

Even Elton John  was suggested. Well, he did wear glasses…

Worse was to follow. To  everyone’s shock-horror, singer Neil Diamond was invited to try out. “Song Sung Blue,”indeed. According to one insider, when Diamond left his meeting, “people were laughing like hell.” He wasn’t interested. “I make more money touring.”

However, the really worst choice was… Mrs  Ilya Salkind’s dentist!  He was Don Voyne, an ex-actor (he had six credits in the 60s, including was in the ‘63 Leave it to Beaverepisode,  Wally and the Fraternity, which we all know and love). He was actually flown to  Shepperton, his test was fine, his age was not. He was  40.  Spit in the bowl, please. 

Because the Salkinds asked,  Donner even met with another body-builder. Sylvester Stallone.   “I tried to be nice and say, “This is wrong. I liked Stallone; he turned out to be a nice guy. He wanted to do it. I was as cordial as I could be. He was a big star and I’m some punk kid.”


Warners wanted security

ie Clint Eastwood!


“I can remember,” and Clint did in a Los Angeles Times interview marking his 80th birthday in 2010, “when [Warner Bros president] Frank Wells came to me about doing Superman... I was like, Superman? Nah, nah, that’s not for me. It’s for somebody, but not me.I was also offered pretty good money to do James Bond! But I always liked characters that were more grounded in reality. Maybe they do super things or more-than-human things – like Dirty Harry, he has a knack for doing crazy things, or the Western guys – but, still, they’re not caped crusaders. [Pause]. The Sub-Mariner, that’s the one I always liked. I had all of those comics when I was a kid.”

Bryan Singer had access to all the auditions when he was looking for his own superhero in 2006. “Many famous people, trust me, and no, not in tights. But trust me, it would be fascinating for you to see. I don’t want to say the names but seeing these really famous people pretending to be Superman, well, it just felt weird.” Yeah, like when watching Brando playing Supie‘s daddy, Jor-El.


“Just something wrong about it,” lamented James Woods.

“The greatest screen actor in the history of cinema perhaps –

running around with white hair and all that bit.


When Woods finally  succumbed to offers from the supercomicstripverse, he made sure he was never seen. He simply voiced Lex Luhor (and Owlman) in various chapters of the Justiice League tele-toon series.  

Who would believe that Robert Redford could fly? Or Warren Beatty… Bronson, McQueen or Burt] Reynolds? It had to be an unknown. Why not  America‘s 1976 Olympic Decathlon gold-medallist Bruce Jenner?  He had the body – and the teeth.  Just not the acting talent… Or not until we all found out he had been acting all his life.   Playing Bruce – when inside him there was a woman waiting to come out. And at 65,  he let her out in 2015… a super woman he called Caitlyn Jenner. 

[courtesy Daniel Bouteiller/Telé Ciné Documentation]

(Clic to enlarge)


A more logical  notion was  America’s 1976 Olympic Decathalon  gold-medallist  Bruce Jenner.  He had  the  body, not the acting talent – as proved when he joined the Village People in Can’t Stop The Music.  (Valerie Perrine managed to  make both films).   Yes, this potential Superman  who became a super woman called Caitlyn Jenner…  He had, in fact, been acting – superbly – all his life.  His greatest role was Bruce… when inside Bruce was woman called Caitlyn. A father of three sons and three daughters, via three wives,  he had, in fact, been acting – superbly – all his life.  His greatest role was Bruce… when inside Bruce was a woman. At 65,  she revealed to 16.9m people watching his ABC interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015 that “for all intents and purposes, I am a woman.” And the new icon of the transgender movement. Bruce, she told Vanity Fair, was “always telling lies.” Caitlyn, she said, “doesn’t have any lies.”

From the outset Donner wanted an unknown.  He saw about 200. The best was reccommended by casting ace Lynn Stalmaster.  Chris Reeve., “He got this great big sweater on, blondish hair,” Donner told Stephen Galloway. “He has this thick sweater on and he’s this skinny kid. I said: ‘Problem quite honestly, buster, is I got to get a guy that is bulk, that looks like a muscle zoo.’ He said: ‘Listen, I was a jock in school and when I went into acting I lost 50 lbs.” I said : “I don’t believe you – you’re an actor.’ I went down to see him in a play that night. He played two roles, a son and a grandfather. And I kind of hired him on faith. He did the screen test with an actress [Holly Palance] in London, scenes with him as both Superman and Clark Kent. And when it was over, I told them I’d found my man.”

And  immediately pictures of Reeve  shot around the world on February 23, 1977. He was a handsome 25 (like Brandon Routh in Superman Returns, 2005) and at 6’4” one inch taller than Supie in hisblue  long johns.  No one bothered to re-touch his under-arm sweat stains. Real class!

Chris’ father, the poet Franklin D’Olier Reeve, was delighted with  the news.


“Ah, Jack Tanner, it’s a great part, a great part!

Who’s playing Ann Whitfield…?”

“Er, no, Dad, it’s not Man and Superman.


(Peter O’Toole would play the role that Reeve Snr was thinking of in a Channel Four TV production in 1982).

The unknown with only one other film and a TV soap opera to his credit, bulked up  – from 170 lbs to 212 – with a regime supervised by David Prowse,  the man who was Darth Vader  – and he lightened up by studyinCary Grant in Bringing Up Baby,   1938. He was ready when shooting began in March, 1977.  (It finished in October 1978)

Donner also recalled how nervous the newcomer was about working with Brando. “But Brando was nice to him. He was nice to everybody. They had dinner; he was Chris’s hero. He was a doll. He was totally present, on time. Not difficult, [though] we had to put his dialogue on other actors’ chests. He would say, ‘I don’t want to read it like I’ve read it before a bunch of times. The first time I read it, it’ll be honest.’ He made it work. He was the ultimate. He was Marlon Brando. He was Marlon Fucking Brando!“

Lois Lane .  Susan Blakely, Anne Byron, Carrie Fisher,  Jessica Lange, the ‘too young” Jennifer Jason Leigh,  Shirley MacLaine, Liza Minnelli, Christina Raines, Natalie Wood, all passed. Actually testing for Lois’ “sweetness, a certain whimsy and a sense of humour” said Lynn Stalmaster during March and April 1977 were: Anne Archer, Susan Blakely, Stockard Channing, Deborah Raffin. 

The early favourite was Lesley Ann  Warren. Three years before, she had been a great Lois in the tele-musical, It’s A Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s  Superman, by Robert Benton and David Newman.  They also had co-writing credits on the film, actually penned by Tom Mankiewicz, finally billed as Creative Consultant. (That’s Hollywood for you!). LAW tested and won – until the way Margot Kidder shone through two tests on April 24, 1977, with Reeve as Supie and (in a Superman IIscene) Clark Kent. Reeve just got better and better in these tests with the girls. In other  tests with cop Ray Hassett and a stuntman flying over their shoulders were (the still) unknowns Rohan McCullogh, Carintha West. Plus Hammer horror actress Dana Gillespie and a laughing  Italian, Marilù Tulo.

Donner had noticed Margot Kidder in the Nicholseries.  He fell for her because she tripped on entering the casting office. He later learned that she usually wore contact lenses. He tested her with Reeve in London, gave her the part – on condition she never wore her contacts. So she tripped some more, bumped into furniture. It made her perfect, he said, for Lois.

Probably because she was in the running for Wonder Woman,in 2016, there were various  90s’ tabloid reports that Sandra Bullock had been considered for Lois. Hmm, when Supie was being shot,  Sandra was… 13.

Lex Luthor .   The  Name Hunt caused the first known example of the  same role being  offered to old  buddies  Gene Hackman and  Dustin Hoffman.  Gene won. Or lost, depending on how you feel about the movie.  He was worried fhat it would hurt his career, so he refused to go bald and only gave up his moutsache after a battrle). Also in the Lex frame: drama coach Jeff Corey, George Kennedy, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Telly Savalas (after the stupid  idea of his Kojak cameo), Lawrence Tierney (far too tough) and Gene Wilder (far too soft)..   

Actor and famed drama coach Jeff Corey was Luthor in the various screentests. He  revealed that in his last film before being blacklisted for nine years, he played Luke Benson in a little monochrome something called Superman and the Mole-Men  with Super George Reeves in 1951.

Perry White .   For The Daily Planet‘s  editor, any character-actor who had previously worn  a green eye shade was considered.  From the obvious Ed Asner (aka TV’s   Lou Grant)   to Martin  Balsam and Jason Robards  (Washington Post editors in All The President’s  Men)  and Walter Matthau (The  Front Page). Plus the unshaded Jack Klugman, Lawrence Tierney (still too tough) and Eli Wallach.  Finally, Klugman was decided on a Monday,  due to  begin on Wednesday –   until he  balked. Back-up choice Eddie Albert had his agent trying to renegotiate salary as  a phone call clinched Keenan Wynn. Arriving in London, he mentioned his  good pal, Eddie Albert, had cancelled his reservations for the same  flight. “Why was he coming to London?” 

Perry White’s first scene was by now two days behind schedule. Wynn, 61, rushed through make-up, costume tests,  had pains in his chest and collapsed –  heart trouble.  Enter: Jackie Cooper. Still acting 47 years after The Champ, 1931.

Jimmy Olsen .  Marc McClure won the Planet’s  photographer from Jeff East  – who, surorisingly, was also on the Supie list  and became the young Clark Kent.

Eve Teschmacher .  Donner’sfirst choices -Ann-Margret, Goldie Hawn,   Jessica Lange –  asked too much. Valerie Perrine did not.

Ursa .  Rohan McCullough,  MarilùTolo, Carinthia West and Hammer Films babes Dana Gillespie and Caroline Munroturned down the role (to be Naomi opposiute 0076 as  The Spy Who Loved Me). Sarah Douglas took over..

Otis . Peter Boyle and Gailard Sartain,illustrator and comedic actor from Tulas, Oklahoma, were early choices for Luthor’s bumbling accomplice won by Kentucky’s Ned Beatty. 

Martha Kent  .  Ilya Salkind wanted Joan Crawford –  a decision made almost on the day she died on May 10, 1977. The role  went closer  to home.  Phyllis Thaxter was Ilya Salkind’s mother-in-law.

General Zod  .  Christopher Lee passed – he was now a tax exile, living in Hollywood – and Terence Stamp triumphed in his comeback. As he explained, in a tale worth telling…to the Den of Geek website,  he couldn’t find work and couldn’t bear waking up every day and the phone not ringing, or if it did, it was his agent telling me how  they were looking for a young Terence Stamp. He  was 27.

“So I decided to travel instead of waiting around, and months became years. I didn’t do anything of any significance between ’69 and ’77, I was a swami in an ashram, with long hair and a beard, and I was in orange. learning all these metaphysical techniques and breathing and tantra and finally I got to an ashram in Pune and it seemed like the most beautiful women from every country in the world were there, and they were all totally empowered. I was learning to separate orgasm from ejaculation. I was rechanneling the lifeforce I thought no, I won’t go back to showbiz, this is my life now.  And then I went back to this hotel for a weekend, and I must have sent my agent a postcard from there a year before, and as I come in the concierge hands me a telegram, and it’s addressed to ‘Clarence Stamp’ and it’s dogeared and I don’t know how old it was. And he puts it in my hand and the psychic weight of this telegram! I knew my life was about to change.

“It was from my long-suffering agent: ‘Would you consider coming to London to meet with Richard Donnerabout Superman I and II, you’ll have scenes with Marlon Brando. And on the way would you stop in Paris and meet with Peter Brook about a film of Gurdjieff’s book Meetings with Remarkable Men?’ And it was like the universe was saying ‘You’re back in the market, son.’   So I was totally confident because I just didn’t care. I had let go of all of it.

“On the Monday I was General Zod and on the Tuesday I was Prince Lubodevsky – it was in the same studio! When I walked on the set, it seemed like everyone was asleep, but I was so, so ready. The only guy who was really up for it was Brando – he totally understood where I was coming from.” (Stamp tells more in the followiing (shorter) Superman II chapter).

Thanks to Zoran Perisic’s non-cumbersome  front projection unit –  35 or 40 lbs., with a zoom on the projector and on the lens – Richard Donner got his wish. “You believe a man was flying.”


“They kept saying: You’re going over budget.

And I’d say: How am I going over budget

 if I don’t know what the budget is?” 


“It got to the point where I just told [the Salkinds]:  ‘Don’t come on to set. You’re counter-productive.’ And it became us against them. They were against the quality of the movie.

“We couldn’t find an ending. We talked and talked and finally we stole it from Superman II…” He was due to return to London to shoot  the remaining 25% of the sequelwhen his agent called.  “Just received a telegram from the Salkinds.You are no longer needed.”

Donner had nailed it.  No one else ever did.  That is why his  Superman was selected in 2017by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” – and that is also why Superman II and III  and, above all, the excremental  IV, are not.

[Richard Donner was talking to The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Galloway, on March 29, 2016. My thanks to both].



Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sorry I’ve been away so long.”


 Richard Lester  1980 –  Richard Donner . 1978


Basically, only the director was changed for the sequel. Richard Lester threw out most of Richard Donner’s already shot footage and totally changed the look of the film from American epic to comicbook. Not easy (for new cinematographer Robert Paynter) when all of Gene Hackman’s scenes came from Donner footage. (Donner had quit after rows with the producers). Lester never directed Hackman, merely a double in some shots and an impersonator for a few new lines.

Margot Kidder hated what was going on.


She always told the media that Donner

had filmed everything for the sequel

– “it’s now somewhere in a vault.”


Her claim proved correct when Warner finally released Superman II – The Richard Donner Cut in November 2006… including the Brando father-son sequence with Reeve that Marlon had refused to allow Lester to use. (Lester re-shot it as a mother-son scene with Susannah York).  Some of Brando’s scene was used in Superman Returns, two years after his death.

Margot’s claim had been rubbished at the time as Dick Lester was seen to be shooting so much new material. Most of it was re-written scenes already helmed by Donner. For why? Because to have the sole credit, Lester would have to follow Director’s Guild rules and direct more than half the picture.   Donner’s (almost) half included a never-shot scene where Lois tests Clark’s true identity by shooting him. Lester simply used the scene as played in Margot’s 1977 screentest for Lois!

The President of the USA was played by EGMarshall after such thoughts as Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Henry Fonda and… the 38th US President (1974-1977) Gerald Ford!

Non .  Back in Zod’s gang for the sequel  was  Jack O’Halloran. He beaten Randall “Tex” Cobb to the rôle in 1977. Both guys were  world heavyweight title boxers in their prime. New Jersey’s“Irish”Jack  was close to a title bout with Muhammad  Ali when he was shockingly KOed by Jimmy Summerville in Florida and  retired in 1974 after 17 KO victories.  Despite his “cast-iron” chin and  a sledge-hammer punch, Tex” Cobb was brutally obliterated by champ Larry Holmes over 15 rounds in 1982. Hollywood took note and he took on Jon Voight (who nearly played Superman) in the 1978 remake of The Champ.

Lambasted for discarding so much of Richard Donner’s footage, Richard Lester explained the sole reason why he agreed to helm the sequel was because the Salkinds owed him money from The Three Musketeersand The Four Musketeers: Milady’s Revengein the earlier 70s.(The first example of them making two films simultaneously). 

John Williams was booked for a new score, but when he saw Lester’s rough cut and how the style swerved away from Donner’s wining approach, the composer’s“heart sank”  and he flew off faster than Supie.


Now… kneel before Zod…!

 “Brando and James Dean were the two actors that I most identified with as a young actor, and so it was a dream come true,: Stamp told the British Film Institute’s Samuel Wigley in July 19, 2016. “Not necessarily to work with Brando, because we only had one or two scenes together, but to hang out with him, and the conversations we had. Looking back, the respect was mutual… because once I got underneath the funny surface of him, he had very serious feelings about being a performing artist.”

And the sequel… ?  “Which version do you prefer, the original Richard Donner cut with longer scenes with Marlon Brando  – or Richard Lester’s edit after Donner’s removal from the film? If you cut Brando because you’re frightened that he’s going to sue you for his points, and you substitute Superman’s mother, where are you at? Which movie would you prefer to go and see? Marlon Brando or Susannah York, bless her heart?!”

“They brought in this director, who was a very, very good director, » Stamp is now talking to the Den of Geek website, “But I was astonished that he’d step into another director’s shoes. I thought, that’s really beneath Richard Lester. He’s bigger than that. And none of us wanted to go back. And we didn’t go back, actually. It was only when Chris Reeve went back that we thought, well, who am I? I’ve been out of work for eight years. I can’t annoy the business, you know? So we all went back, but it was flat. Because it was without Richard Donner. And, incredibly, they replaced all of Brando’s stuff because he was trying to get a percentage that they had promised him. And to to weaken his case, they replaced Marlon with this English actress [Susannah York], as Superman’s mom. It didn’t seem possible. So it was very unhappy. Fortunately, we didn’t have to do much. We had to do the last sort of eighth of the movie, frankly.”




“I ask you to kill Superman… you couldn’t even do that one, simple thing.”


 Richard Lester . 1982


Despite using a few shots from Donner’s first two shoots, Richard Lester finally took full control of the franchise – and killed it.  He was, frankly, out of his depth. (He had never been allowed comicbooks as a kid in Philadelphia).  He was always looking for a gag,” complained Christopher Reeve. 


“Richard Pryor’s gags

went over the top.”


Margot Kidder was punished for loyalty –  moaning about the dumping of Richard Donner – and for not getting on with Lester. Her Lois was cut to less than five minutes of screen time – a mere twelve lines of dialogue.

The scriptwriters voted Alan Alda as an actor who could be ruthless and yet charming as Ross Webster. They settled for the ex-Man From UNCLE, Robert Vaughn.

Appearing on Johnny Carson’s chat show, Pryor had said he wanted to be a Supermanmovie. He was, so he claimed later, just joking. The Salkinds, lacking humour, thought he was serious. He hated the script (not as much as Chris Reeve did) and only aqreed to Gus because (like Brando) he could not turn down such a mammoth salary: $5m.

Margot Kidder was punished for moaning about the dumping of Richard Donner – and for notgetting on with Lester. Her Lois was cut to less than five minutes of screen time – a mere twelve lines of dialogue.

Lana Lang .   Jennifer Jason Leigh and Demi Moore were in the frame. But so was Annette O’Toole – who went to be Martha Kent in the  Smallville prequel series, 2001-2011.

Ross Webster .  For the billionaire baddy, the scriptwriters voted Alan Alda or Frank Langella  as actors who could be ruthless and yet charming.  They settled for the ex-Man From UNCLE, Robert Vaughn.

Pryor called our Supie– Supe! And critic  Rex Reed called the movie.  Supertrash.

As always, our preferred  critic, Roger Ebert,  of the Chicago Herald-Tribune, told it like it was. “Superman IIIis the kind of movie I feared the original Superman would be. It’s a cinematic comic book, shallow, silly, filled with stunts and action, without much human interest. What’s amazing is that the first two Superman movies avoided that description, creating a fantasy with a certain charm. They could have been manipulative special-effects movies, but they were a great deal more. With this third one, maybe they’ve finally run out of inspiration.”

Chris Reeve  was done.  He vowed this was the end.

OK, he had a contract for seven but hey, c’mon guys, three’s more than enough… “I’ve flown, become evil, loved, stopped and turned the world backward. I’ve faced my persr, I’ve befriended children and small animals and I’ve resc ued cats from trees. What else is there for Superman to do?



“The Dude of Steel! Boy are you gonna get it!”


Sidney J Furie . 1986

 Nine years  down the line (way down)  and the main actors  – Chris Reeve, Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure – stayed in character(s) as the franchise slipped down the food chain  to Cannon (slashing a $35m  budget to $17m). The superstarman made it clear:Chris Reeve was not interested in another III-style farce

When Cannon agreed to bankroll his Street Smart, he co-wrote the VI story… “And there will be peace. There will be peace when the people of the world, want it so badly, that their governments will have no choice but to give it to them. I just wish you could all see the Earth the way that I see it. Because when you really look at it, it’s just one world.”

Both Richards, Donner and Lester, passed.  Obviously.  Reeve wanted Ron Howard helming  a Tom Mankiewicz script  He got horrorsmith Wes Craven, swiftly replaced by the Canadian Sidney J Furie.  Craven had a falling out with Supereeve… who announced he’d direct the fifth chapter, The New Superman.  

With, indeed, a new Supie.

 If  IV did well.

IV did not do well.

 Or as Reeve put it…


Superman IV was a catastrophe from start to finish.

That failure was a huge blow to my career.


“The movie was his idea,” said Jon Cryer, cast as  Lex Luthor’s surfer nephew, “and the idea was great and the shooting was great and Gene Hackman was doing wonderful improvisional stuff – I loved working with him – and then Cannon ran out of money five months ahead of time and released an unfinished filmm….  You can see the wires!  They did not finish it. And they used the same flying shot like four times,  That was the problem with it and that’s why Chris levelled with me and sad: It’s a mess”:

The almighty flop forced Cannon to cancel its Spider-Man project.   (Excellent news). Reeve said  the disaster of Supie III and IV, following the successive box-office failures of The Aviator, Streert Smartand Switching Channels, during 1984-1987, put paid to his A List status and made him a jobbing actor having to audition for roles again.  The actor was paralysed in a horse-ridfng accident in Virginia on Mayt 27, 1995 and died in New York from heart failure during treated for a severely infected pressure wound (common among paralysed people) on October 10, 2004. He was 52.

Poor Superman limped off, stage right, and would not be seen again for… 19 years.  


During which time Warner Bros dithered as these Super-projects came and went – or, indeed, blew up! 

Superman Lives aka Death of Superman 

Warner gave the project  (and $150m) to Tim Burton who had started the studio’s Batman franchise so well in 1989 (before, as with Superman, it dissipated into mindless pap).  Producer Jon Peters wanted Sean Penn but Nicolas Cage was the sole star in the mix. Of course, he was. Nic  was a comic-book buff – he’s spent six figures on buying Action Comics #1 at auction.  Even had his own  bespoke  Supersuit.  So,  he was not happy – despite $20m for the gig – when Burton decided his Supie wouldn’t suit up  and – sacrilege! – wouldn’t fly! 

Burton caved on those demands as Cage accepted giant spiders, polar bears and a gay robot (R2FO?) in the continually changing script (and  suit  – once black with a silver S). He intended to play Superman like “a beautiful freak” but after $50m had gone on flying tests and sets, and realising the budget would reach beyond $200m, Warner pulled the plug in 1998. Likewise Cage four years later, when he also sold off his comic-book collection.  However, his Supie  love-affair was not yet over.  In 2005, Cage named his son… Kar-El.

Burton’s vision  had  also  included Selma Blair, Sandra Bullock, Courtney Cox or Cameron Diaz for Lois Lane,  Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen.  Plus Kevin Spacey for Lex Luthor  – which he was in  Superman Returns, for his Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer.  

Oh yes, and to get the directing job  Kevin Smith was also told by producer Jon Peters that there must be a giant spider in the action!   Lives became Returns


Superman V 

After his big hit with the big-screen Charlies Angels, 2000, McG arrived with Tim Burton’s main man, Johnny Depp, on tap for Lex Luthor and/orJor-El.  McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol) screened  Scartlett Johansson  for Lois Lane, Shia LaBeouf  for Jimmy Olsen (he became Indiana Jones’ son in 2007, before falling out with Spielberg), Joel Edgerton for Ty-Zor and the bald  Billy Zane as the bald Lex Luthor.

The McSupie was between unknowns  Jason Behr  (“Chris Reeve will always be Superman in my mind”),  Matthew Bomer (from All My Children) ) and the eventual next Sup[ie, Brandon Routh.  McG preferred to put Michael Cassidy into the McTV series, Newport Beach, and mused over Jared Padalecki, from the Supernatural  series (opposite another tall Texan, Jensen Ackles, second choice for the young Clark Kenti n TV’s Smallville in 2001). And, frankly, the 2 Fast, 2 Furious star, Paul Walker. was 2 scared 2 try. “It was just scary. It was a long term commitment – seven years of being Superman.”

Before he quit, McG’s (and producer Jon Peters’) favourite was a handsome young Brit called… Henry Cavill.


Superman: The Lost Son aka Flyby 

Brett Ratner picked up the baton in 2002 with a JJ Abrams script. The studio suits wanted Keanu Reeves contre Anthony Hopkins as Luthor. The Matrix zillionaire had become second choice when the studio was furious at Josh Hartnett for passing (four times) on a (potential) $100m three movie deal.

Next: the ex-model and current TV star Ashton Kutcher. His test was “very, very good.” Yet he fled, very, very fast.

Ratner also thought of Matt Bomer (really too short) and then moved, inexplicably, towards Brendan Fraser but was far happier with Wentworth Miller  (for, that is,  his TV series, Prison Break). Also considered: David Boreanaz, Henry Cavill,  Star Wars II’s‘ Hayden Christensen,  Tom Cruise, Jerry O’Connell,  Will Smith, Ian Somerhalder and  Paul Walker.

There was a (short) (or cheap) thought of of using Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, aka TV’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, before Lois went from Courteney Cox and Linda Fiorentino to Meg Ryan and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Jimmy Olsen was to be Jason Mewes and Steve Martin or Jack Nicholson discussed Lex Luthor.  John Mahoney was asked to be Perry White, and his Frasier co-star, David Hyde Pierce, The Eradicator,  with Jason Lee as Brainiac.

“No star wants to sign,” wailed Ratner.  His fault…! As he kept reminding them: “You’ll live this character for ten years because I’m telling one story over three movies and plan to direct all three if the first is as successful as everyone suspects.”

Did someone  mention The Curse of Superman

Christopher Reeve was paralysed in a horse fall in 1995, Margot Kidder had a nervous breakdown, Richard Pryor contracted multiple sclerosis and the original Supie, George Reeves,was found shot dead – suicide or murder, who knew – in 1959.

By now, Drew McWreeny, of the Ain’t It Cool website, had found acopy of JJ’s script and just shredded it under the September 23 2002 headline:  YOU’LL BELIEVE A FRANCHISE CAN SUCK!! The scenario was, he said, a disaster of nearly epic proportions.It was set in Gotham City (!), Krypton doesn’t explode and Lex Luthor was a CIA agent in charge of the Special Operations Division. He is also a superpowered Kryptonian who flies and knows better kung fu than SuperKent… and takes over the White House…!

“I… I… sweet God, I hate this script,” dispaired McWreeney under his Moriarty alias. “I don’t want to hate Superman. I want to love Superman. Even if it’s not one of the things I hold dear as a fan, I have a respect for the character that stretches all the way back to the first time I read a comic book with the character in it, and the first time I sat in a theater as Donner’s film or the Fleisher cartoons played. I may not be nuts about Superman, but I know him when I see him. And this ain’t him

For once, Warners took note.   Ratner walked…or was pushed…  to complete his own trilogy, Rush Hour 3. Hopkins stalked out with him. (Jor El was finally played by Marlon Brando looking not one day older than when he played it in  1978 – because  ’78 clips were used). The project’s original director McG (from Charlie’s Angels) was called back., And he called back Kutcher – to test opposite Keri Russell as Lois. She was fine. He felt he looked funny in the suit, took it off and took off. Again. McG also looked at a certain Brandon Routh (long before Bryan Singer) and Amy Adams for Lois.


Batman v Superman 

Josh Hartnett was surprised to find he was still the studio’s #1 Batchoice for Wolfgang Petersen and the Se7enwriter Andrew Kevin Walker’s idea in 2003. The suits also liked the style of  look of certain Christian Bale… With James Franco as Bruce Wayne, before  Petersen matched Colin Farrell  and Jude Law (still in talks when the project imploded) as Supie.   And that was the trouble.  Law was another comic-book fan and refused to give up his demands for approval of  all sequels.  Like, hey Jude –  who do you think you are?  Just another loyal comic-book fan!   But not interested in umpteen sequels. Then someone mentioned  John Travolta… and that, of course,  ended the whoie shebang.


Swivel all these efforts together and  you get


“Mr Clark!  I mean, Kent. Mr Kent! Welcome back!


 Bryan Singer . 2005


“There was just something about one of Brandon Routh’s tapes that intrigued me. It wasn’t until I met him and we talked at length that I realised I would cast him, but I didn’t tell anyone. Two months later, I told him.”

When they met in a coffee shop, Routh was nervous. Obviously. He stumbled, spilled hot coffee over the table. Hell, he’d blown it…!    Singer laughed and said it actually helped him get the part. The incident convinced him that Routh (like: mouth) could pull off the clumsy, bumbling Clark Kent.  In a  reprise of why Richard Donner chose Margot Kidder for his Lois Lane in 1977…


“Superman has to look and sound

as if he’s stepped out of your collective consciousness

of who Superman is: Christopher Reeve, George Reeves,

the comic book, the Fleischer animation, Smallville.

I needed somebody who could embody… all those things


Moving Routh from zero to hero at 26 – same age as another soap actor, Christopher Reeve, in 1978 – climaxed a decade long Supie go-round as Warners shuffled through six directors (Robert Rodriguez didn’t want his Superman “on the back of some kid’s underpants”), umpteen writers (JJ Abrams, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, Kevin Smith, Wesley Strick, etc) and millions spent on testing an endless line men of steel, from stars to wannabes…  


Superman/Clark Kent .    Singer dismissed  James Caviezel for being “too famous,”  due to  The Passion of the Christ,  2004. Or was it because Singer had not yet forgiven him for reneging on being Wolverine in  X-Men, 2000… So Jude LawwasSuperman…   just not for long.

“It just didn’t float my boat,” Law confessed on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, in  June 2016, “I just didn’t really want to go there. I’m an Englishman and…. I was really worried about the outfit and I just didn’t fancy it.” Singer said the suit had been “revamped” and sent it to Law’s hotel for a test run.  Law struggled into the spandex in his bathroom and then caught sight of his Superself in the mirror. “I’m stood there and then I have this picture of me in that costume on posters all around the world and I was like ‘No way!’ and I unzipped it. I was Supermanfor two minutes.  That was enough!”

Oh,  I know who you are, said Bryan Singer, you’re General Zod! No, I’m not… And Zod promptly disappeared from the Superman Returns script until Man of Steel rebooted the reboot.

Also seen: Jason Behr (The Grudge), Matt Bomer (seen again for the next reboot, Man of Steel), TV Angel David Bofreranaz (a Batman contender two years before), Jim Caviezel,  Henry Cavill,  Hayden Christensen (too famous from Star Wars), Rupert Evans  gave a good reading (and later joined Hellboy, 2004),  Brendan Fraser (!), Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Hartnett, Ashton Kutcher, Ryan McPartin (unknown then and now, despite J. Edgar), Jerry O’Connell, Kip Pardue (Rule of Attraction, ER),  the bodacious (and pricey) Keanu Reeves, Ian Somerhalder (JJ Abrams put him into Lost) and Barry Watson from Warner’s series, 7th Heaven.

Plus Jared Padalecki…   Fifteen years latder, when Warner Bros announced series reboots of Superman and Lois and Walker –  it was the Texan Padalecki chosen to contine  the adventures of Chuck Norrts’ Texas Ranger.

Supie  went to Brandon Routh, who did not reprise it after a mixed critical reception to Singer’s less than super  take.  “And yes,” revealed that handsome Brit Henry Cavill, “it came very close.”  So did 007.  He lost both.  But by 2011, he was Man of Steel. 

Lois Lane .  Before Singer chose Kate Bosworth, actresses considered for the role of Jerry Seinfeld’s favourite woman included: Mischa Barton, Kate Beckinsale,  Rebecca Budig, Elisha Cuthbert, Claire Danes, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kate Hudson, Scarlett Johansson, (from Singer’s X-Mentroupe),  Keira Knightley,  Beyoncé Knowles, Evangeline Lilly,   Jennifer Lopez, Maria Menounos,Natalie Portman, Keri Russell  (she became a superhero by  voicing Wonder Womanin the TV toon, 2009) asnf Catherine Zeta –Jones.  Plus Amy Adams, McG’s earlier choice, who became  the 2016 Lois in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Jusice.   Singer also gave a cameo to the 40/50s’ Lois,  Noel Neill,  at age 86; she also played Lois’ mother in  the 1978  Superman. 

Lex Luthor.  Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, Will Ferrell. Singer looked no further than Tim Burton’s original choice of Kevin Spacey – who won his first Oscar in Singer’s The Usual Suspects, 1995.

Jor-El .  Ralph Fiennes, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley? No! Singer, a great fan of Richard Donner’s version, used Marlon Brando footage from the 30-year-old film.

Jimmy Olsen .  Shawn Ashmere (Singer’s Iceman in X-Men), Adam Brody (The OC), Topher Grace, Shia LaBeouf, Eric Christian Olsen, Justin Timberlake.  Sam Huntingdon became Jim… as the 1952-1958 tele-Jimmy, Jack Larson, played Bo the Bartender.

Perry White .  Ratner chose Christopher Walken.  Singer lost Hugh Laurie – and it was his own fault. The UK comedy star could not join the Australian shoot due to his LA schedule as the irascible  House MD, a new hit TV series – from Bryan Sinfger’s company.  Frank Langella filled in. 

Jonathan Kent  was once set for Dennis Quaid.  Singer utilised Clark’s mum only, Martha – Eva Marie Saint. 

Bryan Singer had ultimately  taken over…  Because he went off-piste to rescue  Superman for Warner Bros, Singer was immediately dropped by Fox from the X-Men franchise.  A  fan of the Richard Donner movie – and of Brando in it – and of lots of Donner’s panache, Singer went back to basics and and still managed to drop the ball… As everyone had been doing since 1977.

Howdver, it sas poofr Routh and not Singer who got m,ostg of thye mewdia bl;amew cvor the disaster.   He wasn’t a bad Supoe, very Reeveish, in fact. (Just not as tall). He later won had cameos in Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Scott Pigrim vs the World. So, maybe it did kill his movie career.


“Welcome to The Planet”


Zack Snyder . 2011


Henry Cavill is Superman

Henry Cavill – a franchise superstar just waiting to happen (Warner Bros-Legendary Pictures-DC Entertainment 2013.)


Succeeding beyond the dreams of Brandon Routh some six unhappy years before, Henry Cavill became a big hit as the Last Son of Kryptonin the reimagining of the reimagining of the reimagining. He’s hardly ever called Superman in the script. And not in the title.  Talk about rebooting.

No Jimmy Olsen.  No John Williams theme. And no director Bryan Singer and his qewak discovery, Routh!.  They figured they were a cinch for the new stanza (Singer had prepared several ideas). However, the new take was in the safer hands of Christopher Nolan, man behind Batman’s new beginning with Christian Bale. (He’d beaten Cavill to that job!)

This time, Nolan was solely producing and creating the story with his Gotham scribe, David S Goyer.  But who to replace him in director mode?  There was talk of Ben Affleck  or Duncan Jones, Jonathan Liebesman, Matt Reeves or Tony Scott (a year before his suicide).  Nolan voted for  Zack Snyder  – another of the film-makers taken under the Warner umbrella (for 300and Watchmen) by the canny Warner Brothers Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov. Had one helluva eye for box-office talent, did Robinov: Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Baz Luhrmann, Todd Phillips…  (Affleck was the 2015 caped crusader in 2015’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (of boredom, more like),directed by… Snyder!).

Mercurialevery which way, Jeff Robinov first met Nolanafter the release of Mementoin 2001, when the Londoner was none too happy at the prospect of helming Troy.  The boss’ question  was obvious: Whaddyer really wanna do?  They all  say that, the suits.   Robinov alone, it seems, usually made their things happen. (Ask Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Baz Luhrmann, Todd Phillips). Well, said Nolan, since you mention it, I’ve always been interested in Batman.

What you say?  Lights, action, fireworks!!

This was music to Robinov’s ear. The studio had not been thinking much about  revamping ole Batty as Supie was a more urgent and economic matter. Nolan explained his version  – “pain” – and studio chief Alan Horn flicked the greenlight switch.  Batman began.

Then, during a story meeting some years later on The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan and Goyer delivered what Rubinov called “an incredible take” on Superman. “Great visual. Great aesthetic.” Not to  mention great timing – Warner had to have a Super-production happening by 2011 or risk a forfeit of tons of cash to the estates of Super-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Shooting began, under the code name Autumn Frost, in Chicago during August 2011 (with. as per usual for film or TV, the Illinois town of Plano representing Smallville). Robinov backed Nolan all the way… to smashing audience records andthen… resigning following the infamous angry silence treatement from  Warner Bros chairman Kevin Tsujihara.

But enough of Hollywood gangland politics… 

Superman .   Warner Bros, Nolan’s Legendary Pictures and Snyder cast a “wide net” across  Los Angeles, New York and London  during November and December 2010.  Even though Supie is a jinx role (or it was for actors in the R register: Christopher Reeve, George Reeves, Brandon Routh) Henry Cavill  went for it and won.  He perfectly matched the necessary criterion: in the 28-32 age bracket (ie younger at 30 than Routh was at  34), a TV find  (Cavill displayed more panache than Jonathan Rhys-Meyes in The Tudors) and/or unknown… He was hardly that, having lost Batman to Bale and James Bond to Daniel Craig in 2006 (for being too young!).

His main rival, Armie Hammer, confessed to be in awe of Cavill.  “I was overwhelmed by his good looks, his chiseled body, his muscles, pretty much everything. There was the whole package there.”


Cavill was a franchise superstar

just waiting to happen


The first non-American to play the superhero, Cavill had been waiting in the wings for six years since testing for Superman Returns(working title: Flyby) for the changing directors, Brett Ratner and McG before it fell (down) to Bryan Singer whose reboot went backwards (warmed over Richard Donner) instead of moving forward a la Nolan into the 21st Century). Cavill won a callback in January, 2011, leading to his first face meet with Snyder. Game over!  Eventually, Jeff  Robinov agreed. He saw the major tests and OKed Cavill  – not that Henry or his CAAgents knew the good news  for some days.

Apparently, Ryan Gosling couldn’t get out of contention fast enough. He was  noticeably wary of comicbook characters (all those sequels!). He had already (very wisely) passed The Green Lantern to Ryan II (Reynolds) in 2010. A year laterr, he made the same move over Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role in  The Dark Knight Rises.

Zac Efron’s name was also flung around (seriously?) and  for some months, Superman all but belonged to Pittsburg’s Armenian-Austrian-German-Sicilian Joe Manganiello, the strapping Alcide in the True Blood series. (His co-starKristina Anapau was seen for Lois Lane). Joe was “a great guy” and certainly made the last two, revealed Snyder.  The story was much the same when seen for Bruce Wayne in

What blitzed Joe here was his HBO schedule. Despite being over the limit at 34, he was asked to audition, except the shooting of both the tests and movie  clashed impossibly with his series. 


“They took my measurements

but I  never got to put the suit on!”


Manganiello’s pal since drama school, Matt Bomer,  was also in the running.  The White Collar TV hunk had (like Cavill) previously been in the market for Batman Returns.  Sad to say, he may not have  elped his cause by coming out as gay  in February 2012.  Yes, even in “liberal” Hollywood!

David Giuntoli, aka Nick Burhardt in Grimm, 2011-2017, found life even grimmer when he also lost Supie in the 2020 Superman  and Lois TV series reboot… and his  wife, Elizabeth Tulloch, won Lois.  Owch!  

Among others in the frame were James Holzier, a Texan with just two films under his belt, handsome Ian Somerhalder from The Vampire Diaries (and Lost) and on the cusp of 32 and Irishman Colin O’Donoghue, with the rich pedigree of The Rite with Anthony Hopkins and an  episode of The Tudors with Cavill.

Matthew Goode was Cavill’s closest UK competitor, particularly as he had been one of Snyder’s Watchmen comic book movie (he played the genius Ozymandias). So keen to rejoin Snyder, Goode retired from the hunt for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  (Wise move).  

Armie Hammer was the tallest candidate at 6’5″  – and youngest at 24.  Best known for playing the Winklevoss twins in the Facebook saga, The Social Network, Hammer had been George Miller’s Batman in the Justice League moviethat Warner Bros  chickened out of…  allowing the studio to lose the first superheroes get-together to Marvel’s Avengers!The  one-man Armie also lost Bruce Wayne etc to Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman as he  tried to  make up for The Lone Ranger farce with The Man  From UNCLE farce.

Lois  Lane .    “There was a big, giant search for Lois,” reported Zack Snyder. “For us it was obviously a lynchpin…  a really important role. We did a lot of auditioning. What’s important to us is making Superman relevant and real… empathetic to today’s audience so that we understand the decisions he makes.  That applies to Lois as well. She has to be in the same universe.”

The candidates were the usual suspects at casting rituals over the last few years.  (Only Eva Green was missing!) It was, therefore, still the season for… Malin Ackerman (Silk Spectre II in Snyder’s Watchmen), Dianna Agron (the Gleegirl seen for The Amazing Spider-Man), Jessica Biel (she’d refused Wonder Woman in the Justice League project andAnne Hathaway’s role in The Dark Knight Rises), Londoner Alice Eve (she later won Star Trek Into Darkness), Anne Hathaway, Alexis Knapp (Pitch Perfect), Diane Kruger, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, British TV regular Charlotte Riley, Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad’s  Harley Quinn in 2015),  Saorise Ronan, Emmy Rossum, Moon’s Kaya Scodelario, Twilight’s Kristen Stewart. Oivia TronWilde and Bruce Willis’ Die Harddaughter: Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

Two Bells were rung – Kristen Lake. Unrelated. Except in work.  For example, they both provided voices for Seth Green’s demented stop-motion animation TV series, Robot Chicken, 2005-2013, which featured Superman among its  action-figures and dolls. 

And someone on the team had the hots for Black Swan. Three of the stars were considered for Lois: Kristina Anapau, Mila Kunis,   Natalie Portman.  (Even their director, Darren Aronofsky, had been short-listed).

However, Lois was handed to…  third-time lucky Amy Adams. She lost the role in Superman Flyby, which was never made, and Superman Returnswhich was. Nine years older than Super-Cavill, Amy reacts on-screen like every girl does when their boy is better looking than she is.  “I grew up with Margot Kidder as Lois Lane,” Amy said, “so I didn’t want to try and be that version. Zack said that he wanted more realism. There’s definitely still banter [with Superman]. She’s tough, modern, and more contemporary. There’s also a lot more action than I’ve seen in my career.”

Jonathan Kent .  Kevin Costner won the only father Clark Kent ever knew from Michael Biehn, Bruce Greenwood (Batman’s voice in the Young Justicetoon series). Also Dennis Quaid (up for Superman’sreal Pop, Jor-El,  in 1977) and Kurt Russell, back again from Christopher Nolan’s wish list for Commissioner Jim Gordon in Batman Begins.       

Martha Kent .    Another vital role, according to Snyder. “Her values helped shape the man we know as Superman.”  Sela Ward was the oldest contender at 55, followed by Julianne More, 51, and Jodie Foster, 49.  The  youngest potential Mumsies,  at 48, were Elisabeth Shue and  Lisa Rinna (Mrs Harry Hamlin since 1997). Snyder was most thrilled by Diane Lane at 46. “She can convey the wisdom and the wonder of a woman whose son has powers beyond her imagination.”

Jor-El .    Clive Owen (rumoured for James Bond) and Seanb Penn headed the  (very) short list before  Russell Crowe signed on.

Lara Lor-Van  .   The biological mother of Kar-El, aka Clark Kent aka Super… -well you know the back story… was won by the British Julia Ormond from Connie Nielsen.  Julia then changed her mind. Ah, but was that before or after Zack Snyder met the Award-winning Israeli superstar Ayelet Zurer?

Faora-Ul .    Gal Gadot (pregnant), Diane Kruger, Kate Mara, Rosamund Pike were seen for General Zod’s sub-commander and a commander of the Kryptonian military (called Ursa for Christopher Reeve’s first two Supie fiklms).  The parts went to the busy German Antje Traue and Isaraeli.  When Gadot won Wonder Woman, 2016,  who else was her mother, Hippolyte, the Amazon queen of Themyscira,  but the 20-year-older Nielsen. Gadot first appeared as WW  a year earlier in the apalling Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

General Zod .   Viggo Mortensen was nearly Zod as if anyone, anywhere, anytime, could come close to the not inconsiderable  force of nature called Michael Shannon.  “Zod is not only one of Superman’s most formidable enemies,” detailed Snyder, “but one of the most significant because he has insights into Superman that others don’t. Michael is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.” Shannon, from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and The Iceman film,  bulked up for the role.  Nor that you ever see it under his CGI suit.


“It’s not like you see General Zod

in his bikini at the beach or anything!”


“But if you’re playing a general, you should probably not be a little pansy man.” This was  his 56th screen role and he was  unsure about acting in  in a motion capture suit.  “It takes a lot of faith, because the first day you wanna go home and cry, because you just think no one’s ever gonna take this seriously… Literally the first shot I did, I was supposed to be coming out of a spaceship, which was basically some wooden stairs they’d built and painted neon green. I walked down in my unitard, acting like I’m General Zod. After the take I walked over to the monitor and Zack was sitting there and I watched it back and smirked.

Snyder:  What’s wrong?

Shannon:  That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen in my life!

Snyder: Yeah, but two years from now, it’s gonna be one of the most badass things you’ve ever seen in your life.

Shannon:  And it is!

As, alas, we can no longer go to the redoubtable wit and wisdom of Roger Ebert for an outside, critical view of a film, I have chosen to quote from Drew McWeeny’s review at the  Hitfix site.  It may read more like a studio release, but this guy is sincere.  He was, after all, Moriarty at Ain’t It Cool News, when torpedoing not to say H-Bombing the JJ Abrams scenario of  the proposed 2002 Supie reboot.

McWeeny much preferred the Nolanisation. “Snyder’s film, written by David Goyer and starring an impeccably cast ensemble, is remarkable myth-making, a canny spin on the oft-told details that have defined the character over time.. the most interesting, emotionally-satisfying, richly imagined version of the story. Ever.

“I am blown away by the sheer scale of it. Marvel’s biggest film so far, The Avengers, looks like a charming episode of the Bill Bixby Incredible Hulk by comparison, and while size doesn’t always make something better, if you want to sell the idea that these are godlike beings battling, then the only way to truly sell that idea is to show what they would do to our planet in the process. No one has ever staged superhero action like this. No one.”

Says it all. 


Now please  turn  to the Batman  pages for… 

It’s time you learn what it means to be a man.”


Zack Synder2015.