Presenting the conclusion of the magnificent Superman IV storyboard feature (plus cover) from Retro-Vision magazine. While the final scene as photographed entirely lacks the dynamism of Martin Asbury’s art, it is nonetheless shot for shot as seen on the deleted scenes of the Superman IV: The Quest For Peace Deluxe Edition DVD where the workprint features a hideous/hilarious edit with temporary soundtrack and unfinished special effects. One major difference between the two mediums is the ending of the fight where the storyboard offers a far more suitable conclusion to the clash (where Nuclearman ‘shorts out’ in the lake) unlike the bizarre obliteration by Catherine Wheel that awaits him in the ‘completed’ scene…
With the fine details on the bust portion of the mannequin complete, further modifications had to be made to the 6’6″ mannequin to transform its generic proportions to better match those of Christopher Reeve in his prime. The first issue was the height, where, with the addition of the bust the figure towered over 6’7″! Having gone to considerable efforts to make this piece as realistic as possible only to be undone by it being too tall I once again enlisted the help of FX Supremo Rich Martin.
As Reeve’s torso was short and legs long I was confident we could remove a 2″ plus section of the mannequin’s midsection, solving the height and proportion problem in one with a ‘cut & shut’. The addition of a cricket box as a codpiece 2″ lower would then compensate for the deficit. I produced some illustrations and sent them to Rich who at first was unconvinced, fearing the mod would make it unbalanced. As the weeks went by I became frustrated and was on the verge of doing the work myself when I tried Rich once more – to my delight this time he gave in.
With the mod completed and the base resealed with fibreglass, the mannequin now stood at approx 6’5″! Satisfied with this I began the considerable task of remodelling the torso using air-drying clay. Besides filling the ‘shelf’ between the top and base left by the mod to make it seamless (third pic down), I took the opportunity to fill the gaps on the top of the wrists to bring the hands closer to the hips, (first pic featuring Rich’s amazing paintjob on the hands!) give better volume to the Lat muscles (second & third pics) and finally add the characteristically protruding rib bones. (this took a few attempts to get just the right shape!). After much sculpting and even more sanding, I was overjoyed with the results and though I could have left it at that, I had been supplied with a few bottles of the original touch-up paint so finished it accordingly.
My final task was the stand, which had been a pain since I’d received the kit insofar as it failed to hold the figure up straight or securely. After trying a number of different methods to alleviate this (using tape/screws to wedge it, etc.) I finally just bent the solid steel rod down a further inch and the figure locked on straight & true. The rod assembly was then taken apart and sanded back to its original state (it was painted an awful flesh colour) and the glass base cleaned (bottom pic).
Only when all these amendments were complete and to my standard were the measurements taken and order placed for the Bronze Edition suit from Action Costumes, which, at the time of this writing, is only days away from completion. The next post will hopefully be the completed model, check back for the update…!!
On loan from the BFI Archive and part of a vast collection of wardrobe chronicling over 100 years of cinema, The London Victoria & Albert museum will be exhibiting a complete costume from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace from next week. The Hollywood Costume exhibition runs until January 27th 2013 and covers three expansive galleries. Mounted in a flying position and free from inhibiting plexiglass, this is a rare opportunity to see one of the few genuine Superman costumes worn by Christopher Reeve up close and in detail. The exhibition also has the clever feature of LCD screens with stills of the actor’s faces in place of generic mannequins. SUPERMANIA will be bringing you a full report from the site with accompanying photographs soon. Thanks to Zimbio.com for the exclusive behind the scenes pics above…