Alert, Alert..!

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Fleetingly glimpsed in both Superman: The Movie and Superman II and sharing a grim demise in both movies, the iconic, anonymous Kryptonian guard’s scenes may have been short but left a lasting impression.

In fact, the nameless soldier (played by uncredited actors) in Superman: The Movie had a larger role than the theatrical cut led us to believe, where through footage restored for the TV edits (and later, the Special Edition) revealed the guard was despatched by the council elders to arrest Jor-El and was crushed by falling debris from the eruptions enroute.  Despite apparently having being teleported to Jor-El’s quarters (suspended on wires to convey levitation), the intercutting of the extended version suggests the journey took considerable time, culminating in a bizarre closeup of the soldier’s eyes as he’s wiped out.

A similar guard opens preceedings with considerable style in Richard Lester’s Superman II, where an atmospheric tight shot of the helmet reveals it to be somewhat different than Donner’s version.  Although it appears to be the same design, its lack of 3M material shrouding gives it a smooth finish (decorated with aluminium tape?) and its black lenses replaced by mirrored.  Despite a speaking part this time (Alert, Alert!) his screentime is cut short as he’s dispensed with in a swift attack by General Zod’s cohort Non.

So distinct was the guards design that 30 plus years later, talented Superfan Tim Allen sought to recreate the helmet design using today’s technology –

“I was inspired to re-create this Kryptonian guard helmet from Superman (above) because I felt it was one of those props in the movie that often gets overlooked and I thought the fans of this movie would appreciate viewing a unique piece from the film. I created this CG model purely in 3DS Max using the Mental Ray render and procedural texturing. The helmet was created to fit the average human head so theoretically this model could be 3D printed for display or as part of a costume. It could also be scaled down to either ¼ or 1/6th scale for custom collectible figures/statues..”

Watch this space for updates as the Kryptonian guard potentially rises again as a 1/6th figure exclusive to SUPERMANIA..!

Many Lives, Many Worlds Pt.2…

SMITH SMAN#2 BMcK-002SMITH SMAN#14-001SMITHSONIAN POSTCARD-001Pictures3Courtesy of Superman In Advertising And Media come these exclusive vintage photographs of the artefacts featured in The Smithsonian Institution’s ‘Superman, Many Lives, Many Worlds’ exhibition circa 1988.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of a true American icon, SUPERMANIA continues its retrospective from the star-attended opening (click here) to the significant collection on display and even some memorabilia from the event itself.

While the George Reeves TV show The Adventures Of Superman features prominently behind the plexiglass, the recent release of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace had clearly yielded some treasures under the banner of ‘A New Superman In Hollywood’ where both Christopher Reeve’s Superman Costume featured at one end (top pic) and Mark Pillow’s Nuclearman costume at the other.  Quite why the expensive outfits were mounted on such cheap wooden cutouts is a mystery but faring better is Margot Kidder’s silk dress (second pic) accompanied by no less than Reeve’s Clark Kent glasses and Marc McClure’s bowtie worn as Jimmy Olsen.

Other great items from the movies on show are an original Daily Planet newspaper cover and below it, one of the script drafts for Superman IV by Konner and Rosenthal.  As if the opportunity of seeing these relics firsthand was not enough, there was also an opportunity to purchase exclusive collectibles on the day, such as the advertising postcard (third pic) with superb art from Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and two buttons below from the SUPERMANIA collection pictured with a promotional ad…

Astronautics…

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Though the cinematic conception of Planet Krypton as a world founded on crystal technology may be credited to Star Wars designer John Barry, it may come as a surprise that the final designs for Superman’s alien mechanizations were rendered by the man most famous for the iconic look of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Despite their infamy, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind insisted on hiring the best of the best across the industry for their productions and the late Harry Lange, now known as ‘the man who saw the future’ was no exception.

Credited as an ‘Astronautics Consultant’ for Richard Lester’s Superman II, German born Hans Kurt Lange (bottom pic, holding the astronaut helmet he designed for 2001) was solely responsible for the interior/exterior work on the Artemis II space capsule set (third pic) realised with such authenticity it could’ve passed as a real spacecraft –  

“I’d seen real hardware at Cape Canaveral and in NASA’s research laboratories and hangars, so I knew what the equipment had to look like. A piece of board with blue squares stuck on it may do for TV, but not when you want to do something on a Cinerama screen. It had to be absolutely perfect. I kept that idea in my following films: Star Wars, Superman, James Bond…”

While comparisons between the earth-based hardware in II, Kubrick’s classic and Moonraker evidently bear Lange distinctive style, it is the Kryptonian computers/memory banks (first & second pic) that are standout examples of fantasy art elegantly realised.  While the console (second pic) could easily be the basis of Superman’s computer in the Fortress Of Solitude revised for Superman II, one wonders if he was involved uncredited as early as Donner’s original movie as this lot of illustrations from his estate (in auction this month by Propstore) clearly show a bank of computers mounted in the arch of Lex Luthor’s underground hideaway…

Read Harry’s obituary from the UK Independent here

Going Live…

img2 (2)img5 (4)img3 (4)img2 (1)When the Propstore of London declare the assortment of Super lots above is from ‘The most exciting live auction of contemporary props and costumes ever offered in Europe’ you’d better believe it.

In an astonishing portfolio that makes such collections offered by Profiles In History look like a yard sale, Propstore has assembled some of the most iconic pieces from decades of cinematic history all going under the gavel from October 16th.

The Superman series is well-represented with some rare and highly-desirable lots (some never before exhibited to the public) from storyboards, (shown extensively in the many Superman ‘Making Of’ documentaries on DVD) to beautiful production artwork (of the Artemis II module from Superman II, bottom Pic) by Harry Lange.

Alongside the mock Daily News newspaper (top) and fabulous example of Christopher Reeve’s autograph (on a rare still), the highlight must be the production-used bust of Reeve created by Stuart Freeborn.  Though variations of his lifecast are somewhat common now, this full-head plaster model is utterly unique in its purpose of crafting hairpieces for the late actor.

For those wishing to view the calibre of artefacts in person, selection of 200 lots will be on display at the Vue Cinema in White City from the 1st to the 16th of October.  Bidding is multi-channel and open now so don’t miss the opportunity to secure your dream item…

Asbury’s Storyboards Cont’d…

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Red14Red15Red16SUPERMANIA is pleased to continue its serialisation of unpublished material from the production-used ‘Big Red Book’ of storyboards for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace in a post originally intended to celebrate reuniting the artist with his work.

This past July, tenured UK penciller Martin Asbury was scheduled to attend the Summer London Film & Comic Con – his first convention appearance – and SUPERMANIA was looking forward to presenting him with some of his earlier works while hopefully obtaining a sketch/getting pics and maybe even a quote or two.

Alas, disappointingly Martin cancelled last minute and the trip was abandoned (despite missing the opportunity of meeting both Jeff East and Helen Slater).  Hopes are high Martin has been asked to attend the Winter Con so this ambition can eventually be fulfilled.

Meantime, exclusive vintage footage of Martin at work in the Superman IV Art Department drawing boards from the cut nightmare sequence at the start of the film is upcoming.  In a short interview, Martin talks about the collaborative process and the process of storytelling.  Look out for the upcoming post about Elstree Studios soon..!