Presented in celebration of Superman’s 75th anniversary, DC Comics and Man Of Steel director Zack Snyder have collaborated with Bruce Timm (Superman: The Animated Series) and Warner Bros. Animation on a spectacular new short to chronicle the many incarnations of the Caped Wonder.
Originally intended as a special feature on the upcoming Man Of Steel DVD/Bluray release, (out Nov 12th) the 2:14 film highlights Superman’s evolution from the Siegel & Shuster days through comic, television video game and silver screen appearances to his current personification of Henry Cavill.
Shown above are screen captures from the Christopher Reeve segment (featuring the famous end title flyby) and bottom, a character study by artist Dusty Abell profiling all the character designs for how they would appear in the short.
For a project engendering considerable hype in advance of its premiere (EW.com ultimately getting the scoop), its a pity the final product ends up reminiscent of a commercial than genuine tribute. While its a delight to hear John Williams theme in any context, the transitions from era to era are rushed & clunky and the choice of incarnations to define them are highly questionable. While there is a reasonable explanation provided for this, (click on the EW link above) the omissions of Kirk Alyn, Brandon Routh and Dean Cain are nevertheless galling in light of their contribution to the mythos…
Concluding this month’s SUPERMANIA special feature on the vintage Laser DIsc releases of the Superman series is the franchise denouement/killer Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.
Despite its quaint assessment by Desmond Ryan of The Philadelphia Enquirer as ‘good fun’ (See tagline on US release, third pic down) this final entry proved to be bittersweet but no less controversial than any of its predecessors. Dogged with problems from its conception onwards and executed with a fraction of its intended budget, the above is notable for representing both the shortest and longest cuts of the movie before the advent of DVD.
The longest and therefore most coveted is the Japanese import release from King Video distributors (Top & Second pic) which was popular with US fans due to its 93 minute runtime. This, along with its sharp and unique sleeve art made it a serious collectable in its own right until ‘all’ of the lost footage was found and reinserted (as deleted scenes in workprint form) by WB years later for the Deluxe Edition on DVD.
Typically, the Western version was what would only be described as ‘Vanilla’ even back then, with a 90-minute runtime and uninspired presentation (replete with a still from a deleted scene carelessly included on the rear of the sleeve) though the reproduction of Daniel Goozee’s fantastic poster art on the cover is first class.
I hope you have enjoyed this overview of these great pieces of cinematic, now collectable history – please feel free to leave any comments or questions. Until then, a very Happy Easter to you all..!
More scarce Japanese imports from the SUPERMANIA collection – highlighting another double dip for Richard Lester’s Superman III. Though once again beautifully presented there are some curious artwork inclusions here – notice the stills from Superman: The Movie in the gatefold of the first disc (second pic) and the striking cover for the second (third pic down) utilising a frame of Superman smashing through the shield from the opening of the Superman III teaser trailer.
With a first release by Thorn/EMI seemingly covering all the bases again it seems a mystery why there should be a subsequent one by the Weintraub Corporation. I know little of Weintraub’s connection with this film, (save for their ugly logo interfering with what otherwise would be a perfectly uniform set on VHS) but it seems they were eschewed for later releases on different formats. If anybody can clarify Weintraub’s involvement with the Superman series, feel free to leave a comment…
Coming soon, Superman IV…
More pristine examples from the SUPERMANIA collection with a Laserdisc double-dip for Richard Lester’s Superman II. Both these Japanese imports boast the customary fabulous artwork on the covers & gatefold although quite why there should be two separate releases (one under the ‘Ever Green’ banner) escapes me. Anybody versed in Laserdisc history should feel free to leave a comment…
Enjoy this first in a series of posts dedicated to showcasing the various incarnations of the Superman Motion Picture series on Laserdisc. I was lucky enough to recently acquire a complete set of rare Japanese releases to compliment my small collection of US/UK equivalents.
Naturally the Japanese versions (top three pics) reign supreme design-wise with their customary attention to detail and producing pin sharp imagery for their packaging. Featuring a striking front/back cover and gatefold full of black & white publicity shots, the two-disc set is parallel in quality to the original Superman: The Movie soundtrack album. Languishing behind is the US version (bottom pic) with second-rate graphics and afterthought presentation with two discs crammed tightly into one sleeve.
I wish I could offer some insight into the picture/sound quality of the discs themselves but as Laserdisc was a format I managed to bypass completely I lack the equipment to play them although I’ve heard it said many times their quality trampled VHS. Nevertheless as collectables these pieces feature some rare imagery and are among some of the nicest I own – look out for the sequels in posts to come..!