Happy \S/ Day…

What better way to spend World Superman Day than a marathon screening of the original and best Superhero Quadrilogy – still the standard by which all others are judged?

SUPERMANIA admits one and all by way of the latest addition to the collection – these super-rare Japanese tickets issued exclusively for each release.  Why not watch a DVD or Blu-Ray tonight to celebrate the ever-enduring Man of Tomorrow?

And if you haven’t already look to your right and click on the all-new SUPERMANIA Scrapbook on Instagram.  There you will find an archive of rare and unusual images not found on the site – this will be updated constantly so keep checking back..!

R&B…

As significant and reliable a gift to fandom as its sister publications Starlog and Fangoria, vintage publication Comics Scene was regarded as a pre-internet bible for the medium and its various transitions to the big & small screen.

Indeed, arguably the most compelling aspect of the magazine were ‘The Comics Screen’ found in the back pages which featured an alphabetical list of all the comic-book based films either in production or ‘development hell’ where many would languish (and remain unmade to this day).

Toward the end of the ‘S’ column in Issue #1 of the second volume (the first being a short run between 1982-83), however, Superman IV was not only listed as in release but also on the cover of the special (top pic) for the start of a revival of the periodical which would last until 1996.

Consistently running pieces on the comics industry alongside the cinematic adaptations, the Superman double-whammy would be interviews with actor Christopher Reeve and comic-book writer/artist John Byrne, who, on the back of his huge success with origin-revision Man of Steel  was now heading up the monthly Superman book.  While Byrne speaks candidly about his process of ‘clearing off the barnacles’ from fifty years of mythos to get back to basics, Reeve offers his personal insights into the development of the character and his recent intervention in the arms race (above).

Decades later, its interesting to note that Byrne’s highest hopes were that his Superman be remembered in the same regard as Neal Adams or Curt Swan’s while Reeve’s desire was the character remain a leader rather than a muscleman.  Between them, both of these ideals and many more besides would come to pass, building a better Man of Steel for the 80’s and beyond…

Welcome To The Family..?

Although originally conceived by producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind as a series of movies ‘much like the Bond films’, the critical and commercial disappointment of Superman III had prompted a revision that ultimately lead to the screen debut of Supergirl.  When the spin-off failed to hit the heady heights of its predecessor the future of the franchise became uncertain.

By 1985, with Santa Claus: the Movie proving to be another misfire, the Salkinds relinquished their interest in the Super portfolio to the Cannon Group, who, despite a reputation for churning out straight to video trash, were nonetheless expanding into the mainstream at an alarming rate.  Literally buying up every comic-related property on the market at the time, Captain America, Spider-Man and Masters Of The Universe were in pre-production already but Cannon needed a sure-fire hit with a built-in audience to start the momentum, and who better than the Man of Steel?

And so Christopher Reeve was welcomed into the Cannon Family, (top pic, from the pages of Variety) with ecstatic producers proclaiming that they had managed to secure him by ‘Giving him the picture he wanted, and one that the world wanted’.  With his personal project (contemporary thriller Street Smart) greenlighted and greater creative input into Superman’s writing and direction, Reeve would become a willing Cannon ambassador ( even making a personal appearance for the opening of a Cannon Multiplex cinema in Salford Quays, England (third & fourth pic).

The infatuation with their new adoptive son would be short-lived, however, and Reeve would soon become the black sheep of the Cannon family. In an amazing show of foresight, during filming of Street Smart, Reeve chewed out an outraged Golan over the phone by demanding another 1.5 million to shoot on location in New York, stating ‘If you don’t have the money to do this, how do I know you have the 30 Million to do Superman IV?’ (watch the fantastic footage here).

Of course, history now tells us just how well-founded these concerns were as by January of 1987 Screen International covered the story of Cannon’s bailing out by Warner Brothers (second pic) but such was the extent of  the company’s losses that it collapsed altogether the following year, having slashed Superman IV’s budget and forcing Director Gary Godard to fund the closing scenes of Masters Of The Universe out of his own pocket.

It was a debacle that the Superman series, and essentially Reeve’s career would not recover from.  The Salkinds, meanwhile, incensed by the treatment of their most successful property, immediately renegotiated the rights to move forward with their foray into television with Superboy alongside a little project with the working title of ‘Superman – The New Movie’…

Too True To Be Good…

1987_Superman_IV_Lobby_CardRetro_Superman_IV_Comic_Adaptation_Print_1987_00Retro_Superman_Comic_Poster_Classic_00198800_000Superman_IV_Release_Lobby_Print_1986_0000000SUPERMANIA flies straight into the fortieth anniversary year of Superman: The Movie‘s production with a renewed pledge to bring you the most rare and obscure ephemera from the classic films as exemplified by the scarce promo’s above.

From the top – clipped from the pages of British Screen, the half page ad for Superman IV features a rare behind the scenes still of Christopher Reeve swooping in to Milton Keynes as part of Cannon Films optimistic submissions to BAFTA – A newspaper ad for the comic adaptation of Superman IV from 1987 – A DC Comics trade ad championing Neal Adams return to Superman comics in 1988 and a somewhat premature announcement for Superman V from a brochure given out at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

Of course, in an ideal world, all of the above would be true but in fact, sadly none of these images are genuine vintage but are in fact the latest creations of artist and SuperFan Jason Leggett, whose convincing works of nostalgia have been featured on the site many times before.  Look out for more of Jason’s retro designs in the coming weeks…

64…

unmasking-1unmasking-2-001unmasking-3unmasking-4Today would’ve been Christopher Reeve’s 64th birthday.  As is customary here at SUPERMANIA we mark the occasion with a fitting tribute – in this case a rare interview with the man himself taken from the August 1987 issue of Starlog Magazine.

Speaking to Kim Howard Johnson from the set of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace in 1986, Reeve, somewhat poignantly indicated how this film was the most personal of the series.  In fact it would be, both thematically and practically having taken story credit and second unit direction besides the standard dual roles.

All of which Reeve seemed to take in his stride, his experience evident after a decade in the red boots and the creative freedom to express what his Superman should be doing.  Some of these character nuances (such as both identities ultimately being a disguise) were firsts here and continue to resonate in Super-Literature.

Though the film would be a critical and commercial failure, Reeve’s performance was universally praised and remains the one constant in what has now regained life as a cult classic.

Rest in Peace, ‘Toph…