“And Why Not..?”

In a week where the first and best Superhero movie of the modern era was welcomed into the National Film Registry archive and its latest media release awarded ‘Best Product’ by fans on the Superman Homepage, SUPERMANIA concludes 2017 with another first –

Martin Lakin – Editor, SUPERMANIA78.com

Just as Superman IV: Redux was a personal triumph, SUPERMANIA was doubly honoured to act as consultant on this magnificent project initiated by two friends made from back in the earliest days of web fandom.

It fills me with pride when I recall, some 20+ years ago now, how a random bunch of young fans united by their passion for the Superman series deigned to meet and explore some of the locations shown above and marvel at how little had changed since filming had completed years before.  The experiences from that day obviously left lasting impressions on more than just myself, and now here we are, with once coy Oliver Harper chairman of his own YouTube empire and quiet Introspective Tim Partridge now a tenured filmmaker.  Keeping in touch with these talented folks over the years has culminated in the superb piece of broadcast-standard material above.  Think you know everything about Superman IV?  Think again and be entertained doing so.

Many times since this website has been live I have mused on quite why a 30-year old movie reviled by most should still court quite so much analysis and attention today.  I could go on and on as to what I love about it, but like religion, would never force it on anybody else.  What surprises me is I never have to and I’m gratified beyond words when many fans tell me the best reference for the film is to be found right here.  Like many fans I wish to pass on my thanks to Tim and Oli for putting it to such memorable use, I look forward to future collaborations…

Tim Partridge – Director

I’m a professional filmmaker and Oliver Harper is a popular YouTuber, specialising in video essays. Both of us have known for decades about the filming locations of Superman IV, thanks mostly to SUPERMANIA, and we always felt there was a great story to tell about the unusual choice of it’s settings. We wanted to both analyse and celebrate the film’s undeniably creative production design. We thought this project was very appropriate for Oliver’s YouTube channel, and would enhance his format by putting him on-camera in the Superman IV locations.

We went through all of the original production/publicity material we could find in order to research this, as well as speaking to some of the crew members who worked on the film. Oliver and I had spoken of making the video as early as 2012, and had aimed to release it in the autumn of 2016, exactly 30 years after Superman IV went into production. However, the project grew and our narrative adjusted itself. We were very lucky to interview double Oscar-winning set decorator Peter Young about his experiences on the film, enriching the video with a first hand perspective and insight into the production design of Superman IV.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped us along the way.

Oliver Harper – Film Documentarian/Video Editor

I’ve been fascinated with Superman IV ever since I was a kid. It’s obviously a bad movie but I always appreciated its good intentions and its production and design I found very interesting. With the movie making use of the United Kingdom for many of its locations, far more so than Superman 1 to 3 and Supergirl, I wanted to explore these places and see how they made use of them. However, this was always just an idea in the back of my mind. I had made a trip to Milton Keynes in the late ’90s with Martin Lakin and Tim Partridge (director) but that was as far as I got in seeing what they used. Come 2011 when I started my YouTube channel, which focused on movies of the ’80s and ’90s, my first review was on Superman IV and the idea of making a video on the locations was something that I felt could be interesting. The director of the ‘Man of Steel and Glass’ video, Tim, and I both shared similar views on the film and we had discussed ideas about making something a couple of years before we even decided to officially move forward with it. Come 2016 I finally said let’s get this going so we could celebrate the 30th anniversary of the production, although it grew into a bigger project which we would release the following year.

The documentary started out as something quite simple but the narrative began to change. The whole design of it shifted radically into something more than just a before and after video like most traditional videos of this nature that you find on YouTube. Tim especially wanted to push the magic of the movies and how filmmakers have continuously tricked audiences into believing they’re shooting in one location but in fact are shooting in a entirely different country. Superman IV could’ve successfully done that but was let down by some poor decisions regarding the photography of the locations, thus undoing the illusion

2018 marks the fortieth anniversary of Superman: The Movie’s cinematic release and advance word is that the celebration will last in various forms all year long.  In the US, 40th Anniversary Cons attended by many of the original cast have already begun with more promised across the world in the coming months.  Indeed, for a franchise entering middle age, it shows no signs of slowing down and new discoveries continue to emerge such as these exclusive images below from the Milton Keynes location of Superman IV in 1986 –

SUPERMANIA wishes you & yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New year.  The Adventure Continues in 2018..! 

 

Show & Tell…

It what is rapidly becoming a worldwide event, over 600 lots of original props & costumes from some of Hollywood’s most spectacular productions went under the gavel in Propstore’s Live Auction of Entertainment Memorabilia last month.

As the coverage in the media was extensive (with CEO Steven Lane popping up all over daytime TV proudly doing show & tell) you may have noticed a familiar blue uniform not seen onscreen since 1987. As is now tradition, the lobby of BFI IMAX Waterloo was once again temporarily converted into a movie museum where the offerings could be previewed and once again, the Superman Series was well-represented.

Courtesy of SuperFan Graham Holden come these amazing images taken from the exhibition on preview night, where amongst other treasures the tunic from Superman IV and the Crystal prop from Superman: The Movie were confirmed to be the same ones sold only last year by Eubanks Entertainment & Memorabilia. These lots, sold for £5000 and £1500 previously would make tidy profits on the day as expected, but still fairly conservative in comparison to some of the estimates from the glossy catalogue.

Indeed, by all accounts live bidding was as frenzied as ever with some astronomical figures reached by way of vintage Star Wars ephemera and modern equivelant Guardians of the Galaxy. Superman evidently retains its popularity with all lots going to very lucky/happy SuperFans – We look forward to next year..!

Coming On Strong…

SUPERMANIA marks the 30th anniversary week of the final entry in the classic Superman series released in Cinema’s across the world with an unprecedented trio of posts (one for every 10 years!) of rare and unseen material.

Despite ‘Coming On Strong’ (according to the US tagline) in July 1987, Superman IV: The Quest or Peace continues to be divisive decades later.  Critically mauled on initial release leading to audience indifference and disastrous box-office, the Cannon Films production would be a franchise killer long before the term was properly coined.

However, against considerable odds, the film somehow endures to this day.  Despite its reputation as one of the worst comic-book films ever made, something about the beleaguered production and deeply-flawed 90-minute (un)finished product still resonates and manages to retain a small but dedicated fanbase.  Those who can see beyond the cut-price visual effects and clunky plot to embrace it as a pure translation of comic-book to film are rewarded with some classic Superman Movie moments and at its heart, as always, the performance of the late Christopher Reeve.

Much maligned as it may be, the film is the guilty pleasure that refuses to fade away, clinging firmly to its cult status.  But don’t take my word for it, go here to read a fabulous new retrospective written by Bill Williams, where you’ll discover the real legacy of this film is that it got made at all.  Indeed, until such time as the complete and uncut edition is pulled from the WB archives and restored, we literally have don’t yet have the full picture…

From the top – The exciting latest addition to the SUPERMANIA archive is this authentic, production-used Stunt Double black satin crew jacket!  This was acquired from Propstore and is most likely attributed to Christopher Reeve’s stuntman Mark Stewart (Reeve himself wore a very similar one onset).  Paired with a genuine crew cap, this represents a complete ensemble as worn by personnel at Elstree Studios in 1986…

Above, more never-before-published pages from the volume of storyboards pencilled by Martin Asbury as scans resume from the Big Red Book last posted over three years ago!!  There are many more to follow this sequence of the battle for the Statue of Liberty and it should be noted this vast binder houses the complete version of the film, so future updates will document the epic Metropolis battle as it was meant to be seen, including yellowcabs tossed around like rocks!

Below, a brand-new set of fanmade vintage style promotional ads for Superman IV presented by Jason Leggett, giving us an insight into what might have been had the advertising budget matched those of previous instalments…

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…