In this second edition of the Anderson Chronicles I delve into the behind the scenes happening on what Warner Bros wants in their new Superman. I don't mean the film as a whole, but the character himself, and what they'll be looking for when casting the icon.
I think it’s safe to say that common knowledge on the subject is they plan to steer clear of anything reminding audiences of Christopher Reeve. That isn’t the easiest thing in the world to pull off to begin with. But many, not all though, felt shades of the late actor in Brandon Routh's performance in Superman Returns, and the decision to continue with the movie universe set up by Richard Donner. It might have seemed like a great idea at the time. But Superman Returns ended up being a box office underperformer. By no means is making $200 million in the U.S. and $400 million total worldwide "a flop." But it was not the kind of money everyone felt a character as iconic and well-known as Superman should have earned. Not taking anything away from Routh, but it’s obvious they’ll go in a totally new direction with the reboot.
The one guarantee in casting is that they'll be looking for an American. Superman has always stood for the image of the all American Good Guy. A more common title used for him over the years is the Big Blue Boy Scout. When Superman Returns was released four years ago, there was a big controversy about the absence of "The American way" being replaced by "All that stuff." That didn’t sit well with a lot of regular people who don’t religiously follow the movie-scene beyond wanting to know what's opening on Friday and what looks good. After that P.R. dust-up, do people really think Warner Bros would take the risk of not only losing that again, but then casting a non-American as the Man of Steel?
All you have to do is look at the James Bond movies, and its producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, as an example. The idea was flirted with every so often with going for a Yank whenever it was time to cast a new actor in the role. Aficionados are aware that almost happened twice. One in the early 70s with John Gavin for Diamonds Are Forever and again a decade later with James Brolin for Octopussy. In both cases, wiser heads prevailed and we were all better off that way.
For those suggesting it's not a big deal to go for a non-American actor for Superman, how would they react if an American was cast as Bond? Even if he put on a perfect accent that would fool everyone? Would they still be okay with the decision knowing full well that wasn’t his nationality? No, they wouldn't and if they say otherwise, they’re full of crap too.
The one time an actor not of U.S. nationality was really considered was U.K. actor Henry Cavill light years ago when McG was supposed to direct. Even though he was who McG wanted, notice how Cavill was never reconsidered for Bryan Singer's Superman or the one George Miller was searching for Justice League. On the other hand, notice that Cavill did read for Hal Jordan early on the casting of Green Lantern. He didn’t get past that early stage. But you get what I’m saying. Batman is another character that isn’t a big concern with going with a non-American because Warner Bros doesn't make hundreds of millions of dollars with posters, banners and artwork of the Dark Knight standing in front of the American flag with "Truth, Justice and the American Way" written right on top. This is classic apples and oranges.
If Warner Bros was going to have a change of heart, they would have already done so for the Australian Miller. So trying to use Christopher Nolan being British as a fallback isn’t only to work, guys. Sorry. They're the ones writing the checks to make the reboot and not Mr. Nolan. He’s there to help the new movie on its feet with David Goyer writing. But he's got Batman III to direct and both movies are coming out in 2012. It's obvious of the two Batman III will take the higher priority for him.
What I think is up in the air is how unknown are they going to go to cast the new Superman. Will the "new guy" being as "Who?" as Brandon Routh was? I could see them instead going for someone with a bit more to his resume. A guy who’s been seen mostly on “Guest of the week” roles on stuff like CSI: Canada or Law & Order: Branson. It wouldn’t be out of line to imagine more of a "Oh, That Guy!" actor wearing the red and blue suit this time around. Looking at how crazy it was to cast Captain America and what’s going on right now with Spider-Man, there was plenty of unknown actors on the scene fans haven’t noticed.
Them not looking the part when they walk into the first audition isn’t a big deal either. I know fans always fantasy cast someone, not coincidentally like Cavill, because they already look the part. That can only get you to an early audition. How far you go past that is dependent entirely on your ability as an actor and how much the casting director, studio and director like you. People always forget Christopher Reeve didn't look a thing like Superman when he was first cast. Remember the famous picture of Donner putting shoe-polish on Reeve to dye his hair black and putting pillows under his shirt for his screen-test? His talent won over every single nay-sayer including Donner himself who admitted to first balking at the suggestion of even reading him.
It's safe to assume there is already a list of young hungry actors Warner Bros is thinking about. I'm surprised no names have leaked through the cracks from people like Latino Review, IESB or Deadline Hollywood Daily. But where things are right now, finding the director is the next logical step of action after getting Nolan to produce and Goyer to write. Whoever is chosen as the next Superman, I’m sure he’ll do the character justice. I think we’ll be in safe hands. Let’s just dial it back a few notches and not jump the gun here, guys.