Expanding on this revised post charting the history of the aborted fifth and final Superman Movie starring Christopher Reeve, presented below for the first time anywhere is transcript from a Q&A (video above) at the 1994 Atlanta Dixie Trek Convention where the man himself responds to the question; “How true is it that Superman V was in Pre-Production..?”
I don’t know – It was going to be made…In Orlando, Florida at the…Universal had got new studios opening down there. And the good news would’ve been, that Ilya Salkind and Alexander Salkind who had made the first movie and the second movie would be back – they had bought the rights back from Golan-Globus which I think is good news.
But what happened was, they basically, I think started to hire some technical people and were talking to directors…and got a script written but never…came to me…ahead of time. And I had been so bruised by the really…everything about Superman IV, I mean I’m just so apologetic and…what can I tell you folks, you know its really sad that that happened…Superman IV. I think…Superman IV had the potential to be a very good movie but it needed to be told on an epic scale – it need to be big-time movie-making, and it wasn’t. I’ll give you one example of what I mean by big-time movie-making versus not. I had basically worked on the story with Konner and Rosenthal who wrote the script – we planned the story out together and they wrote a screenplay and we talked one time about a scene – and of course – this was 1986 and the Nuclear race was still important and Reagan had failed with Gorbachev at a summit meeting in Geneva, the Nuclear threat was still very much alive, the Russians had been referred to as an evil empire, already if you remember back in those days, and so the idea of Superman getting rid of Nuclear weapons seemed like a reasonable thing to do, after all, Superman had been used in World War II to sell War bonds, y’know, if this is something they didn’t know, you could get in sight with real world, when it needs to be…good…quality.
So, we had envisioned a scene where Superman has decided- after spending time at the Fortress of Solitude- that he will intervene in this arms race, and that he was going to land on 42nd street, on the double yellow line right in the middle of the street and then walk down the street to the United Nations which is the end of the street, on the East river and he was going to give a speech to several nations of the world. And of course people will be pouring out of buildings, and buses and it would be like the Pied Piper, y’know, thousands of people walking down the street, and I had the idea of him walking rather than flying actually from watching Jimmy Carter get out of his motorcade in his inauguration in Washington, I thought it was a very inspiring moment, meeting people.
So, anyway, we had all this and we were really excited about it and to make a long story short, when the moment came in the actual filming of Superman IV, where he talks to the United Nations, it was shot in an industrial park in the British midlands in the rain in November with twenty extras and a few pigeons thrown in for atmosphere. And then they wondered why they can’t make the movies take off. All the thinking was like that to be very honest with you, because Golan-Globus – great deal makers, they went around and bought a lot of stuff, they bought Masters of the Universe, they bought Captain America, they bought this one that one and the other one, thinking, well, you just, y’know, it’s Saturday morning cartoon kiddies stuff, we can just throw it out there and be fine, in my opinion not respecting the audience. Not respecting what the audience…deserves to see, and…they paid a big price for it…So…
This is the thing, truthfully, I would’ve done Superman V, contrary to anything you read in the papers or will read, but I’ll tell you the truth here and now, if they’d showed me – this is back to the Salkinds again a few years ago – if they’d showed me a brilliant script for Superman V, and a commitment that they were gonna spend in today’s dollars the kind of money that was spent for the talent we had on Superman I, I would’ve been the first person to sign up. In the absence of that I thought it’s better to stay home, and that’s really what happened…”
Photos courtesy of Jim Bowers. For More on Reeve’s appearance at Dixie Trek, read the article on Capedwonder.com
5 Replies to “The Fifth And Final Word…”
Bit late but noticed this crude but awesome manip from SC forum recently which sort of ties in with what Reeve was talking about there.
really brings home what couldve been done for a 5th film around the early 90s (91 wouldve put it the summer before Batman Returns so couldve maybe piggybacked onto the success and darkness of Burtons Batman and provide Brainiac as a real threat even worse than Zod – ‘Superman Into Darkness’?)
i like the idea of salkind acquiring the rights once again and getting Donner back to ‘reboot’ Superman somewhat in light of the success of batman and giving the film a big budget/big stars but retaining Reeve in the central role with maybe just cameos from the regulars (as opposed to recasting everyone). Weller wouldve been a pretty big name at the time due to Robocop. i imagine M Douglas couldve been a Warfield type taking over the DP from Perry White and presenting a workplace challenge for Clark, Lois and Jimmy – not so much a villain as Warfield though. Clint Eastwood couldve been a Police Chief or Army general type doing battle with Brainiac. Kidder couldve had a cameo as Lois with Annette O Toole being the main love interest again as in III and maybe also a younger actress like Sharon Stone or Rene Russo as a Cat Grant type to play opposite the 40 year old Reeve (he probably would’ve looked the most Super‘man’ in V out of all the movies) . Hackman as Lex in an extended cameo taking a backseat to Brainiac. Maybe even work in Stamp in a cameo as an imprisoned depowered Zod who Superman visits to discuss Brainiac. (recreates his ‘you will bow down to me..’ speech as Supes leaves… ) Plus brando as Jor el (voice) in a poignant Superman Returns style appearance talking to Reeve. And don’t forget Williams coming back to do the entire score (lots of new material)
basically rejuvenating the series in the light of the success of Batman in 89 – mixing old with new (like IV tried to do but on a much grander scale) making it a real event film and surrounding Reeve with A list stars again as in the 1978 original
Hey there –
Thanks for your thoughts!
I remember that fanart for V from ages back – nice to see it again!!
So enamoured with how close this film was to being made (especially back in the Salkind camp) I’d written a treatment of my own based on Bate’s ‘Reborn’ where Supes gets to live life as a Kryptonian while he searches for a way to get back. A lifetime there would be moments in this dimension so having fallen in love etc. and been an ‘ordinary’ man in his homeworld he’d eventually find a doorway to Earth, keeping Kandor in the fortress but never able to return. I’d cast Anthony Hopkins as the Partner of Vond-Ah from STM to be Supes confidant and friend. I wanted to include all the great Kryptonian aesthetics (the guards, the military, etc.) and have Kal-El become a politician of sorts (Chris Reeve always said he’d be a cab driver on Krypton, lol). Meanwhile back on Earth I imagined the Daily Planet would be dragged into the 21st Century by having Morgan Edge (James Woods in my head) turn it into a TV studio and conversely, Clark Kent becoming anchorman.
Paths not taken, eh?
What an article, what a different life could be brought if this had happened. Reeve only wanted the best for the character because it would have been the best for us. I always think of Superman if Donner could have stayed in the project, things surely would have been way better.