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.
Against considerable odds, however, 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…
From Fotogrammas.es; 25/04/2017
“Behind Superman’s outfit was a Super-woman. That was Yvonne Blake, the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain. She was the one who designed the superhero costume for the movies directed by Richard’s Donner and Lester, and originating from the comic-book character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster .
‘The Superman Costume’ is a short film by the Algecirian filmmaker Juan Manuel Díaz Lima, who reveals the in’s and out’s of the creation of the Man of Steel’s dress through its own creator.
The costume designer has four Goya awards (‘Remando al viento’, ‘Canción de cuna’, ‘Carmen’ and ‘El puente de San Luis Rey’) and won an Oscar for the film ‘Nicolás and Alejandra’ in 1971. She has also been part of the technical team of productions such as ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘Robin and Marian’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, ‘Don Juan in the Underworld’ and ‘The Goya Ghosts’ among many others.
The Documentary also includes interviews with directors, film critics, seventh art scholars and experts on Krypton’s most famous inhabitant who serve to contextualize and understand the fascination with the designer’s work. Among the personalities are: Jesús Palacios, Antonio Sánchez-Escalonilla, Carlos Díaz Maroto, Miguel Ángel Vivas, Jordi Claramonte, Raúl Álvarez, Manuel M. Velasco, Iskander López, Jorge Jiménez, Jordi Costa, Víctor Matellano and José Manuel Serrano Cueto.
DirectorJuan Manuel Díaz Lima holds a degree in Audiovisual Communication and Doctor from the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. His filmography includes several documentaries and several fiction short films and director of several video clips.
‘The Superman Costume’ is a film financed with the support of the Community of Madrid by Creta Producciones SL, Veo Veo Producciones SL and Pasajes Invisibles SL.”
Debuting on the 19th week of the Short Film of the Community of Madrid, The Superman Costume, a new documentary apparently made without the authorisation or involvement of DC Comics or Warner Bros. seems to have passed right under the radar of the English-Speaking world.
Now a National treasure in her adoptive home country of Spain, legendary designer Blake has already been the subject of a book so it was only a matter of time before she herself made the transition to film, although precious little information about the picture itself seems available online.
With the subject matter obviously very dear to SUPERMANIA’s heart, a hand is extended to our Spanish readership for more information on this (or indeed a link where it can be watched) In the hope it may share some valuable revelations. In the meantime, enjoy the excellent piece below written by Irene Velasco for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo ;
A self-respecting superhero cannot leave his wardrobe in the hands of anyone. And even less so when it comes to the definitive Superman. When the Man of Steel decided in 1978 to make the leap from the pages of the comic to the big screen actor Christopher Reeve needed one of the most reputed specialists in the world to take care of his wardrobe. A woman who had as an arduous mission to dignify, as much as possible, a garment that she herself recognised as quite ridiculous, composed of an electric blue suit with a large “S” printed on the chest accompanied by a cloak and Red underpants. Her goal was to make the grotesque combination work in the movies. She achieved it. This heroine is Yvonne Blake, who has made costumes for some 58 films (some as mythical as Jesus Christ Superstar), has dressed dancers and singers of numerous ballets and operas, has worked under François Truffaut , won An Oscar for best costume for the film Nicolas and Alexandra (1971), has four Goyas awards, has dressed legends the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro, Audrey Hepburn, Sean Connery, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor . Since July 2016 she is the president of the Spanish Film Academy. A 76-year-old superwoman has led an exciting life. Aware that a hem, a stitching, or a tie could be more damaging to Superman’s image than the Kryptonite itself, Yvonne made it seamless. The Man of Steel’s suit she made for the film had, of course, the usual seams, but she managed to keep them well hidden and keep her superhuman reputation safe. She also prepared Superman layers of 25 different fabrics, with the aim of getting the desired movement in each of the shots before the camera. But the biggest problem, she confesses, was to find the exact blue. “No doubt that was the most complicated,” reveals Yvonne as she pulls out of a large portfolio the original sketch of the figure, whose upper left corner still retains a sample of that happy fabric that cost him so much. The difficulty was that it was necessary that the patina was not too blue or too greenish to serve for the chroma-key, that technique in which certain scenes (especially those that require special effects) are rolled on a background. But there were also other difficulties. “Christopher Reeve was very nervous, he was sweating a lot, and because his skin was very sensitive and he was immediately irritated, he could not use deodorant,” recalls Yvonne. Result: Superman appeared constantly in the armpits a very little dark patches, an unmistakable sign that the superhero transpired. “We solved the situation the only way we could: drying Christopher Reeve’s sweat stains with a hair dryer.”
Marlon Brando is one of the actors that impressed me the most,” she says.. “He had a fantastic sense of humour, and he was not vain, on the contrary, in the first costume test he did not even bother looking at himself in the mirror, sating he would leave it in our hands.” She made a special cloth suit that reflected the light and made it look white, as if it radiated energy. “He told me that he had a hard time memorising the dialogue, and he often had to use large posters to remember his script, sometimes writing on his hand and sometimes directly off the forehead of the actress when she was off- camera. He also said that this inability to memorise was what prevented him from doing theatre.
But before reaching the summit and making the mythical suit of Superman , Yvonne Blake had to go a long way from Salford, the northern city of England where he was born in 1941. “I have been very lucky in life but also a lot of push, I’ve always been ambitious. Once I had a goal in my head, I went for it,” She confesses…
As a great editor once said – ‘Well if Paris is gonna go kablooey I want my best reporter right in the middle of it’ – and so SUPERMANIA brings you the lowdown on the gleaming new exhibition in France which opened to the public this week.
Quite out of nowhere and “In collaboration with DC Entertainment and with the participation of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, The Art Ludique Le Musee presents “The Art of DC – The Dawn of Super Heroes,” a unique world first exhibition that pays tribute to the story of DC and its iconic Super Heroes and Villains such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Joker at the origin of a true contemporary mythology.
An original creation of the Art Ludique-Le Musée team, “The Art of DC – The Dawn of the Super Heroes”, unveils more than 250 original historical plates and more than 300 works of research from the cinema and many Costumes and genuine props from the films
We also present the authentic costumes created for the great DC movies such as the mythical costume worn by Christopher Reeve in Superman and the famous costume worn by Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman in the 1970’s…”
While this may be an all-new installation some of the artefacts shown may look familiar. Indeed, the Superman costume is the same one remounted from the 75th anniversary showcase at comic-con in 2013.
The Clark Kent ensemble, however (third pic) is more of a mystery and may be comprised of genuine suit pieces over a screenused Superman tunic completed with replacement glasses and hat.
The real finds here though are the miniature costumes for special effects flying models of Reeve & Kidder for the ‘Can you read my mind’ sequence in ‘Superman – The Movie’ (third pic). These wonderful, intricate creations were never seen in the finished picture but remain a testament to the ingenuity of the art dept. as the Superman costume, for example, is made form the same fabric as the full-size outfits. Set in a glass case surrounded by hand-drawn storyboards, its as fine a collection of Super-movie history collected in one place you’re ever likely to see…
- From March 31, 2017 to September 10, 2017
- Address : 34 Quai d’Austerlitz – 75013 Paris (metro station Gare d’Austerlitz, parking paying opposite)
- Prices : 16.50 € (regular rate), 13.50 € (reduced rate), 11 € (children from 4 to 12 years or group +20)
- Opening hours : Monday: 11:00 – 19:00, Wednesday: 11:00 – 19:00, Thursday: 11:00 – 22:00 – Nocturne, Friday: 11:00 – 19:00, Saturday: 8 pm, Sunday: 10 am – 8 pm
SUPERMANIA 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…
SUPERMANIA cuts the virtual ribbon and welcomes you to the newest wing of the SuperSebas gallery with these stunning brand new pieces above –
After you have feasted your eyes on these flawless new renders we further invite you to attend a conversation with the artist to hear all about what it takes to create such awesome likenesses and discover the inspiration behind them. Click here to go straight to the studio for an exclusive interview with SuperFan Sebastian Colombo where he talks about his techniques, breaking into the comics industry, his plans for the future and the moment he saw a genuine Superman costume for the first time.
The Colombo Portfolio has been thoroughly revised and updated and coverage of his upcoming art and costume projects will be showcased there. Meantime, enjoy the candid conversation with the SuperFan who thought the man he saw on screen at a young age was Superman for real and continues to apply his considerable talents to keeping the Reeve legacy alive…