One World, 35 Years Later…

Superman reunited with his old pal Jeremy in Downtown Metropolis on the eve of the World Peace Summit – an event marking over three decades of sustained Nuclear disarmament (Photograph: Andy Hanton)

Jillan Freisen, DAILY PLANET 14:00 ET July 24th 2022 – 

History repeated itself in The city of Metropolis earlier today when The Man Of Tomorrow came face to face with a friend from yesterday.  For those who recall the bizarre chain of events leading to Superman’s campaign to rid the world of Nuclear Weapons exactly 35 years ago, they may also remember how it culminated in a global battle with a maniacal radioactive foe that almost triggered World War III less fondly.

Having hurled Earth’s Nuclear stockpile into the core of the sun and defeated criminal mastermind Lex Luthor’s monster, Superman later concluded world peace was ‘not his to give’ after all and has adopted a neutral stance ever since.  While the fallout and collateral damage across the globe may have been enormous (with Metropolis alone left with a regeneration bill in the Billions) Superman’s ‘Quest For Peace’ is nonetheless cited as one of the turning points in Mankind’s history, with the ending of the Cold War one of its lasting legacies –

 

The Man Of Steel poses outside the UN Building in 1987 with the youngster who’s simple plea prompted a change in Earth’s history (Photograph: James Olsen)

As for the young student whose impassioned words ushered in the winds of change, he stands by his actions all those years ago and says he’s do it over again.  Jeremy Brooke, now 48 and a leading force for UNICEF, maintains that some of the best wisdom still comes from the mouths of babes –

Its difficult for people to understand now, but in the mid to late 80’s a Nuclear Holocaust was a very real fear, with tensions rising on both sides it often felt to us that war was an inevitability rather than a possibility.  When I put pen to paper that day it just occurred to me that only one man could save us from ourselves ” 

And on the subject of his Kryptonian pal Brooke continued-

“Superman took a lot of criticism from all sides for what he did – people said he was mounting this big campaign but that was wrong – he was answering a call for help like he always does and that’s a very different thing.  I could tell he was conflicted about interfering in our destiny but he could also see how easily we could destroy ourselves.  Thank god – and I mean this – thank god he did as if the arms race had continued it could only have had one conclusion…”

 

The original letter as penned by Brooke during class 35 years ago is now regarded as a significant historical document, worthy of preservation in the Smithsonian where it is currently on display.

 

The Official Aficionado…

Like so many of us only last year, life as we knew it had changed and not for the better.  In the worst cases, we lost loved ones and for the rest of us – the world was on indefinite hold.  While I don’t pretend my situation was any worse than anybody else’s, by September of 2021 I was unemployed for the first time in over 20 years, bored and miserable with no motivation.

It was one of those days in the endless weeks staring into the abyss and avoiding job websites that the phone rang.  It was an International number.  My first instinct was simply to reject the call but something told me to pick up.  A booming voice with a broad US accent greeted me on the line, the kind that raises your spirits when you listen to the radio, for example.

“Hey Martin!  Its Jay.  How are ‘ya!?”

“Jay?  Wow. Hello.  To what do I owe the pleasure??

“So Jim and I are thinking of doing a thing at Motor City Comic-Con this year.  A little Superman IV reunion.”

“Well.  What a fantastic idea.  Would you like me to contribute or something?”

“Actually yes – we want you to come over.”

“Come over?”

“Ya!  To Detroit for the event.  It’ll be great.  Jim & I are dying to meet you”

“Are you serious?”

“Absolutely.  We want you there.  You’re gonna love it”

“Ah…you know I don’t think I’ve ever been so flattered to be asked about anything more.  I’m overwhelmed, but…”

“But what?”

“I’m really not a good flier.  I don’t like it at all. ironically…”

“Hey, I don’t like it either but what the hell.  Talk with your family and let me know by end of day”

“Wow.  Are you sure about this??”

“Absolutely.  Talk later”

And so months of intense planning ensued, and for my part there was little I could offer but I’ve watched and listened in awe at how Jay & Jim have turned what was planned as a modest celebration into probably the ultimate (and maybe final?) unique gathering of celebrities from the classic Superman Movie series to date.  And I will be part of it.  In what capacity yet I still don’t really know beyond representing Capedwonder Europe but I’m so honoured to have been asked that it didn’t seem real.  Then a few weeks ago, I was sent this –

 

Which not only made the whole thing real but is also in my opinion, one of the best Reeve tribute videos ever made.  Then there’s this –

Where, unbelievably, I get a mention.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to these guys for everything they’ve given me – both previously with the guest spots on the Capedwonder Podcast and in advance of this event.  Its hard to express just how the invite alone back then went a long way to pull me out of the mire and I’m glad to report everything has gotten better for me since then.  Hopefully that goes for the rest of you too.  Just like the guys say, I can talk about this stuff all day so if you do attend (and you really should!!) come seek me out, it will be my pleasure to speak with you and maybe help do for you what’s already been done for me.  I plan to document the whole trip and upload several YouTube videos on my channel but be sure to watch for live coverage during the event.  Details are all below and updates will follow but for right now as Jim would say – Stay Super.

 – Martin Lakin, Feb 2022.

 

35 Years after his Final Flight in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, the Love and Admiration For Christopher Reeve, both on Screen and in Life, are Stronger and more Inspiring than ever!

Jay Towers and Jim Bowers make the BIG announcement! This Spring, Motor City Comic Con and The Caped Wonder Superman Podcast proudly present The Christopher Reeve Legacy Reunion, May 13-15, 2022, in Michigan!

A 3-day celebration with 6 stars from the four Christopher Reeve Superman movies, spanning 1978-1987 – Sarah Douglas, Jack O’Halloran, Aaron Smolinski, Marc McClure, Mark Pillow, and Mariel Hemingway – will unite together for the first time in Detroit to meet fans and promote a Motor City Comic Con exclusive! A LIMITED-EDITION VARIANT COVER of the spectacular Superman ’78, Issue #1 comic book, only available at Motor City Comic Con this coming May…with a portion of proceeds benefiting The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Plus, Superman ’78 comic book series writer Robert Venditti and artist Wilfredo Torres will be at the CapedWonder booths to meet you and sign autographs!

The celebrities, Jay, and Jim are so excited to meet you at The Christopher Reeve Legacy Reunion at Motor City Comic Con, May 13-15, 2022! Make plans to be there! Tickets are available now…click here!

This is the Superman Celebration you’ve been waiting for!

 

#releasethefuriecut

“We’re Gunslingers…And you don’t win every duel…”

On paper the notion seemed sound.  He wasn’t Richard Donner (Or indeed Lester) but nevertheless a tenured Director with an impressive resume littered with some notable titles, The Ipcress File, The Entity and more recently cult sensation Iron Eagle.  Moreover he was keen, available and as this particular project was now Christopher Reeve’s baby, a shoe-in after Wes Craven’s vision was met with Indifference.

Unfortunately Sidney J. Furie had it all against him.  Taking on a franchise that had already derailed, its future now in the hands of easily the most notorious producers of the age and a star looking to dominate proceedings wherever possible.  Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was always going to be somewhat insurmountable, but nobody could have foreseen just what twists and turns lay ahead.

Indeed, according to producer Michael Kagan ‘Nobody wanted to make a bad movie’ even though the script by Laurence Konner & Mark Rosenthal (with story input by Reeve) was considered to be in dire need of another draft.  Reeve had already been served with a lawsuit from outraged would-be writers Barry Taft and Ken Stoller who claimed the Nuclear disarmament theme of the story was theirs. The case would eventually be thrown out but was the start of many obstacles to overcome.  The Go-Go Boys, (having bought the series from the dejected Salkinds at a discount on a sunny afternoon in Cannes) were nothing if not keen to get the picture made and out to its built-in audience in order to help Cannon Films finance the 30plus projects shooting around the globe at the time.

In the above interview with Steven Simak taken from the Summer 1987 Issue of Galactic Journal Magazine, Furie at least seems to have a clear outlook, fighting for Margot Kidder to be reinstated and citing that heavy-handed auteurship (i.e. Dick Lester) could be detrimental to the truth of the character.  Arguably the love-triangle described with the introduction of Mariel Hemmingway’s character that Furie seems so keen to explore were among the best scenes in a film otherwise consumed by the spectre of visual effects done on the cheap.

Details about the infamous test-screening were recently revealed by Visual Effects artist Harrison Ellenshaw, who stated that while he sat in with the audience, Furie patiently waited in a cafe across the road.  When the showing, (and indeed, the rioting) was over, Ellenshaw reported back to Furie who allegedly asked ‘Was it that bad??’  Word soon got back to Warner Bros. who would issue a simple, yet damning directive before general release – ‘Lose two reels’. 

The resulting cuts are well-documented but the fallout remains.  The sub-plots, the runtime, the soundtrack. Clive Mantle’s entire part – the list goes on.  At one time thought to be merely a rough cut, Ellenshaw did confirm the test screening was that of the full-length feature, warts & all – and despite long being thought destroyed, Warner Bros. have confirmed the print survived and is stacked among the multitude of cans rescued from the Pinewood Studios vault to facilitate the Richard Donner cut of Superman II.

So with all this information finally brought to light – and over three decades later – can there be closure on the enigma that is Superman IV?  The choice, as ever, seems to rest with the fans.  For all the furore that saw the eventual release of @thesnydercut people seem to forget that @releasethedonnercut was not only first, but revolutionary in terms of studios response to the DC fanbase.  We (the Superman community) proved that it can be done.  We know what it takes to be done.  We also now have the benefit of knowing the footage exists so it could be done.  I therefore beseech anyone with even the slightest interest in this film to make their feelings known to @warnerbros and @warnerarchive to #releasethefuriecut and see the full extent of his much-maligned vision.  We owe it to ourselves as Superman fans but we also owe it to a Director who suffered the humiliation of having 45minutes cut from his picture, leaving an incoherent mess.

Alongside the campaign for the release, hopefully you will have heard my ramblings on the @thecapedwonderpodcast, #releasethefuriecut on Twitter, and the amazing restoration work done by @aaronprice.  I will be writing a separate post on that topic shortly but meantime, all these efforts have not gone unnoticed by the man himself, who, at 88 is still going strong and recently posted in response to seeing what can be achieved with modern VFX with “This is wonderful – if only we had this kind of technology back then…”