Did Steven Spielberg Want to Direct the First Superman Movie as a Musical?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Steven Spielberg wanted to direct the first Superman film and do it as a musical.

In 1966, just a few short months after the Batman TV series debuted, legendary Broadway composer Charles Strouse (a three-time Tony Award winner for Best Score, including another musical based on a comic, Annie) opened a brand-new musical called It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman (with lyrics by Lee Adams). Looking back, the musical is often lumped in as one of the many projects launched in the late 1960s designed to cash in on the Bat-Mania that the Batman TV series caused. However, as I noted in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, there likely was no such connection. Strouse did not write It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman as camp, but with the same straightforward approach he later did with Annie – the end result just happened to be a campy musical.

While the initial musical was a financial flop, the show was well-regarded enough that in 1975, ABC aired a TV special version of the show. I bring this up to note that the idea of Superman as a musical was not unprecedented during the mid-70s and in fact had just been prominently displayed on television. So keep that in mind when we address today’s legend, sent in by reader Charlie L., who wanted to know if it is true that famed director Steven Spielberg not only wanted to direct the first Superman movie, but wanted to do the film as a musical?

Read on to find out!
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Did Superman Returns Use CGI to Reduce the Size of Brandon Routh’s Crotch While He Was Wearing His Superman Costume?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Superman Returns used CGI to reduce the size of Brandon Routh’s crotch while he was wearing his Superman costume.

When people think of special effects in films, they often think of outlandish action sequences or fantastic creatures interacting with human actors. However, there are often much smaller special effects that go unnoticed in films unless you are specifically looking for them and the key to those effects is for you not to notice that they are there. A famous example (which I covered in an old Movie Legends Revealed here) is the sequence in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator where Scott used computer-generated imagery (CGI) to insert old footage of an actor who had passed away during the filming of the movie into a new scene in the film (so Scott could properly write the character out of the movie). Even old school films would use what effects they had access to in interesting ways, like the scene in the classic western film Shane, where director George Stevens played footage backwards because the villain of the film, Jack Palance, couldn’t properly mount a horse (so he just played the footage of Palance dismounting the horse in reverse). A long-running urban legend has it that director Bryan Singer also used special effects in an unusual way during the editing of his 2006 film, Superman Returns. The film starred Brandon Routh as Superman and the legend states that the crotch area of his costume was so distracting that Singer had to use CGI to “tone down” the size of Routh’s crotch.

Is that true?
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Did Kevin Smith Write a Decoy Screenplay for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Kevin Smith wrote a decoy screenplay for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

There are two interesting competing forces nowadays when it comes to the creation of films. On the one hand, spoiler culture is so prevalent that most movie trailers pretty much give away the entire plot of films, because, as director Robert Zemeckis famously noted, “We know from studying the marketing of movies, people really want to know exactly every thing that they are going to see before they go see the movie. It’s just one of those things.” And on the other hand, you have the filmmakers themselves, who want to keep as much of their film a secret as possible. The above Zemeckis quote continues to note, “To me, being a movie lover and film student and a film scholar and a director, I don’t.” So when you have a legion of fans who want to know everything about a film and a filmmaker who doesn’t want to spoil the fans, you end up with a whole lot of subterfuge going on. Film studios have been experts in subterfuge for decades now (I did an interesting Movie Legend Revealed about how 20th Century Fox managed to market A Miracle on 34th Street without revealing that it was a Christmas film!) but it has taken on a whole new life in recent years. Gone are the days of simply giving a movie a fake working title (like Return of the Jedi being called Blue Harvest) to keep people off the scent, we now have directors like Christopher Nolan who keep only a single physical copy of the script to his upcoming film, Interstellar, to prevent people from leaking it.

Recently, though, fans were abuzz at what was rumored to be a whole new level of subterfuge on the behalf of Warner Brothers and their highly anticipated film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

As CBR’s Comic Reel reported:

Rumors have circulated that “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” had its script leaked, which is where new rumors and details of characters in the film came from. However, a new report from MovieWeb contends that the script is a fake. Not only that, it was written by “Clerks” director Kevin Smith at the behest of Warner Bros., then leaked to throw press and fans off the scent of Zack Snyder’s actual plans for the movie.

The fake script led to rumors that Amanda Waller, Mr. Zsasz, Morgan Edge, and David Cain would appear in the film.

So it is true? Did Kevin Smith write this decoy script?
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Did Black Widow Nearly Have Her Own Movie Before Iron Man or Thor?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Black Widow very nearly had a movie before Iron Man and Thor.

Marvel has had a string of significant successes since they began producing their own films in 2008 with Iron Man. They had a succession of hit films starring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk that led to one of the biggest movies of all-time, The Avengers. They even turned a group of minor comic book characters who didn’t even exist as a team until 2008, the Guardians of the Galaxy, into the biggest film of 2014.

However, for all of their successes so far, they have yet to come out with a film starring a female superhero and it appears as though Sony will actually have the first Marvel-related film starring a female hero. Reader Dennis L. wrote in to ask if it was true, though, that there was almost a Black Widow film released before Marvel began making their own films. Read on for the answer!
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Did H.R. Giger Really Design a Batmobile for Batman Forever?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Did famed Alien designer H.R. Giger really design a Batmobile for Batman Forever?

1979’s Alien was a brilliant fusion of science fiction and horror as screenwriter Dan O’Bannon and director Ridley Scott had the crew of a spacecraft slowly but surely killed by an alien creature that had essentially stowed away in the body of one of the crew members during an away mission to a nearby planet. The film’s setting of a cramped commercial space vessel was perfectly suited for such a tense thriller.

The alien creature also stood out for its unique and striking design. The creature was designed by Swiss artist Hans Rudolf “H.R.” Giger, who screenwriter O’Bannon had worked with when they were both attached to a Dune film adaptation that never happened. O’Bannon later recalled, “I had never seen anything that was quite as horrible and at the same time as beautiful as his work.” So when O’Bannon’s screenplay for Alien was optioned, he immeditately thought of Giger for the designer of the alien. Director Ridley Scott ultimately chose a design based on a drawing Giger had done called “Necronom IV.”

Studio exectuvies were worried that Giger’s design might be too disturbing for viewers, but Scott was adamant about using Giger’s design and the resulting film obviously proved Scott correct. Giger (and the rest of the Visual Effects team for the film, namely arlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder and Dennis Ayling) won the Academy Award for Visual Effects. Giger recently was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. However, reader Steve wrote in to ask if we almost saw Giger’s work appear in Batman Forever, of all places. He asked, “Is it true that artist H.R. Giger did production design art for the film “Batman Forever”, with a radically different design for the Batmobile than the seen in the film (or elsewhere). This rumor seems to get passed around a lot as fact. I would love to see the design sketch’s if they exist. Thank you. Keep up the great work.”

Well, is it true? Did we almost get a surrealist version of the Batmobile? Read on to find out!
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Was the Jean-Claude Van Damme film Cyborg Originally Meant to Be Two Films, Including a He-Man Film and a Spider-Man One?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: The Jean-Claude Van Damme film Cyborg was originally going to be both the sequel to the Masters of the Universe film AND a Spider-Man film.

Cannon Films was one of the most interesting film companies of the 1980s. The company began life as a small film distributor during the late 1960s, doing a number of different films. However, they were in dire financial straits when they were purchased by cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus in 1979. Golan and Globus had a fascinating game plan for their new company. They would basically purchase tons of scripts for little money and make a lot of low budget films, under the theory that even if seven out of ten films bombed, that the three successful films would make enough money to pay for all of the films because of the low budgets. Their plans worked during the early 1980s as they had a string of low budget action films become major hits, most notably their series of Chuck Norris films (with Norris’ Rambo-esque Missing in Action likely being their biggest hit). However, by the end of the decade, the company began to experience what I guess you would call Icarus-syndrome. They became so successful that they tried to get closer and closer to the sun. They began spending more and more money on their films, financing them at least partially through the junk bond market. With bigger budgets, films that failed suddenly had a much bigger impact on their bottom line. They took over production on Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and even though they cut the budget on the film dramatically from its original budget, it was still their biggest film to date and it failed spectacularly. By the end of the decade, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigating their finances and the junk bond market collapsing around them, things were bleak for the company. It was during this time that they had begun making a sequel to their film, Masters of the Universe, based on the toy line from Mattel. Similarly, they had the rights to do a film based on Spider-Man, the popular Marvel Comics character. They began an ambitious plan to do both a Masters of the Universe sequel AND a Spider-Man film, both directed by Albert Pyun at the same time. Things fell apart, though, and through bizarre circumstances, those two films instead became the 1989 film Cyborg, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the last film produced by Golan and Globus under the Cannon Films label.

Read on to see how it all happened!

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