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James McTeigue on The Raven and His Ideas for Superman

by
September 30, 2009

James McTeigue - Superman

A few days ago I spoke with Ninja Assassin director James McTeigue at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX (full interview is forthcoming). At the end I asked him to give me an update on a few of his projects, including his next feature The Raven, which SlashFilm first revealed back in August. I also just had to ask him about the Superman rumor again (see here), since that rumor just doesn't ever seem to go away. While he reiterated what we already know about Warner Brothers putting Superman on hold for the time being, he did reveal a bit about what he would do if he ever does direct a Superman movie. You'll definitely want to hear this.

Before we get to Superman, let's look at The Raven first. Inspired by the famous Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name, The Raven follows Poe and the last five days before his death. As McTeigue explains: "It's basically set in 1850s Baltimore. The logline would be: an amalgamation of Poe's stories crossed with Se7en. It's about a serial killer loose in 1850s Baltimore. And as his motif, he kills people the way Poe kills them in his books." Sounds pretty good, right? McTeigue has already been scouting locations in Europe. When I asked if it would be more action or horror, here's what he said:

"Yea there's a couple of [action] set pieces, I wouldn't say it's action [though], it's more a thriller. It's about Poe trying... At each murder that he does, the killer leaves a clue, and basically Poe is set against the clock to find someone before they die. So each murder that he does, he leaves a clue for him. So I would say it's like a thriller, a dark thriller. Sort of in the vein of of that book The Alienist, in that kind of vein."

I told him that like V for Vendetta, it seemed like it would be a very poetic film. McTeigue replied: "Yea, it's about the 5 last fictionalized days of Poe's life, so there is the poetry of Poe in there, that is through the film. But it's done in such a way that it feels like part of the film, it doesn't stick out. I'm really happy with the script, so I'm really excited to get it made soon." Me too, James. Glad to hear he's already working on this, since I love his style. Read the original article for more details about the story and Poe's mysterious death.

Back on the topic of another Superman movie, I asked James if there was any truth to that rumor that he, or the Wachowskis, might be involved in another movie. His answer started out short and sweet: "Maybe some truth to... I've had some discussions, the Wachowskis to a lesser degree, but the Superman franchise is in a strange kind of place at the moment," McTeigue revealed. "I think they're still trying to work out the mechanics of how that can come together." That's exactly what we've heard recently. But I got a bit more out of him when I asked if he'd be interested in doing it if they ever did offer it to him. He said:

"I think I would be interested in doing it if they let me do it the way I wanted to do it. I would say that, if you take the Richard Donner Supermans and the last Superman [from Bryan Singer], I think that Superman is probably ripe for a bit of a change up. I think society has changed around the core idea of what Superman was."

"And I'm not saying you do the ubiquitous dark Superman, I'm not saying that... I'm just saying that I think there are some things that you could excise from the Superman mythology that people would get into it, if you took the world that he was in and changed that a bit, and maybe even project that into the future a bit. I think you don't really have to play into the origin story anymore. I think there's a whole bunch of things you could do to make that film more alive and exciting again."

I mentioned that Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son graphic novel is one that people reference for a much different, but still brilliant, storyline for Superman. "I think you always incur the wrath of the people - they love Superman," McTeigue said. "Why not make it a little different, change it up a bit?" I agree, but then again, he's such a well-known character, that I don't dare pitch an idea for fear of it not living up to what everyone wants. I'm sure James has his own brilliant idea already. It's just a matter of if WB likes his idea.

To wrap things up, I asked James about the other rumor that IMDb lists his name as a co-director (with David Goyer) on the still-in-development X-Men Origins: Magneto movie. As you might've expected, that is pretty much a completely BS rumor. "I think David Goyer would probably be surprised about that, actually. I think that's just one of those rumors that kind of starts... Until he drops out!" McTeigue said he would love to do it, but it's Goyer's project, he wrote it, he'll probably direct, and he won't touch it since it's entirely Goyer's baby. So there you have it, the latest rumor updates straight from James McTeigue himself!

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  • MCat
    why does he have ideas about superman? is he trying to get the job? lol how obvious.
  • johnny rico
    did you even read the article #1? there's been a rumor floating around for a while that james mctiegue or the wachowski brothers would be directing the next superman movie. his ideas were in response to alex asking him about those rumors.
  • M-Cat
    yes i read it but he seems too into the idea. like his agent started the rumors or something. if you want to direct the movie, just say so.
  • jvj the agnostic
    Ok # 3, i want to direct the movie!
  • D
    Why do people want to keep messing with what superman is? Why make him darker? Hes not Batman. He is a big boy scout and stands for something good. superman had ideals that kids can still look up to . why does hollywood gotta try to f**k with everything to try and make a buck. Superman can be put in darker situations but dont mess with his persona.
  • Ben
    #5... he said he DIDN'T want to make it darker and he said he wasn't going to touch his persona (although not in those words). He only talked about changing the world in which it is set. He has valid ideas, but they are just that, ideas. Its not like its going to be a film. Let the man have his ideas, I'm sure you have ideas too.
  • teyhtr
    Where are his ideas for a superman flick? he was jsut blabbering around and didn't say a thing.
  • Stevo
    I am sorry, but Hollywood has been bastardizing story lines since they started and usually you end up with shit when compared to the original source material. I am not saying you HAVE to follow it to the letter, but you have to at least use the same font, or style or language. Just look at that abortion G.I. Joe. or Wolverine. Yeah they made buckets of gold but they were absolute garbage. Now take something like Xmen. Yeah it wasn't exactly the original series and they did take some liberties, BUT, they made a movie that truly flowed and felt like an X-Men book. You just can't take superman off the farm. You can't just get rid of Clark Kent. You can't make Superman, not Superman. Red Son was interesting and amazing because it stayed true to the Superman Myth. It just gave him a future. And shuffled the people. You believed that Superman would have followed that course if that had been what was given to him. Like I said in the last Superman Rumor thread. The only avenue I see a Superman movie taking would be a Death of Superman Trilogy, complete with all the replacements. Since you mentioned Red Son, and it also reminded me of Kingdom Come and Whatever Happened, I would also say that it would be interesting to explore a "What if his hand was forced and he struggled with conquering us" story line. But lets be honest, IMO Singer was the last chance for a Superman comeback. If he couldn't do it, it can't be done.
  • andy
    He's obviously been approached about the film and there will be another 'Superman' movie, but the issue of ownership of the property is still in the courts and they can't move forward until that's sorted out.
  • Jeff
    Jon Hamm. That is all.
  • agniyo
    Maybe they're talking about the All-Star Superman approach, which is to make the stories fantastic, super-colorful and mythical, almost. That's one of the more interesting post-modern solutions to the Superman problem, I think: just turn in the direction of the skid.
  • Fuelbot
    So the killer for this Poe movie is The Riddler?
  • Eli
    All I wanna say is: WACHOWSKIS DO BATMAN!!!! Please, Joel Silver, please! Get the Wachowskis on a BATMAN film. That is my absolute dream. Nobody's ever done Batman's action right. He's a kung fu master, people!
  • zetsu
    superman the movie,superman 2,superman 3(only the evil superman bit that leads to superman vs superman)superman returns(the plane save in the baseball stadium.)were fucking great moments in supermans movie career.what the franchise needs now is a action director like michael bay,villains like brainac,bizzaro or who everyone wants to see DOOMSDAY,also crossovers with other dc charactor movies like batman,green lantern or the flash so they lead into the much wanted JUSTICE LEAGUE MOVIE .or just make the ulitmate super man film with bryan singer & chris nolan co-directing...........SUPERMAN VS BATMAN.
  • crntl
    Joel Silver is a hack, as would any Batman movie he chose to portray. I'd almost rather watch Zack Snyder f*** it up than see Gotham Matrixized.
  • branden
    #13 did you even watch Batman Begins!! He was trained to be a Samurai by Samurais you n00b! Watch the movie! #14 did you like what Bay did to Transformers? uhhh not really. Singer/Nolan co-directing Superman v Batman?? Dang dude, you are completely oblivious. Everyone complains about Hollywood yet most of those people's ideas are worse. And everyone that complains about Hollywood doing or not doing movies just to make a buck needs to shut up too cause it's a freakin business.
  • Clay
    Easy way to do Superman justice? Do a Death and Return trilogy. I'm talking off the Richter f*cking epic. All the characters, all the battles, all the heartache, all that jive. They might have a hard time explaining Lex Luthor II and his relationship with Supergirl, but I'm sure the movie execs can spin it to make it feasible without taking a considerable amount of time to get it across. Movie 1 - All about setting up Doomsday and Superman's clash in front of the Daily Planet. If you can get the Justice League in there, awesome, but if not just mentioning them in newspaper and television reports that they got their asses handed to them by the creature will suffice. We should fear this thing before we even see him fully. Have Superman be all heroic and lovable as he is, enjoying his relationship with Lois *she knows he's Clark too* and just BUILD...IT...UP. And the fight needs to be huge. I can understand not having the mini-scuffles that Supes and Dooms had prior to their final clash, but that last one needs to be all "concrete streets being torn asunder, windows shattering from their blows, the citizens of Metropolis looking on in awe and horror as their greatest protector gives it his all and more". The scene with the battle-worn cape blowing in the wind as Lois cradles his lifeless body is a MUST. The movie could end in a few places: either with the funeral *REALLY really sad*, or with a little add-on after the battle. Think the hospital scene in Superman Returns, but obviously more frantic. Another place it could end was with a sneak peak at the 4 Supermen. Don't show them doing anything Super just yet, almost like a freeze frame, or a 4 split screen of them in all their glory. Adds a bit of intrique and for those who've not read the story, that maybe 1 of them could be the real deal. Obviously I'm a bit wrapped up in the whole Death and Return angle, and I'm in NO way, shape, or form a director or screenwriter, but I think staying true to one of the greatest graphic novels of all time is an easy way to make a good Supes film. Critiques, comments, tell me I'm full of crap? :-)
  • Eli
    crntl - WAH! That's like five complaints in two sentences. Pretty impressive. Sad, but impressive. branden - hey smart guy, really? Trained by samurais to be a samurai? Wow, follow your own advice and go watch it again. Seriously. Anyway, Batman is bigger than just Batman Begins. It's called "Batman BEGINS" not "Batman That's It". What about in Mask of the Phantasm when he's practicing (what he specifically calls) jiu jitzu in the yard? Are you gonna call Paul Dini and tell him to go watch watch Batman Begins (maybe you two could watch it together)? You've been destroyed, kid! You got schooled by a noob! Ooooohh, it's ok. Your wounds will heal. I took it easy on you.
  • SlashBeast
    #16 - branden LOL! You're totally right. Everyone loves to bitch about how Hollywood's "screwing everything up" but then they propose ideas that are nothing more than shit.
  • branden
    League of Shadows, vigilante group, etc. whatever, the guy that commented that Batman needs to be a kung fu master is stupid.
  • branden
    Eli, I thought you weren't one of the idiots that thinks superheroes on the big screen should be EXACTLY like they are in the comics and cartoons, but I guess I was wrong. You and the other nerds that think like this and just whine all day are annoying, pathetic, and ridiculous.
  • 1-7
    If someone adapted a comic book that has 50+ years of convoluted history panel for panel, word for word, I can assure you it would be 1000x more ridiculous than Battlefield Earth.
  • JUDGE DREDD
    REBOOT!!!!! While I "Quite" enjoyed SR, it was lacking in about a 1000 areas. Routh was a decent Superman, but hear me out for this reboot idea.... SAM WORTHINGTON, as SUPERMAN! (Terminator-4) http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3563950080/nm0941777 Complete REBOOT. New krypton, New Zod storyline, Lois gets killed at the beginning making Kalel very angry and confused about who and what he is. New villains, from krypton, Newer Super-suit yet still faithful to the original. (The SR outfit was ok but a bit tacky, especially with superman logo's on the belt buckle and tread of his boots.) SAM WORTHINGTON could play a tougher more action orientated Supes. Check out some of JIM LEE's Superman artwork. Awesome! Superman should be the worlds best superhero character, and yet he has practically been abandonned since Reeves donned the cape. The world is ready for something BIGGER! All that budget spent on SR and it was blown on a giant rock in the sea!!! Sort it out Hollywood! Where are your visionaries? Again, SAM WORTHINGTON as SUPERMAN!!!!!!
  • Mike
    Why do we even have to talk about an origin story? That right there is the first mistake any director/writer/producer of a future Superman movie can make. The origin has been done to death! They actually did it twice in the first two donner movies! Forget about Krypton except as a motivational factor for why superman does what he does. Get to better villains! The people who have played Luthor have been great but it's been done to death. if you want to make Luthor president fine, but bring me brainiac or metallo or darseid...anyone but Luthor as the main villain!
  • Eli
    Geez! Temper, temper, Branden! Don't be mad cause you suck at acting like you know what you're talking about. Think about it - this all started cause YOU got angry that I called Batman a kung-fu master (which he is). I've kept calm while you've gone all Psyko Sam on me. It's ok Bran, it's ok. Unless your anger stems from your parents misspelling your name when you were born; THEN I completely understand. I'd be pissed too. I'd totally rather be a "don" instead of a "den".
  • M-Cat
    #17 Clay it will never happen but great ideas! it would be epic and action packed but hollywood isn't about sticking to the stories we already know are great. they just care about money. let's use your ideas with #23 having Worthington as Superman.
  • Terrence
    'Ninja' Assassin' co-writer J. Michael Straczynski loves Superman. Also at Comic-Con JMS said this: "Straczynski also said that he is "doing another book which I've been told I can't talk about. So I can't say a word of what this book is until we get a proper announcement." Straczynski then started to shuffle papers at the dais while humming the theme to Richard Donner's "Superman". The audience cheered in response." http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=22277 So *maybe* there is a link to all this.
  • sam
    routh was a good superman but the movie he was in suked bad. if routh buffed up for a sequel would be great. routh was such a good superman he could still bring superman back to where he belongs at number one. but the story /action/villian would determine that for sure.the hell with who just what
  • DiR3ct
    That movie The Raven the plot sounds similar to a movie Cuba Gooding Jr. was in.
  • mgb
    Yes, please make another Superman movie, but the only person I would even consider for the part is Tom Welling of Smallville fame. He is fantastic in the role and has made the part his in every way. Millions of people worldwide already regard him as Superman. He can play all aspects (dark, funny, gentle, heroic, etc.). I can't imagine anyone else in the role ever again.
  • dorobikoy
    if no one wants an updated superman, might as well never do a new one coz it'll always suck, how could you write a script with clark kent not recognized as superman by anybody who knows him? how could i explain to my friends that if i took off my eyeglass, its not me anymore? and that red brief sucks big time, maybe it was cool in the 70s i guess, so if every fan insist that every sups move should stick to the original, its better that they do no more...
  • Clay
    # 26 - Thanks! Granted I'm a bit wet around the ears when it comes to Sam Worthington; I never saw T4. He does look "Supes" enough, but can this guy pull off the humility and gentleness of Clark? It's funny but I before Superman Returns came out, I actually had a rough outline for a Death and Return trilogy. Now I *as I'm sure a number of you* am very attached since childhood to Superman and hate to see the character botched time and time again by Hollywood, but then you're fondly reminded of the 1st couple Supes films, Kirk Alyn and George Reeves and yes, those still-f*cking-awesome Fleischer cartoons and you just want them to give it one more solid go. I've got these ideas floating around in my head, and I know their rough around the edges, but I feel the overall premise is ok enough for a film. I have an outline for part 2, but I don't wanna come off as full of myself and all "holier than thou" ala Bryan Singer. I like him, but he's kinda a jerk in interviews sometimes...
  • Governor
    #31 Go to hell and die.
  • Clay
    To #31... I see where you're coming from, but I also have to disagree with you. You're taking away things that make Superman Superman. It's not just the glasses and the costume that change him; his entire persona, even how he physically holds himself changes between Clark and Superman. When he's Clark he slouches, speaks very timidly, and styles his hair differently. I know that last one sounds like I just tacked it on for a third description, but hear me out. I honestly have not been able to recognize friends of mine due to their hair being different *ie normal hair style as opposed to jazzed up for special events and the like*, so imagine you've got a bumbling, nervous, unassuming man with tousled hair *or un-tousled, depending on which version we're talking* and glasses. Rarely looks you in the eye, very flighty *no pun intended* and so naturally you'll probably forget about him. Then comes Superman. This guy owns the room before his feet even touch ground. He stands at his full height, hair well-kept, exudes confidence, and is very charismatic in speech. Sure he might have black hair and blue eyes that Kent fellow, but Clark isn't gonna automatically jump to your mind because Superman's here and fortunately in his world comic book superheroes don't *although they do sometimes* exist and have the whole secret identity thing going!
  • gfh
    How can the story be about Poe and also be set in 1850's Baltimore when Poe died in 1849? Besides, the plot sounds a lot like "Dr. Phibes" in which everyone dies in ways that Shakespeare killed his charactrers.

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