Superman postsFriday April 26, 2013
Why is IMDb.com Spreading Lies About Stan Lee?
On IMDb's trivia page for “Superman” (1948) we get the following info:
In Chapter one of this classic serial, Ed Cassidy (Eben Kent) advises Clark that “With great power comes great responsibility,” the line which Stan Lee has always claimed as his own, and spoken by Uncle Ben Parker in the SpiderMan stories (including the first movie). Not saying he stole the line, but he didn't originate it either.
I'd just watched Chapter One again, and particularly this scene, because it's also the scene in which Eben (eventually Jonathan) Kent tells not-so-young Clark (Kirk Alyn) that he must use his powers “in the interest of truth, tolerance and justice.” It was this scene, in fact, with “tolerance” subbing for the eventual, Cold-War-era “... and the American way,” that led to my 2006 New York Times Op-Ed on the tangled history of the phrase: “Truth, Justice and (Fill in the Blank).”
But I hadn't heard Eben say “with great power comes great responsibility.” That would've leapt out at me.
So I watched it again. Here's how the conversation goes:
Pa Kent: Your unique abilities make you a kind of superman. And because of these great powers, your speed and strength, your x-ray vision and supersensitive hearing, you have a great responsibilty.
Clark: I know what you’re going to say, Dad. I must use my powers justly and wisely.
Pa Kent: Yes, you might use them all in the interest of truth, tolerance and justice.
It's hardly the same. I'm sorry. There's just no music to it the way there is with Stan's line. You can watch it here around the 6:00 mark:
Do major websites issue corrections? Apologies? Should they? How did the above bit of trivia get on IMDb anyway? And why was it written that way? “...the line which Stan Lee has always claimed was his own... Not saying he stole the line...”? [Emphasis mine.]
Justice is always hard to come by but we should be able to expect a little truth from our major online reference sources. IMDb?
The dialogue of the 1948 'Superman' serial is hardly Stan Lee material.
When Christopher Reeve Knew 'Superman' Would Work
“Once I had to appear on Fifty-seventh Street in New York in my costume. We were filming a scene in which Superman catches a burglar climbing up a building with suction cups and brings him down to the street. The burglar and I both hung from wires below a construction crane about ten stories above the sidewalk. ... As the crew prepared for the scene, I waited in a trailer on Fifty-eighth Street with a couple of enormous bodyguards. (I wondered who they worked for when they weren't needed on a movie set. And I thought it was sort of funny that Superman would need bodyguards, but [director Richard] Donner was worried about my safety.)
”Finally they were ready to shoot, and I came out of my trailer with my two guardians. There was nobody there—absolutely no one in sight. I thought: We're a flop. Nobody cares. We walked through a passageway to the front of the building on Fifty-seventh Street. As I came around the corner, I suddenly saw several thousand people jamming the sidewalks on both sides of the steet. When the crowd spotted me in my Superman costume, a huge cheer went up. I was stunned relieved, and suddenly quite nervous.
“The wires were lowered from the construction crane. I shook hands with the burglar and was hooked up to the harness underneath my costume. Donner called for a rehearsal. I double-checked that the hooks were closed and locked, then gave the thumbs-up to indicate I was ready. As I was hoisted up, the crowd roared their approval. They didn't care about the crane or the wires; they were willing to look past all of it. There was Superman, flying up the side of the building. That's when I knew the movie would work.”
--Christopher Reeve, “Still Me,” pp. 194-95
Quick Quiz: Who is This Baby?
And don't say Bert Lahr's kid.
First clue: It was a first on the silver screen.
Second clue: It's from a movie in the 1940s.
Third clue: The baby, in the movie, is looking up at his parents, who are about to die.
Fourth clue: The real name of the baby isn't famous. It isn't even known. It's who the baby is playing.
UPDATE: Longtime reader Reed got it below. It's the first, live-action, screen incarnation of Kal-El, or Superman, in the 1948 serial “Superman,” starring Kirk Alyn. If anyone knows who played the baby, let me know. IMDb.com doesn't have it.
I will now update the tags, etc.
A Good Sign for 'Man of Steel'
Here's a complaint I had about the movie “District 9” back in 2009:
Writer-director Neill Blomkamp wants the aliens to be a despised minority so that’s what they become. And that’s all they become. Despite the fact that they’re aliens and—I can’t stress this enough—the existence of aliens changes everything. It’s a Copernicus moment. ...
Does the aliens’ existence change the religions of the world, or our various views of God, in whose image we are supposedly made? Apparently not. Does it alter the U.N.? Foreign relations? Our planetary defense systems? Nope. The only thing that happens, apparently, is the ho-hum, the paperwork, the disgusted shake of the head that these creatures live in our midst.
Here's something I wrote in 2007 about the helicopter-rescue scene in “Superman: The Movie”:
The crowd below — prodding us, the theater audience — breaks into applause too easily. A flying man? Who can grab a helicopter effortlessly? They should be stunned into silence. Instead they react as if someone just hit an 8th inning homerun.
And here is David S. Goyer, who wrote the screenplay for the upcoming “Man of Steel,” in the March 2013 issue of Empire magazine:
It just struck me that if Superman really existed in the world, first of all this story would be a story about first contact. He's an alien. You can easily imagine a scenario in which we'd be doing a film like “E.T.” [hunting him down] as opposed to him running around in tights. If the world found out he existed, it would be the biggest thing that ever happened in human history.
That's a good sign, and it's borne out in the trailer and in the poster (below).
Apparently the first glimmer for this project began when Goyer was stuck on what became “The Dark Knight Rises,” which he then ignored for a week to indulge a fascination with Superman. And he came up with this concept.
Another good sign? “Intriguingly,” Ian Nathan of Empire writes, “the film's biggest secret seems to surround good-old Clark Kent—formerly Superman's befuddled, bespectacled alter-ego. Coud it be here where the mythos is getting its biggest shake-up?”
Could it? I hope this means he doesn't become a reporter at The Daily Planet. Because who in their right mind becomes a reporter in 2013?
Apparently an alien with superpowers won't be greeted with applause and huzzahs in “Man of Steel”
'Superman,' 'Man of Steel,' and the US/UK Switcheroo
In casting Zack Snyder's upcoming “Man of Steel,” they kept flying back-and-forth across the pond. The American becomes the Brit, and the Brit the American:
- Superman, Kal-El, who was played by an American (Christopher Reeve), is now being played by a Brit (Henry Cavill).
- Superman's father, Jor-El, who was played by an American (Marlon Brando), is now being played by a Brit/Kiwi (Russell Crowe).
- Superman's nemesis, Zod, who was played by a Brit (Terrence Stamp), is now being played by an American (Michael Shannon).
Back in '78, the villains were British—as they were in “Star Wars”—because, I suppose, the Brits, even at that late day, were shorthand for “Empire.” Is that the U.S. now?
As for the Brits, they're our superheroes. The lastest incarnations of Batman (Wales, UK), Spider-Man (Surrey, UK), Thor (Melbourne, Aus.), Mr. Fantastic (Wales, UK), Charles Xavier (Port Glasgow, Scotland), Magneto (Killarney, Ireland), the Beast (Berkshire, UK), the Wolverine (Sydney, Aus.), and now Superman (Jersey, UK), are all British.
I guess America still has Iron Man (NYC) and Captain America (Boston). Not to mention Ghost Rider (Long Beach, Calif.). Which most people don't want to mention.
Here's the “Man of Steel” rundown:
Kneel before Zod! Terrence Stamp (UK) in 1978 and Michael Shannon (US) in 2013.
Jor-El (US) and Lara (UK) with baby Kal-El in 1978's “Superman”
Jor-El (New Zealand) and Lara (Israel) with baby Kal-El in 2013's “Man of Steel”
Superman (US) looking at Lois in 1978's “Superman”
Superman (UK) looking at Lois in 2013's “Man of Steel”
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