Two movies that have absolutely nothing in common are the currently released “Upstream Color” and the upcoming “Man of Steel.” One is a sci-fi art house movie about relationships and control and the other is a comic book adaptation about a man from another world who can fly and is bulletproof. However, one question reporters recently had when interviewing “Upstream Color” director Shane Carruth is what he would do if offered a movie property like Superman.
Carruth said he knows that studios would not offer him that opportunity because he would not want to tell the story that studios could sell to mainstream fans. Carruth basically said he is not interested in superheroes fighting super villains and is more interested in their affects on the real world.
This is not an unusual stance to take for some directors and it is one that is not always a success when put onto the big screen. Two of the biggest examples are art house director Ang Lee and, ironically enough, “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder. Lee directed the rebooting of “Hulk” in 2003 and many fans still claim to hate the movie. What Ang Lee created was not a movie where Hulk ran around and smashed things. Instead, he created a monster movie that pretty much deconstructed the comic book genre. He made scenes that looked like comic book panels and told a story with a lot of action, but he did it in a way that was strange to many viewers and instead looked at what it meant to be a man who was also a monster – the classic “Wolf Man” story. He brought his art house sensibilities to the project and now it is seen as a failure.
Zack Snyder’s movie was “Watchmen.” That movie did a lot of what Shane Carruth actually said he wanted to look at with his Superman take. The movie is based on one of the most successful graphic novels of all time, a book that is considered by many to be high literature. It looks at what happens when society turns their back on superheroes. The entire world starts to crumble when superheroes are banned, but society doesn’t seem to care. It is a sobering look at a world that would rather be free and damaged than protected and safe.
Shane Carruth’s Superman Idea
Unlike “Watchmen,” Carruth believes the most interesting idea would be to go in the opposite direction. Carruth said his perfect idea of a Superman movie would be to examine a world that is used to having a superhero protecting them and have gotten careless and lazy as a result. He said he would like to have Superman feel he needs to teach them a lesson and stop helping them, forcing them to take care of themselves, causing numerous deaths by turning his head. It is an incredible idea and a complex theme that movie goers would hate. But that is why Carruth is one of cinema’s greatest art house directors and isn’t making summer blockbusters.
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