Last night, The Paley Center in New York City hosted the world premiere of "All Star Superman," the animated adaptation of the famous and critically-acclaimed, 12-issue series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.
The direct-to-DVD feature was adapted to the screen by comic book creator and screenwriter Dwayne McDuffie, and stars James Denton ("Desperate Housewives") as Superman, Christina Hendricks ("Mad Men") as Lois Lane, and Anthony LaPaglia ("Without A Trace") as Lex Luthor.
In the film, a cosmic adventure leaves Superman with significantly greater powers, but with one big catch — they're slowly killing him. The Man of Steel is left wondering how much he can accomplish in his last days with his newfound power.
The film received significant applause from most of the audience when it premiered yesterday evening, with a Q&A occurring afterward that included McDuffie, Hendricks, and Andrea Romano, casting and voice director of "All Star Superman" (as well as many other animated films over the years).
Regarding her first voiceover work, Hendricks said she was nervous at first but came to really enjoy the experience thanks to Romano’s direction: "I walked in very nervous, saying, 'Tell me what to do.'"
She added that her excitement to play Lois Lane had outweighed her nervousness and that her husband Geoffrey Arend would text her “I love you, Lois Lane,” during recording sessions.
Hendricks remarked that she was impressed by the scope of "All Star Superman" and how its strange plot twists compared to what she knew of Superman from watching the original films starring Christopher Reeves.
"I was just surprised to see all these other characters and see Lois Lane going on this adventure," she said. "It was amazing and so exciting to see this whole world that was developed that I didn't even think about."
“[Casting DC Universe characters] is an awesome responsibility,” Andrea Romano commented. “I’m never quite sure that it worked until it’s edited together. These people recorded sometimes months apart from each other. Anthony was here in New York, I was in Los Angeles.”
McDuffie admitted that he “begged” to be the man who got to adapt Grant Morrison’s story to a script. He admitted with regret that he had to drop several parts of the original comic, but stated that this was done with care.
“The comic was sort of a survey of many, many different ages of Superman," he explained. "What we did was we chose Superman’s... conflict with Luthor as the center of that and included the scenes that supported that. I wanted to honor what Grant had done.”
One chapter that could not be included involved a flashback to Clark visiting Smallville and sharing an adventure with the Superman Squad, a group of his descendants from different future eras.
“It’s a wonderful piece and we didn’t have room for it,” McDuffie explained. “I sort of had to make up a scene with him and his mom ... I wanted to encapsulate the emotion of the [original comic scene] and all the stuff that led up to it.”
A fan spoke of his love of George Reeves in the role of Clark Kent and asked if his portrayal had any influence in the way the hero was portrayed in "All Star Superman." Hendricks said that although she saw reruns of George Reeves in "The Adventures of Superman," her Superman had been Christopher Reeve. McDuffie admitted that, although the film’s version of Clark Kent had a resemblance to Christopher Reeve’s portrayal, he had a fondness for how George Reeves had given the mild-mannered reporter a strong sense of confidence.
“He’s kind of got this attitude," he said. "It’s like [he always thinks,] ‘Yeah, I’m Superman.’”
When asked what fans could expect from future animated features, the panel spoke enthusiastically about "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" starring Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan and Hendricks' "Mad Men" cast mate Elisabeth Moss as Arisia.
Unlike a lot of DC features, "Emerald Knights" will follow the model of "Batman: Gotham Knights," showcasing an anthology of stories rather than one long feature. Several Green Lanterns will be involved, including Kilowog, Mogo, Rori Dag, and Hal Jordan’s mentor, Abin Sur. Likewise, the famous renegade Green Lantern called Sinestro will make an appearance.
The panel also briefly discussed the upcoming animated adaptation of "Batman: Year One," the 1987 story arc that redefined the early days of Batman, Catwoman, Two-Face, and Jim Gordon, and later served as an inspiration for much of the film "Batman Begins." This animated film will be directed by Sam Liu, director of "All Star Superman."
When a fan asked if Frank Miller and Jim Lee's controversial "All Star Batman" comic book series would ever make it to animation, Dwayne McDuffie joked that if it ever did, “it would have to be Rated R.”
"All Star Superman" hits shelves on DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, February 22. Make sure to check out the full list of "All Star Superman" DVD/Blu-Ray specs, and keep an eye on Splash Page for more exclusive content from "All Star Superman" in the near future!
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