Kevin Smith explains what happened to his Superman movie

Kevin Smith isn't just a great filmmaker, he's also a fantastic raconteur. Here he is telling the story of how he came not to make a Superman movie -- this is one of those classic Oh-My-God-Hollywood-Is-Full-of-Idiots stories, and Smith tells it like no one else.

Kevin Smith on Superman Returns (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)


  1. Well, like every film he’s ever made, it’s got a hook of wit and he draws you in with the anecdotes… And then after a while it starts to feel forced, exaggerated and then you wonder why you wasted your time.

    Most of his anecdotes in this case sound like 100% of B.S.

  2. #2 – Actually, the only one of his movies I liked at all was Dogma. But this was fairly funny.

  3. I liked Clerks and I loved Chasing Amy. And that was basically the end of it.

    But this story was hilarious.

  4. Funny story: For a second I read the sentence ‘Kevin Smith isn’t a great filmmaker’ as ‘Kevin Smith isn’t just a great filmmaker’

  5. I’ve seen the whole “Evening with Kevin Smith”, and it’s pretty funny (especially with a joint). While I haven’t enjoyed anything Smith has done since “Chasing Amy”, he’s a great story-teller and public speaker.

    Sure, some of his shaggy dog stories are probably somewhat apocryphal or exagerrated, but that’s the idea of shaggy dog stories.

    This is a great one, with a brilliant punchline (you can hear the crowd catching on to the punchline before he even says it!), and his anecdote about meeting Prince is just as good and weird.

    Always nice to hear this again. Cheers.

    (But how glad am I that Smith didn’t do the Superman movie? VERY glad.)

  6. I saw Kevin Smith at Comic Con several years ago (probably 2000, I think Dogma was just about to come out, and I remember getting Harry Potter tshirts…).

    He told basically the same story, and it was fucking hilarious. The whole crowd was roaring with laughter.

  7. Kevin Smith isn’t the only one, there are lots ans lots of pissed-off screenwriters that tell similar stories about John Peters:

    And the other thing is Hollywood executives really love the smell of their own urine and what they really like doing is urinating on things. And then going, “Hmm, now this smells really good” and being really puzzled when the rest of the world goes “No, actually it smells like pee.” A gorgeous example of that, Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who wrote “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Shrek” and some lovely movies, were brought in by Jon Peters to write the first draft of the Sandman movie. He hadn’t actually read any “Sandman” because he had people to do that kind of stuff for him, but he had figured out that what the movie needed to be successful was a giant mechanical spider. He wanted a giant mechanical spider because that would make any film a hit. Elliot and Rossio, who had read “Sandman,” who went in with their pitch and looking forward to it and going, “But there’s no room for a giant mechanical spider.”
    “I know it, I’m Jon Peters, and I want my giant mechanical spider!”

    I was thrilled on going to see “Wild Wild West” to see that he had finally put this giant mechanical spider that I’d been hearing about from Elliot and Rossio for five years into a film with no ideas of any kind. I really think a lot of it is [executives] are wedded to their giant mechanical spiders and they’re also convinced they know best, because obviously they’re Hollywood executives.

    -Neil Gaiman, from

    All this makes me really eager to see what kind of biopics Hollywood will make about Jon Peters once he dies…

  8. JJ Abrams writes about his own Superman screenplay experience in the current issue of Wired:

    “I had spent close to two years working on a version of a Superman script for Warner Bros. Then an early draft was leaked, reviewed, and spectacularly decimated on a Web site that I still adore and read daily. It wasn’t just that the review was bad. Wchich it was. I mean, like, kraptastically bad. And probably deserved (I’m the idiot who made Lex Luthor a Kryptonian). What was so depressing wasn’t just that the thing being reviewed was an old version of a work in progress. What killed me was that the reviewer — and then readers of that reviewer — weren’t just judging my writing. They were judging the movie. A movie that was barely in prepoduction and many drafts away from final… The fact is, that Superman film might have been awful. Or it could have been something else. We’ll never know.”

  9. I’m actually not a fan of Kevin Smith’s movies, but I’m a huge fan of listening to him talk about stuff. I’ve easily spent more time listening to his Smodcast than anything else he’s been involved with. This is a great addition and now I’m going to need to find the full show.

  10. I think Kevin Smith’s films are a real mixed bag, but I did find him a very engaging speaker here, I must say.

  11. This was a very amusing story and really makes one shake their head in wonder at just how does anything worth watching get made in such a poor industry.

  12. @15 Awesome linkage.

    Personally, I think a gay R2D2 would have made Superman Returns a much MUCH better movie.

  13. Apparently, the scene from “Scrooged,” where the dutiful studio minions try desperately to glue tiny reindeer antlers to the mice, “Because cats are watching more TV, and we need mice to keep them interested” … was not all that far from reality.

    The less you actually are in contact with reality, it would appear, the more power you are allowed to exert over the people actually doing the work.

    I’d always heard people who have worked in both places talk about how much Hollywood resembles Washington D.C.

  14. “…how much Hollywood resembles Washington D.C.”

    The common currency of both places is the blowjob.

  15. Great punchline, and the bit that EEYOREX @13 quotes backs up the whole giant-spider idea.

    Seems the Spanish language subtitles are semi-bowdlerized (they avoid any kind of translation of the f-word, either as straight expletive or adjective).

  16. A non-flying, non-costume-wearing Superman with the eyes of a violent, caged animal beating up a giant spider while Braniac and his gay, black, robot sidekick whale on polar bears?

    I would pay to see that movie.

  17. A non flying Superman isn’t that far off. The original Superman comic book only had him jumping as in “able to leap skyscrapers in a single bound”, and not quite as powerful and indestructible as he eventually became.

    I can totally see a “Watchmen” type of movie based on the very first Superman comics where he is merely a skyscraper leaping, locomotive racing not quite as gay uniform wearing crime fighter.

  18. Read the IMDB link above for Jon Peters.

    Evidently it’s known in Hollywood that Jon Peters can’t read.

    That may ‘splain it a little. He couldn’t even read Superman comics.

    I just remember hearing that Streisand and Peters went around Hollywood meetings with her saying, “Jon and I want to know….” I thought for a while when I saw him on “Shootout” that it was was Peter Gruber who was her hairdresser.

    I think the whole “Evening with Kevin Smnith” is funny enough to be not be the worst use of 3 hours of your life.

    (Note to admins: Sign in is not working. You get Movable Type with “Invalid request” error message.)

  19. Give him another chance. Try Clerks II and witness how Smith has progressed. The original Clerks had really stilted dialog, but enough solid jokes to carry the whole thing. Mallrats and Dogma were better but the dialog still wasn’t great. He hit his stride with Clerks II. My only complaint is that I can’t suspend disbelief enough to think anyone as hot as Rosario Dawson would give the time of day to Brian O’Hallaran. (Sorry, guy.)

  20. Clerks II rocks! And I’m not a huge Kevin Smith fan, he can put out huge piles on occasion but what he does he can do very well.

  21. The next Superman movie needs to explain what he uses to shave and where he gets his hair cut. That’s always baffled me.

    (Almost as much as the fact that the Christopher Reeve Superman had fillings in his teeth, but that’s a discussion for another day)

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