Forget Mark Millar’s take on Superman. “Epic” and “archetypal” are just synonyms for “flat” and “lifeless”. There’s no there there. Obviously the Coen Brothers are never going to make a Superman movie, so we can throw out Moriarty’s idea as well. As much as I’d love to see Frances McDormand as Lois and John Turturro as Clark, it just isn’t going to happen. But, you know, we already have a model for how to inject some sweet, hot energy back into this limp franchise. And, no, it’s not about fetishizing the costume or making the “S” shield wider than Supes’ shoulders (Alex Ross is a moron, by the way).
Here’s the thing: Capote is about the perfect template to bring the big blue boyscout back to the screen. Don’t believe me? Look, Superman isn’t an interesting character. You know the arguments. He’s too powerful, too perfect, too bland. Old ideas, but true. Contrast that with the larger-than-nine-lives figure of Truman Capote. The man himself, the real flesh and blood one, cut a swath through talk show host’s egos and starlets’ bosoms like some kind of furry, squeaky mini-tornado. He was a cartoon character. All martini glasses and bon mots. Just as you can barely adapt a cipher to the screen, it’s also tricky as hell to turn a snarky gnome into a living, breathing person.
You need an actor. No, not some guy who looks like the dead guy who used to play the character. No, not some guy you can just not write any lines for and pretend no one notices. You need a thespian. Someone who’s clocked time on the boards and under the camera lens. You need a professional. You need Capote. You need Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Are you listening, Warner Brothers? I’ll bet you’re not. Well, anyway, this is the only way to go. PSH may not be a conventional choice, but is there really any choice at all? Christopher Reeve was an unknown. A skinny guy in sweat-stained spandex with shoe polish in his hair and a nose that barely registered on camera. America wasn’t ready to see one of their favorite stars on the silver screen in a red cape. Robert Redford can’t fly! Orson Welles isn’t faster than a speeding bullet! (Though Welles could have worked… Yes, Welles could have worked nicely…) Regardless, Richard Donner was wise enough (ha ha, Lethal Weapon 4) to know a couple of things in his career. One: screaming children plus lovable retard equals timeless classic. Two: Superman had to be an unknown. He had to be a blank canvas, because, let’s face it, that’s what the character is.
Hoffman isn’t an unknown, to be sure. He’s no household name, either, but the baggage he would bring to the role is exactly the kind of baggage you need for Superman. He isn’t like Sam Jackson or Crispin Glover or JonBenet Ramsey—actors who just play themselves over and over. If PSH is known at all, he’s known as a changeling. Audiences go to the latest Philip Seymour Hoffman blockbuster not for the comfort of the familiar but to see what mask he’ll wear this time around. Whether he’s a nervous porn worker, a raging mattress salesman, a suspicious socialite, or a guy who cums on walls, he’s always the character first, the Hoffman second. Two things at once, intertwined. Like Jesus. Like Superman? Like Jesus.
Unconventional? So was Michael Keaton. Out of shape? Leo DiCaprio is a 400 pound bald man with rickets. Thanks, Digital Domain. It’s a no-brainer, Warners. Better snatch this idea up before I shop it to Fox. “Oh, they don’t have the rights,” you’re saying. Well, I have four words for you: Never Say Never Again.
Three words, maybe. One repeated.
The point is this: casting Philip Seymour Hoffman as Superman just makes business sense. No need to worry about Kevin Spacey’s diva salary or America’s apathy toward that pie-faced thing that played the love interest in the last one. PSH solves all your casting problems through the magic of split screen. It’s about time we brought Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills into the Amazon Kindle era.
Hoffman/Hoffman/Hoffman. Superman Acts. Summer 2010.