Super

Super

Ellen Page and Rainn Wilson in SUPER, directed by James Gunn. Photo Credit: Steve Dietl. An IFC Films Release.

Super (2010/2011)

Opened: 04/01/2011 Limited

Limited04/01/2011
Laemmle's Play...04/01/2011 - 04/21/201121 days
Sunset 5/LA04/01/2011 - 04/21/201121 days
Laemmle's Town...04/01/2011 - 04/14/201114 days
Kendall Square...04/01/2011 - 04/14/201114 days
Sunshine Cinema04/01/2011 - 04/14/201114 days
Laemmle's Moni...04/01/2011 - 04/14/201114 days
Regent Theatre04/01/2011 - 04/07/20117 days
Music Box Thea...04/08/2011 - 04/23/201116 days
Embassy Cinema04/08/2011 - 04/14/20117 days
Cinema Village...04/15/2011 - 04/21/20117 days
Claremont 504/29/2011 - 05/05/20117 days
DVD08/09/2011

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Action/Dark Comedy (English)

Rated: Unrated

Synopsis

In the outlandish dark comedy SUPER, James Gunn has created what is perhaps the definitive take on self-reflexive superheroes.

When sad-sack loser Frank (Rainn Wilson) sees his ex-addict wife (Liv Tyler) willingly snatched by a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), he finds himself bereft and wholly unable to cope. But soon he decides to fight back under the guise of a DIY superhero called Crimson Bolt. With a hand-made suit, a wrench and a crazed sidekick named Boltie (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt beats his way through the mean streets of crime in hopes of saving his wife. The rules were written a long time ago: You are not supposed to molest children, cut lines or key cars; if you do, prepare to face the wrath of the Crimson Bolt!

No stranger to rebel filmmaking, James Gunn cut his teeth writing for Troma before making his directing debut with 2006's SLITHER. In a similar vein, his follow-up feature combines absurd humor with balls-out violence to create something that is both unashamed and inimitable. But this time Gunn adds a new ingredient, one that is dark, dramatic and subversive to the core.

Q&A with Writer/Director James Gunn

Q: WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THE FILM?

Before I directed SLITHER, I wanted to show people I could direct, and thought a short film might be the way to do it. So I started writing SUPER as a short film, but, as I did, it took on a life of its own. There were no initial fireworks and there was no big, grand idea, but as I wrote it the characters took hold of me, and the short film became a feature, and the story became about something far more than what I originally thought it was. When the script didn't immediately get made, I tried to forget it, put it down, but never quite could. I felt beholden to the story, if that makes any sense. It was a story, for whatever reason, that I needed to tell.

As for inspiration outside the film, definitely the comics of Alan Moore, along with the films of Scorsese, Tarantino, and Lukas Moodysson, the comedic and tonal shifts of Asian cinema, and to a smaller degree old 60's pop art films like SEND ME NO FLOWERS. I was also greatly influenced by William James' 1902 book, "The Varieties of Religious Experience". You could say SUPER is an adaptation of that book, only it's fictional, comedic, and wearing a superhero costume.

Q: HOW DID THE FILM GET OFF THE GROUND? WHAT WAS THE PROCESS OF GETTING THE FILM MADE?

I wrote the script in 2003. I wrote it quickly, in a few weeks. Very little has changed since then. I actually got financing for the film back in 2005 or so, with the hook being that the financiers and I had to agree on a male lead. Whoever played Frank had to have dramatic and comedic chops, and it also had to be somebody who we could believe was the low man on the totem pole in a diner -- he gets picked on by the other cooks there -- but was also physically substantial enough to kick ass at times. There were a lot of Hollywood actors who wanted to play Frank, but I just couldn't find someone I believed could pull it off and who I could see eye to eye with as a person, and I would have rather not made SUPER than make it improperly.

In the middle of all this, I was offered the job of directing SLITHER, a script I wrote but didn't originally intend to direct, and was pulled away from the project. I would intermittently try to get SUPER going again, but, again, the casting was difficult, and I let it fall to the side. It wasn't until my ex-wife, Jenna Fischer, who I'm still very close with, called me one day, and basically harangued me for not having made SUPER, which was her favorite script of mine. She said she was thinking about it and asked me what I thought of Rainn, because it was the type of thing he was looking for. I realized Rainn would be perfect for the role. Even though we had known each other for five years, it was strange I had never thought of him. After Rainn, Ted Hope became our producer. After reading the script, Ellen Page instantly attached herself to the role of Libby, and Liv Tyler attached herself as Sarah. Ted met with our other producer, Miranda Bailey, in Toronto last year and she came on board with our financing and there we were.

Q: HOW LONG WAS THE SHOOT? WHERE DID YOU SHOOT?

Our shoot was 24 days long. We shot twenty days in Shreveport, Louisiana, and four days in Los Angeles. We went to Louisiana because it was the dead of winter, and the temperatures were supposed to be more mild than Detroit, where I originally intended on shooting. Of course, it ended up being the coldest Louisiana winter in like thirty years.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE IN THE FILM?

I love the ending, in large part because Tyler Bates' score is so incredible. I love the final confrontation between Jacques and Frank because of Rainn's performance. I love the scene where Frank pulls Sarah out of the car, because of Steve Gainer's cinematography. I love the scene where Frank and Libby beat the hell out of Jerry for keying a car, because it plays so well with an audience. I like a lot of the scenes that push the boundaries of tone -- like Frank's first prayer -- where you don't know if you're going to laugh or cry and you get stuck in this rather dizzying place in-between. I like the whole thing, really.

Q: WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT SCENE TO SHOOT?

The whole movie was quite difficult. I once went to dinner with a trapeze artist from Cirque Du Soleil. I was like, "Wow, what you do is so beautiful, it must be fun! What do you feel when you're out there swinging around?!" And he told me with a completely straight face that he felt nothing but fear, because he was just afraid of falling the whole time. I never really understood that guy until I made SUPER.

That said, there were quite a few difficult scenes. The scene where Libby tells Frank she wants to be his sidekick, and does all the dumb flips, Ellen was physically exhausted, and I kept pushing her more and more -- so that was difficult for both of us. The scene where Libby and Frank sit in costume by the blue trash can looking for crime was so incredibly cold, we actually had to mess with the color of the film so the actors didn't look blue. That one was pretty terrible too. Strangely, the stunts and explosions and actions sequences all went remarkably smoothly. Everything about filmmaking is easy, except for the parts where you have to deal with people.

Q: AS THE FILM'S SCREENWRITER, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ESSENCE OF THE FILM AND ITS CHARACTERS ARE ABOUT?

For me, the film is about one man's relationship with God, and his journey to fulfill his side of that relationship, no matter how insane or morally ambiguous that journey may seem to others.

Q: YOU BOTH WROTE AND DIRECTED THIS FILM. WHICH PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY MORE?

Overall, I don't distinguish so much between the two -- they are all a process of creating the film. Directing is, in one respect, the "writing" of the film itself. That's why screenwriters are such sad people in general -- they create something, and then someone comes in and changes all of it, by the very nature of their jobs. So, because of that, I like directing more. That said, writing this particular film was very easy, and bringing it into existence was very difficult. Most of my other films were delivered through caesarian, but this film was endless hours of actual labor. My favorite part of filmmaking is post-production -- editing and working on the music, and so on.

Q: YOU ARE CLEARLY AN AVID COMIC-BOOK FAN. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE SUPER-HERO?

I wish it was someone other than Batman, but it's not. I read a lot of comic books, so I could pull someone really cool out of my ass like Undersea Agent or Cave Carson. But, no, it's Batman.

Q: IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY POWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I think we're all given superpowers, it's just whether we choose to use them or not. For instance, there are a lot of people who have been given the superpower of "plumbing" but who are running around here in L.A. trying to use the superpower of "acting," which they very clearly don't have. I could be easily satisfied with superpowers -- for instance, I'd love to have can't-get-AIDS superpower, or not-make-a-baby-at-will superpower, or an-extra-fifty-years-oflife superpower. Those all sound pretty good to me. If I could have one of the big ones -- invisibility, flying, invincibility, etc -- I'd be having an orgasm for the rest of my life. I would NOT want to have the ability to shoot beams out of my eyes. It's not worth having a superpower if you have to wear sunglasses inside and look like a douchebag for the rest of your life.

Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS ABOUT SUPERHEROES THAT MAKE THEM SO UNIVERSALLY LOVED BY EVERYONE?

I don't know if they're universally loved, as my mother could care less about superheroes, but I think we love them because we all feel weak and colorless and superheroes are powerful and brash. And, it's important to remember, that they're good guys. And despite the crappiness of the world, that's something most of us respond to.

 

Trailer