SDCC 2010: James Gunn’s SUPER Panel

     July 23, 2010

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There are some big superhero movies showing up at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.  Super isn’t one of them, and I mean that as a compliment.  Up on Hall H, this lo-rent, scrappy dark comedy from writer-director James Gunn (Slither) won over the crowd and while Thor and Captain America will pack the house tomorrow, you shouldn’t forget about this movie.

Hit the jump to get the down low on today’s panel for Super.

The panel for Super included James Gunn, stars Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Nathan Fillion, Michael Rooker, and producers Ted Hope and Miranda Bailey.  The even kicked off with the first trailer for the movie although Gunn made the disclaimer that there hadn’t been any sound timing or color correction yet.  That brief disclaimed didn’t matter because from the get go you knew this was a James Gunn movie.  It tilts you in a false sense of enjoying offbeat comedy before going dark as hell.  How dark?  Ellen Page blows up a guy with a stick of dynamite and she splatters all over the place.

The tone became even clearer when we were shown a clip from the movie.  In the clip, Wilson dons the costume of his crime-fighter alter-ego “The Crimson Bolt” and then bashes a line-cutter in the face with a wrench.  He then punches a woman that’s with the guy.  I don’t think you could sell the tone the film any better than that.

For those not familiar with the premise, Super centers on a wronged man (Wilson) whose drug-addict wife (Tyler) leaves him for an ass-hole (played by Kevin Bacon).  Looking to reclaim his dignity, he becomes a vigilante/for-hire masked vigilante called “The Crimson Bolt”.  His actions bring him the attention of a budding sociopath/psychopath named Libby (Page) who wants to be his sidekick.

Gunn told us that he had finished the script eight years ago and he was able to get financing for it around the same time he got the money to fund Slither.  However, he had trouble finding an actor with the right mix of comedic and dramatic chops to play the lead character.  Wilson was brought to Gunn’s attention by Jenna Fischer, Gunn’s wife at the time and Wilson’s co-star on The Office.  Gunn e-mailed Wilson the script and only 27 pages in, Wilson accepted the role.

Then there was the long, arduous process of shopping it around Hollywood.  Producer Ted Hope found out about it through Gunn and Wilson’s Twitter.  When it came to casting, Gunn and Wilson wanted an Ellen Page-type for Libby/”Bolty”, the Bolt’s sidekick; and a Liv Tyler-type for Wilson’s ex-wife.  They ended up getting the genuine articles.

To help explain the low budget nature of the film, Gunn told the audience that they were doing 54 set-ups a day (the average studio film gets about 15 per day).  The writer/director also explained that very little was changed from the script he wrote eight years ago.

liv_tyler_image__1_Here were some other highlights from the Q&A:

– Fillion—who plays the crime-fighter Holy Avenger)—had a question for Tyler: Why did he let a doctor stick her with a real needle?  Tyler doesn’t like hand and foot doubles so she let them shoot her in the foot with fake heroin.  Fillion’s response, “If I was half the woman you are, I’d be twice the man I am.”

– Page explained that her character is a lunatic and “a sociopath hinging on becoming a psychopath.”  However, unlike Page’s character in Hard Candy, who is focused on a specific kind of criminal, Libby “is ready to kill someone because they keyed her friend’s car.”  There are also scenes were Libby has her way with Rainn’s character, Frank.  Gunn, Wilson, and Page explained they were awesome, but definitely icky.

– What was it like working with Kevin Bacon? Rainn said it was very Bacon-esque.  Fillion added that it’s a universal truth that everything is better by adding Bacon.

– The soundtrack for the film for the film a healthy dose of underground pop-rock.  Bands who basically gave away a song to the movie due to Super‘s low budget: Czar, Money Brothers, Mosnter, and Rob Zombie.  However, they really want a specific song from Cheap Trick.  Rainn asks if any members of Cheap Trick in the audience could please stand up.

And the highlight of the panel: Who would win in a fight: Dwight or Mal?  Wilson says they should find out and he and Fillion should find out.  The two “fight” and Wilson kicks the crap out of Fillion before returning to his seat and calmly saying into the microphone, “Thank you for your question.”

Super is set to hit theaters next year.

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