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'Upstream Color' Director Shane Carruth Reveals His Idea For A Superman Movie

by Kevin Jagernauth
April 28, 2013 12:30 PM
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Man Of Steel Shane Carruth Superman

There are few films this spring -- or likely even this year -- that spur as many discussions as Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color." The director's long-awaited sophomore film is a tale of romance, identity, pigs, orchids and more told in a beautifully orchestrated whirlwind of sound, fractured narrative, breathtaking visuals and careful editing, all coming to a conclusion in a wordless, evocative final 15-minute sequence. It's one of the most unique moviegoing experiences so far this year. But what if those talents were put to use in a blockbuster movie?

Well, Jesse Thorn of the Bullseye podcast put the question to the director, and while Carruth fully admits it's a scenario that's never likely to happen, he does share how his philosophy might inform some of the biggest franchises out there. "The only James Bond movie I would ever want to see is the one where he loses a hand. And the only Superman movie I'd ever want to see is the one where Superman comes to understand that people have become too reliant on him and he can't be their God anymore. And he basically, actively, doesn't help them. And people end up dying in the learning process that they can't rely on their God anymore," he shared.

Obviously a 007 flick where he's disabled or a Superman movie where he chooses not to be a hero are things that just won't happen, but Carruth says it's the only way the way those kinds of things are interesting to him, though again, it's not gonna happen. "That's the only way to get near these stories for me, and nobody would ever pay for that, so…I don't think I'm the right guy for those stories," he says. 

Still, pretty interesting stuff to ponder, but frankly, we'd rather see Carruth tell his own stories than jump into a franchise. "Upstream Color" is in limited release now -- click here to see when and where it's playing near you. And listen to the podcast below.

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  • blocked | April 29, 2013 10:50 AMReply

    It's embarrassing that this blog is still trying to make Upstream Color and Shane Carruth happen. Neither is ever going to happen.

  • rodie | April 30, 2013 8:19 PM

    Ha ha, kind of reminds me of Mean Girls. STOP TRYING TO MAKE 'FETCH' HAPPEN! So true. Great point. What's the value in reporting on an "idea" from a filmmaker that will never touch Bond or Superman with a 10-foot pole? Actually, I'm really interested in hearing Refn's idea for a Pride and Prejudice adaptation, because, you know that's so relevant.

  • Alan B | April 29, 2013 3:45 AMReply

    I think the Superman idea is an interesting one and the concept could make an excellent finale in a trilogy, as there are many excellent Superman stories that explore the importance of his legacy and a world without the Man of Steel (The Return of Superman, Alan Moore's 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow'). The Bond idea is just dumb. It's just a less interesting variation on the idea that Sam Mendes and John Logan developed in 'Skyfall': i.e. what happens to Bond's psychology when he loses his capacity to fire a weapon. It's pretty close to being the exact same hook. Except that Logan and Mendes' approach offered the possibility for more internal conflict. In 'Skyfall', Bond's problem wasn't physical as much as it was psychological, which was demonstrated in the Severine sequence when he pretends to miss. In that moment, he chose to put her life in someone else's hands rather than possibly fail. The sequence offers Bond complicated emotions as he attempted (and failed) to wrestle his fear of failure into a constructive manner. If Bond simply lost his shooting hand, then it would hurt the credibility of the world (M would look mighty foolish for putting 007 into active duty) and undermine audience sympathy in the character (Bond would put himself and OTHER PEOPLE in harm's way if he KNEW he wasn't at full capacity to fire weapons). This isn't a creatively exciting idea: in fact, I find it to be boring and self-conscious. The challenge of making a Bond film isn't to piss all over the franchise so that the next director HAS TO reboot the material: it's to stay true to the Bond character and our expectations of a Bond film WHILST injecting one's style and thematic interests. It's a balancing act, one in which few directors are capable of handling. It sounds as if Carruth's idea to make a Bond film is to not make one. Well, if that's his attitude, then I have a few pitches myself: a Batman film in which Alfred's wayward nephew Ken hangs out at Wayne Manor. There are no villains or action sequences but simply a plot involving Ken drinking all of Bruce's alcohol and Bruce being annoyed. Ooh, how about a Bond film in which we never meet Bond or anyone associated with him and the film follows a group of bar patrons watching a football game in real-time? That's a Bond film, right? Or how about a Wonder Woman film that is actually a remake of Andy Warhol's Empire? WB and Eon, call me to hear more of my "exciting" ideas ...

  • Alan B | April 30, 2013 4:18 AM

    How was he not being literal? The Superman film sounded fleshed out, and there is nothing to indicate he was being facetious about the Bond film.

  • Mossier | April 29, 2013 11:34 PM

    You realize he wasn't being literal, right?

  • Alan B | April 29, 2013 1:35 PM

    Too busy working on my 'Iron Man 4' script in which Tony punches a horse, meets Joss Whedon and screams at strangers "Platform 9 and 3/4? Platform 9 and 3/4, indeed!"

  • Mark Scott | April 29, 2013 10:24 AM

    Fair enough. It's an interesting thought/theory. However, I'm guessing Carruth's idea for a Bond movie goes beyond just lost hand. It was a throwaway line on his behalf, and surely one that was not worthy of such ire. Also I would totally watch that Batman movie... Get on it!

  • Alan B | April 29, 2013 7:49 AM

    It's ambiguous and certainly not definitive, but there is a hint that Bond misses on purpose. As Silva goads Bond in the sequence, Bond maintains eye contact with Severine, as his hand shakes during aiming. Bond only looks at Silva (in a split-second side glance) JUST BEFORE taking the shot. That side glance could mean anything, so it is ambiguous how and why he missed. An ambiguity that would be entirely missing if Bond simply lost his arm.

  • Mark Scott | April 29, 2013 7:11 AM

    You mad bro? Also there is no indication that Bond intentionally misses?

  • ManofIron | April 28, 2013 11:10 PMReply

    So what this man is saying... Is basically he doesn't know one thing about the man of steel outside of Superman Returns?

  • DG | April 28, 2013 5:20 PMReply

    Upstream Color is the movie of the year for me so far. I wonder what this guy is going to be doing in ten years, or twenty. I feel likei could see hi doing a franchise as a later career thing and being quite good at it, if he wanted to

  • joeS | April 28, 2013 4:29 PMReply

    "And the only Superman movie I'd ever want to see is the one where Superman comes to understand that people have become too reliant on him and he can't be their God anymore. And he basically, actively, doesn't help them. And people end up dying in the learning process that they can't rely on their God anymore," he shared."

    I guess Carruth has never seen SUPERMAN III.

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