James McTeigue on The Raven and His Ideas for Superman

September 30, 2009
by Alex Billington

A few days ago I spoke with Ninja Assassin director James McTeigue at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX (full interview is forthcoming). At the end I asked him to give me an update on a few of his projects, including his next feature The Raven, which SlashFilm first revealed back in August. I also just had to ask him about the Superman rumor again (see here), since that rumor just doesn't ever seem to go away. While he reiterated what we already know about Warner Brothers putting Superman on hold for the time being, he did reveal a bit about what he would do if he ever does direct a Superman movie. You'll definitely want to hear this.

Before we get to Superman, let's look at The Raven first. Inspired by the famous Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name, The Raven follows Poe and the last five days before his death. As McTeigue explains: "It's basically set in 1850s Baltimore. The logline would be: an amalgamation of Poe's stories crossed with Se7en. It's about a serial killer loose in 1850s Baltimore. And as his motif, he kills people the way Poe kills them in his books." Sounds pretty good, right? McTeigue has already been scouting locations in Europe. When I asked if it would be more action or horror, here's what he said:

"Yea there's a couple of [action] set pieces, I wouldn't say it's action [though], it's more a thriller. It's about Poe trying At each murder that he does, the killer leaves a clue, and basically Poe is set against the clock to find someone before they die. So each murder that he does, he leaves a clue for him. So I would say it's like a thriller, a dark thriller. Sort of in the vein of of that book The Alienist, in that kind of vein."

I told him that like V for Vendetta, it seemed like it would be a very poetic film. McTeigue replied: "Yea, it's about the 5 last fictionalized days of Poe's life, so there is the poetry of Poe in there, that is through the film. But it's done in such a way that it feels like part of the film, it doesn't stick out. I'm really happy with the script, so I'm really excited to get it made soon." Me too, James. Glad to hear he's already working on this, since I love his style. Read the original article for more details about the story and Poe's mysterious death.

Back on the topic of another Superman movie, I asked James if there was any truth to that rumor that he, or the Wachowskis, might be involved in another movie. His answer started out short and sweet: "Maybe some truth to I've had some discussions, the Wachowskis to a lesser degree, but the Superman franchise is in a strange kind of place at the moment," McTeigue revealed. "I think they're still trying to work out the mechanics of how that can come together." That's exactly what we've heard recently. But I got a bit more out of him when I asked if he'd be interested in doing it if they ever did offer it to him. He said:

"I think I would be interested in doing it if they let me do it the way I wanted to do it. I would say that, if you take the Richard Donner Supermans and the last Superman [from Bryan Singer], I think that Superman is probably ripe for a bit of a change up. I think society has changed around the core idea of what Superman was."

"And I'm not saying you do the ubiquitous dark Superman, I'm not saying that I'm just saying that I think there are some things that you could excise from the Superman mythology that people would get into it, if you took the world that he was in and changed that a bit, and maybe even project that into the future a bit. I think you don't really have to play into the origin story anymore. I think there's a whole bunch of things you could do to make that film more alive and exciting again."

I mentioned that Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son graphic novel is one that people reference for a much different, but still brilliant, storyline for Superman. "I think you always incur the wrath of the people – they love Superman," McTeigue said. "Why not make it a little different, change it up a bit?" I agree, but then again, he's such a well-known character, that I don't dare pitch an idea for fear of it not living up to what everyone wants. I'm sure James has his own brilliant idea already. It's just a matter of if WB likes his idea.

To wrap things up, I asked James about the other rumor that IMDb lists his name as a co-director (with David Goyer) on the still-in-development X-Men Origins: Magneto movie. As you might've expected, that is pretty much a completely BS rumor. "I think David Goyer would probably be surprised about that, actually. I think that's just one of those rumors that kind of starts Until he drops out!" McTeigue said he would love to do it, but it's Goyer's project, he wrote it, he'll probably direct, and he won't touch it since it's entirely Goyer's baby. So there you have it, the latest rumor updates straight from James McTeigue himself!

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