SDCC '13: SUPERMAN's 75th Anniversary Celebration

Credit: DC Comics

Official panel description:

"As the most recognizable superhero in the world, Superman has flown high in film, TV, radio, animation and, of course, comics for 75 glorious years. Join a star-studded panel, including cast, filmmakers, artists and writers from Superman's illustrious history-from Jack Larson (the original Jimmy Olsen from Adventures of Superman) and first-time Comic-Con panelist Tim Daly (Superman: The Animated Series) and reigning animated Supergirl Molly Quinn (Castle), to comics luminaries Paul Levitz, Grant Morrison, and Dan Jurgens, plus talent from the current blockbuster, Man of Steel -- as they reminisce and discuss the beloved character's many personifications, impressive history, and ongoing relevance within society and entertainment. And courtesy of Mattel and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, all fans attending the panel will receive a special Superman Quick Shots figure! Saturday July 20, 2013 4:15pm - 5:15pm"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Starting now! Levitz, Larson, Jurgens, Quinn, Morrison and Daly are all in attendance, plus Man of Steel's Dylan Sprayberry (teenage Clark), Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer , DC co-publisher (and current Superman Unchained artist) Jim Lee, and — in a surprise addition that gets a very loud ovation — Man of Steel star Henry Cavill. Warner publicity's Gary Miereanu moderates.

The presentation begins with Mireanu asking the panel what they think about contributing to Superman's 75-year legacy. "The fact that we've all been able to participate in his fictional life is amazing," Morrison says.

A Comic-Con representative presents Jack Larson, the Adventures of Superman Jimmy Olsen, with the convention's Inkpot Award. "I've always been amazed," Larson says of the various incarnations of Superman. "It's a magic part, and I'm very, very proud to be a part of it since 1951."

Credit: DC Comics

Lee discusses the changes of Superman through the decades, and says, "It's amazing to see the CGI and technology finally be able to capture the powers of Superman extraordinarily well on the big screen."

Miereanu asks Sprayberry and Quinn, as the two youngest members of the panel, what Superman means to their generation. Sprayberry says the qualities of the character have endured over the years, and he hopes they will continue to do so for another 75 years. "Superman always makes the best of his situation," Quinn says. "He always does what's right, which is great for people in our generation to see. Superman is a wonderful example to everyone." She says the partnership between Superman and Supergirl is "wonderful," and that she's glad that he'll "continue to influence our generation."

What Superman stories would the comic creators on the panel recommend to a Superman novice? Levitz says it changes based on the period, but if he was going to recommend something to a novice today, it would be Scott Snyder and Lee's Superman Unchained."It's of this moment and this style. That's what's great. That we've each been able to step in and transform it, and make it of our moment."

Jurgens' choice is "For the Man Who Has Everything." Morrison picks Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. "It was so beautifully drawn by Neal Adams. It was kind of a preposterous story, but it was also Superman at his best. I just love that book."

Lee recommends Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman. "That is the volume to get," Lee says. "[Morrison] synthesizes everything. What Grant does is so well is that he takes all [of Superman's history], and modernizes it so you don't feel guilty about enjoying the past." Goyer points out that Man of Steel had "direct homages" to All-Star Superman.

What was it like for the actors to take on the responsibility of playing these characters? Cavill says he was "fully aware of the responsibility" of playing Superman, but he tried to focus on "the task at hand," so he could "represent the character properly, as opposed to filling the hopes and dreams of everyone out there, which is a pretty daunting task. Even now, I still have that in the back of my mind."

Daly says, "I thought I was doing a cartoon for a bunch of kids, and I didn't realize that all of you people were out there. And here you are. It took me a while to realize that I was representing something that was protecting truth justice and the American way," but he now is much more aware of the gravitas and takes it more seriously.

For Sprayberry, it was more about representing teenagers with a dream who may feel misunderstood, he says, in addition to the Superman aspect of it. Quinn calls Supergirl "such a complex character," and "every day I discover more and more about her, even when I'm not voicing her. I'm thinking about her. She's a character who really sticks with you. And I love her."

Larson says he collected Superman comics as a kid, and had the first appearance, but his mother gave it to the Salvation Army. He says that when he was cast as Jimmy Olsen, he didn't have source material to draw from. "The great thing I had to go on was that everybody was out of work — and they were great character actors."

"Everybody loved Jimmy, so I had a responsibility then, but not in the beginning," Larson says of the subsequent popularity of Jimmy Olsen. "It was just a blessing to do the part, though I didn't know it at the time."

Mireanu reads a question from a fan on Facebook: What did Cavill incorporate from past performances into the role? "I wanted this to be our interpretation of the character," Cavill says. "I didn't use any influence from previous performances."

Another Facebook question: If the panel could have one of Superman's powers, which would they pick? Larson says he wouldn't pick a power, but the mantra of "truth, justice and the American way." Levitz: flight. Quinn: X-ray vision. Morrison: The power, from the '50s, to "shoot tiny little Supermans out of his hand." Sprayberry: "The power to have great hair all the time." Lee: "I'm always facing deadlines, so I guess spinning around the world super-fast and turning back time." Daly: "Do we know what Superman is like in bed?" Before answering, "I think it'd have to be flight." Goyer: Freeze breath. Cavill: "The one power which I would choose, which I wish I had, which is probably the one thing that really ties him to humanity, is his unbreakable spirit. All the others are great, but it's his unbreakable spirit which I admire him most for."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Twitter question: Favorite part of the "physical" aspect of becoming Superman? "Getting into that kind of shape was incredibly hard work," Cavill says. "And it was a slog. It was exhausting. But I got to be in that kind of shape. And when you're feeling that strong, it's a good feeling! I'm not going to lie. You feel very fit and healthy. That was probably the best part of it. Just feeling fit and healthy."

Favorite moment during the "evolution of Superman" over the years? Levitz picks when he first discovered Superman as a young child, both through the comics and the Adventures of Superman television show. "It's the moment where he collides with my life."

Credit: DC Comics

Jurgens says his moment is similar, seeing the "nobility and majesty" of the character on comic book covers as a kid. Morrison says he likes all the different versions of Superman. "I think the real Superman is a combination of all of those things," he says, and that the next evolution will be a much more "humanistic" Superman. Lee picks the dynamic between Superman and Batman in Dark Knight Returns.

Goyer recaps the major announcement from earlier today at the Warner Bros. panel: "We don't know what we're going to call it yet — 'Superman vs. Batman,' 'Batman vs. Superman,' — but those two guys on screen, that's happening."

Mireanu discusses the "Superman: Real Heroes Project," a Warner initiative looking for stories from the public about real people who embody Superman's "selfless ideals."

Audience Q&A. How does the panel feel about Superman getting darker? "He's just reflecting a general tendency, as he always does," Morrison says. "Superman has to reflect what people are feeling. I think it's an inevitable part of his development. If he's dark now, it's because we're all a little bit dark."

Credit: DC Comics

An 80-year-old woman next up on the mic says she also had the first appearance of Superman, and that she learned to read from comics. "I appreciate all of you. You're marvelous. Keep up the great, great work."

How much impact did Tim Daly have in memorable dialogue like the "cardboard" speech from Justice League Unlimited? "I really have to give all the credit to the writers," Daly answers. "They're the ones who spend the grueling hours thinking about the story. I show up to do the voice, which is, by comparison, an incredibly easy job."

Does the panel have any Superman keepsakes? Goyer says he has an autographed photo of his mother and George Reeves. Cavill says he wasn't able to keep anything from Man of Steel because it's all "under lock and key," but he has a replica of the Command Key, and had four more made to give to his closest friends.

Daly prompts the audience to applaud Christopher Reeve, and says he has an animation cel from the Superman series. Levitz says he has a brick from Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel's house.

Was Goyer caught off-guard from the backlash over Man of Steel's ending? "To a certain extent, Superman, cinematically, hadn't been reinvented since the Donner films," Goyer says, expressing the need to do something different in their take. "We will be dealing it with the coming film. He's not fully formed in [Man of Steel]. He will have to deal with the repercussions in the next film."

What's it like to take on a character with so much history, that represents something to so many people? "Ultimately what Superman represents is the best in all of us," Morrison says. "That indomitable spirit, the part of humanity that does not give up. You have to take that very seriously."

"It can be paralyzing as a writer," Goyer says. "He's the most recognizable figure in the world. It can be hard to write a character that is an icon. When I was writing, we tried to humanize him."

What did Cavill hate the most about dieting for Man of Steel? "The dieting bit, I was in such good hands," he answers. "The most difficult thing is that it was over a six-week period that we were staying lean. I had to maintain that, and still work long hours, and get up in the morning and train. But at the end of that, Zack and Debbie Snyder bought me an apple pie, and some ice cream, and I ordered a 16-inch pizza on top of that."

That's it! Thanks for reading, more coverage throughout the weekend.

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