So much for Superman being invulnerable.
Days after yet another big-name star turned down the chance to become the big screen's new Man of Steel, comes word that the status of the project's big-name director is up in the air.
Rush Hour helmer Brett Ratner, hired last fall to revive the Supes franchise, was working under an option with Warner Bros. that expired on Saturday, the Hollywood Reporter says.
Options, of course, can be renewed. It's just not known if Ratner's was. A message left with Ratner's publicist was not returned Monday.
As for Warners, the studio had no comment on the director. A rep would say only that the movie is "still casting."
It sure is.
Since the revived and retooled Superman project, called Superman, was announced last September, the CIA has located dozens of al Qaeda operatives, and Warners has found exactly zero Supermen.
The studio's lack of success is not for lack of effort. Its net has encompassed both known (Brendan Fraser) and the unknown (soap actor Matthew Bomer), both of whom are still reportedly under consideration.
But, mostly, its net is noted for failing to land the likes of Josh Harnett and Paul Walker. Hartnett, once the top contender, withdrew his name from the sweepstakes in February; Walker, just last week.
According to Variety, Walker, like Hartnett before him, balked at committing to the movie on account of it's not one movie--it's the first of a planned trilogy.
Warners has been trying to make a Superman movie for about a decade now. At one time, Tim Burton was on board to direct Nicolas Cage. Then Wolfgang Petersen was on board to direct a couple of famous somebodies in a team-up flick, Superman vs. Batman. Neither project made it before cameras.
The studio's fitful attempt to get the Superman franchise flying again has talk of the so-called "Superman curse" soaring again.
Last week, Ashton Kutcher, another caped-crusader candidate, said, according to the World Entertainment News Network, that he, too, was going to pass--in part because of the "curse."
True, Kutcher's main objection was purely practical. The That '70s Show star said he worried he'd have to commit another year to the Fox sitcom in order to be given the time off to make the movies, the news agency reported. But then there was the matter of the you-know-what.
Said Kutcher: "I think there's a bit of a curse behind that role, the things that have happened to people."
Per Superman lore, the "things" are:
Christopher Reeve, star of four Superman features, from 1978-1987, suffering a paralyzing horse-riding accident in 1995, at age 43;
George Reeves , high-flying hero of the 1950s Superman TV show, being found dead of a gunshot in 1959, at age 45. The shooting was ruled a suicide, although speculation says it was murder;
Bud Collyer, Supes' voice in cartoons of the 1940s, and, later, the 1960s, dying of a circulatory ailment in 1969, at age 61.
Curse believers also point to the bad breaks suffered by members of the Superman family, chiefly Margot Kidder.
Kidder, who played intrepid reporter Lois Lane opposite Reeve, made headlines in 1996 when she was found "frightened and paranoid," in the words of police, in a backyard in Glendale, California, following a three-day odyssey on the streets.
Curse non-believers, including Kidder's own daughter, say nonsense.
"It was not some kind of 'curse of Superman,' " Maggie Kim told Canada's Sun Media after Kidder broke her pelvis in a single-car crash in Maine last August.
Rather, said Kim, "It was a classic SUV rollover."
Writer and comic historian Mark Evanier calls the Superman curse an "over-hyped observation."
If actors such as Hartnett, Walker and Kutcher aren't jumping to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it's not because they fear for their lives, Evanier says.
"I think they're afraid of the fact that dressing up as a copyrighted character who flies around is not necessarily a great career move, simply because the costume tends to overshadow the actor," Evanier says.
Another apparent "curse" non-believer: Henry Cavill.
The movie Website Coming Attractions reported Monday that the 19-year-old British actor (The Count of Monte Cristo) was flown into Los Angeles to meet with Ratner 10 days ago.
No word on the outcome of the confab, but we believe all his body parts are accounted for.