WBEZ | Man of Steel http://www.wbez.org/tags/man-steel Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en City of Steel: Why destruction looks so stunning in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/city-steel-why-destruction-looks-so-stunning-chicago-107817 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/998252_549659165080043_370614969_n.jpg" style="height: 257px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Man of Steel)" /></div><p dir="ltr">Why does Chicago lend itself so perfectly to films of destruction? I thought about this while watching my former office and the surrounding buildings get destroyed in <em>Man of Steel</em>, the latest interpretation of the Superman story.</p><p dir="ltr">Parts of the city filled in for Metropolis.</p><p dir="ltr">Filming for the epic took place two summers ago and my former coworkers and I spent countless lunch breaks trying to catch glimpses of the film&rsquo;s stars (to little success).</p><p dir="ltr">The filming process reminded me of the summer of <em>Transformers 3</em>. One time my parents and I drove home from a lunch near my sister&rsquo;s apartment only to find large swaths of Wacker Drive covered in broken &ldquo;boulders.&rdquo; My mother screamed. &ldquo;What is happening?&rdquo; she asked. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re filming that new Transformers movie,&rdquo; I replied with a questioning tone. &ldquo;Oh. Yeah,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">There are cheaper cities and shooting locations, but inherent in the local courtship of Hollywood filmmakers is the notion that Chicago is a destructible city. This is not just about the city as a source of destruction and despair. It is true that Chicago represents a thousand things. One of the current narratives is that of promise stunted. It would make sense then for an epic battle to happen in a city of rows and rows of beautiful architecture. The promise of metal and steel and glass can only last so far.</p><p dir="ltr">But that reading only grazes the surface of the visual and cultural appeal of Chicago. At its core, Chicago is a city of greatness and its architecture is perhaps the best representation of that. To destroy greatness is a sight to behold on the screen. It is disturbing and powerful. To save greatness, which is what happens at the end of these films, is to show the promise of what once was and what could be the future. Choosing Chicago makes sense. This is our reality. The buildings say this. But deep down, the people feel this, too.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">I don&rsquo;t know if most people have a favorite building in the city in which they live, but I do. The Carbide &amp; Carbon building is my favorite and has been my favorite since I was a freshman in college. The Monadnock building is a close second. I created numerous projects around the importance and simplicity of the Chicago bungalow. Other people photograph the ins and outs of their social life for Instagram, but I am most tempted to film the buildings around me. I don&rsquo;t post them all to my account, but my phone and cameras attest to this love.</p><p dir="ltr">The greatness can be found during the day as the gleaming sun bounces off of glass windows, making the space feel wider, almost impenetrable. At night, the architecture begins to feel manageable. At night, the lights illuminate. The scene is familiar and comforting. This is what it means to be surrounded by greatness, just so.</p><p dir="ltr">At an event I attended last weekend, I introduced myself to an author.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You&rsquo;re from Chicago?&rdquo; he asked. &ldquo;You know, I&rsquo;ve never felt so physically small as when I was there.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">At a brunch in my apartment with close friends, we discussed the beauty of Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You forget, you know?&rdquo; one of my friends said.</p><p dir="ltr">My friend Joe recently welcomed an old friend to the city. They spent time walking downtown. It was there, away from the day-to-day, that he was reminded of all that surrounds him.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That church is so beautiful,&rdquo; he began. &ldquo;And the Hancock is so stunning &hellip; I&rsquo;m so used to the daily grind, keeping your head down to notice.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">I could only nod in agreement. It is something we forget, but something all Chicagoans want to claim, eagerly.</p><p><em>Britt Julious blogs about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 24 Jun 2013 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-06/city-steel-why-destruction-looks-so-stunning-chicago-107817 How Superman saved a small Illinois town http://www.wbez.org/news/how-superman-saved-small-illinois-town-107699 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid--7784882-42c0-b798-7e29-1a4ecbd48bcc"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/for%201%20block.jpg" style="height: 471px; width: 620px;" title="Superman fans stand to try to break the world record for most people dressed as Superman in Metropolis, Illinois. (Michele Longworth/Metropolis Planet)" />Today is the day many comic book fans have been waiting for. <em><a href="http://manofsteel.warnerbros.com/index.html">Man of Steel</a></em>, the latest Superman movie, opens in theaters across the country. Much of the film was shot in Chicago, a stand-in for the comic book&rsquo;s fictional Metropolis. But some folks in the real city of <a href="http://www.metropolistourism.com/">Metropolis, Illinois</a> may take issue with that.</p><p dir="ltr">For more than 40 years, the town at the southern tip of Illinois has been the official home of Superman. Every summer, 30,000 super fans converge on this small city along the Ohio River for the <a href="http://www.supermancelebration.net/">Superman Celebration</a>. Now in it&rsquo;s 35th year, they&rsquo;re all there for one reason: to celebrate the big guy in the blue tights and the red cape.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is my third time here,&rdquo; says Steve Younis with a thick Aussie accent. &ldquo;I wish I could come every year but it&rsquo;s expensive to come from Australia every year.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Younis runs <a href="http://www.supermanhomepage.com/news.php">SupermanHomepage.com</a>, one of the largest Superman fan sites in the world, from his home in Sydney. But in Metropolis last week, Younis was just another fan.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Metropolis%20patch.JPG" style="float: right; height: 333px; width: 250px;" title="The emblem of the police department in Metropolis, Illinois, official home of Superman. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />Here, you can find Superman everywhere: On billboards, in drug stores, even on the badges of the Metropolis&rsquo; police force.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I just think everybody needs a hero. People always look for that; troubled times and people need some happiness in their lives and they escape with Superman,&rdquo; says actor Michael Rosenbaum. He played Lex Luthor in the TV series Smallville and was on hand for the celebration. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s great.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In reality, Metropolis is a lot more like Smallville than the big city in the comic books.</p><p dir="ltr">So, living in Metropolis &ndash; with Superman as a neighbor &ndash; &nbsp;has to be pretty exciting, right?</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s boring,&rdquo; says Eric Phillips, who&rsquo;s lived in Metropolis for the last seven years. &ldquo;Not a lot of action here. Superman almost got nothing to do. He sits around all day.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Actually, Superman stands around all day, with a clenched jaw, 16-feet high in front of the Massac County Courthouse.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You can walk up here at the courthouse any day, and there&rsquo;s somebody taking a picture with the Superman statue,&rdquo; Phillips says.</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, Metropolis, Illinois was around long before Superman, which was founded in 1839 to be exact. At the time, the city&rsquo;s founders envisioned a large transportation hub that would develop into a major metropolis. But those illusions of grandeur never materialized. Factories closed, people moved away, and by the early 1970s, Metropolis was anything but.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s when somebody suggested that Metropolis take advantage of its name and push to be Superman&rsquo;s official hometown. DC Comics signed off on the idea &ndash; and so did the Illinois legislature. Longtime resident Sue Barfield says the idea was kryptonite to some folks.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We had a lot of naysayers. When we had our first Superman statue at the square, we had a lot of people make a lot of fun of it,&rdquo; Barfield said.</p><p dir="ltr">Still, some credit Superman with saving this struggling town. Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel goes further than that.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We strive to operate our city as just what it says: truth, justice and the American way&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We try to raise our kids the same way: with integrity. How you treat your neighbor, how you treat other people is important in your life,&rdquo; McDaniel said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t all agree on everything but I can tell you when something happens, you forget your differences and you try to help each other.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The journalist Michele Longworth backs that statement up.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Like in 2011, we had the worst flooding that Metropolis has seen in a long time. We had community members out sandbagging and pulling together. So, I think people really are super.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Longworth works for the the local newspaper called, of course, the<a href="http://www.metropolisplanet.com/"> Metropolis Planet.</a> The original name, the Metropolis News, was changed in 1972, the year the city became Superman&rsquo;s hometown.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When we get phone calls, people always ask, &ldquo;Where&rsquo;s Clark, Where&rsquo;s Lois?&rdquo; We always say, They&rsquo;re on assignment,&rdquo; Longworth jokes.</p><p dir="ltr">Like her counterpart Lois Lane, Longworth says there are days when she could use Clark Kent&rsquo;s help.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Like the time I took the wrong turn trying to go take some pictures to cover a story and ended up in the middle of a cornfield with my Mustang,&rdquo; Longworth said. &ldquo;Sometimes I wish there were a real life Superman to come rescue me.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But there are those in Metropolis who say Superman could be doing more for the town than just standing around.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think there should be an amusement park. I think there should be a lot of developmental things,&rdquo; says resident Pam Turner, who was eating lunch at the local Rube&rsquo;s Diner. &ldquo;I think it would have been a gold mine for Metropolis, a lot better than a riverboat.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But according to city officials their hands are tied. They say DC Comics tightly controls anything having to do with the man with the &lsquo;S&rsquo; on his chest. On the other hand, Turner&rsquo;s mother, Loreen McGinnis, could hardly care less about Superman, the statue, or anything else. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll soon be 89-years-old and I&rsquo;ve been to it twice,&rdquo; McGinnis said. I went home and I &lsquo;ain&rsquo;t&rsquo; been back.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">McGinnis says with a riverboat casino in town, Superman&rsquo;s high ideals aren&rsquo;t doing much good anyway.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s Sin City,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I feel like our young people have too much of the devil&rsquo;s playground in Metropolis.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Sounds like a job for Superman.</p><p dir="ltr">But for now, residents have other things to worry about, like where to see the new movie. When &ldquo;Man of Steel&rdquo; opens today, folks in Metropolis will have to travel across the river to Paducah, Kentucky to watch it.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s because the city&rsquo;s only movie theater closed decades ago. The last movie shown there?</p><p><em>Superman</em> starring Christopher Reeve.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><object height="465" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634123510406%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F9040164078%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634123510406%2Fwith%2F9040164078%2F&amp;set_id=72157634123510406&amp;jump_to=9040164078" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634123510406%2Fshow%2Fwith%2F9040164078%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157634123510406%2Fwith%2F9040164078%2F&amp;set_id=72157634123510406&amp;jump_to=9040164078" height="465" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 07:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-superman-saved-small-illinois-town-107699 'Superman' comes to Chicago, bringing $30 million with him http://www.wbez.org/story/superman-comes-chicago-bringing-30-million-him-91941 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-13/P1030571.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Superman is wrapping up his stay in Chicago this weekend, but he received a visit from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn before he left.</p><p>The governor was at the set of the new <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/man-steel-comes-downtown-chicago-91642"><em>Man of Steel</em> movie in downtown Chicago</a> Tuesday, for a tour and a meet-and-greet with some cast members, including Superman himself, played by Henry Cavill.</p><p>Quinn said that the film industry raised $161 million dollars for Illinois in 2010.</p><p>"The amount of investment by <em>Man of Steel</em> in the state of Illinois is $30-35 million," said Quinn. "So the investment of the tax credit pays tremendous dividends, it's more than worth it's while."</p><p>That money can be attributed to the 30 percent tax credit Illinois offers for money spent on goods and services in-state.&nbsp;<em>Man of Steel</em> reportedly created over 550 jobs in Illinois for crew members, not including those local Chicago actors hired for smaller parts and as extras.</p><p>The Quinn administration has included the tax credit as part of their effort to increase revenue from filmmaking in Chicago. Under the governor's administration, the state invested $5 million into the building of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, where the short-lived show <em>The Chicago Code</em> was filmed. It's been replaced by projects like&nbsp;<em>Boss </em>and <em>The Playboy Club</em>.</p><p>Betsy Steinberg, managing director for the Illinois Film Office, said that she spends her time in Los Angeles, "pounding the pavement, trying to get projects" to come to Illinois.</p><p><em>Man of Steel</em> also used the Kendall County town of Plano, outside of Chicago, as the location for their town of Smallville. The interest in Illinois was spurred, in part, by executive producer Charles Rosen, who has a history with the city; he also shot the previous two Batman films here, <em>Batman Begins</em> and <em>The Dark Knight</em>, both starring Christian Bale.</p><p>Speaking about his visit to the set, Quinn said, "I had a chance to meet Henry, he's our Superman, and he will be a super man, that's for sure."</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 19:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/superman-comes-chicago-bringing-30-million-him-91941 The Man of Steel comes to downtown Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/man-steel-comes-downtown-chicago-91642 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-07/superillo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The newest Superman movie "Man of Steel" began filming in Chicago on Wednesday. The project has made stops in a few areas around Chicago-- spending the last two weeks in the far western suburbs, and landing downtown in the Loop this week.<br> <br> Betsy Steinberg, managing director for the Illinois Film Office, said big movies projects like this one have the potential to boost the state's economy.<br> <br> "A caterer is feeding several hundred people a day, several times a day, they're shopping in our local grocery stores. Carpenters, painters, welders, are building set pieces, they're shopping in our lumber yards, they're buying our hardware, so the ripple effect in the economy is really great and that's why we work so hard to try and get projects here," Steinberg said.</p><p>As for other details about the project, Steinberg said everything -- especially the movie script -- is being kept under lock and key. Filmmakers are still referring to the project with a code name -- "Autumn Frost." Steinberg said this is fairly common for major film projects, and most of the time the code name has nothing to do with the actual movie.</p><p>Filming will continue in downtown Chicago for the next 10 days. Chicagoans should be on the look out for Amy Adams, Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, who will all be starring in the film.</p></p> Wed, 07 Sep 2011 22:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/man-steel-comes-downtown-chicago-91642