''Superman'' movie gets start date. Director Brett Ratner says he was born to make this film but has ''no idea'' who should play the Man of Steel next spring

As expected, Warner Bros. announced yesterday that it will relaunch the ”Superman” movie franchise with a film that is scheduled to begin shooting in April or May, according to published reports. The new ”Superman,” scripted by ”Alias” creator J.J. Abrams, will be the first of a trilogy of movies, and it will be directed by Brett Ratner (Oct. 4’s ”Red Dragon”).

Ratner, who says he owns a framed copy of the Man of Steel’s first comic-book appearance, told the Hollywood Reporter, ”I feel that I was born to direct ‘Superman.”’ However, when asked who might star, Ratner said, ”I literally have no idea.” There had been rumors that Keanu Reeves was being considered, but Ratner said the script calls for an actor in his 20s. (Reeves is 38.) Ratner also said he’d like to cast his ”Red Dragon” star Anthony Hopkins as Jor-El, Superman’s father, ”but I don’t know if he’ll do it.”

It’s been a long road back to the screen for Superman, who was last depicted on film in 1987’s ”Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” the last of the series of movies starring Christopher Reeve. In the last few years, Warner Bros. has spent millions developing potential Superman features with such names as Nicolas Cage, directors Tim Burton and McG, and screenwriter Kevin Smith attached, but to no avail. Most recently, the studio was developing a ”Batman vs. Superman” movie to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen (”The Perfect Storm”), but that project was shelved last month in favor of this one, which is reportedly less dark and more suitable to sequelizing.

The good news for Superfans is bad news for fans of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan; it means Ratner won’t be able to direct his third ”Rush Hour” movie until he finishes this one some time next year. Preproduction on ”Superman” begins immediately.

Superman Returns
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