Exclusive Interview with Louise Mingenbach

Six U.K. based Superman fans were chosen by Warner Bros. to submit questions to various cast and crew on "Superman Returns". Most of those chosen are Superman Homepage members, and we're pleased to present their exclusive interview with "Superman Returns" costume designer Louise Mingenbach.

Superman Suit Q: Did you go through many S logo designs before deciding on the final logo?

Louise: Bryan always knew he wanted a small S logo. That was never in doubt. We did have a few versions of the S. It was narrowed down to 2: the one that was used and one that had a "spine" down the center (a bit more 50's). In the end Bryan chose the one you see - and I liked it more because we were able to laser the very tiny little S's into it much more successfully.

Q: In your work with Bryan Singer you also do the costume work on his production company's show House. Who do you prefer designing costumes for Doctors or Superheroes?

Louise: I only did the pilot for House. I don't work on the show now. I love working with Bryan and he directed the pilot and asked me so of course I said "yes". But, I prefer movies to TV. Movies allow a designer more prep time and so one is able to make more costumes and creative more from scratch - instead of only having time to shop. I do prefer actual characters - that are more true to life - to superheroes. Superheroes carry a lot of baggage and a lot of specific expectations for many many different people.

Q: As you created the costumes for the inhabitants of Metropolis in the film, I'd imagine you are the most qualified person to answer this question. Which colours will be in fashion this season in Metropolis?

Superman Suit Louise: My favorite chic shades of brown, gray and beige.

Q: What were the influences for the costume design for Clark Kent if any? Was there any agonising over the glasses or was it pretty straight forward compared to the tights and the cape?

Louise: The only problem we had was working hard to make Brandon NOT look so handsome and dashing. We tried to do that by putting him in drab, green-y colors and in poorly fit suits with the sleeves too short - or a dress shirt that was a bit too big for him in the neck. The day we had the glasses screen test I probably collected around 200 different versions for Bryan to look at. He went right to the ones that you'll see in the movie and never second- guessed himself. They 're a great choice. Very simple. And not silly or over the top distracting. And yes. Clark Kent was a walk in the park compared to the effort and detail that Superman required.

Q: Does the Daily Planet have a dress code? Did you choose clothes for the Daily Planet staff to compliment each other or were the designs taken on an individual character basis?

Louise: We had a very strong color scheme and overall palette for the movie. We worked hard to maintain it in the Daily Planet. We also wanted to reference all the different decades that Superman has been in our lives - from the 30's through to the present day. So there's a lot of vintage that we used here and there on different characters and background people. We hope the movie makes reference to past decades without distracting the viewers and "pulling" them out of the movie. We did this with the colors as well as the shapes of the clothes. Bryan and I want this movie to look just as good in 30 years as it does today. We don't want the movie to look dated. So to that end we kept the trendy looks of today out of the film. We banned "Paris Hilton".

Q: Do you have any favourite costume designs from the movie?

Superman Suit Louise: I loved Kitty the most. I am only sorry that she didn't have an opportunity to wear all the fabulous clothes we made for her. She was the most outrageous and therefore the most fun for me. And of course Parker Posey is just wonderful! A true thespian and a delight to dress.

Q: Fan reaction to the new costume has been mixed (I don't mind it), what inspired you to make the changes [raised, smaller S shield, muted colours, longer cape, S on the belt buckle] from the classic Chris Reeve-look Superman costume?

Louise: See my answer to similar question above.

Q: Which supporting character would you say has the most elaborate wardrobe?

Louise: Kitty.

Q: How would you compare Kate Bosworth's look as Lois Lane to other incarnations [Noel Neill, Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher, Erica Durance] of the character?

Louise: We worked to incorporate references from different decades into Lois Lane's clothes. Her work suits reference the 40's and the 70's. The dress she wears in the third act is pure Art Deco 30's.

Who are the six UK Superfans?

'Dharmesh'. Founder and Chief, Superman Cinema (UK-based site), based in Birmingham.

Dawn Jones. UK-based moderator for Superman Homepage, highly active member of Devoted to Smallville, Devoted Fans Network and other Superman sites, based in Central London.

Robert O'Connor. Highly active UK member of Superman Homepage, imdb, lcfanfic (Lois and Clark Fan Ficton) and other Superman sites, the youngest of the crew at 16 and based in Dublin.

Matt Fisher. Highly active UK member of Superman Homepage, Channel 4 forums and imdb, based in Birmingham.

Alistair Corbett. Highly active member of Empire Online, particularly in the Superman forums, based in South Wales.

Luke Barnard. Highly active member of Total Film forums and a regular poster on all things Superman, based in Reading.

Messages from the six UK Superfans:

'Thank you so much for this opportunity, you have no of how much of an honor this is!'
Robert O'Connor

'Thank you, thank you, thank you for your tireless work'

'I'd like to say thank you, this is so very exciting!'
Alistair Corbett

'I'd just like to express my thanks and gleeful delight at this opportunity, to yourself and everyone at Digital Outlook and Warner Bros because as a huge Superman fan this is such a buzz.'
Luke Barnard

'Thanks for answering! I can't wait to see the movie!'
Dawn Jones