Tommy Schlamme, master director of The West Wing, Jack & Bobby, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is on question-duty today.
Just getting here now? Then you missed Damon Lindelof and former First Lady Barbara Bush.
And now, onto Tommy and Brad…
Thomas Schlamme: Who would win in a fight -- real fight -- between the comic book Superman and the movie Superman?
Brad Meltzer: The true sad part is, this is a really good question. And the even sadder part? I'm fascinated by the answer. And so...I have to go with the comic book Superman for the win. Sure, the movie one can fly around the world to turn back time to save Lois...and he can lift that kryptonite land mass that was gonna make Luthor...um...have something to do in the movie...and yes, he has that cellophane S from Superman II. But in the full annals of Superman history, the comic book version has survived 14 types of kryptonite, a dozen trips to the Phantom Zone, hundreds of villains trying to beat him down on a monthly basis, death itself, and even that bad redesign of his costume in the 90s that made him look like an ice skater. Not in a good way.
Schlamme: What about a race between Superman and Flash?
Meltzer: If they run, Flash. If flying's allowed, Superman. What's strange is how sure I am of this. Sometimes, truly, I'm a sad pathetic man.
Schlamme: What's the hardest part about writing a fight scene?
Meltzer: Oh, I hate writing fight scenes. It’s a minefield of clichés. But people want ‘em. Don’t say no. They do. In the very first book I wrote, I was determined to challenge the genre. I had the big ending, and the big confrontation, and the gun to the hero’s head – and then, hoping to make it completely realistic, instead of having the hero kick the gun away like in the other thousand thrillers out there, I let the FBI come bursting in the door to save the day. That was my solution: be real and show how it really happens. Every reader of that draft – even the snobby ones – they just destroyed it. They needed to see the hero save that day. The only good news was, in the final version, I didn’t have him kick the gun.
Schlamme: Does anyone even care if fight scenes are realistic anymore, as long as they're entertaining?
Meltzer: In a movie, the fights are ridiculous. I love Rocky III. I truly do. But if any single man took that many punches to the face, they'd look like...well...let's just say there'd be no Rocky IV (which I realize is probably a good thing). But the point is, we don't care in a movie. We want to see the action go all fast and all furious. Did you see the recent Batman movie? I loved the fight scenes in there. I couldn't tell what the hell was happening or who was punching whom, but man, it was pretty. In a novel, people want it far more realistic. In The Millionaires, when they were in the underground tunnels under Disneyworld, I had the villain hitting the hero in the face three or four times, and the editors were like, “Whoa, whoa – he’d be unconscious by now.” And I’m thinking, “Didn’t you see Rocky III?”
Schlamme: Have you ever actually been in a fistfight?
Meltzer: Once. In Brooklyn, in fifth grade. But it wasn’t one of those someone-throws-a-punch- and-it-turns-into-a-wrestling-match fight that you usually see in the schoolyards. It was a fistfight. The first punch was thrown by him – he put his entire fist in my eye. And that’s when the switch flipped for me. I just started swinging and swinging and swinging at his face. My hand got so swollen from where my fingers were digging into my palm, I could barely make a fist. Finally, he collapsed, his nose and chin covered in blood. When we eventually got dragged up to the principal’s office, they made me wait there while they called his parents to take him home (he was too beat up to send back to class). The worst part was, he had one of those dads who was older than everyone else’s dad -- and when his dad came into the office, I’ll never forget the look on his face as this old man had to go over to his broken son. I still can’t shake the image. I eventually got sent back to class with a nice shiner, and when I walked inside, my class cheered. It was the worst victory of my life.
Thanks to PopSugar for hosting this interview.
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