Which of the following ''Superman'' rumors is true? A) Director Brett Ratner has quit, citing creative and budget disputes with Warner Bros. B) Warner Bros. has fired Ratner, citing the disappointing performance this fall of ''Red Dragon.'' C) Ratner is treading water until Warner Bros. can finalize a deal with ''Pearl Harbor'' director Michael Bay, who has a track record of making visually impressive special-effects blockbusters that celebrate Truth, Justice, and the American Way. According to Variety, the correct answer is D) None of the above.
Ratner shot down reports, which have appeared in recent weeks on Ain't It Cool News and several other movie-maven websites, that he was out and Bay (or some other director) was in. ''This is the most ridiculous rumor I've ever heard, and it starts with websites that have gone from supportive cinephiles to [being] gossip mongers,'' Ratner told Variety on Thursday. He insisted that the studio is continuing to pay him and his pre-production crew to prepare the film. He also said that he and Bay are represented by the same talent agency, which wouldn't steal a deal from one client and give it to another. ''I'm at CAA, just like Michael Bay, I make as much money as he does. They would not jeopardize pissing me off by negotiating behind my back. I'd know.'' For his part, Bay also denied he was replacing Ratner. ''This is 100 percent false,'' he told Variety. ''I haven't spoken to anybody at Warner Bros. about 'Superman.' I have no idea how this rumor got started.''
Ratner speculated that the Bay rumors started because ''Pearl Harbor'' star Josh Hartnett is a candidate to play Superman. (One version had it that Hartnett would sign on only if Bay directed all three projected Man of Steel movies.) He did acknowledge that both Hartnett and Jude Law were leery of the long-term contract the role required. ''No star wants to sign that, but as much as I've told Jude and Josh my vision for the movie, I've warned them of the consequences of being Superman. They'll live this character for 10 years because I'm telling one story over three movies and plan to direct all three if the first is as successful as everyone suspects.''
What of the other actors whose names have been floated, Ashton Kutcher and Brendan Fraser? Ratner told E! that Kutcher's screen test was ''very, very good.'' No mention of Fraser, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, Fraser's close to a deal to star in the sci-fi thriller ''10th Victim,'' which shoots in June. That would take him out of the running to fill Superman's tights.