Ian McKellen shades Superman & calls James Bond a ‘silly, stupid, British twit’

Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellan has been doing press rounds to promote his new movie, Mr. Holmes, where he puts a twist on the Sherlock Holmes character. Ian recently did a cute Reddit AMA where he discussed his friendship with Patrick Stewart. Ian admitted, “I’m the guy who advised him not to do Star Trek.” Can you imagine The Next Generation without Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard? Perish the thought. I hope Ian was kidding about his advice to Stewart. The full AMA is charming.

Ian does get a little bit bitchy though, and he threw some shade during an interview with Uproxx. He trashes both Superman and James Bond, which is surprising:

His superhero movies are the best:X-Men was about something. Superman isn’t really about anything. It’s a joke. The nerd changes his underpants and becomes a Superman. That’s James Bond: ‘Shaken, not stirred,’ silly, stupid, British twit … and then, Action Man! But X-Men is about the problems of being a mutant. And we’ve all felt we’re mutants on occasion. So, that was the hook for me. And don’t forget, I didn’t have to sign to do anymore than one; I’m just doing a movie. So, it wasn’t that big of an adventure. Well, it was a very good job, but I never had to think, Oh, do I want to do this for the next 10 years? It was just a one-off movie.”

On gay marriage: “Personally, I don’t want to get married. That’s not the point what I want, it’s what somebody might want. If a man and woman live together, they don’t have to get married, there’s no obligation. They may not want to, but if they want to, of course they can. That seems to me such an obvious principle that couldn’t be denied for much longer. And was accepted by so many people in this country, eventually it would happen. But there will be some residual resistance, then it will be a forgotten issue.”

[From Uproxx]

This won’t be a popular opinion, but I agree with what Ian has to say about 007. Those movies have never been my thing. I don’t like Superman much either (the DC/Warner Bros. monstrosities are so depressing), but Ian is reading the character wrong. Superman is about a lot of things, and the allegories run deep. Most recently, Superman can be seen as a representation of the issues immigrants face. Whereas X-Men isn’t deeper than Superman’s story.

Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet & WENN

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52 Responses to “Ian McKellen shades Superman & calls James Bond a ‘silly, stupid, British twit’”

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  1. BearcatLawyer says:

    I love James Bond! The films are so campy and the plots so ludicrous. And playing the James Bond drinking game while watching them is a sure fire way to get drunk.

  2. lisa2 says:

    I am a Star Trek fan big time. The Next Generation w/Picard. 😊 YES.

    So another: MY Superhero movie is better than YOUR superhero movie.. Sorry Ian.. they are all pretty much the same. Not much about anything in the end.

    • Franca says:

      I’m a huge Star Trek fan too, but my favourite is Voyager.

      I also don’t like the new movies.

    • Ash says:

      “So another: MY Superhero movie is better than YOUR superhero movie.. Sorry Ian.. they are all pretty much the same. Not much about anything in the end. ”

      Yes, yes, yes, yes. I’m so tired of the trend.

    • Gea says:

      Superman always and forever.

  3. Betti says:

    All Bonds before Craig were like that – he changed the character for the better and is also more like how he was originally written.

    Love McKellan – he’s such a bitchy old queen.

    • V4Real says:

      Ok like Magneto is so deep. I like Ian but come on man. Superman is still my favorite comic book character. But Cavil is not doing the character justice. Christopher Reeves was great for the character. He had the charm and personality to be the hero. Plus he was gorgeous. Cavil character is bordering on the line of too dark. Batman is the dark one where Superman is supposed to be the beacon of light. He represented hope. I’m wondering if Reeves hadn’t been seriously injured would he have done another Superman movie.

      I like Bond movies but Craig kinda killed it a bit for me. My favorite Bonds were Connery and the sexy Pierce Bronsman.

  4. Naddie says:

    I agree about X Men and James Bond. But Superman? Poor Clark is a great dude. It’s all about having the power to rule the world and decline it for altruism. He doesn’t “become Superman”, he IS Superman, Clark Kent is his alter ego.

  5. JWQ says:

    I think I have never seen an entire James Bond movie in my whole life. I always fall asleep within minutes everytime I try to watch one. It doesn’ t matter who the actor is! Of course it doesn’ t help that I find Daniel Craig terrifying in both looks and acting, but I just find them incredibly boring. I don’ t like spy movies in general, and Bond’ s persona is one of an annoying ass in my opinion.

    I do think Superman is boring. I have no interest in watching the Warner movies of any character at the moment, but I do read comics, and while I enjoy Batman a lot, I just can’ t, for the love of me, find anything interesting in Superman. The fact that he is so blatantly marketed as an “America, f*ck yeah!” kind of character for the most part (not dissimilar to Captain America who, at least, has an interesting backstory) makes me also somewhat antagonistic.

    • Franca says:

      I agree with you on both. The Bond movies are soooo boring, and Superman is the dullest superhero out there.

    • maripoodle says:

      I live and breathe for the next Bond movies. My dog’s last name is from a Bond film. Yes, they are campy, but that’s the fun of it. I don’t want to be a Bond Girl, I always wanted to be Bond. He never waits in customs lines, never shows up to find his hotel lost his reservation, never has to pee (real bad, so bad you can hardly drive). He never waits at the carousel for his luggage, or in line at the grocery, everything is just so magnificently adventurous, and he’s battling nefarious evil posh villains.
      Not only that but his clothes are always flawlessly fitted and NEVER wrinkled. And while he’s so flawlessly finessing everything (cool cars!!) he’s doing it in all these other countries. Sometimes simultaneously
      Before Bond it was Mrs Emma Peel. I was too young to understand the show but she was everything.
      Yes, Xmen themes are more sophisticated. Completely concede that.

  6. Maya says:

    I love Mr Bond but have to agree with Gandalf’s Superman shade – apparently a pair of glasses is enough to hide his identity and wearing underwear outside is enough to become the superman.

    • Shannon1972 says:

      Lol’d at the “Gandalf Superman shade”…you make it all sound so ludicrous! Which it really is.
      Thanks for the laugh 😊

  7. Beth No. 2 says:

    I agree with him on James Bond; I suppose there will always be an audience market for the urbane, debonair British gentleman with a bevy of ladies, but that schtick gets old pretty quickly.

    That said, I did enjoy Skyfall. It was full of plotholes, but Roger Deakins’ cinematography was mouthwatering. That fight scene in the Shanghai skyscrapers with all the lights in the background is superbly done. And Ben Whishaw, of course. <3

    I fell asleep watching the latest Superman movie while in a hotel room. It was BAD.

  8. Alex says:

    Actually the X-Men comics (and films, although to a lesser extent) often reflect real-world social issues such as racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. So yes, they really are that deep. And Superman has basically become “Space Jesus” in the films, which is stretching a metaphor to the point of absurdity.

    • jinni says:

      Yup, X-men is about issues that still effect people today just told by using mutants. At least that is the core story behind the X-men.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Yep yep yep! Don’t dismiss X-Men! I agree with Ian. X-Men is for anyone who has felt like an “other.” You can definitely see it as a racial allegory, and also as a homosexual/ transgender/ queer allegory. After all, most of the mutants don’t show any abilities until about puberty, and then they face prejudice and hatred, even to the point of having their own parents kick them out of the house. I think Ian can identify as could a lot of people. I could.

      • Franca says:

        But homosexuals don’t have powers that are dangerous for humanity, so I never understood when people so easily compare mutants to the “other” in our society. It’s more complex than that.

      • Leigh_S says:

        Of course homosexuals have powers dangerous to humanity! That’s been common knowledge for years!

        If a gay man hits on a straight man, the straight man is turned gay. Gay marriage is going to tear apart society! /sarcasm

        Definitely secret superpowers ;)

        (Note: Sarcasm!!! Definitely not what I believe!)

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Sigh.. talk to my older relatives you don’t think anyone thinks homosexuals are dangerous to society. I had an awful argument with some of my family yesterday who were upset that I supported gay marriage. They said what if our whole country is struck down by God because of this situation? I think if God strikes us down, there are a lot of more likely reasons than the fact that gay people can get legally married. I argued scripture against them until they finally decided it was because I’m a Methodist and therefore wrong anyway. Those liberal Methodists, y’all.

        It’s true that the issues surrounding mutants are a little more complex, but I still think it’s an allegory. They can’t help that they were born that way.

    • Alex says:

      Agreed with all of this

    • V4Real says:

      None of the Superhero films are that deep. XMEN is just like the rest. Some of them want to protect mankind while the others want to destroy it and rule the world.

      Like another poster said yet another actor claiming that their franchise is better than the others. Just let the public enjoy these popcorn flicks for what they are, fun entertainment.

    • Esmerelda says:

      ‘And Superman has basically become “Space Jesus” in the films’

      …yup, and it’s quite jarring, especially considering Superman’s origins:
      “Siegel and Shuster’s status as children of Jewish immigrants is also thought to have influenced their work. Timothy Aaron Pevey has argued that they crafted “an immigrant figure whose desire was to fit into American culture as an American”, ” (from Wikipedia)

      The X-MEN just tap into more contemporary fears, I guess…

  9. Sixer says:

    My understanding is that the original X-Men comic was an allegory of MLK vs Malcolm X. It’s certainly a parable of differing responses to racism (or any form of otherness oppression). So I think you’re missing something there, Bedhead!

    And to this Brit, Superman has always seemed like an idealisation of the perfect America: how America wants itself to be. As for 007 – like Surian, I’m always left completely cold at all the harking back to a putative golden age of posh boys.

    Having said that, the deeper themes of popcorn movies could either simply be there only in the eyes of the (pompous) beholder, or genuinely exist but go over the heads of 99% of the sheeple.*

    *Delete as appropriate, depending on your own prejudice!

  10. Eleonor says:

    I love old fashioned James Bond movies, with Roger Moore, they were fun ! I don’t like the latestes Bond, it is too dark now.
    About Superman honestly I feel it outdated.

    • Div says:

      They are a lot of fun, for sure, but he’s not wrong in that they are kind of silly and some of them definitely have a cringey colonial white man angle. That’s why I always side-eye people who act like they are serious “films” or Oscar-worthy.

    • Joan says:

      Yes, vintage Bond is the best. Glad to see some other fans of the older stuff. Admittedly, I stopped watching the Bond series after Dalton’s stint.
      It seems that everything is darker these days. Keaton’s “Batman” looks like a children’s movie, at this rate.

      • Carmen says:

        Dalton was a mistake. My favorite was Roger Moore and after him Pierce Brosnan. Actually, the whole persona of James Bond was that of an oversexed, overgrown teenager.

  11. LAK says:

    The warner bros/DC comics rendering is due to the fact that no one can re-imagine them better than Tim Burton.

    Not saying Tim Burton is better, only that his rendering was so visually interesting at the time,ditto his take on it, that no one has tried to reimagine them differently.

    The DC comics TV show from the 60s was a bright, happy place.

    • Franca says:

      I prefer the DC movies, they are darker and grittier than the bubblegum that is Marvel.

  12. Kate says:

    Superman is one of the deepest stories there is…it’s just fundamentally misunderstood.

    Superman was created by two Jewish immigrants in the 1930′s at the height of terror and violence towards the Jews. It’s the very idea of there being a protector to fight back against those that oppress. It’s a story of a man who was raised by good people and decided to save the world not because he had to but because he truly wanted to help. It’s also a story of a man who has great power but chose not to abuse it.

    Lois Lane was based on a real woman and a model of women who were trying to WORK in a culture that told them to stay home and be housewives. The woman who served as the original model for Lois Lane went on to marry Jerry Siegel (Superman’s creator.). They were a real couple. After his death, she fought tirelessly against WB in her husband’s name for his creation. Lois Lane was one of the first “working women” many girls saw on television.

    So, sorry, Ian. But you are dead wrong here. The Superman mythos is about a lot of important things.

    • Franca says:

      But I think that is the reason people find Superman silly. A man with great power who choses not to abuse it simply isn’t believable in this day and age.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        I wasn’t a fan of the Man of Steel movie, but there was something I found especially interesting: where he was a child and facing too much stimulation, too many voices and things calling out to him, and his mother talked him down into focusing and shutting out the chaos. My 10-year-old son is on the autism spectrum (pretty high functioning and what used to be called Asperger syndrome), and his eyes got big, He tugged my sleeve and whispered, “That’s me! That’s what it’s like for me all the time!” So well done, Man of Steel, on that point at least. My kid had never seen anyone who thought like him before.

      • Kate says:

        @Franca…I find that perspective incredibly cynical and I do not subscribe to this theory that every single person is bound to be corrupt.

        Superman is supposed to stand as an example of what we ::could:: choose to do if given great power. If we have to believe that every man who has power would abuse it then let’s just pack it all up and stop trying to better ourselves right now.

      • Mia4S says:

        That’s a beautiful story @Amy Tennant!

        It was a great movie moment as was his mother describing his parents staying with him while he struggled to breath and adapt to the atmosphere. Man of Steel was not a bad movie at all, it was frustrating! So many great moments undermined by some bad choices.

      • Franca says:

        Not every single person. But those in our society who rise to power are rarely, if ever, good people.

    • rosalee says:

      co-creator Joe Shuster was Canadian, his family moved to Ohio when he was 9 or 10 – His parents were immigrants from Kiev and Rotterdam who met in Toronto – Metropolis was based on Shuster’s home town of Toronto and the Daily Plant was the Toronto Daily News. Siegal and Shuster met at the Cleveland School of Art in the 20′s and began publishing science fiction magazines..and the rest is history.

  13. o_o_odesa says:

    Superman was created by Jewish Canadians. I saw the heritage moment commercials! :)

    • Kate says:

      Joe Shuster was from Toronto. BUt the family moved to Ohio. Superman was create by two kids in Cleveland. The girl who inspired Lois Lane was from Cleveland too.

  14. mark says:

    ‘Superman can be seen as a representation of the issues immigrants face. Whereas X-Men isn’t really that deep’

    Is this sarcasm or do you really not know what x-men is about?

  15. ncboudicca says:


    Magneto made me cry. Superman never has.

  16. jferber says:

    He’s right. He’s always right. I never could stand James Bond and have NEVER seen a Bond movie. I think Superman is harmless, but Ian McKellen is always right. I’m quite serious about this. This is also true for whatever Patrick Stewart says. They are amazing people and actors and I adore them.

  17. Jessiebes says:

    Love him and Patrick Steward. Their friendship always brings a smile to my face.

  18. Liberty says:

    Ok….I love a couple of the old original Bonds w Connery.

    And call me crazy (and maybe I was, as i saw this one day when horribly sick at home with the flu). but for pure comic book cheery exciting schmaltz plus the wonderful Kevin Spacey, I kind of loved Superman Returns (2006): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348150/

    And now I also admit I badly want to see Ant Man. Because Rudd. Maybe a long week and lack of sleep are getting to me! Because I am not a comic book movie fan.

    (ushers self out)

  19. Elizabeth says:

    My favorite superhero movie is The Mask of Zorro. Don’t roll your eyes and tell me he isn’t a superhero – he puts on a cape and a hat and suddenly he can leap from tall buildings and ride a like the wind.