Elvis Director Baz Luhrmann Calls Biopic a "Superhero Film," Praises Star Tom Hanks

Warner Bros. is putting out a number of compelling blockbusters in the coming months, ranging from genre fare to emotional dramas. Elvis, the upcoming film directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann, will seemingly be in the latter category, chronicling aspects of the storied life of musician and cultural icon Elvis Presley (Austin Butler). After surprising audiences with the first teaser trailer earlier this year, Elvis has a lot of anticipation surrounding it — something that will probably be built upon with Luhrmann's latest comments. ComicBook.com's Cam Bonomolo recently attended Warner Bros.' 2022 CinemaCon panel, where Luhrmann explained his approach to Elvis, and to Presley's role in the cultural tapestry of America.

"You will hear the classics," Luhrmann explained. "You will see the story of Elvis, but we've also translated that for a younger generation."

"You know, while I was looking at that little reel and I'm thinking it feels a bit like a superhero film," Luhrmann added. "It is because I actually Elvis is kind of the original superhero. And I mean that he comes from dirt, and in a few blinding moments, he rises so high, he finds his kryptonite, and also love. And then a beautiful, powerful tragedy ensues."

"I love biopics, but this is not really a biopic, right? It's really about, for me, America in the 50s and the 60s and the 70s," Luhrmann revealed. "And if you want to talk about America in the 50s and 60s and the 70s at the center of culture, for the good, the bad and the ugly, is a figure [like] Elvis Presley. Like how Shakespeare would take a historical figure like a king and explore a big theme, or Amadeus isn't really about Mozart when you learn so much about Mozart, it's about jealousy. What this movie is about is America in those three epochs — Elvis the rebel, Elvis the highest paid actor in Hollywood, and Elvis the living legend, the icon trapped in that hotel not 10 minutes from here, by a man called Colonel Tom Parker."

"But Elvis is at the center of it," Luhrmann continued. "And, you know, I really wanted to also explore this tension these two great American things, I absolutely love them. And it's what defines I think the new of America you know, the fact that can bring all these all these different elements together and create something new that's the artistic gesture, the invention, the inventiveness."

Butler and Tom Hanks lead a cast that includes Helen Thomson (Top of the Lake: China Girl) as Elvis's mother, Gladys, Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge!) as Elvis's father, Vernon, and DeJonge (The Visit) as Priscilla. Also in the cast are Luke Bracey (Hacksaw Ridge) as talent manager Jerry Schilling, Natasha Bassett (Hail, Caesar!) as Elvis girlfriend Dixie Locke, David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) as country music artist Hank Snow, Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The Trial of the Chicago 7) as iconic blues musician B.B. King, Xavier Samuel (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) as guitarist Scotty Moore, Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) as "Father of Country Music" Jimmie Rodgers, and Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things) as TV director Steve Binder. 

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Elvis is set to be released in theaters on June 24, 2022.