Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza is a romantic comedy that takes place in the San Fernando Valley during the 1970s. Bradley Cooper plays Hollywood producer Jon Peters in the film, who was involved with films like Batman, A Star is Born, and Tim Burton’s infamous Superman Lives, written by Kevin Smith.
In 2002, Kevin Smith released his first Q&A on a DVD entitled An Evening with Kevin Smith. On the release, he talks about how Warner Bros. invited him to rewrite a screenplay of his choosing, and out of the three he was given (the other two were Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian and a remake of a The Outer Limits episode called The Architects of Fear) he picked a screenplay entitled Superman Lives.
As Smith tells the story, once he presented his outline and it was signed off by the studio, he was obligated to meet the producer of the film, Jon Peters, to get his sign-off as well.
The surprising connection between Licorice Pizza and Kevin Smith’s Superman story isn’t just the mere appearance of Jon Peters, however. In the film, Peters discussed the installation of a water bed in his home with Gary Valentine, played by Cooper Hoffman. As the volatile Peters talked about the installation, rambling about his relationship with Barbra Streisand and complaining about the installation’s tardiness, he comes to a calm and cites a quality of Valentine’s that he hadn’t seen before, saying “we speak the same language, we’re from the streets.”
Now either the inclusion of that line is a massive coincidence, or Paul Thomas Anderson has heard Kevin Smith’s Superman story before. Either that or he has had his own run-ins with the eccentric producer, because a major punchline in Kevin Smith’s Superman story is what he was asked during their first meeting.
“Do you know why you and I are going to do a good job on Superman… Because you and me, we get Superman. You know why? Because you and me, we’re from the streets.”
Again, this could be a total coincidence, or Peters could have said this to Paul Thomas Anderson sometime in the last 20 years. Either way, for fans of Kevin Smith and/or Superman who’ve heard that story, Licorice Pizza had a very nice callback to a very weird and funny moment in Superman’s cinematic history.