The Superman problem: Can he still fly in the 21st century?

Sept. 04, 2008 | 2:03 a.m.

Supes

Thirty years ago, the Man of Steel was flying high at theaters. But will he ever get off the ground again?

Richard Donner‘s “Superman,” released in December 1978, was a box-office triumph and critics were, for the most part, cheering right along with the fans. Roger Ebert called the film “a pure delight,” while the late Jack Kroll wrote in Newsweek that Donner had pulled off “a major feat in filmmaking.”

It was by nature a sunny film, sentimental and playful, never embarrassed while soaring with its John Williams score and (literally) with its special effects. But show it to a teenager today and he or she will snicker and roll their eyes. These are kids who have sat in dark theaters with Wolverine, Hellboy and Heath Ledger’s Joker. If they’re holding out for a hero, you can bet he’s not going to be plucking kittens out of trees, reciting patriotic mottos and chasing down bumbling bad guys named Otis.

This brings us to the Superman problem. Warner Bros. just pulled in half a billion dollars in the U.S. alone with the relentless nihilism of “The Dark Knight,” and the other hero films of the summer (“Hancock,” “Iron Man,” “Hellboy 2,” etc.) presented troubled protaganists who struggle as much with themselves as they do with bad guys. So, of coruse, Warner now wants Superman to tone down the Boy Scout stuff.

Lauren A.E. Schuker had a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal that quoted Warner Bros. executive Jeff Robinov (who, by the way, is apparently the man who came up with the idea of postponing the sixth “Harry Potter” film until next year) about the plans for the Man of Steel’s next flight in Hollywood:

Like the recent Batman sequel — which has become the highest-grossing film of the year thus far — Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as “The Dark Knight.” Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. “We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,” he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.

We’ve heard this before. There was a series of Superman projects announced that had the hero dead, dying, powerless and, perhaps worst of all, portrayed by Nicolas Cage in a suit of armor. The thing is, Superman has always been a daytime hero; he’s not Batman prowling the gutters of Gotham looking to exact revenge on every street punk in the world.

Supermanreturns Over at Splash Page, the MTV blog about comics and films, Kevin Smith weighed in that Hollywood shouldn’t assume that the hero of Metropolis needs to be dipped in Gotham muck to be viable on the screen.

“You always have to always keep Superman very distinct from Batman,” he related. “Batman can be brooding and bleak and dark but Superman — if you want to take a realistic approach to him that’s fine, but I don’t think you can turn him into an angry character. Superman is about the hope in people, the good in people, whereas Batman is about the more driven, hungry for justice angry side of us. [So] I don’t know if doing a dark Superman is the approach, but I’m all for a reboot.”

Jeph Loeb also cautioned against forgetting the core character of Superman, an enduring pop-culture figure that dates to the summer of 1938.

“Superman, the character, inspires hope, as opposed to Batman, who inspires fear,” elaborated Jeph Loeb, who added that his “Superman for All Seasons” (which he created with frequent collaborator Tim Sale) could be a proper approach for a possible revamp of the franchise. “‘Superman for All Seasons’ is about Clark Kent trying to deal with the fact that he has this incredible power and responsibility, and that was an interesting concept to me. And one of the other things that I find interesting is that he’s set out to perform a job that will never finish, a never-ending battle. Is that dark? I don’t know.”

MongulThe last time the hero was on the screen wasn’t that long ago, of course, and it was a movie that (in the mind of the filmmakers at least) was tinged with some darkness. Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” in 2006 ended up being respected more than it was liked. It was, sadly, a fairly flat and windy affair. It’s a shame, I was really rooting for the film. I went down to Australia in 2005 to do a set visit for a long feature in the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times and I had high hopes for what everyone assumed would be a major new franchise.

In my opinion, the problem with Superman is his villain. Who wants to see Lex Luthor trotted out again? Kevin Spacey was fine in the role and Gene Hackman was fun to watch, but can we just get someone else in one of these movies? The reason that Batman, the X-Men and Spider-Man have thrived in theaters is their parade of quality villains. Superman’s list is stunningly short. (And, a note to Rabinov: Please note that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was hardly a brooding, dark hero; he was fun and brightly colored, which was true to his story heritage.)

To my mind, the best thing Warner Bros. could do with the next Superman film is to go cosmic, not gritty. Take Superman into space, have him fight off an alien invasion of earth or grapple with Darkseid or Mongul. The movie can be fun (a la “Iron Man”) without being corny or campy, and you can make his enemies as dark and dangerous as you want. But leave the pure heroic nature of Superman intact, or don’t bother putting that famous costume on him. Batman succeeded not simply because he was dark, but because director Christopher Nolan found the authentic heart of the character. The movie broke box-office records not by copying the approach of another film, but by daring to go its own way. Do the same soul-searching for Superman. Instead of bringing him down to street level, let him fly higher than ever.

— Geoff Boucher

Clark Kent artwork by Gary Frank from the cover of upcoming Action Comics issue (#870, on sale October) courtesy of DC Comics.

David James photograph of Brandon Routh as Superman from “Superman Returns,” courtesy of Warner Bros.

Superman tussles with Mongul, artwork by Ryan Sook from the cover of “DC Universe Special, Superman: Mongul,” from June of this year.

Comments


52 Responses to The Superman problem: Can he still fly in the 21st century?

  1. someone says:

    One word a better darker superman movie DOOMSDAY!!!!!!

  2. Alex says:

    You sir, are absolutely right. I couldn't agree more. Superman I the only on screen hero who can actually fight a whole invasion or a seventy foot-tall robot and for a nemesis they give him… ..a business man. 'Nuff said.

  3. Paul C. says:

    I totally agree! I am 39 now but very well remember when the original film came out in 1978. I love it just as much as I did then as I do today. I liked Superman Returns very much and even though Christopher Reeve will always be Superman to me, I thought Brandon Routh was very good in the film. Only thing, and the writer is so correct about this, is to get a different villain! I loved Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor and he did the part justice after Gene Hackman's great portrayal of the villain. Superman II was a terrific film and the three criminals from Krypton were very good villains. But after that, Superman III & IV were just laughable jokes. I think what WB needs to do is have a story where the three Kryptonian villains get their powers back and Superman has to battle them once again. Otherwise the franchise is just going to stay flat.

  4. Alexander says:

    Thank you, Geoff Boucher, for spelling out what Warner Brothers doesn't seem to know about Superman. You really hit the nail right on the head. And it's encouraging to hear that you had high hopes for Superman Returns. There are a lot of like minded individuals who believe the same as you do and are trying really hard to convince WB not to literally take Superman himself down the dark path. Check out the BRING ROUTH BACK movement here: http://www.bluetights.net/theplanet/showthread.ph
    We can still have our action packed Superman movie and get it done right! Also check out my music video which also is dedicated to Superman Returns and getting the next Superman movie we all are dying to see!

  5. This article has the right idea about Superman. Robinov may have made the right call when it came to Batman, but he needs to remember that Batman and Superman are different and are successful for different reasons. There should be a sequel to Returns, and more importantly Bring Routh Back. http://www.bluetights.net/theplanet/showthread.ph

    • KLA says:

      I too am one that liked the Routh Superman. I would love to see a sequel to his movie. Besides, as a grandfather these days, I would like to see where they take Superman's son. Just don't use Luthor again.; that storyline has gotten very old. I have been watching Superman incarnations since the early George Reeves serial. I believe I have seen them all. Superman Returns was venturing toward the most unique storyline I had ever seen for the character.

  6. Alexander says:

    Just in case my original comment didn't show up, here it is a nutshell:
    I really appreciated what you said here Mr. Boucher. There's a lot of like minded people like you who appreciated Superman Returns and in particular, Brandon Routh's portrayal of the man of steel. Check out the BRING ROUTH BACK movement here so that WB will know just what the fans truly think of how they should proceed with the Superman movie franchise! http://www.bluetights.net/theplanet/showthread.ph
    I've also made a music video dedicated to both SR and Brandon Routh which can be viewed here:

  7. John Johnson says:

    Singer's film was only "dark" in that most of it took place in the dark, or under a gray, gloomy sky. Spacey's Lex Luthor was a half-baked villain, not really humorous and not really menacing, either. The excessive focus on the relationship between Lois and Superman was a fundamental weakness in Donner's film, as well as in Richard Lester's follow-up. This was done to pander to the female demographic at the expense of the main character and the predominantly male fan-base. Singer took this focus to the extreme, creating a soap-opera style story with a love triangle and an illegitimate child who doesn't really know the identity of his father. On one of the several fan websites, the two writers of Singer's film are called the "boy-writers", referring to the fact that neither of them had any real experience writing a major, full-length motion picture prior to befriending Singer at a party and getting this job. The inadequacies of the script are self-evident in the film, in addition to the over-reliance on homages to Donner's film. Before Mr. Robinov can think about ways to revive the Superman franchise, he has to know what went wrong with it. I don't think he has a clue, which is why Warner Bros. greenlit Superman Returns in the first place. In that regard, Boucher's comments are right on the money, but will no doubt fall upon deaf ears. The saddest part of this whole debacle is Brandon Routh. Despite being sabotaged by amateurish writing and a relentlessly gloomy film, he shined as the Man of Steel. Given a brighter, more exhilarating movie, there is no doubt that he could have a continued to grow into this character and made it his own. Thanks to Singer, a horrific wardrobe designer and totally inexperienced writers, Routh will probably never get a fair shot at this role.

  8. zach says:

    At Charles, I love the period piece idea. Perhaps Tom De Haven's book "It's Superman!" could serve as some source material.

    • Charlious says:

      It's me Charles. I was 9 when I bought my first Superman Comic. I wish I still had it. My mom gave them all away or threw them in the trash I never found out which. I also liked Batman, Wonder Woman.

  9. Edward Liu says:

    "But show it to a teenager today and he or she will snicker and roll their eyes. These are kids who have sat in dark theaters with Wolverine, Hellboy and Heath Ledger's Joker."
    I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree with this statement more, mostly because the kids of the 1970's who were watching the first Superman movie had their own set of dark, grim, nasty movies filled with anti-heroes, too: Dirty Harry, Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Michael Corleone, and the list of their cheap imitators lost in the cinematic dustbin. Also, I'm puzzled why the Joker is listed since he's the villain of "The Dark Knight," but if you wanted to include him, then you can add all the nasty, psychotic slasher icons of the 70's horror movies. Besides, the first movie tackles the shining, happy Superman head on when Lois laughs right in Superman's face when he delivers the "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" line for the first time and tells him he'll have to fight half of Congress.
    IMO, the first movie worked BECAUSE Superman was a sunny, sentimental, and playful film released in highly troubled times amidst a sea of dark and gritty films populated with anti-heroes. Audiences of the era were coming off the Vietnam War and Watergate, and were dealing with the raft of social problems in the US and the rise of terrorism abroad, so I think they were just as cynical (if not moreso) as audiences today. It seems to me that whole paragraph is predicated on a major historical blind spot, which is odd because so much of the rest of the article is right.

  10. Mike says:

    What about Brainiac?

  11. Geoff Boucher says:

    Edward, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I would point out, though, that all of those 1970s characters you mentioned (Dirty Harry, Charles Bronson in Death Wish, Michael Corleone) were in films aimed directly and exclusively at an adult auidence. Those were not summer films, they did not arrive in pop culture with toy-store tie-in's and Slurpee cup promotions. They were not based on comics which, for most of their existence, have been an inherently youth-defined medium. The fact that you would even compare "The Dark Knight" to them shows how very different comic-book movies are now.

  12. Tym says:

    Thank god someone said it! Great job, Geoff.
    "BATMAN BEGINS" stayed true to the character, respected the audience, and made a substantial amount of money, which then led to the brilliant, lucrative "DARK KNIGHT". "SUPERMAN RETURNS" recaptured the best of the first two Supes films while amplifying them, made a lotta money, and set the stage for an even bigger film in "THE MAN OF STEEL".
    But Robinov is counting profits blindly instead of taking account of the characters or the audience. It's the time-tested stalemate that leads to failure. His skewed outlook only gives us duds like "Superman III and IV", "Batman And Robin", and "Catwoman"…
    …all dismal failures that Didn't Make Any Money.
    Bryan Singer is like Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan, and Jon Favreau. He gets the character and the audience and makes great movies That Make Money. Everybody wins. It's simple: Filmmakers create, and accountants only count the rewards.
    The last time an exec lost the plot, lost a great director, and made Superman evil, we got "Superman III". Lesson learned yet? Why not remake a success like "Superman II" instead of a failure like "Superman III"? So let's let Singer and Routh do that by taking on Brainiac or General Zod, everybody's happy, and Robinov can sit back and count his Money. Otherwise, he won't make a dime the way he's going. Anybody remember "Steel"?
    We want "THE MAN OF STEEL".

  13. Patricia says:

    First of all, I disagree with Mr. Boucher that Superman Returns was not liked. Sure, it wasn't universally loved or a huge hit, but a lot of people liked it and it did well at the BO. Superman Returns got very good reviews all around, for instance: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/superman_returns/ http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1807839024/info
    And SR also won awards such as Total Film Readers Awards 2006: http://www.totalfilm.com/features/review_of_the_y
    Personally, I love the film and really want the story to continue in a sequel. Bryan Singer crafted a terrific and emotional satisfying film that got me interested in the Superman character all over again. And Superman actor Brandon Routh proved to be a worthy sucessor to the late Christopher Reeve. He is by far, the best Superman/Clark since Mr. Reeve, and deserves to reprise this role again. It belongs to him now. They won't find anyone better or more suited for this character right now and for a long time. And it'd be a criminal if he doesn't return.
    Superman DOESN'T NEED A REBOOT, HE NEEDS A MORE THREATENING AND POWERFUL VILLAIN TO FIGHT. Yes, like you said, Superman shouldn't be gritty or dark like Batman. He should go cosmic! ! Make the supervillain dark and scary but Not Superman himself! Superman is light and hopeful. Batman is darkness and vengeful. After all this time, don't you get it, WB?? Mr. Bryan Singer was the only director who got Superman out of a 19 year development hell. I think he deserves better treatment. He should be allowed to continue helming this fantastic and beloved franchise. He has proved that he knows how to make amazing sequels. He has the talent, respect, and the passion for this charcter to deliver a great film. Superman Returns was just the beginning, and I , my family and friends WANT more.
    And like others said: BRING ROUTH BACK!

  14. Charles says:

    I’m with you! take heed WB!
    It’s interesting you say “Jeph Loeb also cautioned against forgetting the core character of Superman, an enduring pop-culture figure that dates to the summer of 1938.”
    There is a way WB can have it’s cake and eat it. ie remember the core character… Make Superman begins a period piece. Put clear blue water between the first true Super Hero and all the other post 911 contemporary super hero movies that will be crowding the theatres soon by reminding people Superman came first.
    Start the story as it was in action comics with an adult action gritty hero from the get go – that punches wife beaters through walls; deliberately like the early comics leave the origin story sketchy and mysterious; unlike Batman Superman can learn on the job in blue and red, he doesn’t need mysterious fighting skills to be stronger, faster, better, he is all these things by virtue of his highly evolved physiology.
    Take the story through to WW2 with it’s clearly defined bad guys, and we’ll see Superman learn to fly, discover his powers, and by the time the atomic age begins we’ve given the guy a real reason to question his origins. This was America’s greatest generation and the beacon of hope heroism morality that is Superman was forged during this time.
    The question becomes how do you make a 1938 -45 Superman contemporary for a future Justice League Movie? Answer let the sequel deal with detail of his alien origins.
    The answer lies with your great phrase “the best thing Warner Bros. could do with the next Superman film is to go cosmic, not gritty. Take Superman into space,”
    I’d certainly welcome Superman meets Independence day / Star Wars ; the great thing about the character is that he’s really pure science fiction – as Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
    By taking Superman into space you really could begin to test the limits of his ability’s – by giving him threats that require him to learn skills like Batman to give him an edge over other equally powerful alien foes; Iit would work as a narrative that was also an antidote to Nolan’s Dark Knight because of it’s really alien locations.
    While cosmic Superman is a great stand alone idea it also works as the key idea in a sequel to a gritty period ‘Superman begins’ – because any space opera movie is timeless.
    The Justice League movie will be a contemporary film, with a version of Nolan’s Batman. A Cosmic Superman movie – thanks to science fiction would translate the core gritty period Superman and take the character through to the here and now – and deliver the hero back to a contemporary setting where he can found the Justice League as an older and wiser ‘kingdom come’ ‘All Star Superman’ kind of character.

  15. Charles says:

    I'm surprised many people are questioning WB decision to reboot.
    This may sound like heresy to them, but the Donner movies are not sacred, nor are they perfect, nor were they a particular accurate.
    II was 8 years old when I watched the original cinema release of Superman. and for me even then it was a movie of two acts. The first story arc that introduced Superman, was good, and the high point of the whole movie was the helicopter catch when Superman saves Lois. What came after this 8 year old hated. I hated Luthor had hair. I hated Otis. I hated the fact Superman couldn't catch a couple of missiles one moment and the next was able to travel fast enough to go back in time.
    Years later I'm watching Singer's movie, I'm not happy Superman abandoned earth – but the music makes me 8 again, as did a lot of the easter eggs in the film, but that didn't make up for the terrible costume, the dreadful love triangle, and introduction of the deadbeat dad angle. Hey at least Lex was bald. Just as in the Donner movie the best scene was where Superman catches the plane and saves Lois, but the film dives afterward and we're treated to Superman vs a big rock,,, which is also Kyrptonite, something that puzzled the most casual cinema goers, who asked 'how did he lift that?'
    Basically Singer remade the first Donner film, even giving us the lame landgrab Luthor story. Worse what he added to the story detracted from the character of Superman.
    A sequel? NO thanks. There isn't a loose plot thread I want to see resolved. I don't care what happens to the villainous rock, I don't care what happens to Lois and her boyfriend, and I don't want to see Superman the absent father. I don't even care whether Luthor gets off that sandbar.
    I don't want to see anything that resembles the plots of the earlier films. Smallville has already done' bad things from kyrpton come' angle to death, so no more kyrptonian villians, no more Luthor/kryptonite. Crimes the universe is a HUGE place – come on WB imagine a Superman level threat from somewhere – out there (that isn't Kryptonian?)
    I feel sorry for Brandon Routh, but the ship has sailed, the Donner/Singer films are done.

  16. Misha says:

    Okay, I get the fact that a more realistic approach to the character might work better for this day audience, but does that mean it has to be a dark approach? He had enough real problems in Returns that can be developed in a sequel, giving him enough real trouble that can't be resolved with superpowers, while adding a villain that will challenge him in that area… It seems very logical to me… besides, I want to know what happened next.
    It doesn't have to be scratch and start all over… Wouldn't that be all the more confusing, anyway?

  17. Linden says:

    Bring Singer Back!!! Bring Routh Back!!! I agree, make the movie fun and fly higher!!!…but don't reboot. There's no reason. Give us a proper sequel to Superman Returns!!!
    Routh has been given the torch and he burns brightly. Allow him the chance to burn even brighter!!! Singer has a plan, so let him finish what he started!!!
    The best Superman movies are more than popcorn flicks, they're films!!! Superman Returns is such a film!
    Attempts to make Superman more like his imitator Neo from the Matrix films failed so badly, they never made it to a shooting script stage. A Batman-style Man of Steel will surely suffer the same fate.
    The most successful Superman films, the ones that have endured the test of time are Superman: The Movie, Superman II, and in my opinion, Superman Returns. These are films that took Superman seriously. Every time producers have gotten distracted the films have suffered and faded.
    Superman III was a camp romp with Richard Pryor and Superman IV was a political statement. No one wants that. Even Christopher Reeve couldn't save those films, and he is the most beloved actor in the role!
    Allow Singer to give us the sequel he set up in HIS "re-introduction!"
    BRING SINGER & ROUTH BACK!!!
    …and you will bring SUPERMAN BACK!!!!

  18. iolani says:

    "The movie can be fun (a la "Iron Man") without being corny or campy, and you can make his enemies as dark and dangerous as you want. But leave the pure heroic nature of Superman intact, or don't bother putting that famous costume on him."
    EXACTLY!!!
    As a HUGE fan of Superman Returns, I would very much like to see a sequel to the film rather than a reboot. Despite its flaws, I found SR to be a complex, exciting, and utterly magnificent telling of heroism and love, and I believe it brought a profound and inspiring depth to The Man of Steel.
    Was it too much depth and romance and too little action and fun?. As a stand alone film, perhaps so. Especially for a summer film – I think it should have been considered for a Thanksgiving or Christmas release. But Bryan Singer's vision for Superman apparently included at least 1 if not 2 sequels. I for one, would like to see Singer finish the story. Here's what he had to say about the sequel in an interview with Empire this past March:
    “The first one was a romantic film and a nostalgic film,” he says. “I’ll be the first person to own up to that without making any apologies for it. I knew it was going to be that from the outset. And now that the characters are established, there’s really an opportunity to up the threat levels…Clearly there’ll be a body count. From frame one, it will be unrelenting terror! All those teenage girls who found the movie and mooned over James Marsden or Brandon? Well, I’m going to wake them up!”
    I believe Bryan Singer has the talent and passion to maintain a compelling storyline while bringing eye-popping, heart-stopping excitement to the Man of Steel.
    As for the Man of Steel himself, there's no one I'd rather see in the suit than Brandon Routh. He made me BELIEVE in a big, big way.

  19. Dean says:

    'Superman Returns' was an adequate final chapter to the story that flowed through Superman and Superman II. The plot didn't flow exactly, but it wrapped up the themes nicely. That said, it was odd to have such young actors playing out scenes about long-ago regrets and there probably was not enough action. However, it did do a reasonable job of re-introducing the character. It seem like a mistake to repeat all that work and risk fragmenting the fan-base into Routh vs. Welling vs. New Guy camps.
    One of the mistakes "Superman Returns" made was not providing a bridge for "Smallville" fans to the movie. The Lex-Clark relationship in the movie compared very unfavorably to what was being done on TV at the same time with the same characters. A little co-ordination could have turned that aspect into a strength rather than a weakness.
    That said, it is clearly time to move on to different antagonists.
    "The Dark Knight" worked because it took a story from the comics and figured out a way to update the central metaphor. It was dark in large part because the story of Harvey Dent is dark when viewed from an adult perspective. While I agree that Superman is primarily a character about hope and inspiration, his Golden and Silver Age adventures were not exactly innocent when re-read as a grown-up.
    Famously, Superman was highly political in his early adventures. Many stories turned on economic inequality and other issues that stir debate to this day. Also, Superman editor Mort Weisinger was undergoing Freudian analysis at the peak of the Man of Steel's popularity. Those themes were all over the comics of the 50s and 60s.
    That is why I strongly disagree with the person complaining about the focus on the romantic aspect of the Donner and Singer films. Nearly every successful version of Superman has turned on to one degree or another on the love life of our hero. That is true from Lois in "Lois & Clark" and Lana in "Smallville" all the way back to Action Comics #1.
    The mistake in "Superman Returns" was not connecting the themes of personal story to the adventure story. The early seasons of "Smallville" were consistently great at that. "The Dark Knight" turned on that as well, so did the first two "Spider-Man" films.

  20. Lou says:

    I cannot believe that people actually want Bryan Singer back. Superman Returns had to be one of the worst movies (not just comic book) ever made. It was bland, boring, and had no action. The climax was Superman lifting a huge rock. Wow. Batman fought the Joker, Ironman fought the Monger, Spidey fought Doc Ock, and Superman….well he lifts a huge rock.
    Not to mention Kate Bosworth as the worst Lois Lane possible. A bastard kid that would be an anchor on any sequel and the complete lack of respect of the comic books.

  21. Dave says:

    I'm a big Superman fan. I agree that returns was not an action packed superhero movie. But it was kinda hard and tricky bringing back the blue dude back on screen. Bryan Singer is a very hard worker and trust me, in his first movies he always introduces a story that could be made into a hit in his sequels. So please take that into consideration, and do not reboot the franchise with new casts. Have the same casts but jus a super villain. Thanks

  22. Voltaire Bohol says:

    Here's my take on this. I don't get the WB exec who planned a reboot for the franchise. The Dark Knight is what it is now because of the set up that was done by Betman Begins which earned almost the same amount that Superman Returns did. What's the difference ? The only difference is, they have'nt even made the sequel yet for Superman Returns and yet they are already deeming it as a failure. Batman Begins was given a chance by WB giving the go signal on The Dark Knight a sequel. Why not do the same with Superman Returns ? Give it a sequel it rightfully deserves and Warner Brothers will earn the almost the same amount as Dark Knight. Spiderman 2 was bigger than the first. X-2 was bigger than the first. Does Warner Brothers even get this? C'mon guys! Bring back Singer and Routh let them continue what they had started, give Superman a kick-ass new villain and I tell you, the cash will come raining your way.

  23. apologistpuncher says:

    Awww, are the Singerman fans STILL deluding themselves?
    The good news is, Superman is being rebooted and BJ Routh is HISTORY. All the YouTube videos and petitions with "Over 100 names" on it AREN'T going to change that.
    Feel free to keep banging your heads against the wall though, I'm sure it helps you avoid
    R-E-A-L-I-T-Y.

  24. Paul says:

    I agree that Superman shouldn't be gritty or dark like Batman. He is a bright hero! I thought that Superman Returns was a beautiful and brilliant film that took itself seriously, and I like that a lot. I even like the Superman's kid angle. I think it brings depth and dimension to the Man of Steel. Very intriguing, and I see so many possibilities with that. I'm glad Singer didn't give us a mindless action movie with Returns. Instead, we got a character study of the world's greatest hero. And the film was well-received, it even made more at the BO than Batman Begins. It seems that more people wanted to see a Superman movie than a Batman movie. I wish the story could continue, I see lot of potential there. I just don't get why WB want to reboot it if I and many people I know liked the film. I definitely think they are making a huge mistake that will regret later. Sure, the film is not perfect or flawless, but what film is?? I think that Singer got most right with Returns and deserves another chance. And the cast was very good, especially Superman himself Brandon Routh as well as Kevin Spacey. Brilliant casting! Please, give us more of this wonderful universe WB.
    hopeful.

  25. As I am reading some people's thoughts – it becomes painfully clear as to how WB got into this mess with Superman.
    The big trap is trying to apply our current world as it is into a Superman story and it doesn't work. Superman was created as a light of hope and in order for the fantasy to work Superman can't be walking by crack dealers,chased by paparazzi or having out of wed-lock children.
    I went over that list at the man of steel movie site of things that were wrong with 'Returns' and it completely makes that movie clearly out of whack with the first 2 Donner films. The story has holes that can't be filled with a sequel unfortunately. At least not a direct one.
    If Singer wanted to base that movie in Donner-verse he failed, if it was Superman with a realistic feel and touch it failed. Case in point from the list: Why doesn't Lois ask when did they have sex? No 21st century woman is going to find out she has Superman's son and not wonder as to when the event took place. Little things like that push the movie into a good drama that they planted Superman into and he didn't belong there in the first place.
    Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

  26. Voltaire Bohol says:

    A Superman reboot = Hulk reboot.
    I'm not saying that the recent Incredible Hulk movie bombed, it sold well, except that the Marvel execs were expecting more, and that's the reason why they decided to put on hold any plans for sequel on the Norton movie. That is exactly what's going to happen with WB plans of a Superman reboot.
    The story has been laid on Superman Returns, Singer promised a Wrath of Khan on the next one, The Dark Knight is the Empire Strikes Back of Batman because it is the second part. Superman 2 is way better than the first one. Superman Returns is not the second part, it is just the first part. They should compare Returns more with Batman Begins and not The Dark Knight.

  27. Damin says:

    As much as I think a big nemesis on par with Superman's abilities will add vitality into the movie franchise, it still needs something "meatier" for today's audience.
    The problem with the Singer reboot is that it made assumptions that everyone knows the character of Superman already, which most people already do, but it should of pushed the character development further and be bold with it. Let the character grow beyond the boy scout.
    Here's one story idea that popped into my head reading this post.
    If they want to keep Superman in the world we know today, have him swarmed by paparazzi at the drop of a hat. Have the public treat him like a Hollywood celebrity, where they clamor for every piece of gossip about him. Then during an encounter where he fights some serious rampaging criminals, show a series of events where his best intentioned actions result in the serious injuries of a school bus full of kids and/or nuns. This could even result in deaths, but I don't think DC would allow Superman's character to be stained this way.
    All this is captured on film by, I dunno, Jimmy Olsen. The Daily Planet has to report something like so it gets printed in all the papers. Jimmy's film footage is shown streaming across television and the Internet. Then the movie's story can get into the world turning against Superman because of people cynically enjoying "perfect" people falling from their pedestal. The influence from the media's tendency of running a story like this into the ground from every angle only fuels this new attitude towards Superman.
    Have Clark Kent go through this period where he questions himself and contemplates never donning the tights again. Meanwhile the plot rolls along behind this story arc about a great threat to the world culminating. This threat becomes public and regular people are powerless against it. Heck, you could throw in tidbits and cameos of other DC costumed super heroes being unsuccessful in their attempts to combat this threat as a tie-in to a possible Justice League movie. While this is going on Clark Kent visits the seriously injured in the hospital out of guilt and perhaps the injured or their visiting relatives say they don't blame Superman because something worse would of happened had he not been there. With this insight and renewed spirit Superman re-emerges in the third act to as the catalyst that turns the tide against menace.

  28. I attended a 30th anniversary showing at Bryant Park NYC of “Superman” and it was standing room only. The crowd was filled with children,teens and young adults and also the over 40 crowd who may have seen it when it first played in ’78. Everyone was cheering and clapping and everyone stayed standing or sitting until the credits were over. So ‘Can Superman fly in the 21st century ?’ YES!
    But the story has to remain true to the character,the representation of Superman can be made for today’s audiencs without being ‘cheesy’ or ‘hokey’- Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ proved that and still managed to have villains that ‘kill’. The movie was bright,vibrant and great for all age ranges.
    Superman is the most iconic symbol on the planet next to Mickey Mouse yet when it comes to trying to re-capture the magic of 1978- it seems that some have made a mountain out of a mole hill. The formula is simple: Siegal and Schuster wrote it clear as day, Bruce Timm and Co followed it in the 90s with the animated series. So I remain confused as to why some people keep trying to ‘re-imagine’ Superman. ‘Superman Returns’ was majorly flawed and did not follow the first 2 Donner films although it staked it’s claim on that.
    WB and Co should just not be afraid to go with the Superman that everyone knows and loves- yes: add a villain who is big and mean and dangerous yes: have Superman grounded somewhat in reality but keep the fantasy! Superman has almost god-like ability and the audience understands that so feel free to lean towards the ‘unrealistic’
    So long as the comic books and cartoons are used as source material for the movie there is no problem.
    Spider-Man was a huge success so how Superman remains grounded is a mystery but I hope WB listens to the fans this time. This past summer proved that superheroes and their source material are box office gold when not ‘re-imagined’.
    WB is welcome to look at a fan draft of Man of Steel which incorporates everything fans have been asking for. As well as a section documenting major flaws of ‘Returns’ and where the direction of the character should be and the entire site is composed of research-research of comic book and Superman fans major complaints and desires. http://www.man-of-steel-movie.webs.com

  29. Charles says:

    Can anyone please explain what NEW element Singer added to Superman that's worth following up?
    The Superman that abandons his Mom? – oh and the earth and everyone else…
    The bastard child?
    The love triangle?
    The big scary rock in space?
    The awful maroon & blue suit?
    Every unresolved plot thread left at the end of Returns = the very reason people didn't connect with this movie.
    This isn't a beloved cast of actors with great on screen chemistry given a low octane script = Star Trek the Movie, than can be therefore saved by a better 'wrath of khan' sequel.
    WB have made the right call, you can't fix something whose basic premise is so contaminated – that a real hero could abandon his home, Mom, Lois and his son.

  30. Anne says:

    I'm with those who believe that Superman can still fly in the 21st century, and it was "Superman Returns" that convinced me of that fact. I enjoyed the movie, and I agree that it was a fascinating character study. I can see why some people who went to the theater looking for an action movie rather than the drama they ended up seeing weren't thrilled by it, but I thought it largely stayed true to the characters and set up dramatic plot lines that I, for one, would love to see further explored, especially the concept of Jason. Lois trying to decide whether she should stay with Richard, Richard trying to figure out how to react to the knowledge that Lois is still in love with Superman, and Superman trying to figure out how to bond with his son can all serve as the background of a fantastic action film. It's Superman's positive attitude and sense of hope that appeal to people, and those qualities can shine to greater effect when he's faced with dark situations, as long as the positive attitude isn't overdone. A good sequel to Superman Returns can give us hope, drama, and action. Here's hoping we get to see it.

  31. I just watched "Superman Returns" again last night and, despite the jet rescue scene, am more convinced than ever that Tom Welling would be 1,000 times better in the suit than Routh. Tom has inhabited the character so well in 20-plus episodes for seven years, while Routh has a whole two-and-a-half hours with few lines and little action. We know Welling can do a FAR better job.
    Warner Bros. needs to make Welling an offer he can't refuse and put him in the cape. And that cape needs to be bright red and cloth, not a dried-blood colored Fruit Roll-up. The costume colors and the tone need to match the comics — bright and vivid. Neither of those should hinder a good filmmaker from having an entertaining movie filled with great conflict, action, humor and heart. Jon Favreau proved that with "Iron Man." Every time I saw the flight scenes in that movie, I thought, "THAT'S the kind of fun Superman should have had."
    The lesson WB needs to learn from "The Dark Knight" is that staying true to the comic-book source material is the best course of action.

  32. TW4S says:

    On October 16th, 2001, Tom Welling became this generation's man of steel. Since that day, the epic superman television show "Smallville" has continued to be a new cornerstone for the Superman legend. Fans around the world already acknowledge the incredible talent and dedication that Tom Welling has given to the show and its fans for the last eight years, and now its time to reach that next step. The WB has announced that they will reboot their Superman franchise and now is the time to act and promote a dream that started back in 2001. It is time to see Tom Welling take on the final pieces of this iconic role and don the cape and tights of earth's mightiest hero, Superman!
    Sign the petition: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/tomwelling4

  33. S. Parker says:

    Brandon Routh's perfomance in SR was wooden and as far as being an homage to CR fell sadly short of it's goal. I do not want a return of Brandon Routh to the role. I don't believe that giving him a second chance would make his lackluster performance any better. Even putting the traditional suit on him wouldn't change that sad fact.
    I believe that Tom Welling would be best suited to the role. He has had seven and a half years experience portraying not only Clark Kent, but can use the special effects convincinglly when using Superpowers. Even though he has never donned the suit he still is far more convincing as Superman.

  34. S. Parker says:

    Brandon Routh's perfomance in SR was wooden and as far as being an homage to CR fell sadly short of it's goal. I do not want a return of Brandon Routh to the role. I don't believe that giving him a second chance would make his lackluster performance any better. Even putting the traditional suit on him wouldn't change that sad fact.
    I believe that Tom Welling would be best suited to the role. He has had seven and a half years experience portraying not only Clark Kent, but can use the special effects convincinglly when using Superpowers. Even though he has never donned the suit he still is far more convincing as Superman.

  35. S. Parker says:

    Brandon Routh's perfomance in SR was wooden and as far as being an homage to CR fell sadly short of it's goal. I do not want a return of Brandon Routh to the role. I don't believe that giving him a second chance would make his lackluster performance any better. Even putting the traditional suit on him wouldn't change that sad fact.
    I believe that Tom Welling would be best suited to the role. He has had seven and a half years experience portraying not only Clark Kent, but can use the special effects convincinglly when using Superpowers. Even though he has never donned the suit he still is far more convincing as Superman.

  36. Cinnamon says:

    After watiching Superman Returns many times I think the scripts were lacking in the least for Superman/Clark. Did anyone count how many lines Brandon Routh had? That can maybe be due the fact there wasn't enough action as some claim. What I didn't understand is why Clark sat around at the newpapers waitng for everyone else to find out what happen. Why didn't Superman seek Lex out once he found he was out? Why didn't he go looking for his crystals that Lex stole? Also why did he just sit around when Lois dissapeared? Him having a son kind of wasn't something I would of wanted to see but then again if he was to have one could he actually raise a child being superman and everyone else knowing he had a child? I am thinking it might be better to have a child this way so that child can grow up a somewhat normal life and not have to be harrassed. There is a part that I am not sure of is weather Lois forgot she slept with him or not? Does Richard know or not know who Jason belongs too? There was a lot eye contact that you read into him knowing and to me that would be the best way to raise this child but Bryan Singer needs to confrim that I would think for I am assuming here.
    I Loved Brandon Routh playing him, as for Tom Welling playing him in the upcoming reboot I am in debate for he does play a good Superman on Smallville but I do know when they change actors on squels a percent of movies I seen flap because of this. I can give you long list too. That is why spiderman, Harry Potter, Lord of Rings has done so good, etc. is Why after the first Batmans I & II that the third one flapped etc until………..I seen Batman Begins on DVD that I realized it was restart so I did go to the second one but mainly due to Heath Ledger.
    As for Batman making it so big……………. Hello Everybody anybody who loved Heath Ledger went to see this for this was one of his last movies he did. so is WB stupid enough to not see that if he hadn't died that movie would been just like the last one they made. I can honestly say Heath Ledger was one of the best actors for his times. I even seen this movie because of of HIM and believe I don't go to the movies that much as it now.

  37. Amber says:

    If I remember correctly, the whole purpose of this was to demonstrate and oximoron. Here you have va man, who is supposed to be from anther planet, who lives here all by his loans ome self. It just a little Ironice. He could fust refinance his life and purchase a new one. I don't know, just personal opinon I guess.

  38. Paul says:

    Charles said,
    “Can anyone please explain what NEW element Singer added to Superman that’s worth following up?”
    Sure. In fact, Singer broke new ground with SR- there are two major and subtle giant bits that Singer added that aren’t readily transparent on the surface:
    #1: I thought he made the character more ‘relevant’ for today’s dark world without being inconsistent to the character’s constant insistence to try to be optimistic and look at the brighter side of things.
    I thought he did that by showing a character that could be perceived as a naive and cheerful character with no problems on the surface nowadays as someone with layers of sadness underneath for the world (something that a lot of fans couldn’t stand in the film, I know- to me, it made it more sophisticated than even the comics- )- and more than a bit lonely– and was still vulnerable in the sense that even he could have a heartache for where he came from, enough so that he would be compelled to investigate any signs of possible life when he thought maybe parts of Krypton survived.
    By showing that the guy who seemed invulnerable still had plenty of personal vulnerabilities as well, he didn’t contradict the character’s optimistic sunny side, but that he was capable of personal pain underneath it all, just like any other moviegoer looking for a character to relate to (and look up to at the same time).
    #2:The son is a giant creative leap forward towards Superman’s character development, that came at the tail end. Having Superman have a role as a parent who has to give up his own son in a way is far more interesting (imo) than the official comics that has Superman married to Lois- so, having a kid definitely is breaking new creative ground for Superman in a dramatic sense, just as having Superman revealed to Lois in SII or losing his powers and being human (although not for long) broke some new creative ground for Supes in the original two films.
    Where the movie lacked, everyone pretty much agreed: action, and Singer’s already alluded to that he was going to solve that comfortably in the second, but needed the first to re-set up the universe, so to speak. It’s just good storytelling. Make us care about the characters first, before going all action…. worked for Xmen 1 and X2…
    Anyhow, of course we can all have differing opinions on SR- I just have to point out where I think that the idea that Singer’s film wasn’t trying to break new ground is a bit off— he did break new ground in the dramatic sense with Superman’s personal life, even if he didn’t do the whole ‘re-inventing/reboot’ thing that Abrams apparently wants to do.
    Anyone can do something new and flashy— but to fight to retain the basic elements of what was done right in the first place (the good stuff from the Donner films) and move on, was a lot tougher to do, and I think even if you hated the film,
    I think Singer DID try to take it to the next level, but definitely I think he always knew that SR was only the first step to it, but an important one to take.
    Is SR perfect? No. But it has some perfect scenes that outshine the weaker parts, just as I think STM does, in my opinion.
    Yeah, I like my Superman a little flawed, and not soo sure of what to do ALL the time. I’m in favor of his humanization. I guess that’s why I like the alienation aspect in SR so much because it made him more realistic and relatable. Yeah, I know some people say that he is not supposed to be ‘relatable’ but inspiring. And I say, why can’t we have both? I think SR was a good example of that, at least for me. In SR, Superman was, I think, the godliest Superman ever, and very inspiring, but at the same time he was the most human so far. It worked for me really well, but then, prior to watching SR I had never openned a comicbook, so I had no idea of that Superman. Now I have, and I really like some of the stories, but I can also say that the movies Superman is my favorite depiction of the character so far. Yes, the Donner/Singer Superman is certainly very human, but he is also very godly, inspiring, selfless (most of the time.. ), very heroic, and caring for humanity. I also LOVE the Christ allegories in this story, it totally fits the character, and it elevates him above from the rest of the other superheroes. This Superman is mythic, epic and classic. I love it. But I want more!! I REALLY wanted to see more of Superman as a father. I think it has so much potential to be a very compelling and epic storyline, and a true classic in the history of cinema.
    *sigh* Warner Brothers are just don’t understand this character.
    They should just greenlight the sequel. I loved that SR tried to pay homage to the past. Reusing the Williams’ themes, the art deco Fleischer environment and wardrobe, scenes directly from the comic panels and elements of the Kirk Alyn suit really gave the movie a sense of legacy. As in, Superman isn’t what one person thinks of him, it’s a collection of the ideas and efforts from legions of different people. Sure, they overdid it at times with some of the Donnerisms but come on, those meant the most to Singer, they are arguabbly the most popular, and what Superman movie or TV show hasn’t done a throw back to a classic Superman line or moment?
    I can’t help but feel that a Superman reboot will be modern in all the negative ways. All flash and no substance, rock-influenced soundtrack, cliched character development, obligatory romantic subtext that doesn’t go anywhere kind of dreck. A lot of movies today suck, and I think everyone can agree that a lot of the ideas we heard to reboot Superman before Singer came on board were really bad, so I can’t really get mad at SR for saying the past had better ideas. I sure wish more straight-up remakes and resurrected franchise movies thought that.

  39. Lappydoth Tongper says:

    I've always wanted to see the real villain comes out in a superman movie, enof of lex luthor, we require some hardcore villain who will give superman a tough time. i would agree on a darker superman movie.

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  41. dennis says:

    here r so plot lines for superman. superman meets the stand. have steve king do the story line. i can see it now superman v the devil. good v evil. hell, toss in a couple of zombies an you will have a maga hit on your hands. also, in this type of match up his powers would be useless like george bush's brain. or how about superman gets kidnap to fight on another planet. think gladiator meets alien. final ideal superman vs the legion of superheroes. they have to stop him from doing something that they know will destroy the world. ok, i have one more ideal a superman were he is the last survior of a destoryed world think superman meets i am legend.

  42. bgup says:

    When I think of reboot of Superman, I always think of the Alex Ross artwork, I think of the movie, 'The Natural', the imagery of both and where Superman grew up. I think the WB Smallville does a poor job of having Smallville so close to Metropolis, like they are driving into Mt. Pilot or something. How about a Brainiac or Zod plotline that brings some of the history of Krypton into it, having Superman deal with his legacy as a son of Krypton as much as a product of Earth? I really like the idea that Kal-El really IS Clark Kent, but his disguise is Superman, but think it is done up way too much.

  43. Brian says:

    I am taking a wait and see attitude. I don't think Singer's Superman was bad – but nor did I think it was good. It was just – OK. But this is the problem with Superman as a character – he's just OK. The thing that has made Superman super – was his longevity. Look at the the sales of the comic – it has limped along for years – but that's the thing. It has limped along. As a fan – I can respect the longevity of the concept -but come on – the issue to issue story telling is bland as the movies are. The character just is not so strong or interesting. I like what the WB people has done – I like smallville – I liked all the movies – on the whole – but that's it. I just liked them. I was never excited about them- I liked the "jesus" thing that Singer did – that was interesting about Superman – Jor'El's son as the savior. I liked the immigrant quality of superman – from Schuster as a NYC jew – Superman was an alien making his way in a new home.. the idea of Superman is good – but he is TOO SUPER – he is ALL ON or ALL OFF – the challenge is to find something in the middle that can provide a good story arch that will entertain people.

  44. brian says:

    The smallville episodes in and of themselves are mediore – but I like when I can watch a whole season – that's OK. But like the comic – the blah… blah… blah… it's just a medicore concept. I am thinking they need to take the next step and do something super – we all know the story – I hope this is not another re-boot just to give some exec and director his stamp on the property. That's boring – we all know the story – I like the go cosmic idea from the above writer – go wild – let's see a super movie – something worthy.

    Or – yawn – just another re-boot.
    Spideman – re-boot
    Batman – good re-boot
    Superman – re-boot
    X-Men First Class – kind of re-boot.
    Yawn…. Marvel is doing it right – going for the gold – Avengers.
    That's the ticket -how about a Justice League – Batman – Superman – Green Latern – and others.
    GO FOR IT … Best wishes

  45. Charles F. says:

    Tom Welling has played "Superman" for the past Ten years Why not have him do the movie because he already has the character down with a bit of a dark side.

    • Ram says:

      Tom Welling is the best actor to play the superman, WB bros. should know that.

      Nothing more but i want say that

      ‘TOM WELLING’ is the great actor.

  46. Scott says:

    I think Superman Earth One that was recently released as a graphic novel would be a grand way to go for a reboot movie. But that's a little too Super Science for Nolan's tastes probably.

  47. Rafael Villodas, Jr. says:

    I do agree with the writer of this article… In other Superman movies, they have not taken Big Blue, to fight Brainiac, Darkseid, or Mongul… We need Superman to fly… LIKE THE SKY IS NO LIMIT!

  48. Anime DVD UK says:

    i still believe that Superman can still fly to the first century. for me nothing can beat this super hero, his the famous among others.

    http://www.otakucastle.com

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