Emo Kid From Krypton and The Future of the Comic Book Movie


Everybody into the Situation Room.  

For years now, so the editorials have said, we’ve been asking the same question. “How long can the superhero movie boom last?” Jeff Robinov is willing to let it ride. 

The Warner Bros. Pictures Group President is asking his finest lady friends to blow on the dice as he takes a big, big gamble. Heaps of burlap money bags on the line. His strategy? Capes and cowls and Gotham grit. The flutter of bat wings sounds a lot like the flicker of legal tender green. With the success of this summer’s The Dark Knight, and the overall bank of comic book action in other picture houses, the allure of the superhero as cinematic savior is undeniable. As reported in the Wall Street Journal last week, Robinov is betting on big budget action films to duplicate the process over and over, promising a roster of up to eight big budget films a year by 2011. As it stands now, Warner Bros. is planning to decrease their annual offerings from around 25 films a year to 20 or 22, using the difference to finance larger productions. And in the vanguard of that expensive and risky push are the DC properties. They’ve actually dumped their independent film labels in recent months, which leads one to believe that they’re consciously sacrificing potential dark horse indies — in the vein of Juno and Little Miss Sunshine (low risk) — in favor of popcorn juggernauts which require a little more faith and funds (juggernaut risk). 


Even given the risks and hefty price tag, the appeal is obvious. Superhero films come with a prepackaged audience. They’re also brands ideal for cross-promotion and merchandising. I thought Juno was a pretty dope movie, but I’m not massaging my gums with a Jason Bateman toothbrush (though I’m sure one exists and Luthor would probably wade through ebay.ca to find one). Your best chance of landing on a cereal box is either being an eight-time gold medal winner, a psychotic bird, a maze, or the star of a big budget movie. And more than being part of a well-balanced breakfast, cereal is also a big part of making well-balanced check books (stop booing!) for Warner and its partners. Like anyone else, Robinov wants to live out the opening credit sequence of Duck Tales. And to do it, he wants to go dark. 

Why so serious?

The new ideal is, of course, The Dark Knight. Robinov attributes the film’s success to evil. Yes, evil. He probably means gritty realism, but whatever. Compare The Dark Knight to the previous rebooted property Superman Returns, and you might be tempted to say that the difference is some level of evil. You’d be wrong, but I might nod anyway. Robinov wants maturity in his superhero films. “We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,” he says. And according to the Wall Street Journal article, “That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.”

The way this story has been reported it would seem that Superman Returns is being touted as the Goofus to The Dark Knight’s Gallant. The wrong way to do it as opposed to the right way to do it. And though the box office comparison more than supports this claim, I think that’s a gross simplification. Money talks, but why is it saying what it’s saying? Superman Returns is a controversial film. It’s often a love/hate film. And though my appreciation has faded over time, I don’t think it was a complete artistic failure. This isn’t Elektra. With all its mythological allusion, it’s maybe Icarus. It aimed for Krypton and ended up, I dunno, wherever Lobo is from (don’t answer that). There’s the island, the throwing of the island, the kid, the stalking. But there are good ideas. There’s gravitas (some might say too much, but then you’re probably not the Aaron Sorkin fan I am). Even in a wonky misstep like Superman ending up in a hospital bed, there are these brilliant little beacons. Ma Kent wading through the crowd, worried about her son, unable to say or do anything, trapped in the deception that Superman and Clark Kent are two separate people. The one lie that a man of truth and justice must tell each and every day to keep his loved ones safe. 

But even I agree that the Superman franchise probably needs to strafe a little bit and lift off from a clean slate. If Hulk can do it, Superman can too. I’d almost say that he’s even more poised for reinterpretation than the Hulk because he is so iconic. He’s bigger than any one attempt to capture him on page or screen. But I do worry that Warner Bros. may look at Returns as a colossal failure rather than a flawed work of thoughtful intent. The story of Superman’s return to the screen is one of the most mired and frustrating tales in Hollywood. After all, this is not the first time the words “dark” and “tortured” and “adult” have appeared on the drawing board next to the S emblem. It’s maybe a little too easy to look at Kal-El, promised as a “light to show the way,” and think, “Why not subvert that? Why not refract the light and show him as the brooding anti-hero he might have been?” It’s hard to imagine a time when Superman’s greatest hope was Nicholas Cage in a Tim Burton interpretation. A dark Superman. Look at early production drawings for Superman projects along the way and you’re bound to think, “No.  These are H.R. Giger prints. This is from the next Aliens.” But that’s where Superman was headed until Singer came along. And even then, even in this latest Superman film, Clark Kent is all about the pathos. His first appearance is by no means triumphant. Do we want a brooding Superman? I think that’s exactly what the film’s detractors are saying they didn’t want.  

So where does Superman need to go in terms of a film series? From my reading, it would seem that there are no concrete plans to marry the worlds of Nolan’s Batman and any new Superman series. As much as I’d love to see these two characters together on screen, I think that that’s probably for the best. This leaves us with a blank canvas. Where does Superman need to be in order to garner the same acclaim and cash money as The Dark Knight? Is it possible? The S tattoos say maybe.   

I want to leave this up to discussion, but here’s how I see it. 

The success of The Dark Knight was not simply that it was a mature film. It was a balanced film with a Shakespearian level of performance and thematic structure. Superman can be that. It should be that. It need not be dark (remember that this summer’s other blockbuster Iron Man was undeniably fun and fluffy). But it ought to be intelligent. And this is going to sound out of character coming from me, but it better as hell be exciting. Much as I jabber about the weight on Superman’s shoulders and the iconography that goes with it, I’d be remiss if I didn’t call attention to his physical power. Let him tear shit up. These things are not mutually exclusive. Give me Brainiac. Give me Geoff Johns’ Action Comics. Give me giant robots. Batman did some pretty incredible things in The Dark Knight. And it didn’t stop him from thinking or emoting. Imagine what an earth-bound Kryptonian could do. The dramatic trick is not making Superman weaker. It’s making his obstacles bigger! It’s making the stakes higher. Remember what the game got right and what the movie got wrong. He doesn’t need to save himself. He needs to save Metropolis. He needs to save the world. And since that is a burden unique to Superman, that is what you need to embrace to tell his story. That is why it is a story worth telling. 

I’m not a businessman (I’m a business, man) and I do not claim to know what a producer must go through. But I do love movies and I love stories. And you do too. There is a ripple effect.  More and more, savvy readers and savvy audiences are gaining visibility. The decision makers will hear you if you speak up. Horton will hear a Who. And the only way to get what you want is to want it. 

So what do you want? Let’s talk about it. There’s more than money on the line. 

 


Paul Montgomery is quoting liner notes on the soles of his Vans. Console him at paul@ifanboy.com. Or sing the sorrow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Here’s what I think need to happen in simple steps:

    1) Get rid of the baby. No brainer, if your gonna reboot just ignore all the film’s continuity. Sadly even Richard Pyror needs to go.

    2) Find a villian other then Luthor. Hey I love Lex as much as anyone, and it’s not like Spacey did a terrible job….he did a great job what he had to work with. But Superman has more foes then just him, at least with Batman they tried to branch out with every film. Why is it so hard to introduce Brainiac, Metallo, or even Mr. Mxyzptlk? If Smallville can make these villians work then so can a film. I mean it’s okay to have Luther, just have him in the background like he was for Superman: TAS.

    3) Needs some light. Okay maybe he shouldnt be all goofy and idiotic, but Superman cant be a ‘dark’ film. If you wanna add drama, then put in some of Clark missing Krypton or if you do add Brainiac…that add’s a crap load of depression when he finds the city of Kandor. Returns was sorta trying to be more serious then other films….but if the next film has the same tone as the original, I got no problem with that.

    4) Use the Greek God? Why not bring Geoff Johns in as head writer or consoultant for the film? If he can make some of the best Superman titles out there….he can do a film. Or just steal some of his ideas….whatever works for DC.

    Superman can be entertaining as Batman, or Spider-Man, or even the X-Men in film…But clearly Returns was not the way to go. Let’s hope this reboot makes him more relevant then he his today.

  2. So, you’re saying, um, you’re saying that… movies should be good?

     

    OK, I tease… but I agree. What worries me about Robinov’s comments are, well… what does he mean by dark, exactly? Is he confusing dark with mature, a mistake made by many a comics writer back in the late 80’s and early 90’s? 

    I do believe that a good-but-dark Superman story could be told. I’m not against it. In fact, I’d argue that Superman Returns had it’s bittersweet, complicated, angst-ridden moments. It definitely played as a more mature take on the character. I am not, however, convinced that this is in the best service of the icon. Or the franchise. Robinov says he’ll "go dark" to the extent that the characters allow it. But, of course, this also means that Hollywood has to "get" these characters, in order to know what is allowed. And am I brimming with confidence about this? No, I am not. It strikes me as a combination of studios saying "dark is hot, super-heroes are hot, get those two qualities and you’ve got box office gold!" This is, of course, what happened after Tim Burton’s Batman — to some extent — and we got a LOT of baaaad knock-offs.

    We’ll see. I’ll always hold out hope that Hollywood realizes that what makes these characters work best is an excellent creative team. Doesn’t matter if it’s a comic book or a movie. Doesn’t matter if it’s a writer/penciller/inker or an actor/director/screenwriter. Put the talent on the movie and the icons will come to brilliant, shining life. 

     

       

  3. You have to laugh, don’t you? "After the success of Dark Knight, we have taken a look at our strategy going forward and decided that our new business plan is to make the Dark Knight all the time from now on."

    Here’s hoping they figure out not every hero is Batman before the audiences tell them. Maybe the publishing wing should send over some long boxes from ’round about 1994 as a cautionary tale.

    I can’t deliver the formula for a good Superman movie but I would suggest, when you’re picking a villain for an indestructible all-powerful alien, maybe oooone time you don’t go with the bald old man who likes real estate. Less compelling than you might imagine.

  4. If they want to make a good Superman just drop the Lex Luthor real estate fetish, it worked the first time but enough already.

    Superman’s world could be dark, be he cannot be dark and brooding, he has to the beacon of light in all of the darkness around him.  The movie should be an origin strory and they should take the Christopher Nolan approach.  By this I mean attention to detail , dialogue and character motivation surrounded by balls out action.  And for the love of god, can we not have a whiny, pining for Lois Superman, please?

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Look at Dark Knight and even Batman Begins.  Two or more villains.  Without coming off as terrible as the Schumaker Batman movies.  No one is saying that you can’t use Luthor.  But use Brainiac too!  Dark Knight is dense and sophisticated, so the challenge isn’t even to simplify Superman and make a minimalist film.  It can be dense and crazy. 

    @Dave – I guess I am just saying to make a good movie.  But my real argument is that Superman Returns should not be looked at as the biggest failure in comic movie history.  I think we should examine the thing and figure out what went wrong, because I think it was really, really close to getting it right.  And to be honest, I’d rather have a dialogue about that here than to just ramble on about it.  I’ll admit.  I’m looking for some insight.  

     

  6. @TheNextChampion, just because someone can write comics, doesn’t mean they should write movies. And Paul, if Warner Bros. makes a movie that views Returns as a "flawed work of thoughtful intent" instead of going in a completely different direction, they would be making the same movie twice, or at least thats how the greater viewing public would perceive it. Maybe not you and me, but most people would see it that way. The only way to get away with that would be to do a sequel, but we know that the overall reaction to Returns probably wasn’t good enough to warrant a direct sequel.

    How should they fix Superman movies? Stop making them! Everything after Superman II was a disappointment. And just as a reminder, Superman II did a perfect job of bringing in other villains and setting Luthor to the side. Stop trying to make these effects-heavy "epics" that don’t really convey what Superman needs to convey. The challenge is just as difficult as writing a good Superman story in the comics.

  7. I would like to proffer that a good Superman movie would focus less on who he is and more on what he does. To me, the first Superman movie was, and remains the best Superhero movie ever. Not because it has the most developed character (Though, really, with Christopher Reeves in the driver’s seat the question of character just never comes up. He is so obviously Superman. duh.) but because of the choices he makes, his attitude toward the world, the actions he takes to do the right thing as he understands it.

    In the last movie, and I’m not trying to rip on it here, but I really never knew for sure if he was going to do something heroic or rip Lois and her new husband to shreds. It just wasn’t… Let’s just say I feel like we already had our dark Superman, it just wasn’t all spelled out for us.

    Give me a classic Superman who has something to do that is meaningful and understandable and doesn’t break the universal laws of conservation of matter (Crystal Lite Kryptonite, I’m looking at you). 

  8. Brainiac should be the villian.  Hell I’d settle for Metallo.  Just somebody other than Luthor, he can still be in it but he has to be in the background.  And he needs to be the coporate billionaire not a criminal mastermind who seduces old women for money.

  9. You need good actors whatever the story is. You can’t make a sequel to Superman Returns and have it be successful. The whole kid-storyline should have been scrapped.  Whatever they do next it needs to be right because if they fail this next time, they won’t be able to make another Superman movie for 20 or 30 years.

  10. "a flawed work of thoughtful intent"

    That’s a fantastic phrase right there.  It perfectly sums up what happened with Superman Returns as well as Ang Lee’s Hulk.

    How many ridiculous executives out there will it take before one of them realizes that just because something works once, it isn’t going to work every time?  We’ve done a century so far, and while I’m sure people have attempted that, I guess they didn’t stay in the chair that long.  Oh well.  We’ll always have Fox Searchlight.

    Apparently we’ll also have a really terrible grim Green Lantern movie as well.

    Also, as far as bringing Geoff Johns on, his work in comics is SMALL potatoes.  The only show he’s worked for was the Blade series which tanked, so no one’s gonna be throwing bags of money his way for movie work, unfortunately.  David Goyer on the other hand, will be fighting them off.  But he’s had mixed results.

  11. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    We can at least be thankful that Johns gets to work on an epeiosde of Smallvill this year.  I haven’t watched the show in years, but this, this is the hook to entice me. 

    Here’s my stance on Superman Returns.  The Clark Kent works.  The Luthor mostly works.  The world itself works.  The themes, though a little overblown, work.  The Jimmy Olson really works.  The story itself did not.  

    They were so close.  They had him.  They just made him do the wrong things.  They had all the Legos to build the Millenium Falcon, but they built a not-so-awesome biplane instead.  My fear is that they’re going to throw out all the Legos and try to build the Millenium Falcon out of some super industrial Giger inspired Erector Set.

    You know what happens when you do that shit?  

    The Sentry happens.   

  12. @Paul — keep in mind, I liked Superman Returns. So I definitely agree that it should not be held up as "the opposite" of The Dark Knight. It worries me that Robinov may not get that. Of course, we’re also taking a brief statement out of context, so I’ll admit that on my part, I’m adding a healthy dose of my own skepticism.

    Here’s one for discussion: The Dark Knight often felt as much a sweeping crime epic as it did a super-hero film. If Dark Knight worked because it played down the punch ’em up for the crime epic (example being The Untouchables or something similar), what style/genre should Superman link itself to? An example might be Superman in the context of (the film) Gladiator. Or send him into the future to lead the Legion of Super-heroes into an epic battle "Braveheart" style.

  13. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I totally forgot there was a biplane in the movie.  That metaphor is so awesome in hindsight!

    @Dave – The going comparison for Dark Knight is Heat.  And would you have believed that a year ago?  Would we even have considered that possibility?  But it worked.  With Superman…?  See, I want the origin to have a little Frank Capra in it.  But in terms of action, it’s so hard to pin down.  He faces the threats that an army might face, but he’s one guy.  I’m at a loss.  If he’s dealing with evil Kryptonians or Brainiac, maybe it’s Star Wars.  A quest to understand his abilities and to save the universe from, really, his own people.  Brainiac is an empire.  Zod is almost a father figure.  A Darth Vader.  That’s the scope.  

  14. On the love/hate debate on Superman Returns, I’m pretty much on the love side.  With that said I’m able to see its flaws, its most glaring its almost point for point plot to Superman the Movie.  But in my opinion any flaws with SR could be "fixed" on the sequel with the same cast and creators.  If we take a look at the first two X-men films, Bryan Singer only improved with the material.  To do a complete overhall of the SM franchise just seems like an obvious "we’re getting caught up in the success of the Dark Knight and Marvel Studios and heres our quick fix for Superman."  What bothers me the most is that love them or hate them, movies like Hulk, The Punisher (04), and Superman Returns would be back with direct sequels had they made a ton of money.  Even though its a business, its still too bad.

  15. @Paul – I like it!

    And yeah, "Heat" — that’s one of the films I was going for… blanked when I posted, though. I like this game. To me, that’s more fun than picking the villain (although it comes with it some times).

  16. A Star Wars feel could work for a Superman movie.

  17. I’d like to see a Kingdom Come Superman, you know the apathetic Superman who lives in a fantasy world while the world around him goes straight to hell.  If they want dark, this is how they can do it. They could do a Kingdom Come-esque story, they wouldn’t necessarily have to introduce other superheroes.

  18. They just need to find a talented director with a passion and, most importantly, VISION for the character.

    I enjoyed Singer’s Superman Returns, but it didn’t capture my imagination the way Nolan’s Batman has. I think a lot of this has to do with the uniqueness of Nolan’s interpretation. He wasn’t trying to play off the previous films like Singer was, but rather create a new world unto itself. Sometimes you can’t go home again. 

    Oh, and keep the suites out of the way! If the story requires darkness, great! If not, don’t force it.

  19. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Kory – And there’s a reason for that.  The original Superman film is an epic, more or less.  It’s much closer to Joseph Campbell’s Heroes Journey model.  Which is the basis for Star Wars.  And I think that’s appropriate because this is American mythology.  Superman is Hercules.  So his adventures should be closer to something like Star Wars or a Ray Harryhausen movie.  And that’s not to say you have to sacrifice depth of character or theme.  

  20. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Dave – Another thought.  Superman was obviously compared to Christ in Returns.  But the character has also been compared to Moses.  An child sent down the Nile to a brighter future.  Maybe there’s something there.  What if Superman is Moses and the people of Metropolis or Kandor or the Legion are the Israelites?  What if Zod is Ramses?  What if Brainiac is Ramses?  Or maybe…

    "Darkseid, let my people go!" 

  21. I think Kory nailed it.  If you want to make a dark Superman movie, don’t do it to Superman, do it to his surroundings.  Superman is light that everyone seeks in the darkness.  Take his villains and show how terrifying they really are and how threatening they can truly be but don’t touch Superman. 

  22. I think they need to forget it’s a superhero movie and just tell a good story dammit! Just tell a good story! It’s not rocket science! Just tell a good story! For crying out loud forget everything! Tell a good story! A GOOD STORY!

    k I’m done.

  23. Oh and have him fight a giant spider in the third act.

    10 points if you get that reference.

  24. @Paul — I like the Moses concept. Could work with a Braniac/Kandor type story. Could easily even follow from the last movie. As I recall, it begins with him having spent time in space, looking for remnants of Kypton, right? So this movie picks up with that, with Brainiac’s arrival (a la the current Action arc), and it involves Superman fighting for his people (the Kryptonians in Kandor initially, maybe spilling out to Humans when Kal realizes that his focus on the Kryptonians has made him lose sight of the Earth that embraced him), and then freeing them from Tyranny.

  25. It could also end with Superman leading the Kandorians away into space to find a new home, prompting Lois and Super-kid to wonder, "mommy why does Superman have to leave?" At which point, Commissioner Gordon pops up and says, "Because he can take it."

    Wait…

  26. @JumpingJupiter Luthor and IroncladMerc are nailing it.What the guys at WB are completely missing is that TDK is NOT successful because it is "dark" or "evil" (Otherwise Blade, and Dark City would be 500mil movies) the reason why it was so successful is because of they nailed the joker and the actual batman characterization. They finally tapped into the true soulm of the character. THIS was finally Batman. It was finally a great story, and NOT just a superhero movie

     If they make a dark Superman then they are just wasting their time and money… they need a superman story/script that people will stand and applaud and want to see 4-5 times in the theater.

    Ironically, that story has already been written.. and its fairly dark – but true to the Superman character.

     Kingdom Come

    If they want to please everyone. Stay true to the superman character, create a DC film multiverse, do the "Dark Superman" and do a trilogy… they should do Kingdom Come – and people would see this, baby in the theater 5, 6, 7 times. easily.

     

  27. I think if they just throw a huge mechanical spider in it somehow everything will be fine.

  28. I think Geoff Johns would be a good adviser for the script….But then again if he did do that Blade series then it’s best not to get him involved. >_<

    But a good key of Superman, just like Batman, they can use is that he never kills. Even when it’s a huge monster destroying the series, he always subdues and never kills. Have a story where he’s pushed to the limits. Have Lois, Ma and Pa, or anyone else be in grave danger….or hint that they get killed (not literally but as a trick or something). Make Superman go somewhere he’s never been, that is a story that could work.

    Any of his villians (except maybe Bizarro) could definitely make Sups into a deranged psychoic. Or, as someone else stated, make the Kingdom Come Superman. Make him think the world is perfect when it is actually getting a lot worse…..Or throw in a ‘Wild Wild West’ robot Spider and get Kevin Smith involved….those combinations cant fail.

  29. All-Star Superman could be pretty sweet. Killing Superman would be pretty dark.

  30. For the record, I LOVE Returns. And yes, I’m cliched enough to use CAPITALS to emphasise that.

    I think if Robinov means to update the characters in the mould TDK was made (real world sensibilities and threats, well thought out characterisation and a gripping, well-paced, emotional story) then I’m all for it. Unfortunately, I think he’s looking at the box office more than the film. That worries me.

    I have horrible visions of him meeting the directors of future franchises, handing them a copy of The Dark Knight and saying "Do that!".

    In the case of Superman, make it as good a film as TDK and I’m a happy bunny. But try to make it The Dark Knight and you’re making a mistake in my opinion. Batman and Superman have always been polar opposites; the light to the other’s dark, the optimism to the other’s distrust.

    Still, this is all speculatory. In essence I like that they’re committing to making more quality films of these characters. Just do it right and not carbon copies. It’s also a little sad that less independent films will be made, but that’s beside the point of this thread. 

  31. A dark Superman is not something that’s possible.  It’s just out of character.  But I think they need to challenge the character in the movie.  Having him fight something like bank robbers is no good because the stakes aren’t there.  But throw him against something that’s his opposite (Brainiac, Darkseid, etc.), and that creates tension.  This is why the Batman/Joker dynamic worked so well in TDK.  It was two equals combating each other over stakes that contained real loss.

    My thought to make Superman more serious (in terms of a movie) is to provide him with a villain that makes him make tough choices (like, do I kill him/her or not?) whose outcomes explain his character or play up his alien side more and develop his loneliness and his search for a place in the world (my thoughts turn to Superman: For all Seaons…)

    I think, too, that the next Superman movie needs to have more intense action scenes like the plane scene from Superman Returns.  That was one of my favorite movie moments ever, as that whole scene is intense, and then when he goes into the plane.  It’s just too bad the movie didn’t have more moments like this. 

  32. Two dudes got 10 points each here.

    Not for my comment that actually contributes to the discussion. I’d like to see Superman duke it out who is he eqaul physically but his superior intellectually. Add in a subplot about people looking up to Superman so much that they start a cult. Eventually the cult becomes a religion and well, as it often does this religion starts a war (or civil unrest at least). If you want you can plop a villain in there who is more than willing to take advantage of this situation and I think that would add some density to the franchise. Not only exploring Superman but people’s reaction to him.

  33. I would enjoy a realistic look at how the world would react to an alien flying around in a cape saving people.  For instance, in TDK they were copycat vigilantes, some cops trusted Batman, others blamed him for causing Gotham’s problems.  I would want to see how the people of Metropolis react to Superman.  For example in the real world if an all powerful alien showed up there would be people who would fear him, some would trust him and others would distust him out of xenophobia.  If done right it could be a good examination of humans and how we treat people who are different.

  34. sorry, distrust.  i can’t spell.

  35. @Jupiter: Are we talking about Superman or Captain Marvel?

    Also we need to get two things out of any new film…..No origin and not have the film show the minor characters too much. I want to see a Superman film with mainly him and the villian..Sure it might not seem romantic to some but I’m tired of the Lois/Superman relationship. We need more time with Superman and not with her.

  36. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @jumpingjupiter – The cult aspect sounds sort of like Superman #659, which focuses on a woman who believes Superman to be an angelic savior.  I don’t know if it would work in a film, but it would definitely fit in the Superman TV series I want to do some day.  🙂

  37. I admire WB for striving to make their movies better.  It’s not something we should be concerned about but  applauding.  What I’m assuming is that DC is going to remake the Dark Knight with every movie in spirit if not necessarily in tone.  Hopefully they will strive to make the best comic book movie of all time every time and not just throw something out there like Marvel is doing. 

    As a sidebar I was reading an article about how abyssmal indies have been performing this year and how difficult they are to market unless you have the personnel to do it.  This may have a lot to do with WB sinking more money into the tentpoles.  Often, the blockbusters allow studios to take more risks with smaller movies so if these comic book movies do well I would hope that it would trickle down to help smaller films.

  38. As for my ideal Superman movie it would have to involve some kind of alien invasion–maybe Braniac but my preference is Darkseid–wherein Superman would be forced to compromise his principles and work with Luthor and also put his concern for his friends and Lois on the backburner for the greater good.*

    *I like long sentences.

  39. I preface my comments by saying I liked Superman Returns…but it was a Dark Superman. I took my daughter and she had nightmares that evening because she was scared! Wow! I didn’t expect that from a Superman movie! TDK, yes ( and no, i didn’t take them to see that).

    For a Superman reboot i agree with several posters: You need ACTION. You need it BIG and BOLD! Superman’s costume needs to be technicolor bright…not the drab, muted Superman Returns colors. I’m sorry. But even the toys looked ugly. A Superman movie needs, requires those gigantic special effects that the studios clamor for…just don’t throw out the story along the way!

    If you want pathos, I agree again. Make the situations dark and let Supes be that beacon of light (what they sort of did in Superman Returns, messiah analogies aside).

    Villians: Brainiac, sure. Luthor in the background pulling strings, perhaps. Why not Bizarro? There is a little angst there, although thinking about it now, wasn’t there kind of a Bizarro moment in the Christopher Reeves movies….Superman 3…i don’t recall off hand? Doomsday? DO his origin as a mini recap or memory sequence as Supes is going toe-to-toe with Doomsday or some Gigantic Alien Robot, don’t spend half the movie rehashing that. Also throw in a reference to Gotham or the Flash or Green Lantern, as Iron Man teased the Marvel U. Get us excited about the DC Universe movies….

  40. What if a computer genius made some phony kryptonite and it turned him evil…

    Hollywood is going to do what it always does (95% of the time) and copy what works until the cash stops coming. That is what New York does, Nashville, whatever…these guys want to make money and they copy what makes money over and over and over again.  Whether it is the Dark Knight and Superman, or Britney Spears and Sufjan Stevens, they will copy what worked in the past until someone does something new and then that sells, and then they will copy the crap out of that.  And they don’t care that one was better, more artistic, deeper, etc–if Good Will Hunting sells, make 2 more, if "Scary Movie" makes a buck make so many you end up parodying the original movie you made…

    Summation of rant: the next Superman is going to be a TDK rip-off that will suck. 

     

  41. Why is it that these Hollywood people are so narrow minded? Obviously money plays a big part, but why cant these people see the art in these films instead of the art and creativity? There’s probably so many films today that are greenlight just for the cast instead of the script and production…Not to get too off-topic, but has there ever been a time when Hollywood isnt just Hollywood?

  42. "Shakespearian"? Xian Bale stunk. Overdubbing him for DVD release would enhance the film.

  43. A good entertaining story, well acted & well directed will be a good movie, if it’s about Superman or if it’s about a guy that works at 7-11.

    Of course the big producers don’t think like this, they think Dark Knight made money, so let’s copy that formula & make more money. Money is the most important thing to them. Making a good original movie is not as high on thier list of priorities, that’s why we see so many sequels, where it’s basically the same movie.

    If they do wanna make a good Superman movie though, I think having some polar bears guarding the Fortress Of Solitude would be a great idea, & Braniac could fight it. Also, Superman shouldn’t fly or wear that costume, it’s gay. The giant robot spider in the third act the other guys mentioned sounds perfect too.

  44. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @minithin – Everybody else more than made up for the Bat voice.  More than.  If that’s the weak link in the movie, that’s not such a terrible problem to have.  I can at least see why he made that choice, even if it didn’t come off all that convincingly. 

  45. I’d like to see them play off the dark side of the "superman" idea. There should be a subplot of the movie where Luthor (or somebody else, though I’d like it if Luthor was the SIDE villain for a change) leads a campaign against Superman, calling him out (unfairly) as an "ubermench", who makes humanity feel inferior by comparison, and protesting that he leave Earth. The FAN charge against Superman has always been that he’s too powerful and too good–and those are still the reasons why many people in general don’t like Superman: he’s the all-powerful boy scout. So just have a sideplot where a faction of the people of Earth are disillusioned with Superman and call him out (again, unfairly) as if he were the Nazi ideal man or whatever. Hurt by the accusations but noble nonethelss, as Superman saves the world he’s redeemed in the naysayers’ eyes as well as in the eyes of the movie-goers. We need to be shown why Superman matters and what is so great about him. He should be juxtaposed to a dark world (one in which Luthor is rising), dark villains (such as Brainiac, a computer who makes humans obsolete?), and the dark side of humanity (people lamenting Superman as if he were a Nazi ideal).

  46. I don’t fault the movie executives wanting to make money, it’s their job.  The problem is none of them understand these characters and hopefully Superman and all the other planned movies will get directors like Christopher Nolan.  He was’nt familiar with Batman but he made sure to study the character and his motivations.  So I’m praying they find directors that will really study these characters and come to care about them.

  47. And man, people really can’t get over the Bale bat-voice can they?  It was a minor detail folks.  And like I said other places I’ll take Bake-voice and sonar bat-vision over cod pieces and bat-nipples any day.

  48. typo- "Bale-voice".  Man I suck at typing.

  49. @WadeWilson – please don’t use the word "gay" in that context while on this site.  Thanks.

  50. I cannot even begin to speculate on what the exec’s are thinking about for this franchise yet but they did have the instinct to let Nolan reinvent the Batman franchise, so there is some hope.  There is a chance that this is the direction they’re going for and there’s also a realistic chance they let something like this out to get the internet buzzing and monitor what it is people say they do want in a Superman movie. 

    For me I have to echo what’s already been said and that is no matter how dark you make the world around him Supes should contrast that with being good.  Captain America good, not lame sappy out of date good.  Just the thing you aspire to or are inspired by and then show that against a realistic backdrop that’s having fantastic things happening in it.  The first Superman movie caught that I think.  Metropolis looks like New York, there are muggings, pimps that compliment Superman on his attire, only now throw in the modern effects capabilities and instead of a helicopter falling off a building have a huge robot controlled by Braniac running through the middle of the street. 

    The thing missing from the franchise isn’t characters or drama, it’s STAKES.  A hero is only as good as his villain, and the Superman movies need more Braniac and less Ross Webster.  

  51. The new movie, I’ll call it Superman Begins should have new villians and at the end just like in Batman Begins tease the emergence of Lex Luthor like they did with The Joker.  I remember after seeing Batman Begins I was already thinking about a sequel, and who would play Joker.  I f Superman did that it would help not only the next movie but the sequel.

  52. …this is such a long discussion, I’m not really going to read it all except to say Paul nailed it – If Batman is Heat, let Superman be Star Wars.

     For a guy that can crack a planet in half, let him be up, up and away; far beyond what mere mortals can fathom. If DC wants to outdo Marvel, let it be in scope. Let them make movies not content with the tropes of superherodom, let them make Films.

    Grant Morrison’s pitch to WB was right on, and I think could even retro-redeem Superman Returns – if you had them as seperate sides to the same coin,  yin and yang, each focusing on facets of what Superman is. He is a national instituion, instantly reconizeable by most everyone in this country and a good number of people on earth. So instead of serializing pulp adventures like any other flick, let each film be a Grand Adventure, focusing on different aspects of the mythos that is Superman. Let it read like smatterings of Homer’s Odyesse followed by echoes of Gilgamesh. Let Singer’s Superman Returns focusing on Supes humanity ("What if Superman shirked his responsibilities? Had a kid? Left? Came back?") Then follow with Morrison’s focus on Supes’ divinity, with an All Star esque storyline and badaboom, you’d have a facinating one-two introspection of the Superman Mythos.

    That’s my opinion on the Superman re-visioning. Warner Brothers is really going to miss the boat if they repeat the 90s mistake. People don’t want darkness, they want a Good Story, which should be the intent of WB with these properties anyway. It is what made both Iron Man and Dark Knight and ultimately any film successful. Have there been any movies that have been just great movies but had bad or badly told stories to them? I surely can’t think of any… 

  53. The thing that concerns me is that the next Superman film will contain a lot of backstory in an effort to mimic Batman Begins.  We could get lots of explainations about exactly how Superman’s power works and also a lot about young Kent’s relationship with his parents.  Batman Begins worked hard to ground Batman in a real-world setting and the new Superman film may do this as well.  Personally I’d rather see them move forward and ditch most of the backstory.  Superman’s origins are a well-worn path.

  54. They should have Clark Kent falsely accused of murder, then have him on the run trying to clear his name, and they should call it Clark Kent:Fugitive. No, they should have Superman’s ex Lana Lang who has become a drug addicted porn star sell his secret identity to Lex Luthor who uses the information to destroy Clark’s life. Wait, even better, have Superman’s kid sidecick go crazy and start killing everyone until finally Supe’s has to snap his neck in a field. Ooh ooh! Put Superman in black, give him a mullet, have him fly arround with Shaq for two and a half hours, and the enemy could be Verne Troyer as Sleez who tries to make a porn film with Superman and Big Barda.

  55. Anyone notice the colors in the new Superman by James Robinson are evocative of the color scheme from Singer’s movie?  Interesting.

  56. @Josh: Wade’s "gay" remark is actually a reference to a Kevin Smith quote in which he relates a conversation he had with a studio exec about a Superman flick. Smith was asked to write a script but follow some guidelines established by the exec. One of the guidelines was that superman should not fly or have his red, yellow and blue costume because the exec thought it was "faggy".

    It’s a bit of an obscure reference.

    You can view the hilarious anecdote on youtube. -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgYhLIThTvk

  57. @Josh – Yeah, what JumpingJupiter said. I was following up all the Kevin Smith "giant spider" stuff, I’d be one of the biggest Superman fans on this website, I wouldn’t say his costume is "gay" and be serious about it.

    @JumpingJupiter – Thanks mate, I knew a few people would get my reference, seeing as so many people had already talked about the anecdote.

  58. use other villains. supes has a whole arsenal of villains. get rid of the kid. and get supes in a new direction of life. stop brooding over Lois shes gone deal with it and screw the kid

  59. I though Superman returns sucked, hardcore.  It failed misarebly at what it was tryng to do.  I hope they pull a Hulk and just start from scatch (which according to rumers is exactly what they are going to do)