Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Only a couple weeks ago it was announced that British actor Henry Cavill (if you watched “The Tudors” on Showtime, he played Charles Brandon, and starred in an assortment of shitty direct to DVD horror movies as well) would be the next man to don the red and blue tights of Superman in the upcoming mega-budget reboot of the “Superman” film franchise. Yes folks, we’re getting another “Superman” reboot whether we want it or not, and it’s being brought to us by none other than director Zack Snyder, whose comic book adaptation credits include “300” and “Watchmen”. Do we really need another “Superman” movie? Well, believe it or not, maybe we do…
It was five years ago now (and it sure doesn’t feel like it was that long) that Warner Bros. had spent a quarter of a BILLION dollars on Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns”, which for all intents and purposes, flopped in comparison to the studio’s hopes and projections. Reception was mixed at best, with some enjoying it and others pretty much slamming Singer for being two steps away from practically plagiarizing Richard Donner’s original “Superman” film. Though Singer intended to pay wondrous amounts of homage to Donner and the original film, the end result was a 2 ½ hour long snooze-fest which had almost zero action sequences and portrayed Superman as being a “super-stalker”, always seeing what Lois Lane is up to in her new life apart from him…and it actually got to be kind of fucking creepy! Not to mention the fact that evil genius Lex Luthor still can’t come up with a better scheme than land control and Supes and Lois have a super-powered son, and well…well, that was “Superman Returns” in a nutshell. I just saved you 2 ½ hours, so you’re welcome.
Anyway, fast forward to 2008. Christopher Nolan scores a massive hit with “The Dark Knight”, and was eventually appointed supervising producer of a new “Superman” movie by Warner Bros. and DC. Singer’s proposed sequel was scrapped, as well as the former cast and crew, in favor of what was then promised to be a “darker” take on the Man of Steel. That statement in itself kind of sets up a bit of a conundrum though: Superman isn’t a “dark” kind of character. He’s the big blue Boy Scout, and aside from being loved by kids, most comic fans look at him as being an uber-lame character with universe-shattering power. But that’s the problem with being the most recognizable and most celebrated comic book character of all time: he hasn’t changed. I’m not saying he should, but we as a society no longer identify with Superman. We’ve become more accustomed and comfortable with celebrating the anti-hero, that’s why Batman has always managed to stay so relevant for decades. Combine that with the popularity of “dark” comic book movie heroes like Wolverine, The Punisher, Blade, and the like; and it becomes incredibly hard to appreciate a character that is just concentrated awesome good.
With that in mind, Nolan brings in Snyder, whose last foray into comic book adaptations saw him make the unfilmable film that was “Watchmen”: the godfather of dark superhero comics. While that film’s reception was mixed as well, Nolan and the studio both hope that Snyder can put a bit of a darker turn on the Man of Steel, and I for one actually kind of want to see it. So far though, it has been revealed that General Zod will return as the main villain of the film. Zod was last played by the great Terrance Stamp in “Superman II” way back in the day, and was awesome as well. Do we really need to see Zod again? I can understand Luthor being a recurring villain, but Zod again? If they want to put a darker spin on Superman, why not used some his darkest villains? What about Brainiac, the villain who had the biggest impact on Superman’s mythology other than Luthor? Or Darkseid, who for all intents and purposes is a God of death? Hell, even Doomsday, the monster that killed Superman in the comics; why not any of them instead of doing Zod over again?
Believe it or not, even though I’m spouting off all this Superman knowledge, I’m not even a real fan of the character. When I was a kid it was a different story of course, and even today, you can’t pick up a single DC comic and not somehow find him in it somewhere. But that’s okay regardless; he’s just that iconic a character. Everyone knows who Superman is, and everyone knows his backstory…and they know it all whether they want to or not!
He’s that iconic that he deserves another cinematic shot…but if it fails again well…
it may prove that box office busts are so strong that even Superman can’t beat ‘em.