Superman Returns gets a bad rap. It isn’t nearly as awful as people say it is, but it isn’t anywhere near as good as it could have been. It was hurt by a number of things, but the biggest problem was continuing a series of films from 20 years ago. It was full of winks and nods to a crowd that was much too young to remember when the details of Superman and Superman II. Add in the fact that director Bryan Singer took pieces from the Donner cut, that almost no one saw, and the back story ended up as one big mess. Thankfully, we will see an all new iteration of Superman this summer in the Man of Steel. Here are 5 things we would like to see in the new Zack Snyder/Christopher Nolan take.
As I mentioned above, one of the major problems of Superman Returns was the fact that for some reason Bryan Singer decided to go with a story that was a followup to Superman and Superman II. First you have to consider that it had been 26 years since Superman II and 28 years since Superman. Now, take in the fact that superhero movies usually tend to skew towards young males, and you have a problem. Many might have seen the films, but they weren’t familiar enough with them to build a story around.
In addition to this, you had competing lore from pop culture knowledge of Superman. Many elements seemed out of character. Superman disappeared for 5 years? Lois Lane has a kid? That is Superman’s kid? None of it made sense when you looked at the Superman mythology. Singer once again tried to pull many of the same elements he had used in his highly successful X-Men franchise. However, despite being an alien, Superman was never the outsider that many superheroes were. In fact, if you are a fan of comic books, you’ll see the most human character of all, Batman, is actually the outsider in DC. So, we were given a mopey Superman, which in the context of films it was based on, made no sense either.
Are they going to fix it? Yes. WB has decided to reboot the series entirely. New actor, new director, and completely new backstory. This time we will see the rise of Clark Kent to Superman, and not walk in on him when he has abandoned the planet he has sworn to protect. Expect it to be a bit of a bumpy ride, one filled with a lot of angst. The darker tone of Superman Returns seems to have stuck around, but early reviews are saying that the trailers don’t give a great representation of the feel of the overall film.
Not everyone loves an origin story, but they are pretty essential for most comic book films. People enjoy seeing someone mold themselves into a hero, it gives them an easier way to relate to them. It’s already a bit of a chore to find something relatable about the most overpowered superhero of all time, but it’s been done before and can be done again.
Suffice to say, Superman Returns was kind of boring. Not to say there weren’t some exciting moments. There just aren’t a lot of people who are wanting to see a mental breakdown of the greatest superhero of all time. The love story between Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane is essential to a Superman storyline, but Superman Returns did it in a way that sucked life out of the story. Lois Lane should be a smart damsel in distress, not an object of jealousy for Superman.
Superman needs to be amazing. He needs to be unbelievable. He needs to defy every law of physics ever. The closest he came to doing that in Superman Returns was saving a jet. Something that should be exciting felt dull and uninspired. It’s Superman, he could’ve done that with his eyes closed.
Are they going to fix it? Signs point to yes. The hiring of Zack Snyder shows that WB got the message loud and clear from fans. Snyder is famous for his action oriented films like 300, Dawn of the Dead, and Sucker Punch. He even managed to make the action in Watchmen severely entertaining. The concerning aspect of Snyder is that despite how great his films look, he isn’t the best at pulling together a compelling and cohesive story. He’s mostly style over substance. The good news is that the team behind the Dark Knight trilogy, Goyer and Nolan, are behind the story of Man of Steel. The hope is that the two will even each other out, and WB can capitalize on a highly entertaining film that is set up for future films in the franchise.