The Superman reboot thing

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I was probably going to make this longer, but I figured it’s about time I posted something. Anyway, Warner Bros. has announced they’re going to be rebooting the Superman film franchise, saying that Superman Returns didn’t do as well as they wanted it to.

Okay. Makes sense.

But they also say they want to focus on making darker superhero movies, INCLUDING Superman.

All I have to say is: “What?!”

Superman Returns WAS a dark movie. Superman had an illegitimate kid, got viciously beaten by Lex Luthor and even spent thirty minutes on the brink of death in a hospital after absorbing too much kryptonite radiation. Even the colors of his costume were darker!

My point is: dark does not equal good. Oh sure, dark movies CAN be good: I think The Dark Knight showed us all that. Yet what made The Dark Knight great was that it was very smart (I don’t think any other superhero movie has explored how society might react to a costumed vigilante so thoroughly), incredibly well-made and acted. Plus, Batman IS dark.

Superman, on the other hand, isn’t Batman. He’s the light to Batman’s darkness, the optimist to Batman’s pessimism. While Batman’s villains are usually street-level, Superman’s foes extend from crooks and power-hungry businessmen to mad scientists and evil aliens from outer space. Even their cities are different: Gotham City is basically New York by night, while Metropolis is New York in the daytime.

Oh sure, one could argue that Superman and Batman are different sides of the same coin, and I agree with that. But they are different. I think my main concern with making a “dark” Superman movie is that whoever’s working on it may try to change Superman into a superpowered Batman, or something even worse, like Tim Burton’s Superman. If they do that, they’ve basically missed the point.

Could a dark Superman movie work? Sure, but not if it’s at the expense of the character. Save the darkness for the villains, like Lex Luthor or Brainiac.

It’s funny: in 1986, when The Dark Knight Returns mini-series came out and blew comic readers’ minds, other comics decided they needed to become darker to keep up. This lead to quite a few awful comics in the 1990s. If Warner Bros. plans to take the same approach, we just might see history repeat itself.

 P.S. I should point out that IGN’s “Fixing The Superman Film Franchise” article would make an excellent guide to whoever plans to bring Superman to film next.

P.P.S. MTV has interviewed comic creators about the news, as has the Superman Homepage. Great stuff at both links, although the Superman Homepage one just leads me back to its front page, for some reason.

Also, Steven Grant wrote a great article about why “darkening” Superman wouldn’t work, although he does point out some darker directions the character could be taken in.

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2 Responses to “The Superman reboot thing”

  1. spiffyithaca Says:

    Eh, Superman sucks. 😉

    You make a lot of good points. I feel like Superman Returns was very close to working and being huge, but it just busted. I still marvel at how it didn’t make big in the box office regardless. Has he lost his luster?

    I think he has a bit, but with the right vision, he can be right there again. It’s just harder to make Superman interesting IMO, but can be done.

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