Thursday, February 11, 2010

The other big Superman news

Apparently, Christopher Nolan is helping mentor the next Superman movie. Now, I'm still among the three people who really liked "Superman Returns," and I'm a little disappointed to have a reboot, but I can accept "SR" as a coda to the Donner/Reeve universe if it means having a Nolan-quality flick in the near future (and hopefully a Justice League movie thereafter).

Overall, this can only be good news for Superman, because I can't think of anyone I'd blindly trust with a superhero film more than Christopher Nolan. A movie like "The Dark Knight" gets you a lot of capital in my book. It also gives me hope that the "darker/edgier" talk that keeps getting bandied about the Superman films won't be handled in the wrong way, since those are words I don't think associate well with Superman.

I think it's way too early to speculate on plot or theme or tone, but I think they'd do well to take some hints from All-Star Superman (address the origin quickly, if at all; stick to big sweeping events and grand ideas). Obviously, it's going to need a little bit more conventional superhero action. To that end, I've been thinking that you could build a whole movie around Luthor and Metallo as the villains, while setting things up for an eventual sequel with a Johns-esque Brainiac. I don't think it's controversial to say that the biggest problem with Superman movies has been their general aversion to typical superhero stories, and I trust a Nolan-helmed team to understand that.

Regardless, I'm excited, and I hope this all pans out. The DC movieverse(s) shouldn't be without the Man of Steel.


Will Staples said...

Here's what I'd do if I were making the Superman movie:

1) Don't try to make Supes more "relatable". Instead focus on the effect this godlike alien has on normal people (Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, etc.) and have the audience relate to them.

2) Have Supes be completely comfortable with his role. He's not Spider-Man (not that Spidey isn't great too). There's nothing emo about him.

3) For Rao's sake, give us a villain other than Lex Luthor. I love Lex, but he's overexposed in the movies. Zod is also out. I recommend Brainiac. Possibly Bizarro, Metallo, or Parasite as a secondary "B" villain. Not Darkseid, since he's already another Orion's nemesis, but keep him in mind for potential sequels.

4) Make it the exact opposite of Batman: bright, colorful, idealistic. Remember, though, that idealism =/= immaturity. Supes isn't stupid. Get rid of the navy-and-burgundy outfit from Returns with the tiny "S"-shield and go back to the primary-colored suit from the Reeve movies.

5) As you said, get his origin story out of the way quickly. We know it already. We want to see Superman fighting bad guys, not Clark Kent coming of age in Kansas.

And a few stylistic choices that wouldn't really affect the movie's performance overall but reflect my platonic ideal of Superman:

1) Have Ma and Pa Kent both alive and well. It makes Supes an even better foil for, well, pretty much every other superhero for him to have an active, healthy relationship with both his parents.

2) Power Supes down a little. Like, Byrne-reboot levels. Still the world's most powerful hero, but no going back in time, no pushing planets around, etc.

3) Both Superman and "mild-mannered reporter" Clark Kent are disguises that nonetheless reflect different aspects of the man's personality. The real Superman is a brave, pure-hearted farm boy who knows what's right, seeks the truth, and rides a tractor.

4) Start the movie off with Lois already knowing that Clark is Superman (as Kevin Smith's aborted script did). Their relationship is both more interesting and more believable that way.

Tom Foss said...

Good suggestions, Will. My thoughts:
1) Superman should be "relatable" inasmuch as he's a down-to-earth, optimistic guy with a friendly personality. Superman should always be somewhat folksy.

2) Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely. Leave Smallville and Five For Fighting behind; Superman should be established and happy.

3) I don't mind Luthor if he's not the main attraction, but I think Brainiac might be a bit much for the "first" movie. Setting up the film series for a big Brainiac/Luthor team-up in the sequel would be pretty cool, I think. As long as Luthor were a behind-the-scenes manipulator (operating from prison, perhaps?), I think he could work. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of Metallo as a focal villain--plenty of room for great fights and good drama.

4) Again, absolutely.

5) The origin story could be done over the opening credits--or if they want to go slightly more in-depth to lay the groundwork for "this" universe, they could make like the "One Year Later" arc and start with someone giving a tribute presentation to/about Superman.

1) I don't know that Ma & Pa need to even figure into the film. While I wish the comics would take this advice (*cough*GeoffJohns*cough*), I think nine years of Smallville have given us more than enough interaction between Clark and his folks. That being said, showing Clark on the phone with them at some point wouldn't be a bad idea.

2) Again, agreed. The Animated Series really struck the right level in here, where Superman was powerful, but could still get knocked around and bloodied up a little.

3) Agreed.

4) This is an interesting idea, and it would certainly do a lot to set this film series apart from the rest. I wouldn't mind postponing this until later so we could get the reveal-drama in a sequel.