Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Free-For-All: Zack Snyder's Superman

Well, it was confirmed this week that Warner Brothers has selected Zack Snyder to helm their Superman reboot, set for release in 2012. As someone who really enjoyed Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and Brandon Routh in the title role, I'm sorry to see that there is no chance of any sort of follow-up. However, I think Snyder is a solid choice for the director's chair.

I hope that Christopher Nolan has a strong hand in this one as producer, and despite the rumors of the weak state of the current script, I have hope that Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer - the men behind the script for The Dark Knight - will be able to turn out something impressive. It'll be interesting to see how Nolan's guidence meshes with Snyder's style. Nolan has stated a preference for doing as much "practical" effects as opposed to CGI, while Snyder's films are quite heavy on CG graphics and enhancements.

My short wish list for the new film:

1) Don't mess too much with the classic costume. Christopher Reeve's is my favorite, but I liked Routh's too.

2) Don't waste too much time retelling the origin or the Smallville era. We know it, we've seen it a dozen times already. Batman Begins was novel because the Batman origins had never been shown in that kind of depth on screen before.

3) The classic John Williams theme must return. It's like retaining the James Bond theme across all the films, regardless of continuity.

4) It's possible to make an assertive, sexy Lois Lane without making her a bitch, just as it should be possible to make her vulnerable without making her a flighty neurotic (*cough* Teri Hatcher on Lois & Clark).

5) Say it with me - Superman is the disguise, Clark Kent is the real guy.

6) I know Zod's the villain, so take a page from the recent New Krypton storyline in the comics and really make this guy compelling and three-dimensional. I love the Terrence Stamp incarnation, but it would be nuts to try to compete with that take.

7) You need at least one badass fist-pumping moment like this one:

8) A year from now, I want to see a teaser trailer at least as cool as this. Seriously. Whoever cut this together deserves a standing ovation:


  1. What is wrong with this franchise that they need to keep making this movie over and over?

    I enjoyed the originals (the first two), and really enjoyed Superman Returns (IMO, it was a solid storyline), so what's so wrong with it that they have to keep remaking it?

    I too, will be disappointed that they don't continue the story from where Mr. Singer's movie left off. It would have been nice to see the character grow, and perhaps take a larger roll in his son's life.

    Superman as a father? That brings to mind all sorts of story ideas.

  2. "Superman is the disguise, Clark Kent is the real guy."

    I really disagree.

    I think the only thing about Superman left to tell, the thing that none of the films has gotten quite right, is that he is the "son" of man, he is the protector of man, he loves and admires mankind, he wants so badly to share in our joy and in our pain... but he can never really be one of us.

    Superman is an alien.

    Say it again: Superman is an alien.

    The Superman character needs that painful, lonely burden at his core. It's the only thing that gives him dimension. What makes the good Supes-Bats stories compelling (when Superman comes off as a dick) is that Superman is capable of hiding his alienation whereas Batman has to externalize it. Superman wishes he could act-out like Batman, but he's too responsible and puts-up a face instead.

    He's basically Don Draper with a kinder heart, Kryptonian powers, and a cape.

  3. I honestly have never ever read a Superman comic (never found the superhero compelling at all). Is Clark Kent always an idiot in the comics?

    I ask because couldn't the above mentioned by Mouse be something that could easily transfer over to Clark Kent?

    When I watched the Superman films, it seems that the character is Superman first and then Clark Kent is his cover up that purposely goes beyond normal to appear normal - though, he never is even close to normal which makes the whole idea of Clark Kent rather ridiculous.

    It would make sense to me (that's my self-centered self believing that my thoughts matter most, of course) that Clark Kent is first. That the writers expand on him being different from everyone and trying to be just like the humans on Earth. Superman, then, is the escape, the character he must become so that he can finally fully appreciate his differences.

    To me, that's what makes the Spider-Man character so compelling. Spider-Man is Peter Parker, and Parker, not wanting to accept this new gift, loses sight of his new responsibilities. It is then, once his natural self sees that by inhibiting his fate he can lose loved ones, that he finally learns to accept that he must be Spider-Man to help others (and himself).

    I never got that connection with Superman. He just seems like some strong, cool dude that can do awesome, strong, cool dude things.

  4. Superman isn't my favorite hero, so I'm not as invested in this as I am in some of the darker material. But I'm with Mouse. Supes is the real guy. Clark is the disguise.

  5. Ditch Zod already. Where's Brainiac? Or Darksied? Or Mister Mxyzptlk? Metallo? I can't believe Bryan Singer brought back the most powerful superhero in comic books to foil another Lex Luthor real estate scheme.

  6. Here's my take on the Clark/Superman dicotomy: Clark has been raised on Earth since infancy. He doesn't even remember Krypton and in most tellings, he doesn't even LEARN about Krypton until he's 18, if not 25. As far as he's concerned, he IS Clark. There's even a line from some comics in the 90s, "Clark Kent is who I am; Superman is what I can do."

    The Post-Crisis era that John Byrne started took this take and ran with it. Clark wasn't the bumbling nerd of the Reeve films. He was the sort of guy you'd expect to be a reporter. Though I'm not a great fan of the "Lois & Clark" series, I do like that they took this angle on the Clark characterization.

    In Kill Bill part II when Bill's going on about Batman and Superman and how Superman's "disguise" is Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne's "disguise" is Batman, my feeling was that he got it backwards. Indeed, the Nolan Batman takes the cue that "Bruce Wayne" is just a put-on.

    Singer seems to have tried to split the difference, saying that the "real" Clark is who he is on the farm with his mom, and that BOTH Superman and Clark are acts to an extent. I can appreciate that for a filmic adaptation, if only because it allows for stronger contrast between Clark and Superman.

    But psychologicaly, I see no reason why he'd consider "Clark" a "disguise."

    I also really dislike any angle that plays up Superman's alienation from humanity, at least in an extreme. True, there's the famous line, "Even though you've been raised as a human being, you are not one of them." I just think you can't give the character too much angst because that's not what he's about. Tim Burton's aborted take really wanted to play up this angle because Burton is incapable of dealing with characters who aren't outsiders. The problem is that if you go too far with that, all you do is alienate the audience even further from the character and they complain they can't relate to him.

    It's long been said that Superman is basically "the assimilated Jew," or "the ultimate immigrant." (Actually, if we're being totally strict, he's an illegal immigrant. I'm sort of shocked there hasn't yet been a post-modern take on that.) The whole point is that he's an outsider who believes he's one of us.

    And perhaps the biggest reason not to go too far with the "alienation" aspect? It's way too introspective and too internal a conflict. Though Superman Returns was well-received at the time, the retroactive criticism of it seems to be that there was too much angst and internal conflict. Give us an adventure story. Give us a larger than life villian, and let's see Superman actually fight a physical threat.

  7. The problem with Superman is that his era has passed. Yeah, I love Superman, everyone does, but the movie going public has moved on from the classic comic book heroes and demand that their heroes have some basis in reality.

    Superman's era has also passed because the entire world has changed in the past 40 years. When Superman was made in 1978 we had clear heroes and villains in the real world. Now everything is ambiguous and undefined, and a LOT crazier.

    Every single day there is a REALLY bad terrorist attack somewhere in the world.

    Superman today would be working around the clock to try and stop terrorism.

    This cartoon short pretty much sums up the problem of a Modern Superman.

  8. It's a more interesting story if Clark is the disguise.

  9. @Bitter: I agree that you don't want to play the alienated angle too harshly for the reasons you stated. I do think, or wonder, if perhaps someone could still use it so that the audience does relate. Make it about feeling like an outsider, accepting who he is, that sort of thing.

    Or maybe that's too emotional a plot for Superman? I should probably actually research the character more before throwing out suggestions, I guess. I just don't feel any connection to the character on film. I feel much more separated from him because he does things no one else can whereas there is some semblance of reality or connection with Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark and Peter Parker.