Saturday, April 18, 2009

Warner Bros. to reboot Superman films....again?

Warner Bros. has announced that they are going to reboot the Superman film franchise….yet again. So before that whole ball of wax gets underway, let’s take a few moments to point out the obvious to the studio heads, who – let’s face it – aren’t going to listen anyway. Guys, you make too much money to actually think for yourselves, so as a token freebie, here’s what worked about Superman Returns:

The special effects, scoring & sound effects; in fact, all of the technical stuff that is the bread and butter of such big budget genre films was simply fine and needn’t be stressed over….just do more of the same next time. (The sequence where Superman saved the plane was particularly nice.)

The marketing of your competed film was also adequate; you have been doing this for quite awhile after all, so just remember that Superman has a built in comic book audience and the Man of Steel crosses over to the general population pretty well too. It’s a given that Superman is a household name after 70+ years. That’s another no-brainer that you won’t have to stress over.

The casting of Brandon Routh was spot on. His slight resemblance to the late Christopher Reeve was uncanny, and since that version of Superman lingers in audiences minds, why not exploit it? The fact that he was comfortably able to drop into the role and accomplish the thankless task of following Reeve as Superman, and then successfully play both the dichotomy of Superman and Clark Kent makes me think that he deserves another shot at the title. Bring Routh back if at all possible. The same goes for Frank Langella as Perry White and Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen and Eva Marie Saint as Ma Kent, if you want to feature those characters in the reboot. These three actors were all fine choices for their roles and made the best of them. Why fix what isn’t broken? Again, this would also minimize the stress of additional casting, because we have other acting fish to fry.

Some casting didn’t work at all. Kate Bosworth was…absolutely…terribly….miscast as Lois Lane. Didn’t anybody watch the dailies during filming? She is a cute actress and she has been in a few movies, but Lois is a crucial franchise character and Bosworth was too light weight, too ineffectual, and simply unbelievable in the film. James Marsden was actually not bad as Richard White, but the character was absolutely unnecessary. His sole importance was to provide a barrier between Lois and Clark, and 70+ years worth of comic book continuity could easily have provided you with better examples for utilizing that conceit than what was done in Superman Returns with the extraneous character of Richard White. Alos, please drop the Lois was pregnant/Super-baby crap in any additional movies. Nuff said, but hire another casting agent!

Lex Luthor. Superman the Movie. Superman II. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Superman Returns have all used Luthor as the main foil, but Lex Luthor has yet to actually appear on the big screen. Oh, there was Gene Hackman's comedic-romp-for-laughs-version of Luthor in the first three movies that I’ve mentioned, but Kevin Spacey, who certainly had the potential to give us a menacing version of Superman’s arch nemesis, leaned way too close to the Hackman version of Luthor for my tastes and Gene had already given us that one. You guys blew it! Before you have yet another go at Lex, let me throw a few other names at you.

Brainiac. Bizarro. Metallo. The Toyman. The Prankster. Mr. Myxyzptlk. Mongul. Terra-Man. The Kryptonite Man. Titano. Intergang.

All of them are classic Superman foes that you haven’t even given a chance. Hell, even Jack Kirby’s awesomely powerful Darkseid (from the New Gods) has faced off against the Man of Steel in the comics many times and Superman vs. Darkseid would be an awesome movie. There are also some visually interesting threats of more recent vintage like the female Silver Banshee. You know, since Superman was supposedly away for five years – off in space – to visit the remnants of the planet Krypton, maybe showing us that journey would have made a great flick. Superman has visited hundreds of alien planets in the comics over the course of 70+ years, and had subsequent adventures and battles on them. Out of the list of villains that I’ve just mentioned, there are at least a few that he may have encountered on such a trip. This is not a stretch, guys! Stress free is the way to go.

The director was another place where you blew it. Bryan Singer basically took your money and gave you back a love letter to the Richard Donner films, but it was a hit and miss as a new franchise starter. Superman Returns wasn’t a bad movie, but Singer’s X-Men films (hit or miss, again) didn’t at all suggest that he was the guy to revive Superman and guess what – he wasn’t? A different director is the order of the day in any relaunch effort. Trust me!

Now, the last bit of free advice that I want to offer the overpaid Warner Bros studio heads is another example of stress free thinking. When it comes to designing: the characters, the environment, the costuming; and most particularly the storyboarding that all films do in preproduction, just stop it, you goofballs. 70+ years of comic book work by the top artistic talent in the business, on the very character – Superman – that you want to translate to films….yet again….has already been done. You also don't need to hire a script jockey to "create" a story. Same principle, here bozos, that works been done - the whole best in the business thing - applies to 70+ years worth of comic book writers too. Just retain someone who can competently do an adaptation, you know, from the very medium that you want to strip mine. If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it!


Mike Mikulovsky said...

Ok, here we go!! As a certain Octo villain, no not the Octo MOM! Once said Fasten Your Seat Belts! Even though she could easly say it too! First off, keep the original theme & use it a little more, it's classic like all John Williams beautiful & powerful themes! Recast the whole movie, if you have to keep Routh. Make him gain more muscle, & take more acting lessons. He sounded like he was just rereading Christopher Reeve's dialogue word for word! He also sounds & looks too much like Tom Cruise to me. His Superman looked too much like Superboy & acted like SuperWimp! Maybe due to the crappy script.Here's what I'd do is I was going to do the Superman francise.

First I'd do a three movies.
#1 Back to the basic using the first two Superman movies as a spring board is fine. But have Braniac show up have him battle Superman. first coming to earth, crashing on earth. Either as a faked crashed, or because the New Gods were hot in pursuit & almost destroyed him. As the movies moves along we get to see all the different versions of Braniac since he keeps reinventing himself, modifying & stream lining himself. Until the end where we see him in his 1983 preTerminator version. Where he has flying skull mothership arrived from deep space finally. Almost totally destroyed by Superman, he emerges out of his Skull ship for one final battle with the Man of Steel. Facing the agony of defeat he flees earth. Superman in hot pursuit, he leaps through what he thinks is a black hole in space. Only really it was a Boom Tube. He crashes for real this time on Apoklips. Where he meets Darseid. Darkseid walks up, all we see is his huge boots & the echo of his massive feet on the cold echoing metallic floors of Braniac's guge ship. Darkseid picks up Braniac's Terminator looking Brain skull. We finally see a full body shot of Darkseid. Sitting upon his throne in his throneroom. Sitting in the great thinking pose. Braniac's skull comes to life. His eyes turn on & he saids "Greetings! I am Braniac the ultimate intelligence" " How would you like to help me kill Superman & the universes will be ours to rule!" Darskseid smiles goes HHHHMMMMM & starts to laugh. Voiced by Michael Ironside, just like in the animated series. As the camera pulls away slow, then picking up speed. We see the parademons, the human slaves & the firepits & eventually the whole view of Apokolips from space huge craters with fire bursting out of them.

Part II It's Darkseid who was captured by Braniac & is breaking free from Braniac's first crashed ship. We got to see a glimse of him in part I, as Braniac was talking to him earlier. Saying soon you'll be free once again to do what you were created to do! He finally breaks free & we pretty much see the Superman vs Doomsday animated movie. But with a few more twists.Except in this version the Superman clone turns into Bizzaro, who really isn't evil just a little stupid. He befriends Superman & helps Superman defeat Doomsday. Where he throws Doomsday into the Sun. But Bizzaro escapes by being blown into a different universe. To be used later in another sequel, where we get to see Bizzaro world!
Part III the Biggie Darkseid & Braniac comes to earth. Start destroying everything, Superman's on the ropes. Until all earth's other heroes come to superman's aid. Following pretty close to the 1986 Legends/JL mini-series & the animated versions also. We get to see Batman, Capt.Marvel, WW, Hal Jordan/GL, Hawkman, Blue Beetle, Plastic Man,The Flash, Aqua-Man, the Martain Man-Hunter, Green Arrow, Black Canary. But at the end the New Gods show up also & help defeat the para demons, & the whole Apokolip's gang.Any way this is just off the top of my creative head, that I just whipped up here. Of course it would have alot more twists & details in the story, characters & dialogue as well. But not too much to make it boring, too long or to cause the movie to drag. Mike Parker Plymouth,WI,USA

BEMaven said...

Frankly, the only Superman adaptation that made a morsel of sense to me was the animated series.

Every live adaptation ultimately overloaded my goofy meter.

Mike Mikulovsky said...

This was suppose to be a e-mail to you. But my computer won't allow it to be sent for some reason & I am not computer savy. It said something about pop3? Anyway I love your website! I googled artist Billy Graham & found your site. I looked through your Marvel B & W mags & Marvel Preview mags. I noticed their was nothing on Marvel Preview#9 the Man-God issue. I'm working on collecting all the original art from it. I have 16 pages of the 52 already. Once I learn how to use my scanner I'll send u scans of the pages I own, if you want for you or your site. I'm going to writting a article on it & interviews with Roy Thomas & artist Tony DeZuniga as well. I'd love to hear back from you. If you could, I'd really appreciate it, if you could start a site on it, so I could post that I'm looking for these pages. Maybe, someone reading it will have some of these pages or know someone who will. Thank you, hope to hear back from you! Michael Mikulovsky, Plymouth,WI I've done interviews for Twomorrows publications for both Alter Ego & Back Issue magazine. I interviewed Jerry Ordway in issue#20 jan 07 & Herb Trimpe in issue#28 Heroes behaving badly issue May of 08.

cash_gorman said...

I don't know if Routh was good as Superman or not as he didn't play Superman. He played Christopher Reeve playing Superman. Just as Spacey was clearly playing Hackman. So far the best Lex Luthor has been Michael Rosenbaum, whose Lex is genius, dangerous and able to turn from sympathetic to sociopathic on a dime.

Everything about the story stunk, such as turning Superman into a voyeuristic stalker.

I think it is imperative that they forget Luthor for the next film. The Ultra-Humanite and swapping brains and human experimentation would make for a great villain. And, he's someone that has not been utilized in Smallville yet.

Chuck Wells said...

Cash, you are right, Routh did pretty much only assay the Reeves version of Superman - as Singer intended him to, but I don't know that that alone disqualifies him from repeating as the Man of Steel. At least to me, but if I had to place a wager on whether or not I thought that he would get a shot at returning, I would bet against it.