Brandon Routh Talks Sense About A ‘Dark’ Superman

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 18th, 2013 at 6:11 pm,

Last week, IESB had a chance to talk with Brandon Routh, and much of the conversation focused on the next Superman flick.

After discussing what projects he’s been working on, IESB asked Routh about his thoughts on The Dark Knight. Predictably, his response had nothing but high praise. Since the “Will Superman be dark since it worked so well for The Dark Knight” question has been raised before, IESB asked Routh whether he thought if Superman could be done in the same dark fashion.

“I don’t know, I don’t think the character necessarily has to be darker, I think he is kind of dark in a sense, emotional dark, in Superman Returns, and the movie as a whole was slightly dark, they could have had more prowess in it I suppose, and I think that’s one thing that can be done in the sequel, so I don’t know how much darker you want to make it necessarily.”

Good answer my friend – I’ll explain why later. Routh continues:

“You make the stakes higher, you make the villain darker, I think that’s a way to do it. But I don’t think Superman himself needs to be darker. He definitely has to struggle, how does Superman be a part of the world? And does he have to make sacrifices to be a part of that world? To fit in and what purpose does he really play in the world? Those are all kind of dark places to explore. But, I don’t think Superman should ever be dark and brooding, that’s not is nature. And that’s now what people what to see.”

I loved Routh sporting the costume and cape and I was excited to hear that he may be back for the next film. Now, I’m even more excited simply because he knows what he’s talking about here and truly understands these characters.

“Dark” is the most inappropriately and overused word of choice for the film industry in 2008.

“Realistic” and “believable” would be more accurate words to describe what makes a film really connect with viewers. It makes the suspension of belief easier and a smoother transition for the audience members.  It can help us relate to and/or understand the characters and their motivations better as well as the make the plot seem less “goofy” for a superhero movie.

superman4 Brandon Routh Talks Sense About A Dark SupermanIt wasn’t being “dark” that made The Dark Knight successful; it’s that the story was solid and it was executed properly with a stellar cast (plus the most hype ever for a single film). Although the harsh tones and themes played a big part in defining the movie, darkness does not equal better or more successful. Iron Man was not “dark,” and it was a smash-hit as well. It didn’t need dark tones or themes to tell its story.

Using Batman as an example, it’s not how dark it is that makes Nolan’s films work; it’s that it’s not stupidly corny and childish. Hence, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin were terrible, and Batman Begins and TDK were incredible. It’s their focus on story, characters and an appropriate style executed properly that makes a film in this genre work. In the case of Superman, that style will obviously be different than that of Batman, as Routh points out in the interview.

So it drives me nuts when I hear people making comparisons to The Dark Knight… Saying that Superman needs to be darker, Iron Man 2 needs to be darker, blah blah – shut up. Focus on story, characters and your own style and proper execution.

In conclusion, The Dark Knight was awesome, the next Superman flick hopefully will be awesome, and Brandon Routh is the man.

For the full interview, and to see what Routh has to say about a possible villain for the reboot, checkout IESB.

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  1. Well said sir, and yes, “dark” can go away now..

  2. Dude, if you liked Routh in his suit, you are playing for the wrong team. The suit is very important for a Superman movie and they got it wrong. There were of course so many other things wrong with the film, including the title character’s thrill with glory, that I can’t go into here.

  3. Routh was fine,,, the suit was fine,,,

    What’s so dumb about all this “Dark”stuff is that what is DC doing with all this wasted time,,, they’re trying to emulate Batman?? Clearly a stupid move.

    The movie industry REALLY needs some new blood. We should be talking about the 3rd Routh film at this point…

    Spinning our wheels here. Come get moving you dorks at DC !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Routh was an absolutely terrible superman. He was the scrawniest excuse for a “super” man I have ever seen. His acting was lousy, and the way he played supes made me want to clunk him on the head. Also, the suit? Are you kidding me? The costuming department for superman returns did a major dis-service to the movie, and to his character. What the heck is with the boots? Give the movie to a real superman -Welling – and see what happens.

  5. I didn’t really like him either, but that may have been more a function of the story than him personally. I really wish there would be a Superman movie cast with a granite-jawed, imposing actor like what you see in Neil Adams drawings or Alex Ross paintings.


  6. Great column. I agree with what you said, Rob.

  7. @Dave,

    I don’t think I commented on the suit itself but now that you mention it, I think it’s fine.

    If the suit was a problem, then you must also be complaining about the Bat suits in Nolan’s films and going crazy about all the costumes and sets for the new Trek film.

    Superman Returns didn’t have the greatest story ever but I really enjoyed it in theatres and so did my GF, so they did something right.

    btw, thanks Mantis and Sean :)

  8. @ nick

    Routh scrawny? Really? Who did you want Arnold? Or maybe Dwayne “the rock” (not bashing him, I like his movies) but a huge body builder is not right for the role.

    Routh was built and much taller than the average guy. Which works fine to be the imposing Superman and the clumsy everyman Clark. But the suit DID make him look leaner, which isn’t a bad thing (and if you think it is, it can be fixed in the next film, by little details like adjusting a higher waistline or making the S shield larger, both of these ‘design tricks’ would make him appear broader/ bigger/buffer).
    Also he’s an alien, whose powers don’t derive from his muscles, like let’s say hulk or juggernaut. But from his skin absorbing sunlight, creating a force field type effect. Reeves was big, but he wasn’t that big either. Routh’s acting wasn’t bad either. I enjoyed the movie, and watching it again (about a month ago) it was still a good movie, not perfect and I did want more physical challenges or more displays of power, but it’s an enjoyable well made film.

    but if you don’t like it, or it wasn’t enough for you, cool.

  9. I think Warner Bros MUST keep Brandon because he is The Man of Steel. He did a good job for Superman. I know, a lot of Routh haters want to see Tom Welling to become The Next Man of Steel. 100% I disagree!

  10. Superman is a big guy in almost all the comics I’ve read, I think Brendon Routh would be ok if he bulked up a bit more. That’s the problem though, he was a male model. I didn’t like the suit either, I think a little more weight, and a better suit + NO LEX LUTHER would do the next movie good. anyone or thing except Lex. he is just not a good bad guy for The Man of Steel. I don’t think Reeves is the standard for a Superman either, he was good in his time, but in a time where we have movies of such quality as Iron Man And The Dark Knight, Superman has to step it up. no more tributes to the old director, we want tributes to the comics. people act like Supes was born because of Reeves and Donner.

  11. @Patrick
    Exactly, that’s what I’m talking about! Right on!

  12. I just want Jim Lee’s Superman on screen. Is that too much to ask?

  13. Welling dosnt even want the gig !!!

    Move on,,,ppl

  14. Want a good example of not buff (my favorite kind of) Superman that is still a bad, bad man? Gary Frank Supes, the one that’s currently doing Action Comics. The art in the Legion storyline recently was phenomenal.

  15. There really is no need for Superman to look like a bodybuilder. For some reason, a few people think it is enlightening to put pictures drawn by Ed McGuinness next to pictures of Routh as Superman. OK, then be fair. Put some McGuiness drawings of Batman next to pics of Christian Bale as Batman. It’s the same difference.

  16. Thank you for this article. Why is it so hard for the suits that run the studios to “get” this stuff? It’s not complicated. As far as the portrayal comparisons, I thought Routh did a better job than I expected him to do. As far as Christopher Reeve being the definitive version or not, remember in context to the comics when the first movie was released. The only definitive versions that I remember from that time were neal adams and curt swan. Chris was the closest you could have gotten to stepping off the comics page. I agree that it’s been a long time since then and we’ve had many different styles drawn and a lot of them blow the old books away. As a result, we also have a lot more opinions. I think Bryan Singer painted himself into a corner by feeling the need to tie in too closely to the originals. I was hoping for a fresher look at Superman considering his work on x-men. I was also hoping for something a little radical and the best he could do was the super kid……uuggghh. Overall, a decent movie, but I didn’t fork out cash to see Superman on the big screen and expecting just a decent movie. That’s the problem Warners had with it. It’s freaking SUPERMAN. He’s supposed to rival Spiderman. He has all the supporting characters, mythology, and great villains to match. There’s no reason for it not to be epic, especially considering today’s effects technology is just made for Superman.

  17. Thanks Nick.
    I agree there is no reason he has to be a body builder, but Routh could get bigger and seem more imposing. Look at Christian Bale, when he auditioned for the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne he had just gotten done with the Machinist, and he weighed little more than 120 lbs, but he bulked up to some 220 that’s 40 pounds more than his usual weight, though he did shed 20 pounds so he would look leaner and muscular. Bale is 6’0, and Routh is 6’3, so if Routh put forth some extra effort I think we could see both sides of the Superman fanbase pleased. I mean he looks willowy in that picture up there.

  18. The suit is fine, I just have an issue with the underwear. recoil in The Dark Knight, Nolan made the underwear less visible, but it was there, like body armour. I think that superman should have a blue underwear, just so that is does not look corny.

  19. hey Fred,

    I think blue underwear would make all the fans go crazy. I also don’t think it would fit. Although I understand what you’re saying, it’s just part of his costume.

  20. Good read. Brandon Routh really understands the character. Here’s hoping he’ll be back for the next one!

  21. I completely agree with what you are syaing about people constantly saying “oh everything should be dark now because it worked for batman” batman is my all time favorite but a darker theme only works in batman because batman is a dark character, you cant take Mr. America superman here and turn his world upside down it would be terrible superman is a golden boy, and he needs to stay that way, they simply need a better story for the next superman film not a darker theme

  22. I thought Brandon did a very admirable job with what they gave him and feel that he’ll be an even better Superman now that he’s more comfortable with the camera.

    Routh deserves to return.

  23. Great article, everytime I read Routh talking about Superman, he really impresses me how he understands what makes the character tick. He’s a fan like us, given a better script with a dark supervillain, Routh can really show what an awesome Superman he can be.

  24. I thought Routh was MUCH better as Clark Kent than he was as Superman. He was decent as Superman, and maybe he’ll grow into the mold. I don’t know why they had to mess with the suit, though. I wasn’t really crazy about it and they should have left it like it was.

    Is it just me, or in that top picture does Routh look like he’s auditioning for a part on a CW show?? LOL.

  25. All I can say is that I wasn’t a fan of superhero genre films. My husband was. SO it came as no surprise that my husnand wanted to see Superman Returns. I wasn’t thrilled about seeing it. THEN I saw Brandon Routh. The moment when you first see him in the suit. The whole airplane sequence, was just so powerful to me. And I was hooked! I have been a die-hard Brandon ROuth fan ever since. He made me believe that a man could fly. He embodies the spirt of the charecter, and I can’t wait to see him “fly” again in the next one. Brandon Routh=Superman!

  26. Liz said,
    “The moment when you first see him in the suit. The whole airplane sequence, was just so powerful to me. And I was hooked! I have been a die-hard Brandon ROuth fan ever since. He made me believe that a man could fly. He embodies the spirt of the charecter, and I can’t wait to see him “fly” again in the next one. Brandon Routh=Superman!”


    Brandon Routh MUST return. I loved him in SR, and I also enjoyed the movie very much. I really wanted a sequel, but I can live with a reboot IF Routh returns as Supes.

    @Rob Keyes,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you here. The fact that Brandon understands the character is a bonus. It will only help his performance in the role. He is a great custodian for the character.

  27. I thought Routh did a very good job. I’m also with Liz that the airplane scene was powerful; in fact, I thiught it was the best sequence in the film. I’m all for Routh coming back, but I think they need to make his version of Clark Kent more mild-mannered (Christopher Reeve style). But please, no more Lex Luthor, at least not as the main villain.

  28. Brandon really understand the importance of the character. That’s the kind of guy I want to continue seeing in the red cape for many years to come. Bring him back!

  29. I’m happy to see alot of Routh-supporters here, that’s awesome.

    I totally agree about Lex Luthor and I’m pretty sure the makers of the next film know that too. I’m confident, the film will feature a different villain finally.

    Perhaps Brainiac as they dicuss in the interview.