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.

It 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.