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. For all the people who said Routh needed to be bigger….
    Well, you can clearly see he is now if you look at his recent photos, so there. :)

    But it’s not only how he looks that is important. As Selina Kyle said, he really does understand the character which I think is the most important thing for any actor in playing any role.

  2. I’m glad the talk recently has Routh returning. I want him back.

  3. Routh has shown he has both knowledge, and more importantly, a passion for the character of Superman. That is the exact type of person that should be playing the Man of Steel.

    I say the guy should get another shot.

  4. I for one feel sorry for Mr Routh. He was a strong superman, but the whole franchise needs a ‘reboot’. WB were re-introducing Superman on the big screen to a new generation. Here we have a mass of imposing interesting enemies for Supes (from the comics we all know and love), and now the visual capability SFX to see ‘super fights’ between supes and an enemy who is a ‘real enemy’ an equal. To entertain as a strong narrative unfolds.

    But what did we get with SR? A director who simply wanted to pay his respects to Dick Donner and the original flick. So all it all we were presented with a remake. Instead of Lex wanting to destroy the west coast for land, he wanted to create a land mass, (same old same old) How many times are we going to see supes face the dreaded green rock? And not an enemy new to the big scene? Brainiac? Darkseid?
    Instead someone decided to give superman a son. This is something you do when you’re lost for ideas making Superman 10! Not the first film back!

    So where do we go from here? We either reboot recognising the son story was a terrible idea? Have a new villain kill off his son to enrage superman to a level we’ve never seen before? Or watch superman the superdaddy?

    To re-boot with the same actor as the first film (Brandon) is both confusing for fans (majority of people out there just go to see a film) and not a true fresh start. The Incredible Hulk is proof a reboot is possible Bond also, but not with the same actor. That’s why I feel for Mr Routh.

    I seriously could knock up an outstand premise for a superman film in 20mins.

  5. People wonder how you could do a movie that is not a sequel to “Superman Returns,” but still have Brandon Routh in the movie. There is a precedent to this.
    In 1983, Sean Connery played James Bond in “Never Say Never Again,” a movie that was not a sequel to any of his previous seven Bond movies (it was, in fact, basically a quasi-remake of one of those seven, for legal reasons).
    No other members of the cast of Connery’s first seven Bond movies returned for “Never Say Never Again” (except for Robert Rietty, who played two different roles). And, Felix Leiter, who was white in the other Connery Bond movies, was played by an African American actor in “Never Say Never Again.”
    AND, there was even another Bond movie released that same year (“Octopussy”) with Roger Moore playing Bond. And in the Roger Moore Bond movie, all of the supporting cast were played by the same actors who played the roles in the Connery movies.
    And the world didn’t stop.
    Transposing the Bond example to Superman, it would be tantamount to Tom Welling doing a Superman movie with Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Frank Langella, etc., in the same year that Routh did a Superman movie with every other role recast.
    Yet, that’s not what would be needed. There would be no other movie. Just a new Superman movie with the same Superman, but some differences. The audience would be fine.

  6. I 110% agree about take Routh back on the next sequel..
    He works well on SR. Don’t blame him because of lame story of SR (the whole Superkid thing?)
    Believe it or not, i was “accidentally” crying on my seat when Routh saved a plane in SR. When he walked out of the plane, everybody in the theatre simply clap their hand.
    YES. EVERYBODY. Without an exceptions..
    and YES. The messages wa clearly sent:

    So re-boot the story, but cast Routh back as Superman..Nuff said.

  7. ImJustFan,

    Do you think it’s wise to re-boot with the same actor as the lead? (see the last paragraph of my previous post.

  8. Never Say Never was a terrible film.

    I hate how we all have to discuss a sequel to SR as a ‘fix the mess we’re in’ film as well as turn the series around into something as successful and as well respected as the new Batman films. Despite my liking of Brandon as Supes I truly feel we won’t see him again as Superman. Possibly the studio are letting time past by to create some distance from SR in order to have a true reboot.

    I just hope this time around the makers listen to fans wants/likes dislikes in advance then give the film to someone who knows the character inside out considering the ‘everything Superman’ not just Dick Donner’s version.

    As a true fan and scriptwriter with a degree in Moving Image, I’ll be happy to know you up a script!

  9. I think it’ll be fine with Routh and a different cast, different story.

    It will be wierd seeing a Superman origin story though. It would feel a little bit like a prequel to SR.

  10. Whichever way they go with the franchise, Brandon has to wear the suit again, seeing pics of him recently, he’s looking more Supermanish as he’s getting older, and if they tweaked the suit, let him bulk up more, he’s gonna look different anyway from Returns, so I don’t believe it’s gonna be a problem, only for stubborn fanboys.

  11. Xander Briscoe said,
    November 8th, 2008

    “Do you think it’s wise to re-boot with the same actor as the lead? (see the last paragraph of my previous post.”

    I’m not ImJustFan, but I think that using Routh for the Superman “reintroduction”, whatever that is, Is the best thing ever. Why? Because he IS a perfect Superman/Clark. He was inspired casting and was widely accepted as the new Man of Steel by the vast majority of people, including fans, critics and the GP, and that was/is a huge accomplishment. Brandon had HUGE boots to fill, and he did it admirably well. The guy Is Superman. Period. He coming back in the role will only help with audiences.

  12. I think people are focusing too much on the actor who plays Superman rather than ‘Superman’ and the films story. The most important apsects are the character and story.

    Despite myself being a massive fan as Routh as Superman I feel the average cinema goer will find rebooting with the same actor confusing and slightly strange distracting from the story and character.

    Regardless, Routh or no Routh we all want the same thing, an awesone Superman film.

    Or… we don’t reboot.. just ‘adapt’ from SR.

    Let me know and I’ll create a few concepts for us all to discuss…

  13. Rob, I finally found and read your Superman post! It was well-written and covered a multitude of aspects regarding story, casting, and filming. Here are my thoughts regarding a couple of quotes I pulled out of your article.

    Quote 1: “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.”

    You are so right! Why should all writers and/or directors jump on the band wagon just because a certain plot element worked well in telling another story about a totally different character? Perhaps they should name the new movies Superman’s Dark Knight or The Dark Iron Man Knight? Their movies will be crap if they try to mimic instead of create!

    Quote 2: “’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…”

    Excellent point and I agree completely…especially the “suspension of belief” part. If a movie envelopes me to the point where I’m buying eveything that’s put in front of me (whether it be drama, action, or comedy), I’m not just watching it anymore, I’m a part of it. That’s what I call a good movie. The word “dark” doesn’t really say much of anything but it does seem to be the adjective of choice these days.

    By the way, someone described Routh as “willowy.” Judging by that picture above (I’ve not seen the movie), I either need to look up the meaning of willowy again or I need new glasses. He doesn’t look like he needs much beefing up to me. Remember the phrase “All brawn and no brain”? Perhaps “body builder” is not the best way to go. I always thought how Superman looked in the comics was…well, comical…because there is no way that Clark Kent could squish all those massive mucsles into that scruffy suit he wore to work. But I will be the first to admit that perhaps my take on this could be in error. Did he always grow more muscles when he went into the phone booth and lose them again when he took off the big “S”?

  14. I definitely don’t want Superman looking like a Kryptonian Hulk ewww!!!

  15. “Reboots” are now being pushed beyond their original meaning.

    BATMAN BEGINS fit the definition of the term – a brand new intrepretation of the character, myth, etc.

    CASINO ROYALE did so as well…to a point. The Broccolis opted to keep the 007 theme (albeit a more “modernized” riff by composer David Arnold), the tradition of the opening title sequence, song and “gun-barrel” shot, and Judy Dench as M.

    And next summer’s STAR TREK is going to push it even further. The reboot comes about because various characters (the villain Nero & his crew as well as Nimoy’s Spock) alter the time-line…resulting in a new continuity.

    So the idea that the “Routhboot” could never work in fear of confusing audiences isn’t as strong an argument as it previously was imo.

    To be fair, it’s still an argument to be said and heard…


  16. To me, doing a reboot and keeping the same actor is an oxymoron.


  17. @ Vic

    I’d have to agree. The whole point of a ‘reboot’ seems to be to create something new and present something that’s already been done in a new way. So using the same actor doesn’t make it a ‘reboot’ it makes it a sequel or a prequel not matter how many other actors are different.
    I think Routh is a fine Superman and fingers crossed there won’t be another ‘dark’ film…

  18. Rubinov said the studio is going to re-introduce Superman, not reboot. If you are going to re-introduce him, you can certainly retain Routh.

  19. Brandon Routh Must return to reprise his role of Superman in the next film. He was amazing in the role and most people liked him. It’d be a HUGE mistake to replace him so soon.

  20. There is a bigger issue at stake, SUPERMAN! Can’t reboot with the same actor, too confusing and backward!

    And Warner and DC are rebooting! It’s been announced! As soon as we all get a great Superman film we’ll value Routh for being very unlucky to get such a dead end of a script, but we’ll all be happy Superman fans!

    If there was a way of Routh to play the man of steel in a reboot, I’d be all for it, but there is a bigger issue at stake…

  21. I think that you should be worrying about the director and screenwriter for the superman reboot. I also think that it would be really great for Tom Welling to be the superman because he has petrayed it so well in the series Smallville.

  22. As much as I like watching Smallville and TW, he doesn’t come across with the same passion for the character as Routh. He keeps his distance from the character, never speaking outside the show, where Routh impresses me the way he understands what makes the character tick, thats the guy I want to see up there on the big screen.

  23. Good point, bigbluefan!

  24. Blah! You all disgust me. Tom Welling DOES have a passion for the character, but its for the character of Clark Kent. He does talk, and if you’d watch the special features on any of the Smallville DVDs, you’d know these things. To the rest of you, I’m glad you’re happy with Routh, because that’s probably who you’ll be getting. To me, he isn’t anything close to a super man. He is a pansy. He doesn’t deserve to wear the tights, no matter how well he “knows” the character. /Rant

  25. Greg Vaughan for Superman.

    Check him out, looks more like a man not a boy, good all American image. Google him.

  26. Vic Holdtreman, what is going on; is Brandon Routh being cast for Superman Reboot? as I been reading above? Since you are the Chief Author of Screen Rant, What influence do we have or in another words what influence you may have in altering the thinking of who is behind this ordeal of using Brandon Routh. I personally feel that Brandon is not the Character that should be cast for the Superman Reboot. We should have the pleasure of having Tom Welling be the man for the movie. All the Fans of Rant that write for your Blog will come to my rescue in agreeing with me. Vic, in all sincerity there must be something that we should be able to do prevent this from happening. Rosado – 2/01, 2009 01:07

  27. @Othoniel

    There isn’t much happening on the Superman movie but as far as I know they still want Routh for it. I doubt there is much our little site could do to influence any decision either way.


  28. Vic, thank you so much for you honest opinion. All that Brandon has is a cute face, but as an actor he gets an (F) for a grade Otho 2/2/2009

  29. “We should have the pleasure of having Tom Welling be the man for the movie”


    NO thank you. That guy is no feature material.