With Zack Snyder’s Superman: Man of Steel making headlines of late due to a combination of casting rumors and the director’s attention-grabbing comments, there’s been renewed discussion of Bryan Singer’s previous attempt to reboot the superhero franchise back in 2006 with Superman Returns.
For all the heat that Snyder has already gotten from fans who aren’t crazy about his plans to offer a fresh take on Superman, it ought to be remembered that Singer’s film featured a fairly traditional take on the character’s mythology (aside from his having a son), but is not usually referenced in a positive light.
Superman Returns managed to gross over $391 million worldwide in theaters and was actually given an overall positive critical reception. That it had a production budget of around $270 million and was not universally loved by fans was reason enough for Warner Bros. to scrap Singer’s Superman: The Man of Steel and instead develop yet another franchise reboot.
Singer spoke with Voices From Krypton about his film and had the following to say:
“It’s hard for me to assess it. My gut response is, “It didn’t do THAT bad.” You know, summer’s a tricky time – I know it’s hard to blame the time, but there’s a bit of an expectation for a summer movie. I think that ‘Superman Returns’ was a bit nostalgic and romantic, and I don’t think that was what people were expecting, especially in the summer.
“What I had noticed is that there weren’t a lot of women lining up to see a comic book movie, but they were going to line up to see [a film like] ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, which may have been something I wanted to address. But when you’re making a movie, you’re not thinking about that stuff, you’re thinking, “Wow, I want to make a romantic movie that harkens back to the Richard Donner movie that I loved so much.” And that’s what I did…”
Snyder expects Superman: Man of Steel to be (relatively speaking) his most realistic film to date. Given how hyper-stylized the director’s previous movies – 300, Watchmen, Legend of the Guardians, and Sucker Punch – have all been, most fans already have a pre-conceived notion of what to expect from Snyder’s Superman reboot.
Expectations of that nature can be both a blessing and curse for a filmmaker; they can encourage certain moviegoers to see a new movie, and others to avoid it, based off the same assumptions. When the final product is something that neither expects, the results aren’t always great either – and Singer feels that fact in part accounts for the general reaction to Superman Returns:
“… I was known for the ‘X-Men’ Pictures, which had been more realistic and edgier… That’s a tricky thing when you’ve built an audience that likes your comic book films and you deliver a certain tone, and then you bring this completely different tone to them…”
There’s been speculation that Snyder’s Man of Steel will feature hallmarks of his filmmaking style – namely, slow-motion cinematography, eye-popping visuals, and action that is often both intense and brutal in nature.That’s not to say the Superman reboot won’t be PG-13, but Snyder’s already described his version of the character as being “a physical cat” and hasn’t ruled out the idea of (gasp!) Superman punching an opponent in the face.
Do you like the direction which Snyder seems to be going in with Superman: Man of Steel? Or do you suspect the film will follow in the footsteps of Superman Returns – regardless of how good or bad it actually ends up being?
For more of Singer’s thoughts on Superman Returns, read the full interview over at Comic Book Movie.