What Should Warner Bros. Do About Superman?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated December 3rd, 2009 at 11:32 am,

superman and american flag What Should Warner Bros. Do About Superman?

Anne Thompson over at Thompson on Hollywood ran a Superman post the other day that basically reiterates a lot of the things we’ve been reporting here at Screen Rant all throughout the Summer/Fall of 2009:

  1. The rights to the character are still being fought over by DC Comics/Warner Bros. and the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
  2. DCE/WB has NO plans to rush a Superman movie into production before a 2013 legal deadline.
  3. The franchise is effectively in limbo at the moment.
  4. As far as we can tell, ain’t nobody doin’ nuthin’ about it.

Comic book movie fans, right now one of our biggest icons is being benched because of some legal hangups, a loss of purpose and direction and a general sense of greed run amok. So what’s to be done about it? I have some suggestions and I know you do too…


A legal settlement is probably already in the works, maybe not. I tend to believe the former, because DCE/WB would have to be soft in the brain if they aren’t planning to hold on to the Superman property. This lawsuit with the Shuster/Siegel heirs is ridiculous: last we checked, the heirs were vying to get back everything their forefathers created – namely the first incarnation of Superman who appeared in Action Comics #1 back in 1938.

That early rendition of the Superman character doesn’t even include a lot of the now-iconic powers, supporting characters or villains – the heirs would essentially own a strong flying guy from an exploded planet called Krypton. No more, no less. Without those origins, however, DCE/WB would be left with an unnamed superhero who has a lot of familiar friends and enemies and is vulnerable to green rocks called Kryptonite, which are the exploded bits of some mysterious unnamed planet.

superman origins What Should Warner Bros. Do About Superman?

Sounds pretty sill either way, right? Even more outlandish – if another superhero-based company like Disney/Marvel bought a portion of the Superman rights from the heirs (not likely, but possible) then they could effectively shelve the Man of Steel indefinitely. It would make them total A-holes to pull something like that, but hey, this is business…

VERDICT: Settle the suit, guys, and get back to giving the fans access to one of their most beloved heroes.


Between this lawsuit and the divided opinion over Bryan Singer’s 2006 cinematic attempt to relaunch the franchise, Superman has a lot of dirt on his shoulder that needs brushing off. Right now, I’d say the only ones keeping the Man of Steel’s name ringing within the fickle bubble of pop-culture are the good folks over at Smallville. The show seemed to be on ratings decline last year, but they’re pulling out all the stops for this current 9th season, including in upcoming two-hour movie event featuring a whole gang of Smallville version DC Comics Superheroes. Of course, there’s the issue of that impending 2013 legal deadline and what (if any) options Smallville will have for remaining on the air afterward…

smallville season 9 poster clark kent superman What Should Warner Bros. Do About Superman?

For now, this is the only Superman we have…

VERDICT: Superman needs a to brush that dirt off his shoulder and start over with a clean slate. I’m talking total relaunch. No “Dark Superman” movie, no continuation of the mess Singer made – get a visionary director who seems to understand which core aspects of the character have made Superman such an enduring icon, give that director the necessary money (not too much) and let him/her go to work!

A wise man recently said to the world, “Allow me to re-introduce myself…” Another wise man (Chris Nolan) took that statement to heart and re-introduced the world to a Batman we never knew we’d lost touch with. Superman deserves such a re-introduction. For all the positives of Superman Returns, the film (IMO) was still basically a big-screen version of a geek’s lunchroom conversation: “Is Superman strong enough to stop a bullet with his eye? If Lois Lane got pregnant with Superman’s kid, would birthing a super-baby kill her? Would the kid have all Superman’s powers, or just some of them?” And no offense to the man who stepped into Christopher Reeves’ boots, but “geek Superman” was what that movie delivered (IMHO).

Superman, like Batman before him, needs to be taken back to the essence of what makes him great – because for the life of me, I’m beginning to forget why he was so great in the first place. Maybe I just need to pull out Richard Donner’s 1976 Oscar-nominated adaptation; even today, when movie budgets swell faster than a speeding bullet and special effects have improved by skyscraper leaps and bounds, Donner’s vision still holds up nicely and resonates clear and true when I think of all the things that make Superman who and what he is.

superman3 What Should Warner Bros. Do About Superman?

It’d be nice if SOMEBODY out there in the wide-world of filmmaking could have the opportunity to show this new generation why some icons will never fade.

What do YOU think – what should DCE/WB do about this Superman quagmire?

Source: Thompson on Hollywood

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  1. I am a huge Superman fan.

    Yes Smallville can be silly, but for me, in 2000, I was only 16 and going through some bad stuff, so I feel that I grew up along with Clark in that show. It took a new spin on Superman, and with a tv budget has done some truly astonishing stuff over the years. As a show it has developed along with it’s characters, maybe it was geared towards teens, but like me most if those people are in their mid twenties now.

    Smallville has done a lot towards keeping Superman alive in the media, and while a lot of people dismiss it out of hand, it is fast approaching it’s tenth season. Which is pretty remarkable.

    I need Superman, his ideals are pure, and he wants to do good for the right reasons. The character is timeless, and doesn’t need a darker makeover, because that isn’t who he is.

  2. ok I do see your point. I guess I sorta grew up along side it as well. I was a bit younger but I do remember lots of girls in Middle/High school always talking about it. Maybe because they thought the guy was hot idunno but all I know is Lana Lang or whatever is bangin!

  3. I’ve been following all, the discussions and, if I may, would like to give some input.

    1. Keaton & Bale cannot be compared and they were both good. The Keaton Batman was done for the “Burton effect” & he worked well for that. Despite what some say, Keaton delivered well in his 2 turns in the cape & cowl.

    Given some of the other stuff that Bale has done, I was surprised to see him as BW. However, he has done well ass the venue has now headed toward more realism (as much as Batman can, anyway).

    2. I’ve been a regular viewer of all the Treks. I was early teens when TOS came on. Yes, it was cheesy. But, as one person said, the relationships were solid. These characters knew & cared for each other & you cared for them.

    It took TNG 3 years to really gel. Once, it did, it was outstanding. TNG had the hardest road as they were THE replacement for TOS.

    DS9 had the benefit of some of the best writing and, the amalgam of the regulars worked SO well. Even Roddenberry’s replacements couldn’t ruin it. It went out on top.

    Vovager was passable, at best. As a Starfleet captain, Mulgrew made a credible Kate Hepburn. This is where we really started top miss Gene R.

    This brings us to Enterprise. A true showing of just how much the franchise misses its “father”. It was an awful show whose time never should have come.

    3. As to Superman Returns, I’ve pretty much given my views on this, elsewhere. I actually appreciated the little points where Singer tried to tie it to the Reeve versions. However, the “gay bar” outfit, Routh making Reeve look macho by comparison, the terrible Lois, the illegitimate son angle all combined to destroy this film. Even Spacey’s wonderful Lex couldn’t save it (Admit it. How many of you expected him to yell, “MISS TESSMACHERRRRR!”?

    The next Superman movie needs the real Superman costume (ala Chris Reeve, the closest costume of them all). It needs a better showing of CK. He doesn’t have to be a bumbling idiot. It needs to be done seriously.

  4. I could never enjoy Trek TOS not only was it cheesy but the acting was some of the worst in TV history.

    I never said Keaton did a bad job. In fact Keaton did amazing with what he had I said that he wasn’t written with enough to be good. The character had no depth or anything and it had nothing to do with keaton but instead terrible writing and terrible directing. I have always liked Keaton as an actor though I will say he isn’t on the same level as Bale.

    Didn’t have a huge problem with the suit in Returns. My problem was the writing and acting. It was beautifully directed but had a lot of really bad story flaws mostly the things you pointed out like the son thing. The next Superman film needs real action and a new villain I think Lex has been done enough.

  5. I also have no real problems with the suit in Returns, it needed to be updated, and it suited Routh.
    Kevin Spacey was amazing as Luthor, and Routh did a great job stepping into the shoes of an absolute legend, and by that I mean Chris Reeve. I can also understand the argument for not having Lex in another movie, but he needs to be in it in some capacity, he is as much a part of Superman as the red and blue, I’d vote for Brainiac in the first movie and then redo Doomsady for parts 2+3.

    And I want Routh back as Superman, he was excellent.

    Also Enteprise was better than Voyager, anything starring the greatness that is Scott Bakula gets a pass from me. At least Enterprise took a stab at original stories, and had some decent characters.

  6. Enterprise wasn’t great, but I agree much better than Voyager you can’t go wrong with Scott Bakula. “OH BOY”

  7. Scott Bakula is, and always shall be awesome. I want Quantum Leap back.

  8. Have you seen Men of a Certain Age yet? I highly recommend it. It’s very clever and funny also not only does it have Scott in it but another very talented actor his name escapes me at the moment but he was on a TV show that was canceled to soon called Thief.

  9. Superman in a mega-brawl with a super-powered being using all the tools at his disposal. People want action! The origin's been done. Nothing new can be added to it. Just drop us into the middle of his world and show us a Superman that isn't an emo-peeping-tom-wuss kicking major butt.

  10. Superman in a mega-brawl with a super-powered being using all the tools at his disposal. People want action! The origin's been done. Nothing new can be added to it. Just drop us into the middle of his world and show us a Superman that isn't an emo-peeping-tom-wuss kicking major butt.