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. How hard can it be to come up with a Superman script.
    Rumor is there’s already some comic books written about him?

  2. I think they should make Welling(Smallville)Superman,the next movie should be the transition from the blur to Superman,Smallville has a good following,Welling does a good job not being the GEEK Superman.

  3. 790, lol :)

    For real. As much as i would like to see a sequel to Superman Returns, I think a reboot would be a good way to go. Just have Superman in Metropolis doing what he does. Everyone knows the Superman lore so you really don’t have to get into that. And if you don’t know, PICK UP A COMIC! OR… watch the movie(s).


  5. I think that Superman should be relaunched, back to his basic origins. I would say that Warner Brothers should settle the suit and reintroduce Krypton, while giving the Superman heirs a few of the box office profits so that Superman on Krypton can be retold. Krypton should look like a planet with advanced technology, not an ice planet, perhaps make it similar to the planet Coruscant in Star Wars, with speeders and skyscrapers and such. Also, have Superman fight General Zod only in the first one and make that movie about Zod, save Lex Luthor for the sequel, like they did with the Joker in Batman-the Dark Knight. In the sequel, have Lex come forward and perhaps have him get some of Superman’s DNA, makes a clone, which would be Bizarro for the sequel. Also, please give each story meaning and purpose, like Chris Nolan in Batman, and don’t bring in any comedy or silliness to Superman, like Richard Pryor, Rest in Peace, in Superman 3.

  6. Singer took a character with massive action potential like Superman and made a completely boring movie. Superman should be epic! I mean flying through buildings and leveling the city epic! I think we need a complete restart instead of Singer’s love letter to Donner’s movies. Oh, and the villain should be Brainiac!

  7. I hope they DON’T do another origin Superman film…Boring, boring, boring…

  8. With all the stories availible some ppl want another origin film?

  9. Even if they go origin movie, just make it soon. all these marvel movies coming out and DC is looking kind of flat right now.

  10. Probably the most well-known superhero in the world, one of the most culturally iconic characters ever created and yet nobody seems to know how to do him screen justice in this day and age? Singer’s film had too many aspects that didn’t work – but it was beautiful to the eye. As was mentioned in an issue of the famouse ‘Hush’ storyline, Gotham is the night – Metropolis is the light. (I paraphrased.) Jon Favreau had the right idea with Iron Man. It looks great, there’s plenty of action and, more importantly, everyone involved looked like they were having fun. Superman doesn’t need to mope about because he’s all alone in this world. If they would make a love story — not a romance but a true homage to the love generations have had for this character — it would be the epitome of the character …. regardless of who owns the rights.

    Part of what’s making Smallville work this season is the relationship between Clark & Lois. It’s fun seeing that relationship finally come to fruition & the actors seem to be comfortable with one another. That’s an element that can’t be lost. It’s what separates Superman from Batman: hope, not torment. We’ve seen enough of the tortured hero driven by the burden of doing what’s right (Batman, Wolverine, Cyclops, the Punisher, Blade, the Hulk … even Spider-Man) now it’s time to have another hero step into the light.

  11. I agree with the fact that Superman Returns should have been the reboot. To my understanding it was a sequel to a movie made what 25 years earlier? I wasn’t even born when that came out. That was just a bad idea but its never too late to breathe some fresh air into a franchise ala Batman. I honestly think Superman Returns also had a bad series of miscasts..

  12. It be disappointing to not see another superman film! The Siegel/Shuster Heirs better talk it out with Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. better start making plans! otherwise who can buy the rights to Superman? Universal Studios? hhmm, probably for Superman the best possible studio out there, not sure who.

    and hopefully there`ll be some new villains unleashed.

    Top hammer hit, hopefully they`ll keep the rights to Superman, and Batman, and other DC comic characters, for as long as possible.

    And Dc and Marvel, both classic icons for me.

  13. They gotta relaunch the franchise, IMO, they should do a story more closely aligned with the comics, or just pick up after Smallville and make Welling Superman, they have to make Lex what he is in comics and the animated series, a wealthy tyrant who craves power and immortality, but he should just be the mastermind behind the big baddies, so they should bring in someone more Superman’s strength in the 1st movie, maybe Braniac, it’d be okay to bring him back later on since he makes copies of himself, then the sequal should have Darkseid to show how truly powerful Superman can be and if it’s a trilogy the 3rd should have Doomsday to show us that even Superman can be defeated and then they can decide whether they wanna make more sequals or just do what they did recently and put it on hold till they find the worst script to come across so they can make another just for the hell of it.

    Just my opinion, and just a small recap:
    The Man of Steel- villain Braniac
    Superman: Apokalips-villain Darkseid
    Superman: The Last Son of Krypton- villain Doomsday

    This is just off the top of my head, not much thought put in, just a brainstorm of sorts.

  14. DEATH OF SUPERMAN!! No need for origin. just relaunch with his death. Sequel (if not done in death one) could be the literal REBIRTH. Just throwing out a suggestion.

  15. first of all great article u stole the words right outa my mouth kofi. for god sakes folks this is superman were talkin about here the biggest and best superhero of all time. I just cant belive what goin on with him. the WB and superman go hand and hand so it would be a tradgedy if they lost the rights but I highly doubt they will let that happen. I just hope that befoe im a old man I can enjoy a superman film for a change I mean how sick would it be to see superman on screen with batman in some sort of crossover story like marvel is doing. That to me is more epic than any avengers movie give me JUSTICE LEAGUE please…

  16. We must still consider that Batman Begins and the Dark Knight were reboots to Batman (89), Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman and Robin. This shows us that a new origin story and reboot to the franchise are the way to go. Two reasons for an origin is because after thirty years, this generation needs its own origin story of Superman and , in addition, Batman Begins was another origin story for Batman, but was retold from a fresh perspective and a new angle, in comparison to Batman (89). Although I thought Superman Returns was good, eventually if only a sequel is produced, Superman will become what Batman and Robin was, if not having become that already. Get Krypton back, use CGI and good acting to redo it and make it look good and instead of Lex Luthor in this movie, have General Zod, what I’m pushing for, or some other Kryptonian villain or supernatural villain fight Superman in the reboot.

  17. “Returns” was crap. But a reboot of the story is too much, everyone knows supermans orgins. It’s time for an epic action movie. Bring in dooomsday shoot a 30min non stop action fight with Metropolis being devistated behind them. Let Super die, throw in a few of his reincarnations then bring Super back to finish off a villian like Braniac

  18. We all know they’ll settle. It’s just a matter of when. It would be stupid for both sides to not settle due to what aspects they’d have of the character. You couldn’t really do anything with him.

    Just wait until the settlement’s done, get some guys who actually know about the character and not someone that says, “Oh I’ll just do my stupid version that craps on the whole general history of the character and it’ll be really cool,” have them make the film FUN!!! with no connection to the previous live-action shows/films, and you’re good to go.

  19. The first thing they should do, as Kofi suggests, is to settle the lawsuit. Just hammer out a deal already — the fact that they haven’t yet makes DC and the families look intractible, idiotic, and unconcerned with the desires of fans (aka the reason there is any money for them to fight over at all).

  20. There is a painfully simple solution to this problem, just continue the movie franchise with the Smallville cast, surely they have earned it!

    And for love of god, no darkness, Superman isnt Batman!

  21. Oh no, gonna have to disagree with you again Sam, no smallville please! It’s just some cheesy comic book inspired tween soap opera, bleh…

  22. I’m sorry, but it really isnt. It may appear that way on the surface, but Smallville has had some of the most amazing iconic Superman moments ever put on screen.

    The actors are good and look the part. Using established actors and characters this way, allows for them to not do an origin story, the last thing I want in a Superman movie is an origin story.

    Because I know that is what the money grabbing idiots in charge will want to do, waste half a movie telling a story that everyone in the world knows. Superman’s origins are as famous as Jesus’s.

    Smallville can be cheesy, but most of the time it is excellent, and Tom Welling deserves to wear the suit on the big screen. Oh and Erica Durance is easily the best Lois Lane!

    But if not down that path, Bring back Brandon Routh, who did an excellent job, and get Rachel Mcadams in to play Lois. Keep Lex a background villian, pulling the strings, use Brainiac as the main villain.

  23. Ok, the article says there will be no new Superman films going into production until 2013, that means late 2014 until we have any chance of actually seeing Superman on the big screen.

    By that time I will be 30!!!! Depressing!

    And after all the time syaing they couldnt do so many things in Smallville, like have Clark fly, or wear the suit, all because theydidint want it to conflict with the movie franchise. Well, there isnt one now!

  24. I think the Smallville cast could do a pretty descent job of putting out a feature film. We’ll have to see how this made for tv movie version will do in February, that may in fact be their goal with converting two episodes into a movie episode.

    I think they’ve gotten away from the “tween soap opera” in the last season or two (since they’ve pretty much eliminated any original cast member except for Clark and Chloe) and gone to a more adult theme and getting closer to the source material.

  25. Smallville is as close to the source material now as it has ever been, and that Clark has taken a different journey than other incarnations of the character but the end result will be the same.

    Smallville will end with Superman, that’s bound to be what the last episode will be called.

  26. @DrSamBeckett

    I still have to disagree with you, but that’s my opinion. And I’m older than you apparently, so more depressing for me, but not by much. ;-)

  27. @Ken J

    You are completely entitled to your opinion, of course. I think Smallville got me at just the right age, and for better or worse I have stuck with it and shall continue to do so.

    I love the Christopher Reeve movies, I actually just watched Superman 4, and sorta enjoyed it!

    But I also bear no ill will towards Superman Returns, yes there could have been more action or a proper villain to fight against, but that film still did it for me in a lot of ways.

    I just worry, that by the time they get their fingers out and put SUperman back on the big screen, even I will have stopped caring.

  28. @LaKost

    Good idea, I think the death of Superman would be a great plot. The Death of Superman with Doomsday was an epic comic, I still remember reading it for the first time. Have him resurrected at the end, or at least hint at the idea that he’s resurrected.


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