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

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I wouldnt let my younger brothers watch the 89 Batman till they were at least 11-12. It is violent, remember the bit where the Joker disfigures his girlfriend to make into a work of art. And no, I will accept that the Joker isnt scary, but in the comics he wasnt always like Ledger’s version. The Joker has been many different facesover the years. The scariest version of the joker exists in the animated tv show, Mark Hamills joker laugh sends shivers down my spine.

    And Keaton puts in a stunning performance as the clearly conflicted Bruce Wayne, he can out act Bale with a look, Keaton was an amazing Batman. He is the only actor to succesfully pull off the duality and psychology of a very complex character.

    It is also worth noting, in my opinion, the animated series is the best version of Batman that there has ever been. The Mask Of The Phantasm animated movie is stunning.

  2. @DrSam,

    Prior to that movie a wonderful Graphic Novel titled The Killing Joke came out. Pretty “scary”.

    If you havent read it try to get your hands on it. The Joker has been for a long while the largest “mass murderer” in Batman and dare I say the world of DC comics.

    This was established (I had to look it up) as early as 1973 when Adams and O’Neil “Joker returns to his roots as a homicidal maniac who murders people on a whim, while enjoying battles of wits with Batman.”

    So no he wasnt always like Ledgers version but that is the “accepted” version and the most popular.

    My favorite (heck one of) scene… Wanna see a magic trick?

    I concur with Keaton and even enjoyed Jacks joker… I think he could of pulled off a more sinister Joker easily had the script allowed him.

    As for Supes.. Im not a big fan of the Boy Scout. However he will always be the Yang of Batmans Yin so I accept him..

    I would accept a total reboot of the character… using John Byrnes storyline as a stepping stone.

  3. I’d love to see a new series of Superman movies! I think they need a new direction and a fresh perspective. Preferably a villain that’s not Lex Luthor (love him, but he’s been way overused). My vote goes to Brainiac.

    I think Singer tried to tie his films too much with Donner’s continuity. He really backed himself into a corner trying to go with the “wow” factor (Superson) but it didn’t work.

    Superman has massive action potential and wit today’s technology that can finally happen. I think Superman should just be dropped into the action. The origin and such will be filled in as they go along.

  4. @ Aknot

    I have The Killing Joke, but my favourite is Arkham Asylum, just trying to read the Joker’s dialogue is a head trip in itself!

    I take what you say, and Ledger’s Joker was amazing, and Nicholson’s was played more for laughs I think.

    The only reason I’m still going on about it, is because a few people on here, think Batman starts and ends with Nolan’s Dark Knight.
    And that just aint true. Keaton and Burton deserve some kudos for what they did. Thats all I wanted really.

    Back to Superman, Brainiac can work as a villain, but only if doen in similar way to the Smallville version, and Lex has to be in it in some capacity.

  5. @Daniel F

    You’re out of your mind, bro. The first Tim Burton Batman was NOT aimed at kids! The Joker was creepy as hell and they had scenes like the one guy in the boardroom being burned to a crisp until there was nothing left but a charcoal cadaver.

    Seriously, are you kidding?

    Actually one of the weird things about the Burton Batman movies was the odd insertion of “goofy” humor into the films, like he didn’t know what the hell kind of movie he wanted.


  6. @Vic

    Thats what I have been trying to tell him for ages, but I have given up now. He cant see past The Dark Knight.

  7. I laughed so hard at your Keaton comments that it made me realize how futile this really is. If you think Keaton can out act Bale with just a look and if you think he actually portrayed complexity or some kind of an inner struggle than your to far gone for help.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m a keaton fan and I think he is good and all but he isn’t as good as Bale. Also he didn’t portray any inner struggle or complexity because there was none in that film. The scipt was way to one dimensional Batman didn’t have any layers in that movie and there wasn’t a single shred of depth for any of the characters. It was one of the most straight forward uncomplex action movies ever.

  8. I’m tired of arguing about Batman!!!!

    On a far more related topic, I’m just watching the first two Superman movies, and they are amazing, easily the best comc book movies ever made!

  9. Funny wouldn’t even put them in my top 5.

  10. Then you obviously have no idea of what a comic book movie should be! If you dont like thoe movies, you shouldnt be posting on a Superman thread, or even a movie thread.

    I have enjoyed our little back and forth, but now, its over.

  11. What a joke I don’t like a couple movies you do so I have no place posting on a movie thread? Get over your self for Christ sake. I know exactly what a comic book should be and you have no place telling me I don’t. So as I said before get over your self and stop being such a little pre Madonna

  12. Maybe you should get over Yourself, you are the one who absolutely refuses to listen to anything anyone else says, I accept that TDK is a good movie.

    But you are now seeing, and judging, every other comic book movie by it.

  13. I think your confusing me with someone else. I’m judging Batman by TDK. I don’t think every movie should be the same. I’ve already stated that a new superman movie should be nothing like TDK. I’m not judging any other characters by those standards. I do think other movies should try to have the layers and depth that TDK had, but the realism and darkness are not necessary for all other characters.

  14. Can we stop arguing now? If you want to talk about Superman, thats cool and I will, but we aint gonna agree about Batman, and arguing back and forth isnt getting anywhere.

  15. DanielF and DrSam, you two need to stop it! These are movies guys, not some political crap that’s going to destroy the world. You like TDK, fine; you don’t like TDK, fine; you like Superman, fine; you don’t like Superman, fine.

    But you better say you like Star Trek! :-P

  16. @kahless

    I do love star trek, all apart from Voyager!

  17. I really only like TNG and DS9. I couldn’t stand Voyager or the original series. Though the new movie was good.

  18. Hmmm, I really loved all the Star Trek series (Voyager and Enterprise included!) as well as TDK and the first 2 Superman films. I can’t see what the argument is about! :P

    Personally, I think the first Superman film was one of the greatest origins movies ever made for a comic book character. My only beef with it is Margot Kidder as Lois. What a horrible choice. I have no idea how Supes could have fallen for her. Now Erica Durance’s Lois in Smallville…ROWR!!! :D

  19. In regards to Star Trek, I really liked DS9 in it’s later seasons. The first couple you can tell they trying to find their place in the Star Trek universe. By the end of the series I thought that Benjamin Sisko was the best Trek captain ever portrayed in any of the series.

  20. @andyS

    Superman returns suffered from bad lois syndrome too. Erica Durance would be great as Lois on the big screen.

    Just finished The Donner Cut of superman II. It’s strange!

  21. I don’t think that there’s anything particularly hard about adapting Superman. The only reason Superman Returns didn’t jive with people is that it was, well, boring. All they really need to do is up the action quotient and we’re fine.

    The original 2 Superman films were great. Apart from the horribly silly stuff (turning the world to turn back time etc.) they were awesome. I think they need to recapture that timeless essence, but not try and replicate like Singer did.

  22. I like how it went from a violent debate about batman, to Star Trek, to Superman again.

  23. Wow intense… I can’t believe that people think Keaton was a better batman than Bale. I just can’t take Keatons Batman seriously when I laugh thru half the movie because the cheese factor is at like a 9.5

    Then again, I remember my Gma taking me to see batman returns when I was really young and it scared the crap out of me. Like that part when Danny devito bites that dudes nose off… thats some serious stuff, I don’t think many kids would find that cheesy..

    As for Star Trek… Voyager and TNG all the way! I suppose I haven’t seen much of DS9, Enterprise, and TOS but for some reason the episodes I saw didn’t captivate me enough. I did grow up watching TNG and Voyager so that obviously is part of the reason I enjoy them so much. I guess the same can be said to kids who grew up watching TOS..

  24. The story lines for Voyager were just awful, talk about recycling plots! If it wasn’t a sub spacial anomoly, it was a malfunctioning holodeck or time travel. Voyager never did anything original. And the characters, apart from Paris and The Doctor, the rest were dull trek cliches.

    Keaton was amazing as Batman. But I think we have covered that.

    I’m watching Superman Returns. Gets better with each viewing, a beautifully shot, thoughtful and introspective piece of film making that for some reason never found an audience. Yes Kate Bosworth is the worst Lois Lane ever, but everyone else puts in fantastic performaces. It’s a film about fitting in, and about trying to find your place in a world that has moved on without you. A sequel would have been a wonderful thing, but in the jaded world we live in, the message of hope Superman stands for isn’t welcome anymore. And that is a terrible shame.

  25. DrSam

    You don’t find Superman Returns a tad dull?? And I think its real easy to say Voyager copied a lot of plots since you have apparently seen all Star Trek. I have seen very little Star Trek outside of Voyager and TNG so hopefully you can see how our scenarios are different. I’m sure they recycled ideas like you state but maybe they were just going with what they knew worked. So many movies today used recycled ideas and are still considered good so I think this is no different. Also the better FX were nothing to complain about. Thats one of the reasons I can’t watch TOS because it just looks soo cheesy (word of the day)..

  26. Fenix

    I never understood while people think Superman Returns is dull, it’s got loads of action but I prefer the quiter moments, that’s were the film really shines. It harks back to a different style of film making.

    As for Star Trek, dismissing TOS because it looks a little cheesy, no no no. It is the birth of modern science fiction, but it is about the characters and the stories, effects do not make a good tv show or movie. But if you don’t want to give it a chance, try DS9, it is the most adult Trek and it is a truly epic saga from beggining to end.

  27. Ok cool thanks I will forsure check out DS9. As for superman returns I actually enjoyed it as well. Bryan Singer is a great director and I love his previous work. However I feel its just slow. The action I feel is not spectacular enough for a guy like Superman, it could have been more intense along the lines of the first two Xmen films…

  28. I think it is a shame that that group never got a chance to make a sequel, they could have amped up the action stakes, but I love that Superman Returns tried to take a different path to the traditional hero movie.

    It is a wonderful movie, and should be given far more credit than it deserves.

    Superman should be a shining beacon of hope for humanity, a perfect companion to Batman’s dark knight, and I think shelving the franchise is ludicrous. It has nothing to do with budget, Smallville does astounding things with next to no cash every week, there are thousands of Superman stories to mine for a new movie.

  29. Hold up you enjoy Smallville??? Excuse me but isn’t that geared towards preteen and teen audiences..? I have heard its gotten darker but I remember watching a few episodes back when it was new and thinking it was absurd. I’m not trying to hate on what you like but maybe your just that big of a superman fan..