[Update: There's word that the Superman Reboot is on the way!]
A lot of you may still be buzzing from the news that Chris Nolan will be “mentoring” the Superman franchise for Warner Bros., in order to get it back on track. Unfortunately, a huge dent was put in that news recently, when DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson stated that the Nolan/Superman connection is just a rumor.
Chris Nolan may end up being involved with the Superman reboot in some capacity – then again he may not. Only time will tell. However, this latest turn of the rumor mill has done us the the wonderful favor of rekindling the debate about what we, as fans, want to see in the next Superman movie and the inevitable franchise that follows.
We’ve had this debate again and again, but it doesn’t seem to get old. Last time, I asked you what should Warner Bros. do about the Superman reboot – it was a question. But that was then, and nothing has been done since (that we can confirm), so now I’m done asking – now I’m pitching some theories. Keep on reading and see if you agree.
FOCUS ON THE CHARACTER
You know what made a movie like Batman Begins so enjoyable? The fact that two-thirds of the film were dedicated to exploring the central character and answering the two basic questions that should be at the heart of every superhero franchise: Who is this guy/gal and what is he/she about?
You know what tripped me up about Bryan Singer’s vision for Superman Returns? The cheesy, hokey, thinly-veiled metaphoric question of the central narrative: What does Superman mean to the faux world of the film, and by extension, what does Superman mean to us in the real world? YAWN.
As a former fanboy, I know what Superman means to me – I didn’t go to the theater to take a friggin survey on it. A Superman film should demonstrate to the audience that the filmmakers understand what the character means and that they are able to communicate that understanding in a way that resonates with the audience.
You know why Richard Donner’s cut of Superman II is such genius? Because that film invests so heavily in exploring who Superman/Clark Kent is, both as a hero and as a man. And, so as not to weigh things down too heavily, three badass super-powered Kryptonian villains were thrown in there to provide the necessary blockbuster action, while still managing to expand the story of Superman’s identity crisis in a logical and meaningful way.
My point: If you want to reboot Superman successfully, keep the story focused on the man in the red, yellow and blue suit! How hard is it to mimic a formula that Donner clearly mastered way back when? Don’t just retell an origin story – explore what that origin means to the character. How does Superman/Clark feel as the orphan of another world? How did his Smallville upbringing and human adoptive parents make him more “human” than most people?
Exploring old topics from new angles opens interesting doors…
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE “DARK”
As contemporary movie goers, we need to be reacquainted with Superman. And I’m not talking the Superman of some nostalgic past (as Mr. Singer tried to resurrect) – I’m talking about a version of the character who exists in our day and age, when so much of the world seems to be advancing, and yet, simultaneously heading in the wrong direction.
Superman represents hope. That is the symbol he has always been, and, in my opinion, should always be. He’s the being who can do anything, withstand anything, rise above any challenge – and yet, he chooses to be a man (keyword) who stands for compassion, hope and all those other benevolent emotions. Just as incorruptible as Batman – but in a completely different way.
It doesn’t matter how much darkness Superman is surrounded by, because he doesn’t allow it to drag him down or corrupt that noble heart of his (a quality which makes some cynics roll their eyes). It’s why Supes is so famous and enduring: he’s an indestructible (read: indelible) symbol of good always triumphing in the end.
So don’t be afraid to drag him through the mud!