How To Reboot Superman

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 9:39 am,

superman ross016 How To Reboot Superman

[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.

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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.

superman sunset How To Reboot Superman

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”

superman alex ross How To Reboot Superman

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!

Continue on for story and villain ideas for a Superman reboot…

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superman unleashed How To Reboot Superman

A few years back, we heard rumors about Superman Unleashed – a “dark Superman movie” that would serve as the sequel to Superman Returns.  As soon as Unleashed rumors started leaking, droves of fanboys lost their minds. And, in a sense, they were right to.

This was after Chris Nolan had polished the Batman franchise into the new golden stature of comic book movies. In true Hollywood fashion, everybody was trying to copy Nolan’s blueprint, which in their minds translated to “Make the character dark – modern crowds like dark, troubled characters.”

FALSE. The truth is that contemporary audiences (in whatever genre of whatever medium) have come to accept that the world isn’t so simple or clear-cut. The Superman of the post-WWII 50s simply cannot be the same character we get in this new Millennium. Right or wrong, there are now too many new views and opinions about morality and ethics – not to mention that it’s pretty obvious to all of us that the world is currently in a state of flux and change. So why baby your audience? Why take some condescendingly simplistic approach to a hero’s story?  Why not give us Superman – the shining example of enduring hope – in the full complexity of modern context?

Superman05 How To Reboot Superman

You can keep certain things edgy, for sure – the story, the conflict, the stakes – Superman can take a beating, suffer some terrible loss(es) – hell, he may bend and nearly break. So long as he never loses hope and ultimately overcomes the challenge(s), Supes can be dragged through hell and back again and still rise to the occasion of being the hero we expect him to be. Cripes, it’s basically what Superman II is all about!

A WORTHY ADVERSARY

Enough with the Lex Luthor crap, we get it: Lex is Superman’s equal – only with his brain rather than his brawn, see?

That’s all well and good, but seriously, if I’m paying current movie ticket prices to see a Superman flick (in 3D, because you know it’s coming…) then yes, on some level (read: a major one) I want to see some drag-out, city-wrecking, sound-barrier-breaking, super-powered slam-dancing take place.

superman villains How To Reboot Superman

Writers of the Superman comic books have spent decades building up a wonderful gallery of super-powered rogues that can give Supes a run for his money. Brainiac, Mongul, Zod, Parasite, Kalibak, Cyborg Superman, Metallo, Doomsday, Atomic Skull – even creepy, non-super-powered types like The Toy Man. It’s a big wide world of Superman bad guys – so why the hell are we constantly limited to the Superman vs. Lex rivalry?

Superman Returns was the worst offender of the bunch, in my opinion – yes, even worse than Superman IV. At least the latter tried to throw in some half-baked (get it?) Superman clone who was strong enough to bury Superman on the moon! Returns tried to sell us on some “big conflict” involving Luthor growing “real estate” out of freaking Kryptonian geodes. That so-called “plotline” still turns my stomach…

Quick lesson in metaphor: you want to demonstrate how Superman inspires hope, in even the darkest of times, without getting too overtly literal or dragged down by politics? Throw my man Darkseid in there along with his war-crazed army and psycho lieutenants from the planet Apokolips – have them invade planet earth with only Superman standing between humanity and total Armageddon.

darkseid How To Reboot Superman

Darkseid

Remember Superman: The Animated Series? That show tackled the Superman/Darkseid epic in a three-part episode that was a classic, as far as I’m concerned. It hit all the right notes: Superman’s role as both inspirational symbol and super-powered protector; Apokolips and Darkseid as metaphors for dark times and indisputable evil; those “city-wrecking” battles I spoke about; even a wonderful subplot about the Metropolis police sacrificing their lives to battle Darkseid and his forces, reminding Superman that “heroes” don’t need to be “super” – they just need to have bravery in their hearts.

Do you see how easy that was? Makes you wonder how a cartoon show can get it so right when a movie franchise with a massive budget misses the mark… Hopefully, with DCE promoting some of its best creative minds to top positions, we movie buffs floating around the ‘Net won’t be the only ones pitching the good ideas.

superman5 How To Reboot Superman

In my eyes, it really isn’t that hard to get Superman right. You just have to remember to value the basics. Both Marvel and DC are currently bringing their universes back to some core heroic roots, signaling that the people at the top have heard fans’ cries that they’re tired of an era in which every super hero needs to have Freudian issues, mental problems, or some other stain on their costume.

Our super heroes are totems – symbols of values we hold dear or aspire to in our own lives and Superman has always stood as the tallest totem there is.

All DCE/WB has to do with this  Superman reboot is remind us why.

Announcements about the Superman reboot (and many other DC movie projects) are expected to come soon, so stay tuned to Screen Rant.

Artwork by: Alex Ross, Jim Lee, Ed McGuinness and Philip Tan

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TAGS: superman, superman man of steel, superman unleashed

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  1. Bear with me on this one…

    ORIGIN STORY

    Enough with Origin Story for Supes; it’s not necessary, That said I think it would not only be appropriate but a nice change if they did offer a look at his early years, perhaps when he has becoming a teen and going thru the Kryptonian version of puberty. Do this thru flashbacks where in current times Clark sees or experiences something that reminds him of a childhood event.

    A great example of this would be to flashback to when he was a teen and just starting to notice his childhood friend, Lana Lane in a different way. The scene has them in the barn playing tag or something and she falls on top of him and kisses him. When this happens he for the first time projects the lasers from his eyes and burns a hole in part of the barn. This scares him and he runs off and later tells his parents what happened. They of course realize it’s time for the birds & bees discussion (which we don’t have to see in the movie) and they also comfort his fear that he may hurt Lana with this uncontrollable thing from his eyes.

    Fast forward a few days or week and he and Lana are together again and she’s bring back up the kiss in the barn. Clark realizes he has feelings for Lana that he did not before and now comforted by his parents that he won’t harm Lana he decides to embrace his feelings and kisses Lana back. This time the feeling is more intense and so is the beam from his eyes. This time a fire starts and the barn is quickly caught in flames. Lana is knocked out by a falling beam which hits them booth but Clark is of course OK. He manages to get her out but from that point his approach to embracing his feelings of love for others beyond friendship and of family changes. He decides he can’t risk harm to those he loves and so he decides to keep his distance and not become romantically involved with Lana or anyone else. This begins his period of withdrawal during his teen/high school years; when he finds the blue glowing crystal and finds out his lineage and so on.

    These flashbacks to key events in his childhood could come in the first act of the movie, spread out as he finds himself once again being drawn to the woman. I’d like to note that it might be interesting to make some woman other than Louis Lane as the focal point of his affection at this time.

    FRIENDS & ENEMYS

    I love the idea of going with Darkseid as the villain because he is one whop could go head to toe and even best Supes in a fight under the right conditions. If Nolan provides a cross over between Supes and Bats it would be cool to see in the final battle that it is the non-super powered human who risks his life to come to the aid of his friend and give Superman the turning point he need sto regain the advantage over Darkseid and send his hordes back to Acropolis.

    Regardless of the Villian end I think the relationship between Clark and Bruce should be that of close friends who still keep a close eye on the other in the event that they turn and have to dealt with in the interest of humanity. I believe it is this tight but protected relationship between these 2 that makes the whole PUBLIC ENEMYS storyline/comic so appealing.

  2. I came to the Superman world a little late, but I’ve caught up on the movies. And, Smallville happens to be my favorite show. The idea that a new Superman movie seems like a good one. Superman Returns–as much as people hated it–left the viewers hanging. I actally enjoyed that movie and wanted there to be a sequel as soon as Hollywood allowed. Personally, Brandon Routh did a good job. Sure, he could’ve done better but acting is never 100% perfect. I say, leave him for the reboot if there officially is one. I hate when movie-officials change a face for the latest movie. As for Tom Welling, I love him. I think he really would do good as well. If they cast him in the first place, I would’ve been estatic. But they didn’t. I really can’t picture any other face for a new Superman movie. Use one of those men, and I’d watch it.

  3. There are two important sides to Superman that need to come through in the movie: 1) he’s adopted and raised by a Kansas farmer and a housewife. His values are Midwestern, and it’s part of his human identity which he cherishes. 2) He’s an alien from a destroyed planet. As a result, he has a prevailing sense of loneliness. To the person known as Kal-El, his Clark Kent persona is more important to him than the Superman persona.

    He’s not a vigilante-type like Batman or Spider-Man. He’s hopeful and optimistic, partly from his rural upbringing, and partly from his great powers. In many ways, he’s an “idealized” human. The idea of a somehow morally-compromised Superman is completely ridiculous and contrary to the character’s DNA. Superman is not Everyman. He’s the best of us. He’s the Last Son of Krypton *and* Earth’s Greatest Champion.

    The villain story arc needs to be dark, creepy, utterly evil, and visually epic. I want to see Darkseid destroying a city or Doomsday killing half of the Justice League. The stakes have to be incredibly high. Superman needs to be put in a moral dilemma which he solves through greatness of physical and moral powers.

    THAT is Superman.

    As far as casting goes, I’d love to see a relative unknown get the part that can play a Gregory Peck-style Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” It may be too much of a Roger Stern-era look for some, but I think Peck’s Atticus Finch is the quintessential prototype for Clark Kent. He needs a presence that doesn’t start looking wimpy when fawning over Lois or stumbling over curbs in the street.

    Lois should be strong, classy, and not overly-glamorous. The most important aspect is that the woman can act, and she can convey amazing chemistry with her co-star.

    Aside from the hero, villain, and the leading lady, I don’t care much about the casting choices.

    The musical score has to be spot-on. It would be appropriate for the reboot to remove John Williams’ classic theme, though that’s going to be a tough call for the studio. It would be great to give a young composer the chance to write a new classic.

    • I hear you and agree with all you points; however, the movie cannot, and should not EVER abandon the Superman Theme song. Forget giving a new composer a chance. The William’s “Superman Theme” song is right there with the Star Wars theme, and Bill Conti’s “Rocky theme”. Imagine a Rocky movie, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones movie without the theme song? BIG MISTAKE!! The Audience waits years to hear it on the big screen again…it reminds them of their memories of decades passed. The theme song is just as important as Superman’s red cape!

  4. If I were to reboot Superman, a project which I already started just in case I make it to Hollywood as a script writer / screen play supervisor… is to start with Superman today. There’ll be a part to tell his origin again but this time, put some Smallville life into that.

    One Key Factor is for my Trilogy, get Lex Luthor as a very minor player only. ANother would be to throw in a HOTTER Lois Lane ( I mean, please… the Lois Lanes of past are just… NOT HOT).

    My reboot would be in this manner of battles:

    Superman Rises (Part 1)- Superman tackles Metallo & Parasite. But the main battle is with Zod. Zod returns to settle a score with Jor-el by trying to kill his son, Kal-El. Throw in the fact that he wants to make the world kneel before Zod.

    Superman: The Man of Steel – Superman cleans up the city from The Toy Man and his plans. The Toy Man finds a way to control Solomon Grundy and Bizarro. Just when you think this mayhem is too much, Lex Luthor sees if Superman can still endure another fight with Doomsday. This is a test of him being a real Superman.

    Superman: Never Ending Battle – Superman faces Darkseid’s army. And for Darkseid’s Captain – Superman Prime.

    This is how we should reboot Superman. The Key Word is – SUPER. Make him what he really is all about. A SUPER POWERED MAN THAT WANTS TO PROTECT HIS NEW HOME, HIS LOVED ONES, AND ALL WHO LOOK TO THE SKIES FOR HIS SYMBOL OF HOPE.

  5. I’m a huge superman fan since the 1970′s, and I was furious at “Superman Returns”. My biggest complaint was that Superman’s character was lacking just that, character. It didn’t seem like he had very many lines and the movie completely abandoned the character showing any type of emotion…he was like a robot. One that would just do the right thing without thinking or without knowing what was on his mind. The Christopher Reeve character displayed all the basic human emotion. Sadness, anger, courage, confidence etc.. I don’t know if it was done so to cover Brandon Ruth’s range as an actor, but one thing’s for sure, whoever plays superman in the next film will need to display real acting ability….that’s #1.
    #2) Superman has to face an opponent that’s at the very least equal to himself. Lex Luthor cannot face Superman alone. Lex uses his brilliant mind in order to compete with Superman, but he’ll need to be a subplot to a supervillain…muchlike in Superman II.
    #3) HUGE focus needs to be placed on action scenes which demonstrate Superman’s powers in a way that only computer technology of today can achieve. The “rescue airplaine” scene in “Superman Returns” was a decent example of that….as well as the scene when he’s flying backwards and (while facing the rear) using his heat vision to destroy the falling particles before they reached the ground. The new movie needs to feature a fighting scene that takes place in the air, and not on the ground.

    #4) The new movie needs to be creative….MAKE A LIST OF HIS SUPERPOWERS AND COMBINE THEM SOMEHOW TO SHOW US SOMETHING HE’S NEVER DONE BEFORE! SUPERMAN CAN DO ANYTHING! THE SKY’S THE LIMIT! HE CAN RUN, AND FLY AS FAST AS THE FLASH CAN RUN. WHY NOT CHANGE HIS FLIGHT PATTERNS MUCH LIKE A HUMMINGBIRD…MOVING AT QUICK SPEEDS IN ALL DIRECTIONS….IMAGINE SUPERMAN MOVING AND STOPPING AT SUCH QUICK SPEEDS THAT NOTHING CAN CATCHUP AND WHENEVER HE’S STOPPED YOU SEE A QUICK GLIMPSE OF HIM DELIEVERING AN UPPERCUT RIGHT, THEN A LEFT, AND A RIGHT AGAIN….THE OPPONENT WOULDN’T HAVE A CHANCE!!

    • That was also on of my problem with Superman returns. Routh was too wooden in his portrayal of Superman. He rarely ever had a smile on his face–how can I be optimistic and hopeful if the hero has such a stoic expression on his face?

  6. The most thought of approach to the SUPERMAN reboot is who can play this role of a super man. What human actor can even begin to equal the look and physical appearance of this truly larger than life super man? The answer is … no one.

    Chris Reeve got close, but although his facial features were acceptable, he still lacked the physique that is SUPERMAN’S. No human actor we know of that would be considered for that role is a superhuman actor, nor can any come close to filling that role completely. The wonderful graphic depictions of the man of steel by various artists demonstrate that fact most emphatically.

    Today, the art of computer generated imagery has developed to the point of perfection. Naomi Watts was computer generated in certain scenes of King Kong that were deemed too dangerous for her to perform. I defy anyone not connected with the film to tell me which scenes they were.

    The reboot of SUPERMAN could contain a computer generated SUPERMAN that could be indistinguishable from a human actor, but at the same time retain the true physical representation of SUPERMAN.

    Why this observation has apparently escaped everyone but me is a mystery.

    Let’s finally give SUPERMAN his due. He is, after all, NOT human. So why do we insist on forcing him into a human mold?

    • a totally computer generated superman?i think computer generated effects are overused as it is.an actor is needed to play the superman.he is the man of steel.not the cgi effect of steel.

      as far back as the mid to late 90`s i have had this mental vision of movies being entirley computer generated but looking like real places and people but with no person or real place on the screen and it scares me to an extent because the more cgi is used the less heart there is on screen.

      a totally cgi superman wouldn`t be right.

      christopher reeves had a great build for the superman part as well as having the part down pat.if superman was too bulked up how would he hide under the suit as clark kent?

  7. i am one of the few , apparently who thought superman returns was a perfict return of superman to the movie screen.the mega powerful villians could be used in a sequal to superman returns.

    superman returns was the perfict spring board to the great possibilities of a superman movie.

    roth did a great job showing the heroic attitude of superman.being willing to charge up himself with the sun and risk his life lifting the huge mountian of kryptonite knowing the materals(lead included perhaps.probally so) would melt exposing him to the kryptinite.all to save everybody else.

    • roth also did a great job as clark kent.

  8. For me, the story for Superman:Reboot should be a 2-parter but basically re-telling the Death of Superman. It can continue from Superman Returns. In Pt1, Superman gets killed within thefirst hour or so. The rest of Pt1 can focus on the chaos without Superman — perhaps not directly adapting from the comics. Doomsday could still be alive, etc…

    Warner Bros can also include other DC heroes in this movie (cameo appearance).

    Pt2 sees Superman returning… Fighting off whatever powerful villain writes can introduce.

    I feel villains should be darker and more vicious but I’d like to continue seeing Superman being the innocent and all-correct and upright character that he is. Superman can have re-defined powers, limitations, etc after coming back from the dead.

  9. superman has already been rebooted. see Smallville

    …and a great reboot it is!

  10. LOOK…to reboot Superman…earth should be faced with a MAJOR THREAT…like DARKSEID wanting to take it over…all ove the villains of Apokolips should be there…that would be a movie

  11. I think tom welling would be a good choice for superman,lois laine erica durance,as for villians i thought of three you chould use any one of these they have never been used darkseid,bizzaro,and doomsday