How To Reboot Superman

Published 5 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.



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…


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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  1. this!

    And get the right actor!!!

  2. Perfect article! Hit all the main issues right on the dot! Now all they have to do is get the man who was born to play the Superman of this generation, Tom Welling, follow what this article pointed out and we will have the best storied, and money making franchise ever!!! It's Superman, one of the most beloved characters ever created!

  3. Well heres my 2 cents for those who care. Dont totally abandon the first movie, yeah it sucked but there were points that could lead to new ideas. Take the “mission” to Krypton, thats the easiest thing to run with. While Kal-El is nosing around the area you have someone coyly watching him from a distance. Brainiac. Surprised to see a fellow Kryptonain he watches, waits, then follows. This can be explained somewhere in the movie when the eventual verbal showdown happens between the two, perhaps before the battle after Brainiac has caused massive destruction in this new play land called Earth. A perfect setup for a darker Supes movie! A real danger to the planet and all its inhabitants with the ability to challenge Supes on all levels; power, emotion and intellect. Like I said just my 2 cents but…

  4. Finally I can comment on this article. I haven't been able to for some reason nor could I subscribe to the comments.

    Not sure if you screenrant guys know or not, but I haven't been to subscribe or comment on the latest captain America thread either. Major comment issues going on lately.

  5. Villain?
    I vote the most recent incarnation of Brainiac. Easily used in a plot surrounding “Who IS Superman/Clark Kent”, as it offers the opportunity to use other Kryptonians that are still living as if on Krypton. This Brainiac is also more than a physical match for Superman, so he would have to overcome a character both smarter AND stronger than he is. Could be compelling, eh?

  6. Honesty though the Superman/Doomsday fight would be awesome but showing why Superman stays true to his morals is the best way to go. Like when faced with killing he will (almost) always choose choose to just beat butt and save the person because he can see good in all. I think that is awesome

  7. Darkseid is too complex as a villain to use for one movie. If you're going to build up to him over the course of a trilogy it could work, but using him right out of the gate not only cheapens the kind of villainy he represents but it also makes him an incredibly difficult act to follow for a sequel.

    I also think it would be a mistake to all out reject the idea of using Luthor. I can see how people would be tired of seeing him in the movies, but audiences haven't even seen the RIGHT TYPE of Lex Luthor in movies. I say they hint towards Lex in the first movie and then bring him in full force for the sequel. Just like Chris Nolan did with The Joker.

  8. Def. reboot with absolutely no traces of SR. Give him a new trilogy…start with Darkseid and lead up to Doomsday. Make it epic with villains we can appreciate…follow Marvel's lead, and it will be a success.

  9. Anyone who knows me on here, knows I have very strong feelings toward the Superman franchise, I did like Superman Returns and found it to be a wonderful movie that evocated a sense of nostalgia for that kind of movie. That aside, I agree that aping Donner's style and story, whilst being wonderfully done, was not the right way to go. Here is my take.

    We open to a shot of planet Earth as seen from the majesty of space, the camera pulls in and the shining blue and green orb fills the screen.

    Superman (V.O): This is the Earth, my adopted home. Years ago, I came here as an alien refugee from a dying world, an intergalactic orphan, and the loving couple who found me showed me such kindness and compassion. I grew up here, developing amazing abilities and powers, I decided to use them to help mankind. And I have done so ever since.

    The camera zooms down through the thick, clumpy skies of undiluted grey. It hangs in the sky above the mega city of Metropolis. A thunder storm of epic proportions is rattling the windows of every building, rain bullets into the pavements. There is a spec in the distance, a man in mid air.

    Superman (V.O): Some see me as a saviour, a title I can never be truly comfortable with, but I will do everything within my power to save them.

    A crash of lightning. Followed by a sequence of sonic booms. The camera tightens on the man, we see his red cape billowing in the gale, a stern and determined look on his face. He is bruised, a trickle of blood seeping from a deep gash on his forehead. He turns, and something smashes into him at colossal speed, Superman hurtles backwards through a building and falls onto the roof of another. The damaged building begins to collapse in the background. A blurry shape lands next to the battered Superman. He looks up at his opponent, and sees a distorted mirror image, yet the face is white and an expression of madness radiates from confused and twisted features. His suit isn’t quite the same, the lighting shows a confused colour scheme.

    Superman (V.O): Now I must save them from myself.

    The Bizarro Superman smashes down a bare foot and everything goes dark.

    Opening Credits begin. They show the story of Superman, his ship crashing, being raised in Smallville, moving to Metropolis and meeting Lois Lane.

    “One Week Earlier” Appears on screen.

  10. I completely agree about Welling. Now if they can just get Geoff Johns to write it!

  11. I like the energy, but it might be a bit too Cloverfield.

  12. How to Reboot Superman? Don't start with the origins…..I am a big Superman fan, but I have to admit it gets old. Next use a fairly unknown who would actually fit the part. Remember when Nick Cage was suggested as being the next Man Of Steel;He even named his kid Kal-El (weirdo). I wouldn't mind seeing Tom Welling get a shot. He has a good start on Smallville.

  13. he has to be a man (hulk) middle age. not a boy or young looking guy.

  14. I would love to get a teaser of Superman in the next Nolan Batman…………

  15. What seems to be the easiest thing to do, which would show both the power of Superman, along with the selflessness (and a trilogy to boot, for the money-men and studios) would be the Death of Superman story arc. In that story, there is the darkness, the heroic struggle, the comeback, everything! Plus, you get to keep Luthor in it, along with introducing a whole host of characters that could actually further the whole series, and help DC Comics! I remember being taken aback by the ferocity of that last comic where Superman stood toe to toe, and blow for blow with Doomsday. There's quite a set of blockbuster movies, that seem to have all the flavor required.

  16. Kofi's article gives me hope…but the dollar signs in the Hollywood execs eyes will most likely crap all over that hope. I'd like to see a Darkseid live action story…even if it is on the CW's Smallville.

  17. The reason why Lex Lurthor is being of the important villain character is becoz he is just a normal human but powerful in terms of financial & even politics. Although he may be the lamest villain among all but he is still the best way of introduction to Superman by comparing how powerful of each other in different angle & how super is Superman.
    Most of all it also shows that how sick can human get into his hand dirty while others needs a savior.
    Anyway, for those of us whom has been fan for years are pretty done wth Lex alone dealing wth Superman. Thus we need another villain preferably a supervillain that can match wth Superman physical power. Lex will still hold an important character as far as Superman reintroduction, but this time as a supporting character not the main villain of course as i assume that he be survive for each subsequent sequel that leads him to become more powerful perhaps.
    I was wondering if they cld approach by using the IronMan formula. You know get started by having Superman battle against somevillain causing disaster havoc over the place & rewind back in time to see how Superman was born. And they cld start buiding some other villain character over the cause such as Darkseid (for Ironman wld the Mandarin). Perhaps we cld link that Darkseid has something to do wth the destruction of planet Krypton besides Braniac involvement.
    Lastly i do not wish to see Lois Lane being potray as the best smart journalist but cld not recognize who is her colleague Clark Kent is, okay.

  18. I may be in a minority here, and I know that not everybody watches or supports it, but all I want to see with Superman next is Smallville having a satisfying final 10th season and than them giving any live action version of Superman a rest for a while. Again, I know not everybody watches or supports it, but after 10 years of seeing Tom Welling play a struggling, learning Clark Kent on the verge of becoming Superman, I definitely think it's time to give the character a rest. I also feel the same way about Batman only after Nolan does a hopefully satisfying final Batman film for his franchise. Take it or leave it, but Smallville is this generation's Superman, and other DC superheroes are definitely in need of a live action franchise (DC's going in the right direction with Green Lantern being next, but after that The Flash and Wonder Woman definitely need another shot). I'm not ready to think of another actor playing Superman, Tom Welling has done a solid to decent job playing the character, even if he isn't full Superman, he is our Superman, and if they have to reboot the character, I hope they wait at least 5 years or so till it happens again. You guys should be focusing on articles about how to make successful The Flash or Wonder Woman movies way before writing articles on the Superman reboot. Of course with all the legal trouble it's still caught up in, it may not be till 5 years or so till we get another movie. Saying this as a equally huge Superman and Smallville (especially seasons 8 and 9) fan, I definitely will not complain if it takes them a while.

  19. By the way i like the idea from DrSamBeckett. Is the same approach as Ironman. Bizzaro is perfect match along wth Lex Lurthor as neither both of them are outstanding enough to deal wth Superman alone.
    I mean if is only Lex – we all know is BORING, but if is only Bizzaro is like watching Superman alone fighting himself throughout the whole movie (lack of creativity).
    So both of these villains combine would be just nice to add up the chemistry. And it wasnt so hard to link them together. e.g. Lex knows abt the Krytonite can weaken Superman, uses it to get some sample DNA from Superman try to clone another one for himself & end up making creating Bizarro.
    That just my logic sense, i mean why wld a billionaire hated Superman so much simply becoz he envy his power that he cannot have it so he wanted to explore his power instead of just killing Superman – at least not just yet.

  20. i like the whole concept apart from focusing on the character, because everybody (even those who dont read comic books) know about superman so that will bore me to death having to see and hear how supes grew up etc… just get on with the plot, and less of clarke kent.

  21. Amen!!!! Brother, you said it all!

  22. dunno!
    when i picture superman, then it is a man in his 40s and physicall powerhouse! You look at this guy and just know you would trust him to save the world. Im talkin about a tall big blackhaired arnold body which would burst any suit if it flexed the wrong muscles. (just look at the pictures in this article: that is how he should look).
    Don't bring a young dude (including 30s)

  23. I think if they want to do an origin story, they should use a young looking guy at some point because he doesn't come here as an adult

  24. they already did this in the animated movie, Superman: Doomsday

  25. oh and I like the John henry thing, he needs a new movie after the Shaq one ruined him