The Russos Explain Why Superman is a Difficult Hero to Adapt for Film

The Russo Brothers Superman

Marvel Studios directors Joe and Anthony Russo admit that it's tricky to translate Superman into the screen. The superhero has been played by Henry Cavill in Warner Bros.' and DC's own interconnected movie franchise, the DCEU; while the CW's Arrowverse has also introduced their own version of the character via Supergirl and is played by Tyler Hoechlin.

The Russos have done a lot for Marvel. They made Chris Evans' Captain America cool in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they delivered a good film despite an enormous cast with a lot of moving pieces in Captain America: Civil War, and then, they fulfilled MCU's long-existing promise of culminating of all existing storylines in the franchise in Avengers: Infinity War.  They're set to finish off what they started this year with Avengers: Endgame next May. At this point, it's safe to assume that they're the Marvel Studios' top filmmakers, but even they admit that DC's Superman is tricky to adapt to film.

Related: The Aquaman Movie Has a Major Man of Steel Homage

Speaking with Business Insider, the Russo brothers asked which superheroes they think are the most difficult to translate on the big screen. The two unanimously chose the Man of Steel with Joe explaining "He's a very difficult character. You have to find an emotional flaw or weakness in the character in order to make them vulnerable." His older brother, Anthony, meanwhile, further explained by saying that typically, the more powerful a hero is, the tougher it is to make him compelling.

"The more powerful a character is, the more difficult to deal with that character on a narrative level. As storytellers, and the way we explore characters, we always look for vulnerabilities in characters because that's where characters become interesting. They're superficially interesting in their strength, but they get much more depth when you find where they don't have that kind of strength. In general, the more powerful a character is, the more tricky that is."

Superman is often compared to Captain America in the sense that they embody the boy scout image and are the moral compass of their teams. But they can't be any more different in terms of power set. The Super Soldier is technically just a human who happens to be equipped in fighting and has enhanced endurance and strength (he also ages slowly), the Man of Steel, on the other hand, is a god - almost immortal with the Kryptonite technically his only weakness. In hindsight, he's better compared with Thor in the MCU as both have high power levels. Proving Russos' point was the fact that Marvel Studios struggled for years to make Odinson compelling. It was only in Thor: Ragnarok and eventually in Infinity War where he's lost everything that he became more interesting.

In the DCEU, the future of Superman remains bleak despite the fact that he kicked off the franchise via Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. Cavill reprised the role twice more in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League - all of which got a divisive reaction from fans. To be fair, Snyder attempted to make the character relatable by putting him in difficult spots and have him go through rough patches to the point that he's even questioning whether or not being a hero is even worth it anymore. While he the execution could've been better, he basically had the same principle as the Russos when it comes to adapting superhero characters. The problem mainly lies on the lack of clarity regarding what version of Superman Warner Bros. want to tackle and the fans want to see.

More: Aquaman's Jason Momoa Discusses Affleck & Cavill Potentially Exiting the DCEU

Source: Business Insider

Key Release Dates
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
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  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
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