In 2006, I and millions like me were supremely disappointed with Bryan Singer’s contribution to a seemingly simple franchise: Superman Returns. Many compared the experience to gang rape, and questioned Mr. Singer’s true intentions (The Gayification of Superman). Myself, I thought he tried too hard to connect the film to the Christopher Reeve era, particularly Richard Donner’s Superman II.
But Elisabeth Rappe of Cinematical has a piece up about the way Hollywood has failed to return to that singular magic that Donner and Reeve captured, and why they need to revise the approach. Everyone loves to throw around the word “reboot,” and for some franchises, it works. But Superman is a pretty famous dude, and if an audience doesn’t know about Jor-El, Krypton, and the Kent farm, it’s really not all that bad. They won’t be lost if we just jump into a Supes story in Metropolis, ratcheting up a plot that doesn’t have to explain Superman. What’s not to get? He can fly. He’s strong. Only Kryptonite can harm him.
Therein lies another problem that Elisabeth brings up. He’s kind of a boring hero. Even when Lex Luthor flattens him with a giant slab of the stuff, we know he’s going to be okay, somehow (although Singer’s solution reeked). We know our protagonist is going to come out fine, and that hinders suspense. However, if we have Superman performing to save someone else, say, the human race, then we have ourselves some real, interesting drama.
The reality is- Tinseltown is giving up for now. The last Son of Krypton won’t be flying across movie screens anytime soon, because the potential for another failure is too great. That’s really too bad, for I think it’s important to have more Superman in our lives… as long as he’s done right. I suppose the only hope we have to believe a man can fly would be to combine him with another, more bankable hero.