Goodbye Superman Returns

Over at Newsarama, they’re reporting that Warner Brothers has opted to reboot the Superman franchise, following the lead of dismissing Ang Lee’s Hulk with last summer’s The Incredible Hulk.  This means an all new, fresh start, also such as what they did with Batman Begins (which, I’m sure, had little influence on this unexpected decision).

Personally, I’m all for it.  Bryan Singer is a superb director, but I’m not sure he, nor the script, understood the essence of Superman.  Now, I want you to know, I’m no die-hard Superman fan, but even I have some basic needs that must be satisfied when dealing with the Man of Steel.

Superman needs to be courageous, noble, charismatic, and respectable.  Superman Returns gave us a Superman that was a stalker, an illegitimate father, and a deadbeat dad with an unhealthy messiah complex.  Furthermore, Superman Returns basically offered the same real-estate plot as the original Superman when it came to his foe, Lex Luthor.

I loved the Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner Superman – loved it! – and it will forever have a soft spot in my heart, but its time is over.  We still have it on DVD; let’s begin anew with our cinematic Superman mythos.

The Superman reboot should NOT rehash his origin – we all know it.  Let’s pound straight into the action.  Let’s have Superman with a worthy opponent such as Brainiac, Mongul, Metallo, or, what the heck, how about the daddy of all baddies: Darkseid.  Please, please, please don’t fall into the cliche of the “opposite hero” such as Bizarro and if Lex Luthor must be present, let it only be peripherally such as on advertisements and in headlines.  Save his actual appearance for a later movie; make him something we dread.  In other words, build him up as the ultimate villain and not a rabid real-estate developer.

Along with big action and giving something super for Superman to do, give us a love story where he and Lois Lane actually seem to like each other.  Half his appeal is the love of an equally super woman.  I don’t care if she knows Clark Kent is Superman or not (it seems kind of insulting in this day and age that an award-winning journalist couldn’t put that little ditty together), the dynamic could work either way.  Just have them actually be in love for this old romantic. 

Superman is the best of our fictional super heroes – he is the beacon of light in the sea of despair.  He is the one who never gives up on his morals, his belief system, who always strives to do the right thing.  Please don’t darken him and make him “grim and gritty.”  What works for Batman does not, and never has, worked for Superman.

Finally, sorry Brandon Routh, but in my opinion, you just don’t have the spark in your eyes necessary to play the Man of Tomorrow.  When we look at Superman, we should see confidence, strength, intelligence, and ironically enough, humanity.  I’m afraid Routh never looked comfortable in the role.  Reeve had those things.  Finding another actor to so perfectly fill those red boots will be difficult, to be sure.

I’m excited about the reboot.  I’m excited to see a fresh approach to Superman that isn’t tied down to past continuity.  Again, I loved the old Reeve movies, but it’s time to do something different.

Just remember, the “S” on the chest isn’t what makes Superman so super, it’s all those things he is that each of us admires and aspires to become.

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