I am going to come right out and say this and I am sure there are other people out there that share my feelings, but aside from the 1978 Richard Donner Superman movie, Superman himself has had one of the most horrible track records in franchise history. Before you all come out and essentially hate on me and say “what about Superman II?” I like that movie if only for the fact that we get the line, “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!” and that’s about it. Something about Superman is just so hard to translate onto screen for audiences, like there is a sort of complex, but not complex reasoning behind why the movies of the past feel a bit hokey and uninteresting. I mean Superman II was okay, where III and IV where absolute trash. Superman Returns was a boring Superman movie and an exercise in trying to recapture the essence of the first movie for a more modern time. What worked, or sort of worked, in the past was that it was a product of its time. They all focused on a romanticized version of Superman, traipsing around Metropolis and longingly looking after Lois Lane while defeating the occasional villain who has a penchant for land grabbing schemes.
Does that sort of nostalgia fly now in a CGI heavy, action oriented crowd that wants to be dazzled and entertained when they go to the movie? Well look at how Superman Returns performed or was received. Critics obviously loved it cause it reminded them of that Norman Rockwell painting on their fridge and their love of the nostalgic 70s era Superman and audiences didn’t like it cause it was boring as shit. No one wants to see a movie where a super powered god doesn’t throw a punch, but the guy who plays Kumar in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle does. Why can’t we get a proper Superman movie that balances a compelling back story, action, and well, something exciting?
For me, it’s the character at heart, meaning when you have a superhero that is virtually invulnerable, what the fuck are the stakes of the movie? How can you make a movie seem interesting to an audience when they know that their Superhero has essentially one weakness, but is basically the cheat code to a video game? This is the hurdle that has to be dealt with and is what makes it difficult to give us an exciting Superman movie. If you can’t find a way to make an immortal hero compelling, you get Richard Donner-esque movies that just aren’t exciting. Singer tried and didn’t make a compelling enough Superman for a modern time, but now, some 35 years since the first Donner film, Zack Snyder, along with David Goyer and Christopher Nolan are going to give Superman the Batman treatment with 2013′s Man of Steel.
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