Superman Returns....Darker?

Superman Returns....Darker?

With the announcement of a Superman reboot film being helmed by Christopher Nolan, many fans are wondering: just what type of makeover is the Man of Steel going to get? Will this new overhaul go the same route as say, the Dark Knight?

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By superfan714 - 8/19/2010


As many of you know, the Superman franchise has been trying to push forward with whatever super-strength it has left. Throughout the years it seems to have faced one disappointment after another, unable to maintain even the most loyal fans beneath its grip. The Christopher Reeve films, in retrospect, seemed suitable for their time. But even then many fans were questionable about the true intentions of the character. We were introduced to some of the most ridiculous elements of the character in those films. For instance I'm sure you all remember the finale of Superman where he flies around the globe at super-speed in order to reverse time and save the damsel (no longer) in distress. And Superman II gave us the awkward telekinetic powers of raising objects (and people) with the Kryptonian mind. Things got ever worse in Superman III when a synthetic Kryptonite (which should have been simply red Kryptonite) manufactured by Richard Prior's "genius" character Gus Gorman rendered Superman apathetic and eventually split him into two entities at the closing of the film. The fourth film, in which Christopher Reeve was involved in creatively, poised him against a genetic splicing of Superman and Lex Luthor dubbed simply Nuclear Man.
Many fans had already given up hope for the character by the third film thus spelling certain doom for the franchise owned by Warner Bros. However, in the mid 90's the Superman character regained strength with audiences when he began appearing on primetime television in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The series was, for the most part, spot-on with it's depiction of the character and enticed viewers with a "sexier" portrayal of the Clark Kent character, as well as his relationship with a particularly stunning Lois Lane.
Superman was given another shot at the silver screen in 2006 with Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. Since then it has been a very mixed world of Superman fans as a percentage exists that actually liked the film and a studio (Warner Bros.) that believes it was an utter failure and "didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned". Frankly, I would have to agree with Warner Bros. Bryan Singer was after more of a nostalgic view of Superman, positioning the character in a film intended to be a direct sequel to Richard Donner's Superman and Richard Lester's Superman II. This would mean that he proposed for the third and fourth films to be omitted as if they never existed in the first place.
I thought that was strange in itself, and then I saw the film. The effects were up to par and I recall the audience in the theatre applauding as Superman successfully placed a rescued airplane into the center of a baseball stadium. With the spectators in the stadium and in the theatre cheering in unison I thought: "It can't get any better than this." And it didn't. I watched painstakingly as the action-absent film rolled on. I could sense the tension and uneasiness in the theatre as more plot points were introduced: Superman has a bastard son, Lex Luthor is again on a mission to exploit the value of land, the cliché love triangle (although this time it wasn't between Lois, Superman and Clark, it was Lois, Superman and...Cyclops?).
I remember leaving the theatre wishing this film never happened. And it seems now that wish is being granted (sort of). With the reboot being placed in the hands of Christopher Nolan and Co. who single handedly saved the Batman franchise by going "darker", I begin to think now: Is Superman due for the same treatment? I think back to the comments Warner Bros. President of Production Jeff Robinov made of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns and how "it didn't quite work well as a film in the way we wanted it to". I realize now that going "darker" in terms of Christopher Nolan's approach could mean so many things for the character. Whether it is good or bad is yet to be determined.
At first it seems that these films should be kept simple at best. Superman is a complex character in his own right, but dark? I'm not so sure. To reintroduce the character would be to absolve Superman of all the intricate plot-lines that have seemed to hinder him in past films especially those pertaining to the relationship with Lois. It's quite a simple formula: Lois is infatuated by Superman yet takes a liking to Clark Kent's quirkiness and his mild-mannered appearance. Therein lies the true love triangle, the one that has been prominent in the comics for decades.




Another aspect is the villain. Lex Luthor works as the antagonist and I could agree that making him the darker aspect of a new film would work wonders for the franchise. One of the key elements that allowed the Dark Knight to prevail was Heath Ledgers performance as the Joker. Luthor barely had any screen time alongside the Man of Steel in Returns and perhaps that factor needs to be expanded upon. Another villain that may certainly due some good (err bad) is Braniac and there have been rumors nonetheless that he will make an appearance in the reboot. Braniac is a dark character, one that is mentally menacing and technologically terrorizing. Technology could be described as one of the darker elements of humanity, and especially when threatened could make for a perfect yang to Superman's yin.
However with all this being said, I can only see a "darkness" for Superman's character arising from the sole fact that he is an outcast. Technically he is an alien from another planet and since the reboot would start off as an origin story, think of the general reaction he would get from Earth's population upon learning of his arrival. I could see Nolan taking the route of positioning Superman in a way where he is not at first accepted for who (or what) he is and would therefore have to prove himself to the world that he is worthy of being their protector. This would following closely to the trend developing in the Dark Knight, since as of now Bruce Wayne is the scapegoat for awful crimes that were committed and being "hunted down".
Is this a worrisome aspect of how Superman should (and eventually will) be portrayed? How dark can they really go with this character? What other elements of Superman's persona will be changed? I'm sure more will be revealed as this film continues its development. Until then let me know what you guys think...
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34 Comments
yankeemanf - 8/19/2010, 9:05 PM
i think there will be 2 characters...im thinkin brainiac and luthor...
lex luthor should be played by billy zane


lex luthor Pictures, Images and Photos

Billy Zane Pictures, Images and Photos and brainiac im not sure who should play him
CorndogBurglar - 8/19/2010, 9:12 PM
as long as Superman himself is not portrayed as dark, then i'm fine with it. The story itself can be dark, but Superman needs to be the shining ray of light in the movie. Not all dark and brooding.

I think since its the first one, Luthor should be the villain, but only in a minimal role. He should be pulling strings in he back. He could create Bizarro to give Supes someone to fight.

oh, and no Routh or Welling.
FlashGordon2287 - 8/19/2010, 10:36 PM
Its not gonna be dark. Its like trying to make Spider-Man dark. Superman isnt a dark character and Nolan knows that.
Kovacs - 8/20/2010, 5:07 AM
listen to your friend billy zane, he's a cool dude
Twenty23Three - 8/20/2010, 9:05 AM
Since it has been stated that Nolan is planning on telling a story were Superman has been around for a while I say start with Brainiac with a Amanda Waller subplot. The results of this film can lead onto a sequel with Checkmate and also could tie in with Waller being in GL.
Thats how we start building our universe.
yankeemanf - 8/20/2010, 9:23 AM
@kovacs Zoolander hell yea lol
@superguy1591 he looks perfect for lex and isnt as bad an actor as every1 makes him out 2 be i think he can do lex rele rele well
LP4 - 8/20/2010, 9:56 AM
Billy Zane is one of my favorite actors, always has been. His evil, rich snobby role in Titanic was spot-on Lex Luthor and I grew up watching his Phantom film. He'd be the most EPIC Lex Luthor ever. I think even non-Supes fans can agree with that statement.
yankeemanf - 8/20/2010, 10:48 AM
he is a great actor but a lot of ppl for some odd reason thinks he sux as an actor
TheLonelyComicBookNerd - 8/20/2010, 12:04 PM
Great another movie with Lex Luthor.
Angelus - 8/20/2010, 12:58 PM
The world can be dark but Superman must be the beacon of light in the world. Billy Zane would be perfect for Lex! Brandon Routh is Superman!

BMP!
WaylonJones - 8/20/2010, 1:10 PM
Billy Zane rocked my world in The Phantom!
LP4 - 8/20/2010, 1:43 PM
Great article Superfan714- I too did not like Superman Returns- a nearly 3 hour love-letter to Richard Donner absent of any action. We want a more heroic film for our hero in red and blue ^_^ plus all the baby-daddy drama from Superman Returns was annoying, lol.

Great article though, I hope Nolan reads these things...he needs to listen to the fans, something so few directors tend to do.

@WaylonJones- Yeah his Phantom film was GREAT!!!!
naterator - 8/20/2010, 2:40 PM
Great article...i for one did like SR but also agree with its flaws.... i liked it for what it was....a SUPERMAN film. SR can still be followed in the appropriate way. I would prefer to see ROUTH back to keep the continuity of it all. Superman cannot be portrayed as being dark but a light ina dark and brooding world....infact i hope to see him in a metropolis that is the ideal place to lkive....a place of no crime because of him and him saving it from time to time,,,but i hope to see him get out across the country and even internationally to star city or even fly over gotham at one point...that would be sweet.
thetrubatman14 - 8/20/2010, 6:05 PM
billy zane for lex luthor!!!
cmon on guys push it for we can get his ass out of DEBT!!! lol
thetrubatman14 - 8/20/2010, 6:16 PM
also the other villian should be Ultra-Humanite, with cameos from Mister Mxyzptlk, Prankster, toyman, Solomon Grundy, Bizarro, and Brainiac =)
InTylerWeTrust - 8/20/2010, 7:05 PM
Billy Zane sucks.
LP4 - 8/20/2010, 10:46 PM
I just want Lex Luthor to be an evil billionaire in the new film...no more real-estate schemes please!! And the comedy with Luthor has to be gone in the new film, in the comics, Lex is a serious threat and never cracks jokes. I mean at one point, he ran for president and nearly put the entire planet earth at risk of being destroyed by a comet. He also wore the battle-armor and beat the crap out of both Superman and Batman. The comic book Lex Luthor is what we need for the film. I'm sick of the Gene Hackman/Kevin Spacey portrayals continually making Lex look like some idiot. In the comics, his brain capacity is equal only to Brainiac! But in the movies, he just seems like a stupid turd who wants land. Just like what Kevin Smith said...he just seems like a "mid-west huckster"

End of rant =)
darkvenian - 8/21/2010, 12:58 PM
new suit and not spandex pleaaaaasssseeee!!! suprman detective like batman
r0r5ch4ch84 - 8/21/2010, 5:20 PM
@darkvenian - ...Shut up.

@LP4 - Dude, high-five!

@InTylerWeTrust - In the Phantom, yes. don't hold it against him.

thetrubatman14 - No...other...cameos. Not EVEN Ultra Humanite. Thank you.

@Kovacs - would be a perfect Lex Luthor, wouldn't he?
LP4 - 8/21/2010, 10:43 PM
@ror5ch4ch84- high-five back! hahaha =) dude I seriously think you, me, superguy1591 and a few others are the only ones not on the routhboot-wagon. I can't believe some of the people on this site actually loved Kevin Spacey's Lex...blech!

IF Billy Zane is given the chance to be Lex...he could pull off the evil billionaire Luthor we've all wanted to see on the big screen.
InTylerWeTrust - 8/22/2010, 5:42 AM
Billy Zane sucks in general. Not just in The Phantom. I want to punch him in the face every time I see a picture of him.

There are, honestly, TONS of actors who are better than Zane for Lex. Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jason Isaacs (the guy for the job IMO), Paul Bettany, Eric Bana, to name a few. All of these guys would be light years ahead of Zane.
SuperHard - 8/22/2010, 7:54 AM
Billy Zane would be an excellent Lex, if the movie were to be directed by Joel Schumacher...ghey. Then Jake Gyllenhaal would be ideal for Superman, for the futt-bucking ending!
SuperHard - 8/22/2010, 8:14 AM
Here is what needs to happen in the next movie, for the "darker" Supes all these people seem to be clamoring for nowadays. Movie opens with Superman kicking the sh!t outta Lois Lane, I mean he's really laying into her. Throwing her through drywall, heat-vision torture, etc. He then goes off on a huge bender, smokin' crack and buying prostitues. THEN, he goes on the BET awards and starts to cry while singing Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and then we all love him again! He flies into space, waves & smiles at camera, then flies away. The End.

P.S. I would like to see Kate Bosworth reprise her role as Lois for this particular film.
SupermanReturns2 - 8/22/2010, 1:29 PM
@ SuperHard:
YOU & Superguy1591 are a pair of bookends.

The Superman franchise will remain dead until someone stops trying to make The Man of Steel what he isn't.
He is an over-grown boyscout and that's been his story. All we need is someone like Darkseid or Braniac, even Bizzarro, to threaten mankind and challenge him.
SuperHard - 8/22/2010, 1:58 PM
The only thing I agree with Superguy1591 on is that the Superman role is larger than any one actor. This, however, is something the Shuster and Siegel families need to understand.

@SupermanReturns2- I couldn't agree more.

@Tyler- Jason Isaacs for Lex, is a damn fine choice, (Gotta say nay on Viggo though). Who you thinkin' for Olsen?

InTylerWeTrust - 8/22/2010, 1:59 PM
For Olsen, the best choice would be Anton Yelchin IMO. Everyone and their mother has picked him for that role, but he just fits it so well.
SupermanReturns2 - 8/22/2010, 5:07 PM
@ SuperHard:
YOU & Superguy1591 are a pair of bookends.

The Superman franchise will remain dead until someone stops trying to make The Man of Steel what he isn't.
He is an over-grown boyscout and that's been his story. All we need is someone like Darkseid or Braniac, even Bizzarro, to threaten mankind and challenge him.
RyKnow - 8/23/2010, 8:11 AM
@ superfan714 - a good and well written article. I especially like the way you've described technology as a dark side of humanity. The thing is, a Superman film that's darker in tone IS possible, all you need do is make the right elements darker (i.e. you don't need to make the Superman character darker). As you said, technology is a dark and destructive side of humanity. Now, having Brainiac trying to exploit that same technology (i.e. trying to access computers that controll Nukes) sets an ominous tone to the film without turning Superman into some dark avenger, which he isn't. We both agree on the concept of Superman being an outsider who is initially not trusted by humans and as people have already stated on here, he would be a beacon of light/hope; the only person on earth capable of stopping someone like Brainiac, and only then does mankind begin to trust him. There you have a dark Superman film with the Superman character intact with all his core values and beliefs.
Also, as I mentioned on another article (thnx LP4) this would also be as close to reality as a Superman film could probably get.
kashchei2003 - 8/23/2010, 11:46 AM
I say kill Superman and make it epic!

JosePetrelli12 - 8/23/2010, 1:08 PM
I agree with InTylerWeTrust.... Billy Zane Sucks!!!! He looks the part, but everytime I see him I think about The Phantom and I get sick to my stomache... No more comic book movies for him... EVER!!!!!!!!!
MrSinister510 - 8/24/2010, 1:12 PM
Personally, I can't see Billy Zane as Lex. I think he's a good actor, but I'll think he's playing the same character in Titanic. Yeah, I watched Titanic. I'm pretty sure you did, too.

As for Supes, I agree with majority of you. Superman can't be a dark figure, but perhaps we can dig deeper into his character that Nolan likes to do. He's an orphan, his biological parents and world are long gone, and he's alone in the world. And while, he can be this emo person, he's one of the greatest superheroes that other superheroes aspire to be. It's a really cool character to flush out.

Let Lex be a really dark master minded criminal and not be the slap stick comedy figure. He's a really good villian because he actually sees himself as a hero. Nolan knows this and will probably flush that character out more. If the movie gets a trilogy, the second should be Braniac as the main villian and third should be Doomsday.

Afterwards, start the Justice League with Apokolips and Supes returning from the grave. WB there's your guaranteed 6 movies and billions of dollars made possible by fan boys. Please just get the Superman movie right.
RyKnow - 8/25/2010, 5:51 AM
@ MrSinister - Although I like your point on the fleshing out of Superman (minus the emo part) there's a couple of things I do respectfully differ on.
Firstly, I didn't think Lex was slapstick in anyway in Superman Returns, compared to Gene Hackman's portrayal anyway. Impaling Superman with a sliver of Kryptonite after beating the s**t out of him is not slapstick, I thought that was quite a brutal scene (for a Superman film). He came across as a dangerous and slightly unhinged person, throughout most of the film. And for Lex to steal the crystals, alien crystals at that, and perversely twist them to his own ends is nothing short of genius.
Secondly, I can almost guarantee you'll never get Doomsday on the big screen, especially with Nolan involved. Everything about the character is silly and would be well out of place in the kind of film we all think Nolan is striving for.
Lastly, and a lot of fans don't like this, Nolan has stated that his Batman franchise and the upcoming Superman film are not related in any way to each other or any other DC characters. So no JLA film (with Superman or Batman in anyway). In the interview I read in Empire he stated, not in these exact words, what makes the characters special is they're extraordinary people in an ordinary world, and they became who they are because there is no one else like them.
I'm not having a go at you or anything mate, I'm just someone who likes to compare opinions :)

I'm probably one of the minority who thinks a JLA film would be a disaster anyway. We've all seen what happens with too many underdeveloped characters (X-Men 3, Spider-Man 3 etc.). The only reason Avengers MIGHT work is a lot of the characters and their backgrounds would have been introduced by then anyway.

MrSinister510 - 8/26/2010, 12:36 AM
@RyKnow - First, I agree with you somewhat that Spacey and Singer did bring to the movie a little bit darker Lex. However in all faireness, Singer was trying to carry after Donner's movie, you have to admit that Lex had his slap stick moments like the Gene Hackman role in 1 and 2. For example, slapstick in the sense of wearing the multitude of wigs to hide his baldness and gaining his wealth by swindling an old rich lady. I just would have preferred Lex to be the multibillionaire of Lex Corp, calculating and menacing portrayed in Bruce Timm's animation world. I mean honestly, could you possibly see this movie version of Lex being a real challenge to Superman? Ok, let's put this into perspective, Lex beat him up on his new island made of Kryptonite and Lex eventually stabbed him. However 5 minutes later, Lois Lane rescues Supes. She pulls out the Kryptonite in his body and within 2 minutes later, Superman carries an actual island full of Kryptonite into space. Really?

Personally, I would have preferred Lex to be more dark. He is almost like an evil Batman. Very calculating and is always two steps ahead of Superman. Couldn't Lex have devised a trap that would either kill Superboy or Lois Lane instead? Lex didn't even do anything about Superboy.

Secondly, maybe you're right about Doomsday not being a central character that Nolan tends to gravitate towards. However, he doesn't need to use Doomsday as a primary villain. He could use him as a secondary villain alongside with another villain like Brainiac. Brainiac uses Doomsday as a diversion to keep Superman busy. Meantime, Brainiac discovers Superman's secret identity or captures Lois Lane and Superboy in a elaborate scheme. Ok, maybe it won't be anything specifically like that, but Nolan has been known to do those types of things (e.g Scarecrow & Raz AlGhoul in Batman Begins).

Lastly, the green lit project of Justice League doesn't include Superman and Batman. It's fine. The movie really doesn't need to start with Batman or Supes. Batman was always a part time member of the JLA and Superman should start off being dead. It's the only reason why it would require a group of Superheros to band together to help the world. Plus, it would allow to give backstories on the DC characters that don't have a movie. Batman and Superman can come during the second or third movie after Nolan is done with his version of Superman.

I'm not trying to go at you either but I'm just saying that it is possible to work around to make a JLA movie work.
RyKnow - 8/26/2010, 3:03 AM
@ MrSinister - Yeah, I can see a lot of your points, in fact, nearly all, well put. The whole wig thing passed me by (he only wore a wig twice to be fair, but he had a ridiculous collection), and I stand corrected :)
And the way you've described how to put together a JLA film is very possible, I like it. Never thought of it that way ;)
Doomsday is just one of those characters I can't see working on the big screen, and the way you've described how he could be used, well, remember Bane in that Batman film I won't mention. It isn't just that though, no matter what Doomsday would end up like on film, the fanbase would never be satisfied, he'd never be how people envisioned him.
I think lifting the kryptonite island was a bit daft, but take into account he flew into the stratosphere and absorbed a lot of the suns rays, his source of power, and then burrowed under the island with heat vision. And lifting the island and throwing it into space nearly killed him. That's the only explanation I can come up with anyway.
Thanks for your reply anyway mate, you made a good argument without resorting to petty name calling. Respect.

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