The news that screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris have "opted not to come back" for Man of Steel is surprising in one regard: up until now, I didn’t think Warner Brothers was serious about reinventing the failed re-whatever of D.C. Comics’ signature superhero. While I can’t speak to any schism between Bryan Singer and his talented young collaborators*, one or all three had to vacate the property they tragically fucked up before Warner Brothers had any hope of getting the rank-and-file interested in Superman again.
It makes sense, then, that the studio would (for now) stick with Singer, who struck a very rich deal with WB when he gave Fox and the X-Men franchise the big kiss-off in ’04; better to get a second movie out of the non-bargain than pay him to go away. But there are still lots of impediments in the way of a follow-up (or re-reboot) to Superman Returns, the most immediate being a new writer and a workable concept. Quint over at AICN throws out Christopher McQuarrie’s name, which, despite my white hot hatred for the Valkyrie screenplay, might not be a bad idea; here’s a project where rigorously conventional plotting would come as welcome relief from the disastrous "Let’s turn Superman into a creepy ex-boyfriend/deadbeat dad who lifts heavy shit for two-and-a-half hours" thinking that made audiences nostalgic for the innocuous ineptitude of Mariel Hemingway and Sir Mark Pillow.
Speaking of empty vessels, Warner Brothers is adamant that Brandon Routh will return for Man of Steel.
I still think that Warner Brothers would be wise to shitcan this failed continuation of the Donner Superman, but there’s too much money on the line to attempt another top-down reinvention ala J.J. Abrams’s infamously kiboshed take (this is all that remains of the AICN reaction that deep-sixed that version; Moriarty’s script review is sadly no more). WB is stuck with Singer.
*And, as much shit as I give these guys, they really are gifted. If you’re any kind of horror nut, you won’t regret plunking down dough for Mike’s Trick ‘r Treat book.