Page two of replies!

Who do you think would be the best director to tackle Superman Rebooted?
Right off the bat, that’s a tough question. My ideal would be a guy whose proven himself on indie and/or mid-scale projects, who has the potential to make it in the majors, and who can handle character and story as well as he can special effects and action sequences. You want this kind of movie to take your B-list director and anoint him as part of the A-list club (with Jon Favreu being the most recent example of this, and Peter Jackson probably being the ultimate).
For a long while, I thought Richard Kelly would make a good director for Justice League. Then Southland Tales happened. So that canned that idea, at least until he proves himself beyond being a one hit wonder. 
Depending on how City of Ember turns out, maybe Gil Kenan would be the way to go. I thought Monster House was an incredibly enjoyable kids movie – perhaps the Favreu formula for success could repeat itself?
I’d suggest someone from the indie set who could step up, but nobody’s springing to mind at the moment.
In any case, the further away you run from the Brett Ratners, the Stephen Sommers’, the McGs and the Rob Cohens, the better.
Do you think Warner Bros is making a mistake in junking Bryan Singer’s film?

I don’t think they are, but I can’t help but feel bad for the guy. His career seems to be taking a very steep downward trajectory all of a sudden. It’s not like Returns was a disaster, or even a genuinely bad movie. It was just a little misguided – a little too blind in its devotion to the Richard Donner films, and far too reliant on an emotional climax rather than an action-based one.
I do think, however, that Warner Bros is making a mistake in believing all their superhero films need to be dark now. They looked at the success that Dark Knight has had and took the entirely wrong lesson from it.
Dark Knight didn’t work because it was dark. Dark Knight worked because it was true to the character (certainly a lot more true to the character than Batman Begins). It had respect for the character and his world.
That’s why Spider-Man worked. That’s why the X-Men movies worked. You can even take that logic one step further and say that’s why the Spider-Man and X-Men series stalled out creatively – by the time they were ready for the third go-around, the studios were far more focused on the films as franchise products, rather than as characters with a story to be told.
(Obviously, they also went “dark” with Spider-Man and the X-Men, and while the movies did well commercially, they were the least well-reviewed out of all their respective entries, and are generally regarded as disappointments).
All of that isn’t to say that a darker Superman movie couldn’t work. You face him off against Darkseid and there’s already going to be a grim edge to everything, especially if you have the climax take place on Apokolips. What I worry about with the “dark” approach is that that means black leather suits and excessive force and generally an entire ethos that’s untrue to what Superman represents as a character.
Do you believe notorious self-promoter Mark Millar when he says that he’s got a Superman trilogy just moments from a green light at Warner Bros?

No. I’m sure he’s had meetings, and they’ve gladhanded him. Hell, maybe a few of the execs actually think his take is worthwhile (we’re talking about the studio that wanted to go with the utterly horrible JJ Abrams / McG version, after all).
I think WB is so far turned around on their DC properties they don’t know where to start, and Millar being Millar I imagine what he has in mind is probably too ambitious to appeal to them. Or maybe that’s just my secret hope, because a Millar Superman is the last thing I want – I don’t want the same sarcastic, cynical dialogue coming out of every single character’s mouth. But that’s probably exactly what WB is pushing for.
Should Warner Bros even be bothering with Superman right now, or should they be turning to the hundreds of other DC characters available to them?

It seems odd that they’re rushing to go back to that well so soon after Returns under-performed. I think it’s a reflection of the complete ignorance that the WB executives have when it comes to the kind of properties they have such unrestricted access to.
Both Flash and Green Lantern have been languishing in development hell, when both could make for A-grade summer blockbusters (I say this even with some movement having taken place recently).
Flash is so in the mould of a fun, action-adventure film like Iron Man or Spider-Man it’s mind-boggling they haven’t put more time and effort into it (Shawn Levy? Dave fuckin’ Dobkin?? Seriously???).
Green Lantern gives you grand space opera stuff and a street-level, relatable hero to anchor it with (take your pick of which GL you want. Hell, I think working them all in with Hal Jordan as the lead would be a good way to go).
Both these characters are just the tip of the iceberg, with dozens more all viable film properties. If you build it slowly, if you create a cohesive universe with clear links between the films, then in ten years you’ve laid the groundwork for a Justice League film people will actually want to see. You know, exactly like what Marvel’s been doing.
But the higher-ups at the WB have no idea, not one, when it comes to the depth and breadth of the comic book properties they have on hand. And that’s why they keep going back to Superman and Batman, because they think that’s all they have. In fact, it seems that if these projects aren’t brought to them by writers/directors, they don’t even know they have them, let alone what they should do with them.
Thanks very much for the opportunity to speak. If you use any of this mess, please credit me just as ‘Steve’.

Hello Devin,

I want to start off by saying I love I have been a long time reader. Now onto the meat:

Do you think Warner Bros. is making a mistake in junking Bryan Singer’s film? No, I don’t. I feel it is almost necessary. I mean, here the studios had an opportunity to make a Superman film for a new generation. In an age when the next great revolution of technology is just around the corner, the “Man of Tomorrow” aspect could have really been utilized. In an era where everything is classified, labeled, categorized, and understood, here comes a Man who defies everything we know about the world…about humankind itself. The story can almost write itself. Instead, they set the film “somewhere” between Superman II or III…or wait maybe its I and II. Aw hell, its somewhere between I and IV: The Quest for More Money. We are then treated to some half assed reason why Superman was absent…simply put, he was on vacation to the homeland. Meanwhile, Lois starts dating Cyclops, has a Super-tot, and Lex Luthor, despite being relieved of the Boy Scout’s meddling ac tivities, opted not to break out of jail and like a freshman shuffling his feet on the first day of school, lazily attempts to take over the world only after Superman has returned. The result? A mish-mash of EPIC WTF plot holes so large, I could drive through them with an eighteen-wheeler full of pre-diet Oprahs on a Quadruple Chocolate Fudge Cake binge. That’s only the story aspect. That really doesn’t even cover the actors. As you said on AotS, we were presented with an Emo-Superman, and I’ll add the worst Lois Lane performance ever. In my opinion, the only saving grace was Kevin Spacey, even though he falls short of the Hack-Man. With all this mind, Warner Brothers could either give their writers a brain aneurysm by trying to figure out some sequel that will fit into the shredded continuity, or say, “F*ck It, we’re starting over.” Really, that was their only option.

What angle should Superman Rebooted take? Do you think it should follow The Dark Knight playbook, or should it be more like the recent cartoon show? That’s a tough call. I don’t pretend to be a Superman expert nor an armchair movie producer. However, I will say this. Superman is not a dark franchise by nature. Unlike Batman, Daredevil, Watchmen, or even Gin and Tonic Tony Stark, Superman was the “light” to the Batman’s “darkness”. He stood for Truth, Justice, and the American way. Yes, Superman story arcs have been occasionally dark, but not on the essential characteristic level that Batman is. Superman is supposed to guide humanity, watch over them, and to be a shining example to everyone that good does exist. That said, choosing a new route for a Superman movie will be tough. Lex Luthor has been beaten to death in every media incarnation, and the pool of Superman’s rouge’s gallery contains the likes of General Zod, and the Toyman. I would like to see the or igin story ditched or at the very least given over the opening title sequence. Even my 80 year old schizophrenic Grandmother knows Superman came from Krypton, lets concentrate on a new story, shall we? I tell you what I do want, some seriously mind-blowing special effects. As you said, lets see him punch a meteor or something. Come On, let’s see a show! I wouldn’t mind watching a villain with similar powers to Superman Mark Maguire him with a semi-truck while tearing Metropolis to shreds. Now, I’m going to go out on a limb here and put out a radical idea. Why not place this film late in his history. Lets bring down the Lois romance with Superman a tad by writing the story in a period where she already knows Clark is Superman. It could even be taken a step further by having Lois narrorate the entire film through flashbacks of Superman’s history. We can have multiple stories in one film tying them all together with her being held hostage by Luthor for the epic showdown at the e nd of the film. Just a thought…

Should Warner Bros. even be bothering with Superman right now, or should they be turning to the hundreds of other DC characters available to them? I’ve got to ask, who are these hundreds of other DC characters? As far as popularity go with DC, Batman and Superman are about it. Unlike Marvel with its comic juggernauts like X-men, Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Hulk, and to some lesser extent Punisher. Bats and Supes are about all DC can market effectively for motion pictures. The primary reason, I think, is realism. Many Marvel heroes come to birth through science mishaps, or they are plain men doing amazing things. They take ordinary men and women, and make them extraordinary through cosmic mishaps or scientific blunders. In the DC Universe, many of the characters are just mysteriously Super and often never seem to have limits to their respective powers. And honestly, a lot of DC characters are a bit more cartoonish compared to their Marvel counterpart s. Do you really think a Green Lantern movie will be a huge success? I don’t know of too many people that will wait in line to see a super hero fight off evil with giant green egg beaters and mousetraps all the while avoiding exposure to a certain troublesome primary color. Wonder Woman can barely keep her powers straight over the years not to mention the off again on again invisible jet and the lack of any arch-nemesis. And the Flash? Well, I don’t know if I could watch a movie where the super heroes sole power was that of, “sprinting.” Art imitates Life. Right now, its darkness. With the War on Terror and the poor economy, America is in a slump and our movies show it. Many of the DC characters do not operate in depressed worlds. Any superhero movie portraying a bright world with happiness flowing from the fountains of bliss will be flopped out and shunned off for being too childish and un-realistic (ironic that a superhero movie can be seen as unrealistic). Perhaps, a new S uperman film can start dark, and being true to his character, Super man can bring light and hope to the second half of a film.


Dan Herald

I think the best guy for the job is the director of Wanted. His visual style, humor and action is perfect.
As far as a mistake with Singer’s film I think it was possible to salvage it. I you are left with a lot of problems that would carry on with sequels. The three main ones are the director doesn’t get the character, miscast Lois Lane and jumped the shark by giving us a Superman offspring.

This is where I probably have conflict of interest because I feel strongly about my own take on the material and where they should start. I personally would set the film in the Richard Donner movie universe. I would have the first film take place in the 13 years Clark spent after his dad died. You would have the suit. You would have the Fortress. The Clark I envision would be learning about himself, going to school, learning from his birth father, his planet and about his powers. It would share similarities with Batman Begins because it starts with our hero lost. Another important thing I could see being brought up is the Clark Kent persona because in Superman the movie he goes from awkward teenager to bumbling reporter in Metropolis. Christopher Reeve talked about Gary Grant in Bringing Up Baby as the inspiration of the character and it could in fact be worked into the movie that this is where Clark gets the inspiration to portray himself so people would never suspect he’s Superman.

I suspect Millar has an idea and a director he recently worked with and maybe studio interest. Who knows. I certainly hope they don’t wait another 10 in pre production to figure this out.

Superman is Mickey Mouse. He is instantly identifiable. Letting a property just sit there would be criminal. The problem is finding people to work on it that are passionate about it and know how to take on the property so it will connect with audiences.

- The second question should be answered first: YES. Bryan Singer hamstrung himself by using the Donner cannon as the premise for Superman Returns, but he did well with it. He also planted the seeds for a truly evil turn for Lex from the comedic villain he was in Donner’s films. Now that the character had been reintroduced and an original trilogy completed, he could have gone in so many directions with the story. Like X2 was to X-Men, I believe the next Superman by Bryan Singer would have greatly upped the storytelling, action and quality.

- Superman Rebooted should, at this point, continue the current cannon from Smallville, using as many of the same actors as possible. At this point, Smallville has, in one form or another, introduced nearly every major DC character that movies can be made of, sans Wonder Woman. As such, it makes sense to move on with that story instead of introducing another Superman story and arc that may not have anything to do with what has been established in the last 8 years (which, truth be told, hasn’t been bad for the most part). Given that premise, I do believe Millar when he says he has something ready to go with WB if for no other reason, it would be incredible for me to think that at some point in the last 8 years, he hasn’t devised at least some sort of outline for a final transformation from small town Clark into big city Superman

- The big question is who should direct and what tone to take. I can’t stress enough that Superman should be the absolute antithesis of of Dark Knight, as Superman is the light in the DC Universe to Batman’s dark. The action quotient would serve to be ramped up though, so I would suggest someone like a Peter Berg or Alex Proyas to put a unique stamp on it. Of course, a truly geek-tastic writer would be Kevin Smith, but I’m not sure we could handle the actual visual of Brodie’s fantasy from Mallrats.

- Dan

Dear Devin
               Thank you for the opportunity to throw some of my thoughts on Superman at you.
Who do you think would be the best director to tackle Superman Rebooted?
Personally i would choose Michael Bay to be the director of the next superman movie. Transformers has proven he does big throw down well. Wasn’t that one of the great things from the original movie the large action set pieces. Singer’s did not have that same impact.
Do you think Warner Bros is making a mistake in junking Bryan Singer’s film
I think Warner bros is right to let singer’s film go, the franchise deserves to be moved on to another team. Singer does movies about character interaction in a closed environment like plays. Movies especially films involving action are more grander and more set pieces. How many action pieces bar X-MEN has he done.
What angle should Superman Rebooted take? Do you think it should follow The Dark Knight playbook, or should it be more like the recent cartoon show?
If you mean the cartoon from the same makers as batman the animated series then yes it would be a good direction. Superman by its nature is a more brighter character that’s why the movies starring Reeve are so great as well as being accepted by geeks everywhere. Either do a reboot and head down the smallville direction or just accept, that here he is boyscout from beyond the stars. Smallville would not be my choice A) because its been done and B) From season 2 became the Lex Luthor show. I do love the series however.
Do you believe notorious self-promoter Mark Millar when he says that he’s got a Superman trilogy just moments from a green light at Warner Bros?
Not sure about the Mark Miller thing but i can only say lets see what you’ve got.
 Should Warner Bros even be bothering with Superman right now, or should they be turning to the hundreds of other DC characters available to them?
You have to tackle Superman if you do DC, especially if you want to ever do JLA, and they do to compete with avengers. Batman and Superman are the two jewels of DC so they have to do them.
Fred Daw
North Shields
Tyne and Wear
United Kingdom

I’m glad you called for responses about this, I’ve recently been thinking about the mistakes WB can make with this.

If they insist on making this, I have no problem with WB ditching the last movie in favor of a new start.  But no prolonged origin, no waiting for an hour to see the cape and the tights.  I feel bad for Brandon Routh, he didn’t do a bad job especially considering they just wanted him to be Christopher Reeve and not give anything of his own to character.  This is where the problem lies, Bryan Singer, a man who ruined two movies at a time.  He left the X-Men to be deflated by a subpar creative team to make this half-baked sequel.  A sequel to a movie that ends with Superman basically saying he’d never leave again.  So they start this off with him being gone for 5 years.
I was actually excited about the prospect of Luthor getting his hands on Kryptonian techology, then it just turned out to be a bunch of fucking rocks.  No power suits, no massive space cannons, rocks and crystals.  And his big move is shanking Superman.  Bravo.
Now in terms of directors who should handle this, I can’t easily think of exciting prospects for Superman.  WB is completely out of touch if they think making dark it like Batman is the key.  Dark isn’t Superman.  After seeing some of the sketches being done for Tim Burton’s approach, it’s easy to see why grim doesn’t mix with big blue.  That tone would kill it.  And if they ever got their dream of a Supes/Bats movie, there’d likely be no contrast between the two.  Metropolis needs to be the sunny flip side to Gotham.  Someone in the vein of Favreau could approach this with the right attitude.
As for Millar, I’ll believe it when it’s official until then I’d be interested to see what his concept is.
Your last question would diffuse the rest of this discussion if he was just laid to rest in favor of other characters.  I can’t help but have Steel flashbacks when lesser DC characters are talked up.  From my comic geek days, I’d like to see Green Lantern or Starman before I saw another Superman flick (unless it was an adaptation of his Madman crossover).  I think he deserves another shot.  But it needs more cooling off time.  We had the better part of a decade to let the memory of Batman and Robin grow hazy.


Please allow me one paragraph before I get to SUPERMAN, for I have a question. Devin: tell me.  Are you Devin the Dude?  Cause Devin’s the Dude you’ll probly hear me talkin bout.  (Also, if you are Devin the Dude then I urge you to reconsider your stance on purple drink.  It’s fucking codeine, Dude.  Codeine.)


So, the thing that bothers me most about THE DARK KNIGHT is its much-ballyhooed “darkness”.  The film’s “darkness” is constant and pervasive, turning what I thought would be an intense action flick into something that felt more like a grueling psychological horror film.  But somehow, the “darkness” doesn’t seemto have the impact on audiences that it should.  A favorite comparison point ofmine is NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.  I think the two films are remarkably similar,thematically speaking: they are both about an unstoppable tide of chaosovertaking society and the powerlessness of good men to stop it; the chaos ineach is anthropomorphized as an elemental and unknowable villain; the onlychance at survival in each comes from the flip of a coin; and every characterin both films are eventually tarnished by the choices they are forced to maketo survive.  However, NO COUNTRY hits its audience like a sucker-punch.  When Isaw that movie, the people I saw it with were literally too upset and disturbedto talk about it for an hour afterward.  THE DARK KNIGHT, by comparison, pullsits punches: there are countless killings and maimings and yet virtually noon-screen blood; some of the most horrific acts of violence are played aspunchlines; and, basically, the film’s caustic nihilism is glossed over, givena happy ending, and made to look pretty damn cool.  The people who love THEDARK KNIGHT seem to dwell on how cool it is without pausing to think about howpointedly depraved it is as well.And this is with Batman, where darkness isone of the basic ingredients.

Now.  Superman is (news flash!) Batman’s antithesis.  Superman is truth,justice, apple pie, your mother, and etc., and dammit, that works really wellfor the guy.  My favorite Superman is the one from the old Fleischer cartoons,which is the only lasting version of Superman that allows him to be completelyunironic: he’s just a big square-jawed idol who punches lots and lots of giantrobots, burns things with his eye lasers, and then gets the girl.  And he doesit all without ever once mussing his spit-curl.  Who could ask for more?  It’sthe Saturday matinee spirit at its purest and best.  As such, I think that mypersonal version of Superman would be a lot like SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OFTOMORROW.  (Only I would have my actors act sometimes.)

But Warner’s has threatened/promised to make Superman dark.  BOOOOOO.  HISSS. It seems to me that angsty Superman is like lobster ice cream: these twoflavors just don’t belong.  It’s a betrayal of the thing’s nature.  Supermancan feel isolated, sure, as any self-reflective man-god is wont to, but he morethan any other character embodies the serial adventure spirit for me.  There isnothing to him except uplift and frothy thrills and, dammit, if that’s not goodenough for you then why do you like Superman?  It’s too late to re-invent himbecause he, of all superheroes, has remained both culturally prevalent andvirtually unaltered for most of a century.

This is my fear about Warner’s using THE DARK KNIGHT as a model for all their DCUniverse movies.  It might work sometimes (Green Arrow), but for the most partit seems pretty obviously wrong.  IRON MAN was a success because it was happyto be “just” an adventure movie and more or less refused to engage with thedarker aspects of the character.  Would it’ve banked like it did if it’d beenall about Stark’s alcoholism?  Or all about the spiritually corrosive world ofbig-business arms manufacture?  Or all about the war on terror?  I really doubtit would not have.  In the same way, I don’t think audiences would cotton to a SUPERMAN that focuses entirely on corrupting Supes’ soul.  But then Ithink…what if they make a nihilistic SUPERMAN…and what if it’s a hit?  Forme, it would be a toppling of one of the last standing American icons.  Itwould be a sort of death knell for 20th century pop culture: a signal that thattime is truly past, and that most people don’t miss it.

But here’s some more concise answers to your questions.

1) My pick for director would be, I think, Peter Weir.  Call it an odd choice,but he makes really well thought-out adventures on a large scale.  Plus the guyjust does not get enough love.

2) Throwing out SUPERMAN RETURNS is smart.  It had a pleasant sort ofgold-tinted nostalgia about it, but nostalgia is what comforts old people andputs them to sleep.

3) I think the reboot should take notes from the OLD cartoon.  But I said thatalready.

4) Fuck Mark Millar.  And his lies.

5) Most of the other DC characters suck and the only ones I really want to seeon screen are Green Arrow and The Flash.  But given that Warner’s has sorecently shit in Superman’s bed, I think they should (a) finish Batman and (b)launch another character or two before trotting out the golden boy again.


Dear Devin,

Thanks for this opportunity to be a part of the site, the work put in by you and the team is much appreciated and having the chance to contribute in a more meaningful manner than screaming “FIRST!!!” or throwing insults around is very cool.  Here’s my two cents.

I think that your jumping off points were interesting, but they make more sense answered in a different order.  Should Warner Bothers bother with Superman right now?  Yes.  He’s the character that leads to all others, both in a historical context and in a moral context.  What I mean is that, as is frequently stated in the hundreds of crossovers DC has rammed down our throats for years, he’d the standard by which the others heroes measure themselves, he’s the beacon of all that a hero can and should be.  In addition, Superman’s purview is worldwide.  From purely a business angle he makes the most sense because he doesn’t have to stay in Metropolis, he is not defined by his city, and so he can go to other places, interact with other cultures, meet other heroes.  Actually, Clark Kent is the perfect agent to introduce an audience to other DC characters and it would give Kent a legitimate reason to be on screen.  Which brings us to the angle Superman Rebooted should take and whether Bryan Singer’s film should be junked.

The comments recently by Jeff Robinov about “exploring the evil side to characters” are disheartening because Mr. Robinov seems to have missed a crucial distinction that Chris Nolan and many of the (successful) Marvel movies understand: you don’t have to make the movies serious, you have to take them seriously.  While Mr. Singer may have taken the job seriously his final product was poorly plotted fanfic and not even Superman fanfic: it was Richard Donner fanfic.  The entire movie felt like a 13-year old’s dream of what would have happened next with the slight problem of imagining things and then not knowing how to get out of dead-ends.  So, yes, Superman Returns should be cast aside as a sequel to a series of films made thirty years ago.  I’d go so far as to include it in a DVD box set with Superman 1-4 and not associate it with any others going forward.  Superman Returns ends those films and should end all the themes from them.  If they refuse to ignore that film, well, I’d piss off Alan Moore some more, steal the entire plot device from ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ and throw 30 seconds of scenes from Returns when the Black Mercy attaches itself to Superman.  God knows the whole film felt like a frigging nightmare to sit through.

The next Superman film, in my opinion, needs to be defined by what it doesn’t have.  No Lex Luthor.  At least, not in a meaningful way.  The threat has to be global.  Galactic, even.  I’d use Mongul.  He poses a danger to the planet and to thousands of other planets.  He can stand toe-to-toe with Superman, they could actually fight!  The trick with Superman is always that the threat has to match his potential and the complaint is frequently that he doesn’t do anything interesting except for lift things and then throw them into orbit or put them down in a safer place.  Mongul offers the threat and his intelligence and abilities would force Superman to work harder to win. 

Next, I’d bin the Clark Kent/Lois Lane dynamic.  Throw her in the newsroom but no puppy-dog eyes from Kent, no stalking from Supes and no acting like a complete moron when she’s around.  Didn’t Moonlighting show us how two characters can act when they’re in love but don’t admit it?  And isn’t that more fun than sub-par slapstick and cresting musical cues?  Oh, and Jimmy Olson would not exist.  At all.

The shadow of Batman is interesting for a future Superman film — actually, I think it’s interesting for Watchmen, but that’s a different essay.  As Mr. Robinov stated, they are “going to try and go dark to the extent that the characters will allow it.”  Superman can’t go dark, it would be ridiculous and contrary to the character.  But you can make his world a darker place and that in turn would make Superman shine as the beacon he’s frequently written as being.

Ah, Mark Millar.  A taste of fame goes to your head fast doesn’t it, Mr. Millar?  Enjoying the rush?  Good.  Now go shut up.  As I frequently tell my kids, nobody likes someone who gloats and his statement reeks of a self-important puffed-up flavor of the moment blowing smoke up his own ass.  If he’s really got that clout and that deal lined up good for him.  Try not to crow, alright?

Finally, the director.  There’s a really nasty part of me that doesn’t think it matters.  Superman doesn’t lend himself to a singular vision, he is an archetype.  I don’t know his films allow a style to be imprinted on them by a director.  And yet, if that were the case, Brett Ratner would be a fine choice.  I’m not going to go there.  You know who I think would be a good director for Superman?  Mel Gibson.  He’s a foreigner who came to the US and made his career here.  He can direct action, he knows iconography, he’s not averse to effects but he’s invested in characters.  I’d float Mel Gibson.

My two cents turned into $14.87.  Sorry about that, I didn’t realize I cared that much about this topic.  That’s probably a sign of a good column, Devin, well done on a solid first choice.  I look forward to see what the rest of the Chud faithful come up with.


Chris Cardno
Potomac, MD