week Superman Returns limped to 200 million in the US, if you believe the numbers Warner Bros is reporting. With that “victory” fresh, the studio has announced a deal with Bryan Singer to make a sequel to the film for release in 2009. This deal is something everyone has been speculating on since ComiCon, when Singer announced that he would be back for Superman Returns Again, and that the film would be much more like Wrath of Khan (Jimmy Olsen gets worms?*). Many of us were incredulous at the time, especially after Singer blasted Warner Bros marketing for ruining his picture… you know, the marketing people who took their orders from him in this case.

A deal isn’t a greenlight. Just ask any director who has ever been attached to a movie that didn’t happen. Ask Jon Favreau about John Carter of Mars. Ask Joe Carnahan about his 15 months working on Mission: Impossible 3. Hell, ask the 43 directors attached to Superman before Singer came on board. I’m not trying to be overly negative here, just realistic. I actually think that this deal is being signed before the DVD release because both sides are hedging their bets on how sales will turn out.

If the film is greenlit, it’s going to have a much smaller budget than Superman Returns (whose budget is played with to appear smaller than it actually was by invoking Australian tax rebates and stuff. At the end of the day the movie may have only cost the studio 209 million, but they spent north of 250 on it, and look what they ended up with – a succession of objects being lifted. I can get that on ESPN for free, and with more emotional resonance), which will make the promised large amount of action challenging to deliver.

The next film, should it happen, needs to keep one thing in mind: nobody gives a shit about the Richard Donner movie. It’s hard for the fanboys and cinephiles to admit that, but it’s the truth. Also, that kid was a terrible fucking idea. Kill him in the first three minutes of the next one, and knock off Lois Lane’s husband as well. Nobody wants to see Superman flying around singing Dashboard Confessional.

* All jokes aside, why wasn’t Superman Returns more like Wrath of Khan? If ever there was a comic book character who could just be plopped into the middle of a high-octane movie, it’s Superman. Everybody knows his origin, everybody knows his powers and his situation. There are children in Darfur who can’t get food in their bellies but who know that Clark Kent works at the Daily Planet and is secretly Superman. The biggest mistake Singer made was believing he needed to re-introduce the character in a boring, slow film.