If reports are to be believed, Mark Millar, whose movie “Wanted” is now in theaters, wants to do yet another relaunch of the “Superman” franchise. This one would start from scratch and ignore all the previous movies, meaning presumably that we’d have to sit through the origin story all over again, etc.
Millar says he has a big-name action director in mind, and that the hope is to get the movie out in 2011.
I think it’s a bad idea.
First off, this would be a reboot practically on top of a reboot. Now I know the argument will be that “The Incredible Hulk” was also, coming just five years after Ang Lee’s “Hulk” movie. But the 2003 “Hulk” was a self-contained story that was not especially well received by audiences. There was no built-in audience base, in the sense that a “Hulk” movie had not been tried before. How much the character would appeal to moviegoers was uncertain. When the movie flopped, it was easier to forget a one-time failed experiment and start fresh, as opposed to a situation involving a long-established franchise.
That’s why, with “Superman,” it’s a different story. The first two Christopher Reeve films did such a tremendous job of telling the origin story and making the character popular with filmgoers. I’m one of the few people, I think, who enjoyed “Superman Returns,” because I get what Bryan Singer was trying to do. He realized that what made those first two movies special was what went on in between the action sequences. The stories had heart.
The extent to which Singer succeeded in imbuing his 2006 movie with that quality can be debated. Indeed, “Returns” has its share of problems. The biggest, I thought, was that Kate Bosworth was miscast as Lois Lane. Since they were trying to make this a continuation of the earlier films, they needed someone who at least suggested the spunky quality of Margot Kidder, which Bosworth totally does not. Not in the way Brandon Routh creepily resembled Reeve, or Kevin Spacey sometimes evoked Gene Hackman.
So when people talk about the need for a “Superman” film with amped-up action at the expense of everything else, that strikes me as such a boring prospect, because although the action and spectacle are important, they are not the only reason that the previous movies have worked. Maybe we just need to see Supes doing different kinds of things. Lifting heavy objects like the plunging airplane — OK, we’ve seen that before in the previous films. Luthor’s wacky real estate scheme — OK, we’ve seen that before in the previous films.
A reboot is not automatically the answer. If that were the case, they could have done a reboot in 2006 to erase the memory of the disastrous third and fourth “Superman” films. But enough time had passed where that was not an issue.
If Hollywood insists on a reboot, then it would be wise to wait at least 10 years or so, if not longer. But I think Singer and Routh were on the right track the first time. Maybe the issue is that audiences have changed, and those who flock to the movies now are not the same demographic, necessarily, that went to see the Reeve movies years ago. The expectation has become one of more spectacle, more faster-paced storytelling for people with shorter attention spans.
I think Routh did a good enough job, and showed sufficient promise of growing into the role, that he and Singer should be given another chance. Don’t just throw another reboot at us. Let them make “The Man of Steel” — and if that one does not work, then maybe it is time to just let Superman go.