Bryan Singer is nobody’s favorite director. His last film, the fatally milquetoast Jack the Giant Slayer, was made for $195 million and earned just $65 million at the domestic box office. (Half of that $65 million went to movie theaters and the other half was probably eaten up by marketing costs.) Sure, the film made another $132 million internationally, but after subtracting theater and advertising fees, the fairy-tale reboot essentially laid a turd egg. And yet, Singer is the director of the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, which makes him the Hollywood poster boy for failing upward.
Lest you think Singer is satisfied with his undeserved luck and his Scrooge McDuck wealth, don’t be so sure. As the old adage goes, you can’t buy love. So now Singer’s lashing out against some shadowy cabal of explosion-hating women for his Superman Returns being considered “one of the worst comic-book movies ever.”
In an interview with Empire, Singer says of the Superman sequel:
It was a movie made for a certain kind of audience. Perhaps more of a female audience. It wasn’t what it needed to be, I guess. I think I could lop the first quarter off and start the movie a bit more aggressively and maybe find a way to start the movie with the jet disaster sequence or something. I could have grabbed the audience a little more quickly. I don’t know what would have helped. Probably nothing. If I could go again, I would do an origin. I would reboot it.
I can’t decide whether this interview excerpt is more hilarious or infuriating. Hilarious because Singer just proved he really is creatively bankrupt. I mean, really, another superhero reboot? Isn’t every other superhero movie already about a boy who becomes a freak or learns that he is one? That‘s the revolutionary thing he would’ve done to “grab the audience” — show them something they already saw five times that year?
But we shouldn’t spend all of our time laughing at Singer, because his self-serving delusions are also truly infuriating. He blames the failure of Superman Returns on its being geared “more [toward] a female audience,” but how? It doesn’t have a female lead. It doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. It doesn’t let women drive the plot. It doesn’t even feature an interesting Lois Lane the way Man of Steel‘s Amy Adams character does. In fact, Kate Bosworth’s casting is a triumph of superficiality over plausibility. Wholly devoid of gravitas, Bosworth was just 23 at the time of shooting (and looks it onscreen), which implies that Lois Lane was all of 18 when she won her Pulitzer Prize. The nubile casting just didn’t work with the seasoned-pro character. Superman Returns offered nothing to women.
As the Mary Sue points out, Singer made his blockbuster reputation as the director of X-Men, the arguable lead of which was a teenage Rogue (Anna Paquin). The plot unfolds largely through her eyes, and the character is surrounded by other fascinating women like Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). If Singer wanted to make a movie that gave women something to cheer for (other than Hugh Jackson’s abs), he could have done so — by doing the opposite of what he did in Superman Returns.
“For a female audience,” then, is just Singer’s code for “needed more explosions.” But of course, that would mean admitting that he made bad decisions instead of blaming a group of people already ignored and underserved by the movie industry.