Who knew, when Brandon Routh took on the alien Kal-El in Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns,” that fans would split so divisively? The 2006 movie, which paid homage to the Richard Donner “Superman” movies without completely updating the franchise the way Christopher Nolan did with “Batman Begins,” grossed $391 million worldwide off strong reviews for a genre sequel. But it cost more than $232 million. Warners felt it could have performed better with more action and a powerful villain–and no Superman kid. So Singer was taken off the franchise.
The debate continued to rage about what Warner Bros. should do with the DC Comics super-hero. Fans clamored all over the web for a complete reboot. Warner Bros. motion picture chief Jeff Robinov struggled with what to do. As the last movie didn’t break the mold –Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor was very been there, done that–and wound up in some kind of middle limbo, the studio wanted to start over from scratch reinventing the “Big Blue Boy Scout.” Said one Warners exec back in 2009: “Superman is the trickiest one to figure out.”
The tightrope on Superman is how not to make him too squeaky clean as Clark Kent, giving him dimension while playing with the origins of the character, which are darker and more complex. The good news, as fan site commenters debating what Superman should be made clear, is that the base still cares.
So Robinov finally went to the one guy that he could trust. Nolan, who was winding
down from his Batman obsession, worked with David S. Goyer on a new
direction for “Man of Steel.” He was very involved throughout the writing, planning and editing, while leaving visually gifted director Zack Snyder (“300,” “The Watchmen”) in charge during the actual filming. They went back to the earliest comics to rediscover the sci-fi origins of the visitor from another planet. “If he really were an alien,” Goyer tells Dave Itzkoff of the NYTimes, “when the world finds out that he exists, that in itself would be the biggest event in human history. That would change the world forever.”
When I saw footage of “Man of Steel” at CinemaCon what hit me was that this movie has heart. Check out the new trailer, which this time capitalizes on the creepy viral video of Michael Shannon’s General Zod, here with the General telling the citizens of Earth that “the fate of your planet rests in your hands.” Watch below.
Superman, who made his first appearance 75 years ago in Action Comics No. 1, has undergone some physical changes over the past several decades. (Check out the New York Times slide show on the “Many Changes to the Blue Suit.”) The new Nolan/Goyer/Snyder Superman, embodied by the rippling, abdominally-endowed Henry Cavill (“The Tudors”), reflects the evolution of the long-lived character. Of the DC Comics attempt to modernize Superman, Snyder tells the NYT that sticking with the classic uniform is best:
“When they try to dress him up, put him in jeans and a
T-shirt or a leather jacket with an S on it, I go: ‘What? Guys, it’s O.K. It’s
Superman. He’s the king daddy. You should all be bowing down to him.’ ”
“We assume that Clark is not a virgin — but I do. You don’t see that, but that’s the assumption.”
“Man of Steel” also stars Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane.