Too Romantic? Bryan Singer Made 'Superman Returns' For The 'Devil Wears Prada' Crowd?

by Edward Davis
March 25, 2011 8:15 AM
11 Comments
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Ahh, "Superman Returns," the prickly, uncomfortable thorn in the comic book movie geek's side. Far better than say, half of the 20th Century Fox films -- "Daredevil," "Elektra," "Fantastic Four," "Ghost Rider" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" -- or half the super hero movies ever made including "Punisher," "Catwoman," "Jonah Hex," "Swamp Thing," "Batman Forever," "Batman & Robin," etc., etc. The film is admittedly uneven and somewhat unsatisfying, but there's something about its DNA that really riles up some particular comic book movie fans.

Sure, the Bryan Singer-directed film is saturated in Richard Donner nostalgia which does give it a rose-tinted niceness to it. It may feel a little dated, but it's been hard for some to pinpoint exactly what's wrong with the picture other than the lack of hardcore action, explosions and traditional beefy supervillains. Maybe its tone was too romantic? And interestingly enough, it seems like that was by design.

"What I had noticed is that there weren't a lot of women lining up to see a comic book movie, but they were going to line up to see 'The Devil Wears Prada,' which may have been something I wanted to address," Singer recently said in an interview.

"When you're making a movie you're thinking, 'Wow, I want to make a romantic movie that harkens back to the Richard Donner movie that I loved so much.' And that's what I did," Singer explained.

He's not kidding either. "I really do think I was making the film for that 'Devil Wears Prada' audience of women who wouldn’t normally come to a superhero film," he said. "That’s a tricky thing when you’ve built an audience...and you deliver a certain tone, and then you bring this completely different tone to them….[if i were to change anything] with 'Superman Returns'…. If I could go back, I would have tightened the first act. Maybe open with the plane or something."

"Superman Returns" has always been marred with the perception that it was a tentpole that wasn't very successful, but Singer doesn't think it did that poorly. My gut response is, 'It didn’t do THAT bad.' You know, summer’s a tricky time – I know it’s hard to blame the time, but there’s a bit of an expectation for a summer movie," he said. "I think that 'Superman Returns' was a bit nostalgic and romantic, and I don’t think that was what people were expecting, especially in the summer."

Well, it didn't beget a sequel which does mean something these days. Meanwhile, those who disliked 'Superman Returns" should not be too worried. What director Zack Snyder hopes to deliver, in "Superman: Man of Steel" (which only seems to be the working tittle at this point) promises to be something entirely different. "I've stretched this world of abstract reality so far that the awesome thing about Superman is that Superman lives in the real world," he told THR today. "And it probably will be the most 'real' movie I've made. It will more real than even 'Dawn of the Dead.' " But that's just one recent account. In recent weeks Snyder has been much more direct and promised an ass-kicking "Superman."

“In the movie we’re going to be making, Superman is a pretty physical cat and he does some serious physical shit,” Snyder said, pausing to almost dig on Singer's picture. “I don’t want to judge the last movie but I want to see Superman kicking some ass this time!” Comic book fans leaning towards the brawnier side of things should be happy. [Voices From Krypton via AOL Moviefone]

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11 Comments

  • Brody | March 26, 2011 11:58 AMReply

    Not sure I get how someone could unironically enjoy Smallville or Lois and Clark and yet heap disdain on Superman Returns. Funny stuff, though.

    Even if it's just a parody, I love the idea that someone would think Bryan Singer would be reading comments on this now-hard-to-find blog and responding under fake names to trolls.

  • Get Well Bryan | March 26, 2011 8:43 AMReply

    Oh Bryan Singer, I mean mylesdyson, you continue your psychotic breakdown here on Playlist. As has been pointed out by numerous people, your dribbling are a pile of nonsense and insanity. From your mystical abilities to see three years into the future and espy 'Prada' crowds, to forgetting that you spent an entire year of interviews blaming your failed picture on seeking to please those horrible women with a love story. Even hilariously characterizing the dire indie family drama as a "love story" in the first place. Your ravings are quite concerning Bryan in their complete unhinging from reality. I sincerely fear the failure of your film has driven you quite mad, or maybe you've just started to believe your own lies.

  • mylesdyson | March 26, 2011 7:15 AMReply

    Pinpointer and one of Superman's legion of female fans you both need some air. I recommend posting your real names and email addresses so you can find each other and hook up over your hatred of Superman Returns, Bryan Singer, Kate Bosworth and Brandon Routh.

    Hyperbolic hatred of a filmmaker for ruining the myth of superman is a great place to begining and enduring, loving relationship. I'm sure you're both single, so do it, do it now, hookup and invite Playlist to the wedding.

    By the way pinpointer do you have eyes, because I'm sure you wrote that you'd voluntarily watch “Ghost Rider” “Batman Forever” and “Daredevil.”

    Are you sure you're not blind, or possibly stupid?

    Wait, you said you'd watch em "ANY DAY" you have to be blind and stupid.

  • LA2000 | March 25, 2011 11:54 AMReply

    I'm sorry, he noticed the women lined up for "Devil Wears Prada" and did what now?

    "Devil Wears Prada" came out 5 days before "Superman Returns". His movie was locked.

    It had no influence on him or the picture whatsoever. This is just made up nonsense.

  • jim | March 25, 2011 11:34 AMReply

    I liked Superman Returns. It sure as hell wasn't perfect but I would have loved to see their planned sequel (which you can read about at IESB).

    I'm not looking forward to Zach Snyder's take on the character. Even with Chris Nolan involved. Yes, it will have a great script but with Snyder yelling 'action' and 'cut' I don't expect it to a have great performances.

    I AM, however, excited to see the trailer because if there's one thing Snyder is good at, its cutting an awesome trailer.

  • Nerdrage | March 25, 2011 10:27 AMReply

    I saw Superman Returns twice in theaters and both times the packed house literally gave the movie a standing ovation, mid-movie, just after the scene where Superman saves the plane. I've only ever seen that happen after Pixar movies, otherwise.

    Non-comic book movie geeks did like Superman Returns. They just didn't love it. And this middle aged comic book geek would rather watch it again than see crap like Daredevil or Ghost Rider for the first time.

  • one of Superman's legion of female fans | March 25, 2011 9:51 AMReply

    Superman has been a favorite of women long before Singer was ever born. He has always been perceived as the most romantic of superheroes, thanks in large part to a a 73 year love affair with Lois Lane. The "Lois & Clark" TV show in particular was aimed squarely at women. A large part of "Smallville" was Clark's romances with Lana and Lois. A large part of the Donner films focused on Superman's romantic nature. Compared to the vast output of these 3 properties alone, Superman Returns is a dust mote.

    The extreme hubris and insanity of Singer claiming to invent a "completely different tone" and a "different [female] audience" is breathtaking. If he truly believes the drivel that he is saying, then he needs to be taken to the loony bin.

    Part of the reason women were so angry at this film, was because of the betrayal we felt. I have chatted with many of these women, both in person and online. The reason many of us were Superman fans in the first place was because of Superman's romantic nature. To have him abandon Lois with child was a slap in the face to us. No woman fantasizes about being abandoned. Worse, no woman is pleased to have her faith in the ultimate Prince Charming shattered. It was a horrible betrayal to women who had recently been weened on "Lois & Clark" and "Smallville", and recalled the epic romance of "Superman I".

    Singer is simply INSANE to claim he was forging new ground here. Or a liar. Or maybe his is an insane liar? Whatever his blathering, it is incredible that any journo would swallow this, unless they knew nothing of Superman or his long history of romantic appeal to women.

  • Teo | March 25, 2011 9:39 AMReply

    I liked Routh in it. I didnt like Spacey nor "Ms Lois Lane". Routh could really be the absolute Superman under the guise of Nolan and Snyder. However the script was bad I admit. Its more of a time-piece, artsy film than a cbm.

  • Mark | March 25, 2011 9:29 AMReply

    Superman Returns was a disaster. I sat open-mouthed through most of it at the sheer ineptitude.

    Nobody is ever going to make a better Superman film than Donner, especially not Zack Snyder.

  • Pinpointer | March 25, 2011 9:07 AMReply

    How is it hard to pinpoint what's wrong?

    1st - the terrible acting from the people who played the main characters: Jimmy, Lois, Superman, and especially Lex Luther. There is a reason this movie effectively ended Kate Bosworth's career, and also showed why Brandon Routh doesn't have one. Even when someone does put him in a movie now (Zack and Miri, Scott Pilgrim) it's pretty much only because he played Superman.

    2nd - the incoherent plot/story about Superman's bastard child and Kevin Spacey wanting to change the earth into crystal rock shards. There really was no point at all to what Luther was doing, and Superman/Lois had no chemistry or connection - basically, the movie felt pointless. I mean literally, the threat Superman was fighting in this movie was crystal rocks?!? and Parker Posey dressed like she was from the 50's, which made no sense either.

    3rd - the whole love triangle/James Mardsden plot. Too romantic? How about making Superman an absentee father who ditched his family and is now coming between Lois and her fiance? Which kind of makes him an asshole. And Kate Bosworth was like 21 or something, and looked like she was 17, so it appeared Superman knocked her up when she was 15.

    Give me "Ghost Rider" "Batman Forever" or "Daredevil" over "Superman Returns" any day. Bryan Singer is a joke.

  • rodie | March 25, 2011 8:57 AMReply

    Whenever an artist gears his work to a specific new audience like that, it opens up a myriad of challenges. Superman Returns only overcame some of those challenges and failed against others, which is why it was decent but nothing memorable. Always better just to focus on the story and making a great movie rather than worrying about what demographic is going to line up to see it.

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