Superman Franchise on Hold

by Anne Thompson
November 25, 2009 11:20 AM
65 Comments
  • |

Thompson on Hollywood
Needed: A good Superman idea.

For those of you wondering what's happening with the next iteration of Superman, which has been stalled for years now since the Bryan Singer 2006 revamp Superman Returns was deemed not entirely worthy, I have the answer.

Nothing. The project is on hold as the studio waits to emerge from legal limbo over the fate of the Superman heirs. It's about who controls what divided rights going forward and who owes what to whom when. Warners may be trying to settle with the Siegel and Shuster families, who in 2013 will retrieve the copyright of the Superman material published in Detective Comics’ Action Comics Vol. 1, in order to merge all the Superman rights.

As the studio is waiting to resolve the legal dispute, there's no movement on the project. Production execs at Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have been culling the various pitches that have come in, and are eager to start development on a sequel. Who knew, when Brandon Routh played the Man of Steel in 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 continues to rage about what Warner Bros. should do with the DC Comics super-hero. Fans have been clamoring all over the web for a complete reboot. Warner Bros. execs believe that the last movie didn't break the mold and wound up in some kind of middle limbo. They want to start over from scratch. While Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar did pitch himself (to scant interest), WB in-house faves the Wachowski brothers and their protege James McTeigue were never approached. (It's hard to imagine such hard-R types taking on what one blogger described as the "Big Blue Boy Scout.")

The studio is still seeking the right direction. No writers are working on a Superman script. "We're working on a strategy for DC," says one Warners exec. "Superman is the trickiest one to figure out." In fact WB consumer products guru Diane Nelson, who liased with JK Rowling on the Harry Potter series, has been charged with putting the integrated DC/WB house in order.

Superman doesn't have to be squeaky clean. The origins of the character are darker and more complex. He can add more dimension. And in the new tech universe, just about anything is possible.

The good news: go to any fan site debating what Superman should be, and the commenters go on for miles. They still care.


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65 Comments

  • Darrel | September 29, 2010 4:30 AMReply

    I figured the Superman Franchise was on hold because the last Superman movie wasn't 'fit' enough to carry the name of arguably the greates comic book super hero of all time. Hopefully the Superman Franchise takes the time to perfect a good story within the script.

    http://www.illuminategym.com/blog

  • Brian | April 22, 2010 8:30 AMReply

    Are you sure about that, Camilla? Warners is outsourcing the Superman franchise to...FINLAND?!

  • camilla | April 22, 2010 6:58 AMReply

    jag vill att stålmannenn clark kent
    ska kåmma till baka på swe tv4 till
    baka såmm va förut

  • camilla | April 22, 2010 6:55 AMReply

    jag vill att stålmannenn ska kåmma till baka på
    swe tv4
    såmm det va förut

  • joe | January 15, 2010 4:04 AMReply

    YOU have too put more action in the movie,you should know all this talk about the end of time 2012 ? that my b why superman came to our world?starts world war 3 and he fines him self in shit ?or he trys too keep his kid in order?or he has to make mars as a place to live for everybody in the world? i think Michael Bay is the best move you should make to do the movie! and Tom Welling as superman. and you will make millions .

  • bob | December 18, 2009 4:59 AMReply

    I would suggest something along the lines of "Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow" by Alan Moore. A great basis for developing a superman movie.

  • AntiMnemonic | December 11, 2009 8:09 AMReply

    I agree with SuperDan and many of the others there are million ideas out there for a new Superman movie. Having said that I really don't want to see a reboot. The fact that SR managed to continue the stories was what really made it worthwhile for me.
    I just wish Lex Luthor had been the character I remember and not such a parody. I read "Superman: Last Son of Krypton" by Elliot S! Maggin as a child and that is the way I will always remember the Lex and Clark.
    And as to what to do with the kid just do what they always do: "Oh my god he's been sucked into some kind of strange warp through time and space - oh wait he's back but now he's fifteen." Simple. Superboy anyone?
    WB should just run an online comp to write the script (and before anyone asks how they are going to sift through the millions of scripts us fanboys and girls would send in), get the fans to judge it themselves online, and go with that. They have four years before they can make a new one so there's plenty of time.

  • Old Fart | December 11, 2009 4:44 AMReply

    Michael Bay and Brandon Routh! The director-star combo we've ALL been waiting for!!

  • Nicole | December 6, 2009 5:44 AMReply

    I think Brandon Routh did a great job on superman he has similar ways to the late Christopher Reeve and i feel that superman need an upgrade I think Michael Bay would be a perfect director to the superman franchise he's known to do some brilliant work and i feel if your looking for action he's the man.

  • Brian | December 1, 2009 4:33 AMReply

    C'mon, Warner Bros., steal SuperDan's idea, spend millions of dollars and several years turning it into an unuseable script and then try to interest a star and director who'll then tear it apart and start from scratch and then lose interest in the whole project, bringing us right back to square one. By then, Brandon Routh's rabid fans will all have quieted down considerably, having been subdued by various forms of medication. (Routh will, of course, be working at a real job, selling insurance or brokering real estate--if he hasn't already retired by then.)

  • SuperDan | December 1, 2009 3:26 AMReply

    Superman has plenty of villains. Brainiac being the one they constantly never use. They need to make a trilogy; the first one is just a comic book action movie! Brainiac comes to earth, puts Lex Luthor in a coma by downloading his "essence" into Luthor forcing him to create a "new" body for him. Luthor is in the movie long enough to introduce Brainiac and then is comatose. He's gotten rid of because he's become tiresome, yet we don't dare kill him off in case we need him for further adventures.
    When Superman destroys Brainiac by shoving him into a black hole, he escapes, creating a worm hole unleashing Darksied---end of first film. the middle one ending on a cliffhanger with Darksied ready to destroy the world, killing Superman. Cameos from other Justice Leaguers; Green lantern, Arrow and Wonder Woman. The third one has Superman defeating Darksied...etc.
    That took five minutes to spew out, why can't the professionals who are given millions of dollars and years to work on this not do the same?

  • JaySin420 | November 30, 2009 10:51 AMReply

    Good now Smallville can go for another season and then take off a few years and bring most of them back for a few Superman movies. Hell they can save money using most of the sets. (They used street sets from Watchmen in the latest smallville episode so it's not crazy)

    I enjoyed Returns although it could have been a billion times better and think Routh did a great job but Welling is a much better CK/Superman in almost every way.

  • doopey | November 30, 2009 9:53 AMReply

    Paying homage to the Donner films wasn't a terrible idea (I genuinely liked some of those aspects of "Superman Returns"), but adding the "Super Kid" really killed Singer's movie. And if they continued with sequels to Singer's "reboot" the kid would always be in the way, I don't see how you can ignore him or put him in the background. Giving Superman a kid fundamentally changes who Superman is. That's why it was such a huge mistake. And Luthor's big revenge scheme showed a real lack of imagination by Singer and his writers (another ridicules real estate plot, this time involving kryptonite? Ugh).

  • Mike | November 30, 2009 9:10 AMReply

    Apparently nobody has read Superman: Birthright. Sigh. Since 2007 this has been the red-headed step child of the Superman mythos. At the time, DC wanted to reboot Superman's origin story and his powers for the 21st Century and gave the reigns to a very talented Mark Waid. Mark, did what he was supposed too, and made a spectacular and modern Superman. However, his update was too radical for the tightwads and DC and they dropped it from being canon. Here is how Supes was updated

    1. The Culture: People are more xenophobic today. Or at least, Mark Waid plays upon that aspect of our culture. The strange and unusual spark fear and distrust. This is the core of the Birthright's plot, as the public is wary of an alien with incredible powers ( a fear that Lex Luthor captilizes on)

    2. Lex Luthor: Similiar to Smallville, they make Lex 4-6 years older than Clark and even have them once been friends when they younger, but Lex's paranoia ruins that friendship eventually. Waid updates Lex too, by making him both a mogul and technical genious. Early on, Lex finds a piece of kryptonite which pushes him to study it and learn from it, giving him a definitive edge in the tech industry.

  • sisko rhodes | November 30, 2009 7:14 AMReply

    i think the superman franchise has to be completely re done from the beggining, millers 3 movie arc is a good idea but am not sure doing a whole 2 hr movie just about the civil war on krypton is right, i dont think that a dark overtone for the storyline is right either, maybe where the scenes with his enemies sure dark, action scenes are needed, superman needs to put to the test by a supervillain with powers, needs to be taken to the brink of defeat, but overall the movie HAS to have the reflection of hope when all hope seems lost, he needs to rise from the ashes of defeat to conquer his enemies and save mankind from certain destruction...
    he may well stamd for truth,justice and the american way in the donner films but that was a different decade wit different issues and things going on...
    surely its time to update his ideals, he's superman for god sake and just cause his ship landed in kansas doesnt mean hes an all american guy he was sent to EARTH not the americans....
    was sent to protect all mankind to show them the light and lead the way...
    if the movie is made and still has him believing in truth justice and the american way its morally wrong he needs to be a man for the whole human race, and im pretty sure that america doesnt speak for the whole human race even if sometimes they believe they do....
    truth justice is fine but how about about something like,....: TRUTH,JUSTICE AND ALL THAT IS GOOD IN HUMAN KIND...
    its about time this species were made to see that we are all the same and can live and exist as one... a superman movie could inspire that kind of response if made correct but it has to be a complete and full restart not a sequel...
    tom welling would make a great superman but to be perfectly honest brandon routh did a fantastic job, made a great clark kent and he did something even reeve didnt manage which was to make the two characters so much different that the fact one was just the other in a suit and specs wasnt noticed you could almost believe it was two seperate guys... he has to be considered for any remake he was a very good choice and with the right script and direction could very well be another man that truly makes you believe a man can fly....

  • midnighter | November 30, 2009 5:48 AMReply

    anybody remember aunt may's monologue in SM2? how people need a hero to inspire them? that is the spirit of what supes IS. sure, give us a new badass villian. but a good storyline is always going to test supes' integrity as much as his muscles.

  • sense11 | November 30, 2009 2:29 AMReply

    I'm sorry Bryan Singer, your movie was a nice homage to the old Superman films but it was definitely not a reboot. It was a sappy and woose like Superman movie, a blond Loise and a freaking baby. We need a Director that wants to be Superman, not one that has a soap opera crush on Superman.

  • Krypton Refugee | November 29, 2009 10:49 AMReply

    @Morocco Asturias: What the hell? Did Brandon Routh run over your puppy? Why all the hate? Bitter, party of 1....your table is ready!

  • 4Real | November 28, 2009 8:43 AMReply

    This whole idea of getting rid of the kid problem by having Brainiac/Doomsday/Lex kill him is stupid. You don't kill a kid in a Superman movie. Ever. This whole argument by fanboys in arrested development is stupid. YOU DO NOT KILL A KID IN A SUPERMAN MOVIE. EVER. You think family audiences want to see that sh*t? They'll hate it more than seeing Homewrecker Superman in Superman Returns. You don't pull that sh*t on family audiences and you don't do it with the Big Blue Boy Scout.

    The WB bigwigs were wise enough to see that, which is why they killed the SR sequel when they couldn't figure out what to do with the kid, and gave Singer the boot for screwing them like that.

  • SupermanOfSteel.com | November 28, 2009 6:53 AMReply

    I hate to say it, but maybe time is the best thing for the franchise right now. There are so many issues and bad rumors floating around that maybe starting from scratch (however painful it may be) is the best solution. I really enjoyed "Returns" but it did fall a little short and when writing a Superman story there is not much room for error. As far as all the politics and legal issues, it makes me a little queasy. I just hope that everything is resolved and that Superman on film "will return" to inspire the next generation of Superman fanboys and girls like the Christopher Reeve movies did for me.

  • Pon Jeters | November 28, 2009 4:34 AMReply

    GIANT SPIDERS ALL THE WAY!

  • rcarlson9352 | November 28, 2009 4:23 AMReply

    Just have Superman and Doomsday go at it on the big screen!!

  • Joe Valdez | November 28, 2009 2:45 AMReply

    Anne,

    I think the case can be made that Bryan Singer is in directors jail. It's not right or wrong, but the industry operates on the basis of heat. If you were running WB, would you give Singer $250 million for a movie right now? What about $100 million? I think his peers (Tarantino, PT Anderson, Fincher) have left him behind, if not in box office grosses, then definitely original thought.

  • Paul G | November 28, 2009 2:35 AMReply

    If Warner Bros. listens to the comic book junkies then the franchise is in serious trouble. Somehow they seem to think they should dictate what a Big Screen Superman should be. Unfortunately, their vision and the vision of those who will be purchasing tickets are two different things. The same can be said for the ultra-fantastic show called Smallville. Sorry, but that is not Superman. Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Maybe. But it's not Superman. Superman is Christopher Reeve, Richard Donner, Brandon Routh and yes, Brian Singer. WB execs. need to compare Superman Returns to Batman Begins--similar numbers but the critics much preferred Superman--as did the international audience. If you want a reality check on the franchise, pretend you own it--now then, go out and spend $200 million on your clever idea. Is Millar really that kick ass now? Is Tom Welling going to be your Superman? Really? Then let the Mafia front you the money--if you lose, you really lose. Millar, Welling and others won't make this movie because they can't. Call Singer back.

  • Ricardo Matos | November 28, 2009 1:04 AMReply

    Warner should let Smallville finish it's run this or next season and take Tom Welling and Erica Durance to the big screen, get a good/great director that can balance story with great action and get Geoff Johns or Jeph Loeb to write the script and let the fun begin.
    The key here is for people to relate to Superman. Which won't happen if he's the invincible God. This is why Tom Welling and Smallville are so successful (the biggest selling Warner show worldwide with yearly profits in tv, sales and merchandise of 200+ million dollars) - people can relate to HIS Clark.
    That is why Marvel is so successful, people relate to their characters. Superman is such a powerful entitity that is hard to relate to him (that's why Batman's so beloved).
    Tom Welling did the unthinkable, he is the only actor past Christopher Reeve to make people believe again. They don't see him just as a guy in a costume (as oppose to Routh which was shoved down our throats as a Reeve clone) or the actor playing Superman. He just IS. And given the fact that he hasn't even started to wear the suit, that's a HUGE accomplishment.
    Warner already made the mistake of not casting him in the previous movie and paid dearly for it. They may not be able to take another mistake which will cost them even dearly. LISTEN TO THE FANS FOR ONCE !

  • jaystarisright | November 28, 2009 12:40 AMReply

    We've already had Dark Superman and it was a colossal failure.
    >
    The whole character of Superman in "Returns" was written to be brooding, morose and basically borderline clinically depressed.

    He's heartbroken because his trip back to Krypton didn't work out -- everybody was dead.

    He's heartbroken because he comes back and Lois didn't jump straight into his arms.

    He's heartbroken because Lex Luthor has been released from prison on some bullcrap technicality.

    He's heartbroken because Lex and Kitty have lost the magic Kryptonian crystals, and now he won't get to go back and have these heartwarming chats with Vito Corleone-El, where he thunders at him from beyond the grave about everything he is FORBIDDEN!! FORBIDDEN!! FORBIDDEN to do.


    He's heartbroken because he's got a son, he's missed his first five years of life, and now he's got to act as if he's someone else's kid.

    Blah, blah. No wonder he mopes around like he's about to break into tears for the whole movie.

    Whatever else the next Superman movie does, SUPERMAN SHOULD HAVE SOME FUN.

  • imdbking | November 28, 2009 12:36 AMReply

    I have to be honest; why does every time someone mentions where Superman Returns failed, or what the new movie needs, its always about a fight?

    That is not why Returns failed. It failed because of the plot, and how it characterized Superman. You have Lex Luthor stealing the Fortress crystals to make...a giant continent? Really? I mean, the guy is supposed to be one of the smartest men in the world, and he is obsessed over land and property? *Yawn*

    Then, they not only have Superman chase after a Krypton that is long gone, but he didn't even have the decency to say GOODBYE to Lois before he left for 5 years? That is NOT the Superman I know, he would have said goodbye no matter how hard it was. So what happens when he gets back? Of course the world doesn't feel like it needs him anymore. Ok, I can go with this. Then they throw the mother of all ignorant moves in there- he had a kid with Lois when he turned human in Superman II???!!!

    Not only that, now Lois is involved with another man, and they have made a family? Great, so what is Supes supposed to do now about the kid? Oh, ok he decides to pseudo-stalk Lois. Wait...what??!!!

    That is not Superman, I am sorry. That is not even close to being the Superman we all know. On top of that, with all due respect to Routh, he came off as a wooden failed Clone of Reeve. Don't forget, Returns had a decent amount of action- remember the machine gun scene or the car catch scene?

    You don't need action scenes to make Superman relevant or entertaining. You just need to remember the SPIRIT of the character. That is where Returns failed, miserably.

  • Lana | November 27, 2009 10:06 AMReply

    Though Smallville has done well in storylines this year (it's reminding me of Lois and Clark's first year except there's still no tights and no flights), I'm still not convinced that the cast has what it takes to advance the series into a feature film franchise.

    @Rachel: Have you looked at recent pictures of Tom and Brandon? (Hint: Go to Wireimage and search the two actors.) Tom is 33 but he still looks 10 years younger, which is appropriate for his role on SV. Brandon is 30 but actually *looks his age*, perhaps off by 2-3 years.

    @RedandBlue: You are correct. You can't please everyone. Remember, this could have been a Jon Peters project, directed by Tim Burton, with Nicolas Cage as Supes. It could have been "Suit-in-a-Can" with J.J. Abrams at the helm. Or it could have been a Kevin Smith film filled with comic references and crude humor.

  • RedandBlue | November 27, 2009 9:04 AMReply

    Reading these comments, I'm beginning to see why WB is having so much trouble choosing a direction for the next film. "Go dark"... "Stay light"... "Change the colors"... "Keep the music"... "Same colors"... "New music"... "Use Smallville"... "Smallville sucks"... etc.

    For every opinion on Superman, there is an equal and opposite opinion. I tend to have very little sympathy for studio suits, but these guys really have a struggle over the identity of the franchise. Luckily, every single person who has no experience actually making a film gets to weigh in with emphatic certainy that THEY know what's best.

  • David Blocher | November 27, 2009 8:36 AMReply

    I agree with a lot of the comments... try a different villian because Lex Luthor has been done to death! Suggest using Brainiac.

    Also re-boot the entire franchise with plenty of differental to the previous franchise. Keep Pa Kent breathing during Clark's adulthood; give him a Superboy persona for his younger days; eventually introduce his cousin, Supergirl in an eventual sequel!

  • Isaac T. | November 27, 2009 8:09 AMReply

    Metallo should be the villain for the next film.

  • TennisPro | November 27, 2009 7:49 AMReply

    I never will understand... Why reboot? There are a ton of options to continuing where Superman Returns left off. You don't even have to bring back Singer if you don't want. I know I'm in the minority. I liked the movie as a reintroduction of Superman. I thought Brandon Routh was absoultely perfect in his potrayal. Have Braniac come to earth, following Superman's trail after his visit to the destroyed Krypton. Make the movie climax with a battle royal between Supes and Braniac. That superfight should make all the "we want more action" fans happy. Near the end, have Luthor, who is in the background the whole movie... biding his time and plotting, find and kill Superboy in a way that Superman knows it was Luthor that did it. This would put Superman in a hard postition of wanting to actually kill someone and take revenge and setting up the next movie with how he deals with it. That oughta make the "Go Dark Superman" fans happy too.

  • Sonny Crockett | November 27, 2009 6:19 AMReply

    "It's not fair to compare Superman with Batman because one is completely grounded in reality while this can’t be done with Superman."

    A guy dressed like a kevlar bat, doing things that woud be impossible with a costume like that is reality?! We love Batman because he's a fantasy that appeals to our darker side. We love Superman because he attains the highest of human qualities without being human. Both work when you have a great story and do not stray to far with what made them who they are. You don't need Superman to be darker, just give him an attitude and a worthy adversary.
    Sonny Crockett

  • nikki | November 27, 2009 5:03 AMReply

    eh, I prefer Supergirl anyway

  • Brandon | November 27, 2009 3:45 AMReply

    I absolutely loved Superman Returns. It gets better with each viewing because you notice more details in the film making. The problem is that people expected too much, but if you ask what exactly they didn't like, they never give a definitive answer. What upsets me now is the exact same thing is going to happen as it did with Hulk.

    The first film was critically acclaimed but it tanked at the box office. But what happened after was the DVD sales were huge because when people actually sat down and watched it without preconceived ideas, they actually realized how good the film actually was. The sales prompted the sequel to be made.

    However, this time the studio bowed down to what "the fans wanted". What was produced was a seriously AVERAGE film that only satisfied them, and not the general public. I fear the same will happen to Superman.

    Batman is successful not because it's made up of what fans want, but is telling a great story with great characters. It's not fair to compare Superman with Batman because one is completely grounded in reality while this can't be done with Superman.

    What I think they should do is use a villain who doesn't simply beat up Superman, but challenges his whole persona. If they can get the story right, they'll make a great film.

  • Kelso Horror | November 27, 2009 3:22 AMReply

    I have an idea of what they could do to Superman that has been done in the comics.
    KILL HIM!
    Who better to that than THE ULTIMATE SUPERMAN VILLAIN!
    DOOMSDAY

  • Morocco Asturias | November 27, 2009 1:08 AMReply

    Was there ever a more bland and uninteresting actor than Brandon Routh? There is a guy whose best days are behind him. Soon to fall below a Kirk Alyn trivia question. And all people will think, "Once upon a long time ago, he was in a Superman movie. Then it was all downhill from there." Couldn't happen to a more pathetic bartender/aspiring actor. He spent a year after SR turning down smaller parts, because he was "on track to be a major leading man/movie star, damnit!" Even though he had done practically nothing before SR, he expected to be handed everything. He didn't need journeyman roles. And then the offers for even that dried up, when SR didn't translate to any personal fan base for Routh. Finally, after a year, the bills started piling up and he woke up and started taking the only offers he could get: cameos and bit parts. Two years from now, he'll either have worked his way up to Journeyman sidekick status or be back to bartender. I'm betting on his continued swirling of the drain.

  • Jerry | November 27, 2009 12:08 AMReply

    Until legalities with the Siegel families are ironed out, all these suggestions and speculations are just so much hot air. The best news to come out of all this is that Singer is off the franchise.

  • TheOne | November 27, 2009 12:08 AMReply

    The issue with Superman movies is that they focus on Superman... that being the character's powers, etc... Clark Kent is treated most often as the throw away portion of the character. To make Superman interesting, you have to have a writer who can balance both sides.

    For all of its detraction, Lois and Clark did a good job for most of its run of making Superman interesting because of Clark Kent's humanity.

  • Rachel | November 26, 2009 11:39 AMReply

    What direction should the Superman reboot be????THE DIRECTION IS TOM WELLING. He IS MY SUPERMAN...He is the one.If I were WB, I will wait till Smallville finishes and get TOM WELLING to be the new Superman.Brandon Routh is too pretty like a woman...Tom welling is handsome and more manly in his features/looks...I love him!TOM WELLING IS BEST SUPERMAN EVER THERE IS IN HIS TIME, IN THIS TIME!!!!CHRISTOPHER REEVES IS THE BEST DURING HIS TIME!
    WB, please MAKE TOM WELLING THE BIG SCREEN SUPERMAN!

  • NO TO SMALLVILLE | November 26, 2009 10:43 AMReply

    Please do not even consider anything Smallville to do with the Superman Lore, for one thing, it's not cannon to the Superman comics mythos. Secondly, Clark should have been in Metropolis as Superman 5 seasons ago, and Lois Lane in Smallville? And knows a Clark Kent without glasses? No thank you. btw Tom Welling is the worst person to play Superman, he's just not the right person for it.

  • JESS | November 26, 2009 8:52 AMReply

    Tom Welling and Erika Durance are my perfect Superman and Lois Lane. I want to see them in the Film.

  • Jeff | November 26, 2009 7:40 AMReply

    I have just three words: NO LEX LUTHOR! I don't care what, who, how, when, where they do Superman; what I care about is one more GD movie where Lex-F@#$ing-Luthor is the villain. Enough already! As a villain, he's a schmuck, and has been more than played out. For God's sake, you'd think Luthor was the only Superman villain in the Superman universe!

  • Reese | November 26, 2009 6:39 AMReply

    I thought Routh did a great job in the movie. Actually I thought most of the cast did a relatively good job (aside from Kate Bosworth, who I still feel was horribly miscast as Lois). The problem with the movie was in the script and that the film was edited so bad that the end result felt choppy at best.

  • Claudia B. | November 26, 2009 6:39 AMReply

    Superman Returns is a fantastic Superman movie. It was a good way to bring Superman back. And Brandon Routh makes a perfect Superman and Clark Kent. I really wanted to see a sequel!! I'm sure that an action-packed sequel with a new supervillain for Superman to fight would have been a lot more successful than Superman Returns was. It ain't rocket science, WB!

    And please, Smallville is not even Superman. It's a teen soap with superpowers. Nobody cares about it anymore, have you seen the ratings the few last years? If it was in a bigger network it'd have been cancelled LONG AGO. And Welling Can't act. He plays a very wooden and bland Clark Kent.

  • Lenny Rivera | November 26, 2009 5:54 AMReply

    p.s. Brandon routh is not the reason why Superman Returns is not more widely well regarded. He did a great job and should probably be cast as Superman in any new movie. I really like Tom Welling in the role, but he probably shouldnt be cast unless its a "Smallville the Motion Picture".

  • Lenny Rivera | November 26, 2009 5:50 AMReply

    Superman is an awesome character and it's unfair to compare him to Batman. They are different types of characters with different approaches, and so the movie makers will always approach them differently in their respective franchises. Some have said that Superman has to be "more dark, like the Dark Knight". But look at how well J.J. Abrams optimistic version of Star Trek did last summer. Batman is dark, but Superman is optimistic and heroic and uplifitng. Give him a new powerful villain (Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, Parasite, Doomsday, New Kryptonians, Kandorians, just to name a few), bring his supporting cast into the 21st century, have some super powered action sequences, keep the adventure high, and the audiences will come. Also, you CAN do a reboot without doing an obligatory origin story.

  • weatherman | November 26, 2009 5:36 AMReply

    Warner Bros management can best be characterized by an old Air Force metaphor: their heads are "up and locked." For landing gear, that is a good thing; for heads, it is anatomically uncomfortable ...

    They already have the best possible Superman consultants in-house: a group with a proven track record when it comes distilling the complex DC mythology into an accessible, well-written, and ENTERTAINING story; a group whose work has been lauded by fans and critics alike, and who have received numerous awards in recognition of their talent and insight.

    The group is the Warner Bros animation unit that created Superman: The Animated Series, produced by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, and Bruce W. Timm.

    Christopher Reeve may have been the best actor who understood the character of Superman -- I am forever in awe of how he transformed on screen from Clark Kent to Superman by the simple act of removing his glasses, coupled with sheer acting ability -- no CGI needed. What had always been a joke in the Superman story suddenly seemed convincingly possible, even elegant.

    But Burnett, Dini, and Timm (and their entire crew) are to producing what Christopher Reeve was to acting: they fundamentally understand the character, and they understand how to tell a convincing story.

    Personally, I would welcome Warner Bros handing them control of a live-action movie, but that is probably too radical an idea for the entrenched Hollywood establishment.

    At the very least, however, WB should find a producer/director team who appreciate the quality of S:TAS; hire Burnett, Dini, and Timm as consultants; and then LISTEN to their advice.

    THAT would give the currently successful Marvel movie franchise a serious run for its money ...

  • hownowbrowncow | November 26, 2009 4:49 AMReply

    The solution is to make the next one tough and mean. "Returns" was just too warm and sweet.

    Have Lex Luthor find out that Clark is Superman. Have him go to Lois with the news. She will feel betrayed and print the piece herself, revealing to the world the big secret. Then have Superman's enemies (a thawed-out General Zod?) kill, yes kill, Ma Kent, Jimmy Olson and that newspaper editow guy.

    I think the kid could still be a good thing. Have a fun scene where Zod tries to kill Superkid (smashing him into buildings), which he of coarse can't. So the only thing he can do is hide Superkid on the moon. Now Superman and an angry Lois have to make peace to find their child. The big climax could be on the International Space Station.

    etc etc etc...

  • Andrew | November 26, 2009 4:20 AMReply

    They should end Smallville with Tom's Clark Kent becoming Superman and then do a spinoff franchise for the big screen. The cast and crew are perfect and the fans would love it!

  • Dillan | November 26, 2009 3:58 AMReply

    'Smallville' stopped being a teen soap with superpowers YEARS ago.

    The characters are all adults in their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s.

  • theduck | November 26, 2009 3:52 AMReply

    I don't understand what the problem is. Here, for WB, is how you bring back the Superman franchise:

    1) The suit is red, yellow and blue. Not crimson, dark blue and dark yellow.
    2) Superman is a "big, blue Boy Scout". Do not darken him.
    3) That said, it's OK to have a darker story line. Look at the original stories from the 30s. He fought for justice and did not live in a happy world.
    4) Richard Donner not only brought a great Superman to the screen, but allowed moviemakers to make serious superhero movies, so all due thanks to Richard Donner. That said, it's time to let his take rest in the 70s.
    5) Superman needs a villain that taxes him. If Luthor returns, it should not be as some crazed land baron. And there's always Brainiac, Darkseid, Phantom Zone villains, etc.
    6) Did I mention that Superman is a big, blue Boy Scout? No matter the battle, no matter the trails, he believes in "truth, justice, and the American way" (the American way being the ideals it stands for, not the depressing things America has done).

    Be true to the character and give him a real challenge, with some great action, and you'll have a winner.

  • keith | November 26, 2009 3:45 AMReply

    What do you mean there's no Superman movie on the horizon? There's going to be an awesome one called "Smallville: Absolute Justice" premiering Friday February 5!

    Seriously, I dont buy the argument that Superman cant be adaptef for a modern audience. Thats what Smallville has been doing for 9+ seasons. You wanna avoid a Superman Returnz like bomb, cast Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum and Erica Durance in the roles of Supes, Lex and Lois, then WB can sit back and count the money.

  • Brian | November 26, 2009 3:42 AMReply

    End Smallville after season 10. Role Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, and Erica Durance to the big screen. They've made me a 30 year old man believe in Superman again for the first time since Reeve and Kidder. And they've done it on a scant second-rate network budget. Imagine what they can do with $150 million at their disposal.

  • Pete | November 26, 2009 3:38 AMReply

    I'm a HUGE fan of the first two Christopher Reeve movies and I thought Sman Returns was fair. As a Superman fan, I'm thrilled WB is still hoping to return him to the silver screen. I don't mind if they reboot, but my only request is they keep the John Williams anthem. That to me is the essence of Superman summed up in music. Everything else can be updated.

  • Ric Bains | November 26, 2009 3:28 AMReply

    Great story & and staying true to Superman's character is first priority. I loved Chris Reeves as Superman in I & II. However today I'd like to see a more robust. muscular looking superman on the big screen. As a reboot this would help differentiate a new Superman movie from past ones in a positive way.
    I really enjoy Smallville. Characters and actors are great. A Smallville movie would be fantastic. If Tom Welling could beef up more I think he successfully could pull off a Superman (not Smallville) movie as well.
    One last thing: It's time to end Smallville as a series and boot up a new one called Metropolis!!! ...with all the same characters & actors of course.

  • Dw Dunphy | November 26, 2009 3:09 AMReply

    My advice to Warners is they need to hold it back until the culture changes. Right now the public wants dark, spooky, doomed, haunted - and Superman has always been a more positive sort. That's why the character worked so well in the mid 1970s.

    All the calls to darken Supes up, mostly fueled by Warners, betray the character and would, ultimately, ruin any future franchise because all they would have is a brighter-colored Batman. When society is ready for Superman, they'll be ready to receive Superman. Until then, let the bloodletting resume.

  • Paul | November 26, 2009 2:50 AMReply

    Since 1938 the comic books have come up with endlessly facinating plots, villains, etc for Superman to interact with. Why can't the movies? Same for any super hero franchise that takes 3-6 years for a sequel, or worse all the time it took for "Superman Returns" which ended up, with the exception of the terrific plane save scene, a boring bland movie. Lex Luthor is NOT a worthy movie villain for Superman. Or at least he isn't anymore. We need a real villain that can match wits and powers, if not in the same super fashion, but enough to be a real threat. C'mon Hollywood, the comics do it ALL THE TIME!!

  • Stefan Blitz | November 26, 2009 2:42 AMReply

    The problem with the potential franchise is that it needs to be reinvented.

    Singer is extremely talented, but his take was far too reverential to the Donner material, as well as very sloppy in the approach (Luthor's crystal technology will allow him to corner the market on soot covered real estate).

    Smallville's limitations have been another matter entirely, although Tom Welling has done an admirable job playing 19 for the past six years of the show.

    Superman needs to be reinvented for the big screen. His weakness is his humanity, not his powers. An admirable adversary needs to be only strong enough to hurt him emotionally and creatively.

    If Batman is going to be "realistic" on screen, why not make Superman celebrate the fantastic? Anyone curious enough in how to handle the character correctly should just ask writer Grant Morrison who is already consulting Warner as part of the DC Entertainment focus.

  • Anne Thompson | November 26, 2009 2:07 AMReply

    Joe,
    I've often wondered why WB turned on Singer. They were prepared to go with his sequel when he took off to do Valkyrie. Then they cooled. Was it the anti-Superman Returns sentiments online? Or the stress he put them through during production? Here's another theory--his Superman paled in comparison to Nolan's Batman. Enough people loved Superman Returns, including the critics and me (the kid was a mistake). But it wasn't the universally embraced, long-lived home run WB wanted.

  • Alex Viaggio | November 26, 2009 1:38 AMReply

    The problem is that with Superman being so powerful you need to have an equally powerful villain. It's difficult to have a meaningful drama otherwise. And the whole "we'll get him with Kryptonite" shtick has been done to death. Instead of using Kryptonite to bring him down to mortal level you need to step the villain up to supervillain level. Give Supes a moral quandry. Give him someone or something to fight that requires the full use of his powers so the movie can showcase some serious action (like in Superman II). There is a whole universe of material to draw from. Someone just needs to get creative.

  • Neal Bailey | November 26, 2009 1:22 AMReply

    My suggestion would be to look at Smallville this season. Tom Welling IS Superman now, and the show this year has become the best live action version of the character we've seen.

  • Jason Mack | November 26, 2009 12:59 AMReply

    I've read these comments and as a big fan of the first 2 Superman films (I did like Superman 4 to a lesser extent), I went into Superman Returns with high expectations, but like many walked out feeling confused. What put many off was the drawn out running time (I believe 40 mins too long), a weak script, a dodgy new costume (needs to be RED and NOT crimson), the inclusion of Lois' child and some of the corny acting was pretty bad. It actually felt like a contradiction to the first 2 films to me. I thought Brandon Routh was pretty good in the lead though. If a NEW version is to see the light of day, Brandon Routh needs to be given another chance. Tom Welling is NOT Superman just a glorified Clark Kent.
    I think Singer needs to go back to Xmen and given that some of the hatchets must be buried between Richard Donner and whover is concerned at the franchise helm, especially that they let him release the brilliant Superman II - Richard Donner Cut, he must be brought on board, even if it is in a creative consultant role.
    No offence to Kevin Spacey, but I couldn't get his performance as Lex Luther, I was still waiting for Gene Hackman to pop out and tell Kevin to 'get lost', but Lex is getting tiresome anyway.
    So in my opinion, bring back Brandon, give the Superman costume back it's red colour, keep John Williams score, and make it around the 2hour mark and not much more time than that - we don't want it to be too long winded (kind of like my comment, lol)

  • Joe Valdez | November 26, 2009 12:51 AMReply

    Intriguing post, Anne. I like the two SUPERMAN flicks directed by Donner, but don't care for the franchise in its other permutations at all.

    I question whether Dudley Do Right characters like Clark Kent, Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen can work anymore, and if you make this material any darker, you're making something else, like HANCOCK. It ceases to be SUPERMAN.

    If Bryan Singer couldn't figure this out, nobody's going to.

  • zyg | November 26, 2009 12:46 AMReply

    remember when will smith (hancock) lands at the bank robbery? he skids to a stop and the other cops scope out his outfit. 'What?' he says, embarrassed. 'okay, it's a little tight?'

    that's the problem. what was hancock? superman. right? he could fly, stop bullets, was super strong. but...he didn't wear a dorky skin-tight outfit with a giant H and a cape. he even protested the outfit his pr guy made for him in order to revamp his image. hancock was a depressed guy that drank and also had super powers. superman is a weird squeaky clean icon from the 50s whose persona doesn't fit in today's culture.

    you just can't have a guy wear that outfit and have it appeal to a mainstream movie audience. or, can you? you can't have a guy that doesn't scope out babes or drink or smoke stogies and only wants 'justice and the american way'. or, can you? with the sensibilities of today's youth? i think you'd get laughed at.

    to me it looks like hancock is the model for the contemporary reality-based super hero. (reality meaning -- here, today, in the normal world as opposed to in space, on another planet, or on an alternate earth like x-men with mutants, etc)

    so, if it's just the regular world why would a guy wear that outfit? let's say it's you. you've got super powers. do you have that outfit made? do you show up in public wearing that? they did that in the 50s but it doesn't hold together now.

    then there's the bad guy. in the 50s it was a guy with a hokey mua! ha! ha! laugh and an atomic ray gun. you can't do that today. plus, you're faced with the limitations of a reality-based antagonist. he/she has to do something that's possible in today's world yet is a challenge for superman to deal with. hard combo.

    hancock is a schlubby guy in grubby clothes who gloms women and drinks, smokes, who fights normal criminals who rob banks (with guns, explosives, etc). that formula works today. but you can't apply that formula to superman.

    it's all about that s-suit (with a cape no less. a cape.) and the 50s modality, and the difficulty in creating a viable plan for the antagonist. if you fix all those problems you have...hancock.

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