A report from Deadline Hollywood has Christopher Nolan, director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, taking on a “mentoring” role in the next Superman film that Warner Bros is trying to get off the ground (pun intended). Both DC Comics franchises are WB productions, and many have suggested for the studio to take The Man of Steel in a darker direction. So, what does this really mean for the Super movie?
Well, first of all, it’s important to know that Nolan will not produce or direct the film, and his mentoring role is just to help focus the production so it can finally see the light of day. Still, many hope that Nolan’s skills and vision that reinvigorated the Dark Knight saga might help make the new Superman movie have a more interesting story and character.
The more successful TV and film adaptations deal with Clark Kent (Superman’s mild mannered alter ego for those just coming out of that rock) coming to terms with his powers and responsibilities as the last son of Krypton, then having to manage his two lives. This new movie is expected to be a complete reboot and would most likely dive into these two areas.
But didn’t Warner Bros already reboot the franchise with 2006’s Superman Returns, starring unknown Brandon Routh? Welcome to the wild story that is the making of a Superman movie. Since the last of films in the Christopher Reeve-led franchise (Superman IV: The Quest For Peace) in 1987, Hollywood has tried to reboot the franchise with no avail. The first time Warner Bros came close was around 1996, when Kevin Smith was hired to write the screenplay for producer Jon Peters, who interestingly enough produced the 1990s Batman franchise. Tim Burton was set to direct, and Nicholas Cage was cast to play the Man of Steel. To hear the hilarious story about how that fell through, check out this video of Kevin Smith explaining it.
The franchise looked like it was coming out of development hell when McG came on in 2002 to direct. Finally, after many people passed through the gates of Krypton, Bryan Singer left the X-Men franchise to direct a sequel of sorts to the original franchise, which came to be Superman Returns. While the film made almost $400 million worldwide, this fell short of expectations, and Warner Bros actually lost money between the film’s $250 million plus budget, marketing, and development costs over the previous 10-15 years.
You would think making a Superman movie would be easy enough. It’s one of the world’s most well known and beloved brands, and the scope of the world, along with his wide array of super powers, is practically made for the big screen. The problem with Superman (disclaimer: my favorite superhero) is that he is too powerful and too clean. In storytelling, that’s boring. How are we supposed to care for an omnipotent being, and how can his character arc if he has no dark secrets, regrets, or behaviors? The answer is make Superman darker, but does that ruin his iconic image?
As you can see, that’s a lot of pressure on Nolan’s shoulders. Can he help successfully reboot the franchise after all these years and attempts? What do you think?