The modern superhero landscape has no shortage of content. No matter where you look, you can find something connected to superheroes. We are watching a comic book renaissance with no end in sight. Yet, there’s one hero who used to be king: Superman.
Superman is one of the most iconic fictional characters of all-time. He is the best-selling superhero ever (in terms of comics), the number-one spot on many “Best of” lists, and is the subject of the most famous piece of superhero music ever created.
And despite all this, it feels like he’s being forgotten, at least on the film sides of things.
- Superman has had a very complicated film history. He made his cinematic debut in a two multi-part serials starring Kirk Alyn, as well as a full-length feature film starring George Reeves.
- Then in 1978, everything changed. While far from the first superhero movie ever made, Richard Donner’s Superman created the template for the modern superhero movie, whose influence is almost unrivaled.
- While Superman II had its fair share of production problems, it was still a massive hit when it was released in 1980.
- It should go without saying that Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace ruined the character’s reputation on film for decades.
- Many failed attempts were made to revive the franchise including: Superman V, Tim Burton’s Superman Lives (yes, that’s Nic Cage), Avika Goldsman’s Batman vs. Superman, and J.J. Abrams’ Superman Flyby. (Burton and Abrams’ projects were so far into the development that they had completed scripts, costume designs, and cast their leads)
- McG and Brett Ratner were even considered to direct Flyby before its cancellation.
- It wasn’t until Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns where an attempt of another Superman movie went through. Despite mostly positive reviews, Warner Brothers wasn’t satisfied with the film’s box office, cancelling a sequel in favor of a full reboot. In 2010, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer teamed up for a reboot and searched for many directors. Zack Snyder was hired shortly afterward.
Rhyming and Steeling
Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was released in 2013 as a massive box office success, but only generated mixed to positive reviews. A sequel was quickly greenlit, but it later became a springboard for an entire DC Extended Cinematic Universe, which probably wasn’t a good idea in retrospect.
In 2016, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released to generally negative reviews from critics and received mixed reactions from fans. The film’s commercial under-performance and critical disappointment caused Warner Bros to hit the panic button and tamper with Suicide Squad and Justice League.
It’s safe to assume that this era of DC on film is thankfully over.
A big question that many fans (including myself) have asked post-Justice League is “When are we getting another Superman movie?“
For years, many of us have been waiting for some sort of update on a new movie, but no luck. In fact, we seem to get more rumors and reports about who isn’t directing a new Superman movie as opposed to who will. Matthew Vaughn was considered to direct a new movie for awhile, but for unknown reasons he is no longer involved.
Mission: Impossible director Christopher McQuarrie supposedly went to Warner Bros with pitches for new Superman and Green Lantern movies. Sadly, these ideas seem to be out of the question. Even James Gunn was offered the opportunity to direct a new Superman movie, but declined in favor of writing and directing The Suicide Squad.
I would very much like for someone to make a really good Superman movie. Someone who isn’t concerned with imitating Donner on a surface level or double down on Snyder’s signature doom-and-gloom.
Tone is key, but it’s also the biggest obstacle.
No matter which direction you go in, a bunch of angry nerds on the Internet are going to whine about it. What matters most is that we find someone who cares, just like the directors before them.
Who is Worthy?
Going back to directors, there are many of great candidates. My personal choice is J.J. Abrams, who recently struck a major deal with Warner. It’s hard not to imagine Abrams having conversations about a DC property with Chris Terrio (a DC veteran and co-writer of Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). Considering Abrams wrote a Superman script before, it seems perfectly plausible that he might pick the property up again.
I admire Abrams’ key sense of scale, excitement, and scope, which is something of which superhero movies can always use more. Not to mention Abrams’ gift of reviving long dormant franchises would be beneficial for Superman.
Even if their futures with DC seems dead, Matthew Vaughn and Christopher McQuarrie aren’t bad choices either. Vaughn has showcased his talents with comic book properties such as Kick Ass, X-Men, and Kingsman. However, he seems to have a little more time with the Kingsman franchise left. On the plus side, if Vaughn ever departs Kingsman, there’s another dormant superhero property that could use his help.
Source: Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Christopher McQuarrie is no slouch, as he and Tom Cruise are practically one of Hollywood’s biggest power couples. McQuarrie (who has an Oscar to his name) is one of the hottest action directors right now. While he may be going on two new missions, who is to say he won’t direct a DC movie?
Someone call Hal Jordan.
We’ve had filmmakers who have managed to make people stop making fun of Aquaman, turned Iron Man into the most famous movie character in recent memory, and made cinematic icons of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Surely, there is someone out there who can put Superman back into the spotlight. He’s endured on television forever, so surely he can make it back to the big screen. At least we have that Supergirl movie in the works to hold us over.
I may sound entitled, bitter, and whiny now, but I’m still crossing my fingers we will see a new Superman movie enter development soon. I hope Warner Bros will eventually find a director out there who is just as hungry to see Superman on the big screen again as much as the fans do.Someone out there will put Superman back where he belongs, inspiring people in theaters around the world. I find it hard to believe in a world where optimistic superheroes still survive, there is somehow no room for Superman.
With everything going on the past few years in life and fiction, we need more heroes — real-life ones and those in our imagination. It could be a beacon of hope, a symbol of peace, or a warrior that stands for “Truth, justice, and the American way.” as Christopher Reeve used to say. The world could use some more of that, and who better to lead the charge than the character who defined the word “superhero”?
One day, the whole world will once again believe a man can fly.