Monday, November 28, 2005

Superman Returns isn't due to theaters for several months, but now is as good a time as any to try to hint at why I've been excited about the upcoming movie.

Jeff Shoemaker and Steven G. Harms both forwarded this article to me today:

A complete history of the pre-production for a new Superman movie up until Bryan Singer is signed.
(read only if you have an hour to kill... I only was able to browse the article)

For whatever reason, some folks have sort of had it in for the traditional version of Superman, and a lot of movie business people have tried to make money off the franchise without ever bothering to see what made it interesting in the first place. I'm not 100% assured of the accuracy of this article, but enough of what's in it has been documented online and in the press that the bulk of what is said has some basis in fact. I do think the writer is probably a little hard on the parties involved (except Jon Peters, who is a well-documented moron).

Yes, there are going to be places to nitpick the upcoming "Superman Returns", but if you knew what almost happened... dear GOD, what almost happened to The Man of Steel... well, you'd be pretty calm about minor changes to the red in Superman's cape or an "S-shaped" belt-buckle. Or even Kevin Spacey as Luthor, as one Loyal Leaguer has made it his mission to decry. I knew probably 65% of what was in the linked article, and sort of extrapolated another 5 - 10%.

Superman is relatively straightforward, but with a truckload of details that enhance and color who the character is for the folks who read the comics, watch the various TV shows, view the older movies and generally are actual fans of the character. From the article you can see the laughable quotes about "exploring Superman's dark, murderous side," and shiver in the knowledge that these guys almost got a movie made that would have been the final nail in the coffin of The Man of Steel. These people can't see the point of Superman at all, or have lost the part of themselves that thinks maybe a superhero can be about bringing some light in from the shadows. These moneymen would return Superman to big screen as a character who can see no greater use for his power than a person with a gun.

I'm a firm believer that there are no bad characters or ideas, there's just bad execution of those ideas. I even think some of the proposed ideas for Superman sound like a neat movie, but they aren't Superman. I would probably go see some of the movies described, as long as they were called "CosmoSoldier" or "Captain Amazing" or something. But the desire to constantly change Superman to meet the latest success story from Hollywood? As if the black trenchcoats in Matrix were really the source of that film's success?

In the end, I don't know if Superman is what needs to change as each new generation gains control of the franchise, or if the threats that Superman faces are what needs to change. Perhaps it's really Luthor and Co that must remain fluid from generation to generation?

The movie movie may be a bomb. It may end up being a wretched piece of filmic garbage that I am later ashamed of supporting. For now, I feel the movie wound up in good hands. The pieces of dialog in the trailer let me know, as a Superman fan, that Singer is staying the course, and that the movie will be driven by a desire to let Superman be Superman.

Anyway, if you have time to kill, I recommend reading the article.

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