It's been over four years since the disappointment of Bryan Singer's SUPERMAN RETURNS, but things are finally starting to come together on the THE MAN OF STEEL, Big Blue's return to the screen. I have high hopes for the reboot, but the property really can't go anywhere but up. I might catch some flack for this, but I honestly don't believe we've ever seen a truly great Superman film. The Richard Donner original is just pretty good and the series just goes down from there. A lot of people are pretty high on SUPERMAN II, but it's actually greatly overrated. It's just too corny and campy; Zod isn't even cool in it and he should have been. Nobody likes III and IV is most remembered for being more ridiculous than the rest. SUPERMAN RETURNS was supposed to start the icon on a new, better path, but it didn't. Singer was trying to conjure up the spirit of the original Donner films, which really weren't that exciting to begin with.
It's not as though Superman doesn't have a lot of emotional and character depth. People like to act as though Superman is this perpetual ray of sunshine, he hasn't been for a long time. He's not the brooding fellow Batman is, but he's the last son of a dead planet for christ's sake! He's got issues and challenges. In the film's he's only battled Lex Luthor, Zod and a some lame non-canons. Supe's got a great Rogue's Gallery; Brainiac, Darkseid, Doomsday, Metallo, Parasite, Bizarro, none of these have appeared in a film. Each one of these villains present unique problems for Superman. A more accurately capable Lex Luthor would also be a nice change. The pair have a unique relationship that has never been shown on screen. I not only believe that a great Superman film is achievable, I believe that a great Superman film could outshine all other comic-book films. It just needs to do everything right.
Is the MAN OF STEEL doing everything right? I don't know, but let's take a look at what we do know:
David S. Goyer wrote the script -
This is a good thing. Goyer isn't the greatest director, but the guy has worked on some pretty decent scripts (BLADE, BLADE 2, DARK CITY, THE DARK KNIGHT). He's also a huge nerd. Rumored plotlines for Goyer's script also suggest that Luthor and Brainiac will be the villains (+). It isn't an origin story (+) and there's a fair amount of Krytonian mythology (+).
Christopher Nolan is producing -
Another good thing. Nolan put the Batman series back on track, so logic dictates he could do the same for Superman. Some people disagree with this sentiment because the two characters are so different, but I don't see why Nolan couldn't adjust.
THE MAN OF STEEL is scheduled for release in late 2012 -
I think this is awesome too. If the schedule of films for 2012 remains the same, there's no doubt the summer season will already be stacked. Putting MAN OF STEEL at the end of the year distinguishes it from the pack. I certainly don't think it would adversely effect the ticket sales, AVATAR was released in December.
Jon Hamm is being looked at for Clark Kent -
Hamm would make a pretty good Kent/Superman, but it's still pretty early in the process, I doubt he'll stick.
Interviews for Directors are reportedly underway. The Candidates -
Zach Snyder: Claim to fame - 300 and slow-motion fighting, Most recent film - LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS.
Snyder might be okay. He has the chops to pull of an epic Superman film. The trouble is he's developed a very distinct style that might put the film's quality at risk. If he were open to doing something different stylistically, things might turn out alright.
I once heard Snyder talk about Superman when he was promoting WATCHEMEN; he said that if there was a Superman in real life he would just gather up all the world's leaders and tell them "behave or I'll rip your heads off". That might make a pretty good film.
Tony Scott: Claim to fame - TOP GUN (though I'd say TRUE ROMANCE), Most recent - UNSTOPPABLE
Tony doesn't garner the same fanfare that his brother Ridley does, but he can pull out a decent film on occasion. His Superman film might be solid, but I can imagine it falling short.
Matt Reeves: C2F - CLOVERFIELD, Most recent - LET ME IN (early reviews quite good)
This would be a big step up for Reeves, but it might be a nice bet. The guy definitely has the talent to make a truly big-budget film. Could he handle a property as big as The Man of Steel? There's only one way to find out.
Duncan Jones: C2F - MOON, Most recent - next year's SOURCE CODE
MOON is spectacular. One of the best films I've ever seen. However, MOON, as a production, was very small potatoes compared to a superhero flick. Jones' stock is very high right now and it's not unheard of for Studios to hand big projects over to smaller director (see Marc Webb and SPIDER-MAN), but this would be a huge risk. I bet Jones could make a really good film, maybe even a great one, but he won't get the chance if his sophomore effort isn't up to snuff (I've heard rumor that it isn't).
Last and least...Johnathan Liebesman: C2F - THE TEXAS CHAINSAW Prequel, Most Recent - BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
I didn't even know who this guy was. I don't think he'll get it. Apparently he's directing the CLASH OF THE TITANS reboot sequel. Maybe if BATTLE does really well, the studio will pursue him, but I still doubt it.
Pretty nice start for the film in my opinion. I hope to hear a decision on the director in the near future, then maybe some casting news, maybe? That might be too much to ask for at this time.