Superman Red Son movie

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts made the jump from indie films to blockbusters with this year’s Kong: Skull Island, but if the filmmaker had his way, he’d soon be at the helm of a movie adaptation of Superman: Red Son, a popular comic from writer Mark Millar and artists Dave Johnson
and Kilian Plunkett. Vogt-Roberts revealed on Twitter that he pitched Warner Bros. his take on the Elseworlds (read: alternate reality) story, but the studio turned it down. Read more about the would-be Superman Red Son movie and the director’s thoughts on superhero cinema below.

The three-issue 2003 comic mini-series Superman: Red Son imagines an alternate reality in which a young Superman didn’t crash land in Smallville, Kansas, but instead landed in the Soviet Union. It’s a fascinating exploration of the character through an entirely different lens than the one we’re used to viewing him, and an inquisitive look at the huge changes that would have happened had Kal-El’s ship arrived on Earth during a different moment of the planetary rotation.

There are a couple of fascinating points worth mentioning here. First, Millar responded by saying that Warner Bros. is actually pitching directors now for a Superman: Red Son movie, though Vogt-Roberts clarifies that he went to the studio about it first. Maybe they were inspired by his idea, but weren’t thrilled with his specific take on the property?

Second, in that conversation with Millar on Twitter, the filmmaker also offered some thoughts about the state of contemporary superhero cinema that I agree with, and I’m sure many of you do, too. Instead of embedding a bunch of tweets, I’ll just transcribe the text of the conversation, which also included Doctor Strange co-writer C. Robert Cargill:

Millar: Did you hear WB pitching directors Red Son? Two diff pals in last 2 months. This truly is Putin’s America.

JVR: Wait, really? Because I pitched it to them months ago and was told no. It’s the most punk rock thing the DCEU could do in my mind.

Cargill: A Red Son movie would blow minds.

JVR: I think it’s necessary for the comic book movie as a whole to take a step beyond the shared universe by introducing one-off movies.

Cargill: That’s pretty much what they just did with LOGAN.

JVR: Closest thing yeah. But they were able to do it as it marked the end of Jackman’s run. I think a “main timeline” can exist with alt-stories. When I was pitching Red Son I wasn’t even convinced you needed [Batman actor Ben] Affleck & [Superman actor Henry] Cavill. Public understanding of the medium has evolved…I think we can sustain a “main shared universe” AND offshoots with alternate takes on characters & different actors existing simultaneously.

What Vogt-Roberts is describing is essentially a comics model being ported over into the film medium: a main, ongoing story with wildly different side stories alternately slotted into the yearly release schedule. It’s Lucasfilm’s promise at its fullest potential: instead of only releasing Star Wars prequels bogged down with fitting in with the larger narrative, open up the universe to include all sorts of offshoots in addition to a singular, ongoing story.

But while it sounds like Vogt-Roberts gave audiences the benefit of the doubt that they’d be able to handle that kind of model, it seems the WB execs who rejected his pitch don’t have the same faith that people would be able to figure out what they’re watching…at least, not yet. What do you think? Would introducing truly standalone stories within the DCEU be a decision you’d support with your dollars? Or should they continue to lay the groundwork to establish their own main narrative before getting more ambitious with their storytelling?

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