Some major developments for the sequel to Superman Returns, tentatively titled Superman: The Man of Steel, hit the web today in quick succession. First, IESB reports that they’ve received “100%” confirmation that Bryan Singer will return to direct the flick and they’ve also heard that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek) are in major talks to replace Returns scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris.
And then, later today Empire actually chatted with Singer, who not only confirmed his “intent” to direct, but once again defended Returns‘ poor critical, fanboy and box office reception, while playing up action in the sequel…
“That movie made $400 million!” Singer says to Empire. “I don’t know what constitutes under-performing these days…Look, I can understand, I suppose, what some people mean. Perhaps some people went in with the expectation of it being like an X-Men film, and Superman is a tougher character than that. Especially bringing him back. It really goes back to the fact that you can only please some of the people some of the time. But, yes, I’m just getting back with writers after the strike. We’re just in the development phase. I’m starting to develop a sequel…with the intention of directing it.”
He goes on to jokingly jab at female fans who went ga-ga over Superman Returns, while mentioning the sequel’s upped stakes…
“The first one was a romantic film and a nostalgic film,” he says. “I’ll be the first person to own up to that without making any apologies for it. I knew it was going to be that from the outset. And now that the characters are established, there’s really an opportunity to up the threat levels…Clearly there’ll be a body count [laughs]. From frame one, it will be unrelenting terror! All those teenage girls who found the movie and mooned over James Marsden or Brandon? Well, I’m going to wake them up!”
I’m moderately surprised that Warner Bros. is going ahead with a sequel rather than scrapping it and revamping the character once again a la The Incredible Hulk or Punisher: War Zone. Not to sound like a smirk jerk, but the first film, which cost $200 million (I’ll still add an ! to that), totally blew it in my opinion and was basically one of the largest pet-projects ever. A Superman movie should reign supreme over all comic book films in terms of epic-ness, scope, special effects and box office, but even if Man of Steel boasts more action, it’ll still be difficult to get stoked after the first faux-weepy, overly nostalgic bummer.
Update (2 a.m. EST): CHUD reports that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are definitely not attached to pen the Man of Steel screenplay.
Discuss: Can Singer knock a sequel out of the park? Moreover was the only complaint about the first film merely action-related?
A sequel to Superman Returns has been in limbo since the beginning. Warner Bros was unhappy with how the film performed, and fans were unhappy with the lack of action and unnecessary out-of-canon third act plot twist. But director Bryan Singer showed up at Comic Con expressing his desire to make a sequel that would give the fans what they wanted. Warner later announced that Superman: Man of Steel was given the official go-ahead, and a June 2009 release date was touted. Then Singer got distracted by the Tom Cruise WWII film, and a Justice League movie appeared seemingly out of nowhere.
Variety’s Anne Thompson wrote a blog post last week which I quickly dismissed as an opinion piece. But I’ve since been told that the comments were more fact based than opinion. So here are Anne’s comments about the current state of the Superman sequel, Justice League and third Batman film:
“Speaking of DC Comics pics, it is highly unlikely that Bryan Singer will return to shoot the next Superman movie. (The director is finishing up Tom Cruise’s Nazi film Valkyrie, and prepping The Mayor of Castro Street). The next Superman we will see on the big screen will not be Brandon Routh, but a younger Superman among a cast of youthful superheroes in The Justice League. That movie will likely not be shot, however, until after the WGA strike is resolved. Warners is so happy with Dark Knight that their fondest hope is that Nolan will return to do another Batman.”
Warner appears to want to do a total reboot with the DC comic line-up, aside from their successful Batman franchise. So it sounds to me like Routh might also be out as Superman (ie read: MY SPECULATION, not Anne’s), which is a shame considering he didn’t do a bad job. Plus, why bring Singer’s extra baggage on for Justice and the sequel? It’s bad enough that they’ll have two Batmans to market.
And while I love Singer, and wish he would return for Man of Steel, I must admit it’s a smart move by the Warner execs to cast a new Superman for Justice League. They’re planning for a franchise. They want a young star who can take on a trilogy or two.
But Warner Bros doesn’t understand is that fans don’t want the teen titans. They don’t want more-cartoony. But this appears to be the direction they are heading towards. I’m convinced that fans want dark and edgy, real but tounge firmly in cheek, action packed but with a dramatic backbone. Why can’t the studios look back at how the former comic book movie franchises fell, and see that this is the wrong move to make? Maybe because while most everyone I’ve talked to hated Spider-Man 3, it is still the 12th highest grossing film of all time. And with statisics like that floating around, executives are likely to believe that fans want things like multiple villains and corny dance sequences in Jazz clubs.
And it’s a shame because I think Singer could have made an incredible Superman sequel if he was given the space. But that film, we might never ever see.
Bad News: It looks like Bryan Singer will be filming The Mayor of Castro Street before the Superman Returns sequel after all.
Good News: This morning it was announced that Kevin Spacey has signed on to return as Lex Luthor in Superman: Man of Steel.
Spacey hopes to shoot his part during a six-week block, as he did on the first film, after he completes his run in David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow” in April. Variety confirms that Singer will direct Castro next before going into production on Man of Steel early next year. A June 2009 release date had been previously announced, but who knows if they will be able to meet that now. I’m just glad they are making a sequel to Superman Returns as it wasn’t as financially successful as they would have hoped. I was in the faction that loved the film. Did it need more action? Sure. But this was not that type of story. But don’t worry, Singer has promised to go all “Wrath of Khan” in the sequel.