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What Chris Nolan Could Bring To Superman

Posted on Tuesday February 9, 2010, 17:22 by James White in Off The Wire
What Chris Nolan Could Bring To Superman

It’s been a tough few years for Clark Kent and his superhero alter ego (or is it the other way round, as Quentin Tarantino had David Carradine argue?) but with the recent speculation that Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan will be helping to oversee Superman’s return to the screen, things might finally be looking up.

Like any decision regarding the Man of Steel, it’s bound to be a controversial one: the character has been around for so long and so many people (including Richard Donner and, more recently, Bryan Singer) have tried their hand at making a movie based on him, to varying levels of success, that no one can seemingly please everyone.

But Nolan has a solid, proven track record with DC/Warners’ other heavy hitter, Batman and while he has no plans to ditch Gotham City for Metropolis (he has his brother and David Goyer are currently working on the script), and likely won’t end up directing whatever new Supes film arrives, I’d argue he’s a great choice to at least help guide the development of Superman’s next step.

While his take on Batman gave a new coat of paint to the character’s origins and brought a much heavier real-world aesthetic to Bruce Wayne’s adventures, I doubt he’d want to push the same thing on Superman. The Dark Knight’s detective side is easy to bring down to a more realistic level, whereas Superman demands a much more comic book-influenced tone. He has powers and he uses them to incredible ends.

But whereas Bryan Singer played up the Good Boy Scout aspects of the character, which left him largely neutered and the film lacking a truly great set piece, Nolan can push for something a little more textured. Not necessarily darker, though – that rarely works for Superman.

Plus, the studio has likely learned from its experience with Tim Burton so many years ago – while his gothic stylings worked well to relaunch Batman, his struggles to get Superman back in the air proved that darker/quirkier isn’t right for the last son of Krypton.

Perhaps Nolan can inject some new life into the franchise – pushing a relatable story (not the whiny, ‘why-doesn’t-Lois-love-me’ line of Superman Returns, but something that speaks to the dual-sided existence of Clark and his caped persona).

And villains. Kevin Spacey took a stab at Lex Luthor, but never quite pulled it off. Compare that to the astounding, Oscar-grabbing work from Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. If Nolan knows something, it’s how to fashion a great take on a comic book baddie. Superman's rogues gallery may suffer in comparison to other costumed crusaders, but there are several great enemies that Nolan could figure out a new take on – Doomsday? Bizarro? Even (whisper it) Zod and co.

While Singer plunged ahead with his attempt to homage and virtually remake the Donner film, we’d like to think Nolan would strike out in another direction and do what Marvel seems to be accomplishing – bringing in big comic writers (like, say Mark Millar, who was pushing his own vision for the character last year) as a brain trust to help him guide Superman. And as for the script itself, it’s not like he doesn’t have easy access to the likes of his brother Jonah Nolan and co-writer David Goyer to pitch and polish ideas. If this truly represents Warners’ plan to get its superhero collection in order, then Nolan’s involvement might also put an end to the Justice League idea – with him having closer control on how Superman develops, perhaps we can avoid the car-crash idea of combining a load of heroes together. Or, if it really must go ahead, at least keeping Batman firmly within Nolan’s powers-free universe for now.

Finally, who hasn’t yearned to see Christian Bale play Superman? Just kidding!

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1 Jeehde2
Posted on Tuesday February 9, 2010, 20:43
I liked Superman Returns, movie had many great aspects.

But Nolan doing his thing, can't wait to see how it turns out. Bring it on.

2 tjhyman
Posted on Tuesday February 9, 2010, 20:50
Nolan may be the perfect choice to help guide a new Superman movie into fruition for 2012(ish) release. He knew how to take on a 6th Batman movie (Dark Knight) and make it the best one of all. Maybe he can do the same with what will also be the 6th Superman movie.

It's true Superman is more delicate - you can't just say, let's make it dark and people will come. It needs colour, it needs light, it needs quirky comedy, subtle romance, astounding visual effects, big action set-pieces and a great villain (Zod or Doomsday?).

Keep Brandon Routh on (he still has great, unleashed potential to portray the split persona / dual identities of Clark and Supes), but do away with all else from Superman Returns (including the dark suit!).

3 drunk7days
Posted on Tuesday February 9, 2010, 20:53
I quite enjoyed Superman Returns but I agree that it was somewhat lacking and they kinda painted themselves into a corner with the superboy thing but I felt it was a great setup for a "Wrath of Khan" esk sequel (more action, better villian) which, sadly, will probably not happen now.

They'll probably completely reboot dispite the last film not being that long ago (very Spider-man) and recast. I just really hope that Brandon Routh stays as Supes - he was excellent (and may or may not be a clone of Christopher Reeves) and truly deserves a break. Plus I can't think of anyone to even remotely replace him.

4 newbury
Posted on Tuesday February 9, 2010, 23:15
Nolan should seek the counsel of Richard Donner.
If these two put their heads together, we'd have a hell of a Superman Movie.

5 Calsterman
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 01:12
I gotta say that I liked Superman Returns, it was dry and slow in parts but it was still a really good film. Admittedly though for this franchise to survive maybe a reboot is the best option. I think that Brandon Routh should get another crack at the man of steel, he was great in both the role of Clark Kent and Superman.

But the tradition of rebooting a franchise pretty much scuppers any chance of that. But hey, when you have a guy this good in the role, why not bring him back. But back tracking here, Nolan's influence on the project can only be a good thing, he has never made a bad movie in his career and a guy like him should ensure that another Superman film will happen sooner rather than later.

6 Arkduune
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 09:22
Absolutely detested Superman Returns. Everything about the movie offended me. I found it excruciatingly painful to watch Routh as the man of steel. Bosworth was annoying. Spacey was enjoyable, just because he's Kevin Spacey and not for his Lex Luthor. The story was unoriginal and dull, and don't get me started on that Super Brat angle.

Worst. Comic Book Movie. Ever. (Yes, even worse than Catwoman and Ghost Rider)

I still love coming here to discuss films, but I can no longer listen to a single word Empire say's after that 5 star review they gave.

As for Nolan on Superman. Meh. I feel he was able to deliver a phenomenal Batman movie, because it was suited to his style. It was a character/ world which played to a lot of Nolan's strengths. Superman though? I don't think so. He's a great addition to the team putting together another Superman film, since he's obviously a great writer and visualist, however I'm not sure he's ideal to captain the ship. There needs to be another Rami (Spiderman)/ Singer (X-Men) or Nolan (Batman) for the Superman franchise. Or maybe team them up as a Director's Justice League to make the be all, end all Supe's flick. I'd go check that out ..... or ..... GIVE KEVIN SMITH ANOTHER GO !!

7 JimKing75
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 09:38
Superman is a toughy, and Superman II is probably the best of the them so far (great villains, cracking story and no origins nonsense to get through).

Nolan would need to be brave and be prepared to embrace the comic-book style for this to work (rather than the more real-world feel he has adopted for the Dark Knight) - and at all costs avoid yet another re-telling of his origins.

Brandon Routh was great, but perhaps too like Christopher Reeves for his own good?

8 monkey_roo
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 11:15
Interesting that there is constant talk of rebooting the superman franchise, when Warner has an excellent incarnation of superman on the small screen. For the most part Smallville has been fantastic over the last 8 odd years and with the current season looking like it will be the last it seems perfect poised to evolve into Superman on the big screen and with Tom Welling already well established in that role and all the ‘Origin’ stories told and no Luthor to worry about if they stick to the mythology they have created the possibilities are vast.

9 mookymook
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 12:23
Is this building up to the Superman vs Batman film referenced in 'I Am Legend'...?

10 thelas
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 12:30
I am a massive Nolan fan, have been since the release of Memento (and retrospectively forward from Following).

However, considering the dark, serious and humourless nature of practically every film he has made, does anyone not share my concern that perhaps he isn't best suited to making a film about Superman, which is not dark, overly serious or humourless.

I am concerned that the studio execs are looking for the current "winning formula" for comic book adaptations rather than what suits the source material.

I am sure Nolan could make a good Superman film, but I can't imagine he will make a good Superman film loyal to the intended tone of the Superman fables.

11 thelas
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 12:35
Back to topic, what I would like to see (and perhaps this would suit Nolan) is for Metropolis to be a large scale city, a dark place, hopeless, and with a figure (Luthor) who is truly despicable (media mogul, abuse of power, selling out his country for profit etc) rather than a ridiculous mad caper Luthor (a la Superman Returns).

I am sure Nolan could perfectly setup that world.

And Superman would bring real hope, light, enthusiasm, justice, and stand for "the American Way" (the dream rather than the reality) throughout the 2nd half

Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 13:32
superman movie should bizzare and zodi or doomsday,


13 crazymoviesdude
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 13:34
Thelas, I agree a little, though Metropolis should never be dark. It can be a little hopeless, but not dark. Gotham is night, Metropolis is day. They are discribed as NYC's 'ugly sisters', but still, Metropolis shouldn't go all moody.

14 workingsushi
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 17:57
to bad superman sucks.

15 exandakane
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 19:38
Superman Returns was great; and how is that shuttle rescue above the baseball pitch not a great set piece? I'd actually muster the argument that it rivalled any in Nolan's Batman films.

16 norman365
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 23:27
The campaign for Mark Millar's epic superman trilogy begins here!

With kick ass' five star review (it's ok empire wossy spilt the beans on twitter a few weeks back)his stock has never been higher, this is his lifelong dream (so much so he even
Offered to write it for free when talk of the next supes film came up) and what's more his idea I personally think is brilliant; a story that begins with his arrival on earth and ends with him alone as the last living thing on earth. Does that not sound intriguing?

17 norman365
Posted on Wednesday February 10, 2010, 23:45
As for superhero team ups, the X-men didn't work out bad (well two out of three) and we've yet to see what will become of the avengers...

18 cheekyfacedmonkey
Posted on Thursday February 11, 2010, 10:01
I am a big Superman fan. Although a liked Superman Returns, its was wet. Superman has never been portrayed in the movies as the character is in the comic world. He is THE SUPERMAN. yes he loves Lois, we all know that. But I want to see him move planets, fly into the sun, obliterate armies with his heat vision. Can Nolan do that? would it work? Damn I'd pay to see it. Would Nolan play it down to Batman levels? who knows, but dont think so. with his team could finally make a Superman movie Super.

19 oddzag
Posted on Thursday February 11, 2010, 10:29
I don't hold any particular nostalgia for the Donner films (bit before my time), and the Singer film was...well...disappointing to say the least. What I do remember is the two recent TV shows - Lois and Clark and Smallville. If some of the same imagination (and re-imagination in Smallville's case) went into a new Superman film I'd be very excited to see it. We've seen that the traditional representations of the characters are outmoded and outdated - they all feel faintly ridiculous and caricatures of themselves. Most of the target audience for this film will be teenagers, people who more than likely grew up with the TV shows and not the Donner films.
The new films needs to reflect this. Instead of rehashing Donner concepts it needs to bring about new thought. The villains were always campy and ridiculous - have a more rounded character. Luthor has always been just a money grabbing big businessman (in the films at least), perhaps they could do what Smallville has done and introduce a more personal connection between villain and hero.

20 Mulholland Empire
Posted on Monday February 15, 2010, 20:22
Nolan getting involved with the Superman films is great news. I do hope that he keeps the theme music and I thought Brandon Routh was excellent as Superman so would hope he is cast again.
From a villan point of view I would be glad not to see Lex as the main bad guy again, would like to see Braniac as I feel Nolan could put a very intelligent spin on this charcater.

Superman Returns certainly had its moments but the plane saving sequence was the highlight and was used far to early. The tone also proved a bit wonky, Superman being attacked by Lex's goons is way to violent and there is no satisfying pay off when they are crushed by a big rock. We all cheered when Superman went back to deal with the trucker in number 2 and this humour needs to be retained as it didn't cheapen it at all and was pitched just right.

Personally I would like them to avoid making more of a connection between Superman and Lex, the shrinking of the universe as seen in Star Wars did not help (why does everyone and everything happen on Tatooine if its the back end of nowhere) so feel they need to keep this broad. Thats why Braniac could be a good choice for a villan, he could represent more of a worldwide threat.

I'm excited about Nolan and hoping it will lead to another great film featuring my all time favourite superhero.

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