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Does the World Need a Superman (Movie)?

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Today's big news was, of course, the announcement that Warner Bros is in fact going ahead with yet another Superman reboot. That's not terribly surprising, as various litigation involving the heirs of Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel has made it of paramount importance that Warner Bros gets a new Superman film off the ground by 2011. But what is genuinely shocking is that Chris Nolan has been brought on to apparently 'oversee' the film. He's not (as of yet) directing it, and I'm not even sure at this point that he's producing it, but apparently Warner wants his name on the project in one form or another. And yes, buried in this information is the fact that John Nolan and David Goyer have begun writing a third Batman film. Good for them and best of luck.

Oh, slight digression, Nikki Finke's article contains yet another author basically libeling every Batman writer over the last forty years by claiming that Chris Nolan's Batman Begins was "was rebooted according to Frank Miller's film noirish take on Batman." Wrong, wrong, wrong! Nolan's Batman reboot, like Tim Burton's before him, was based on any number of Batman interpretations. At best you can give Frank Miller a token amount of credit for the second act of Batman Begins, which uses elements from Batman: Year One. If anything, the first two Nolan pictures were at least partially rooted in the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale epics The Long Halloween and Dark Victory. But of course, as we all know, anything and everything good about Batman since the 60s TV show went off the air is completely to the credit of Frank Miller.

OK, the good news is that Warner Bros. is obviously very happy with Christopher Nolan's Inception. And the equally good news is that the Chris and John Nolan and David Goyer seem to be off and running with a third Batman picture, one that will be made on their schedule and at their discretion. But really, is Warner that stupid to presume that the work Nolan did on Batman makes him appropriate for Superman? Does anyone think that Superman Returns disappointed (in relation to expectations and its $270 million-budget) because it wasn't dark and gritty enough? Superman Returns underwhelmed because it was a confused film, unsure whether to be its own thing or a direct sequel to the Richard Donner Superman (and arguably, the Richard Donner cut of Superman II). It also had, at its core, a fatally flawed concept (that Superman vanished for five years and was mortified to learn that his friends and family had the gall to move on with their lives). Someone made a bad movie, period. These things happen. Just because Chris Nolan's filmography (which deals with moral men plunging into immoral waters with seemingly just cause) works so well for the film noir world of Gotham City doesn't mean he has any business hanging out in Metropolis.Christopher Nolan is arguably my favorite current working director. But there are a dozen other directors (or 'shepherds') who are better suited to revitalizing the big screen Superman franchise. Michael Bay, if he gets a good screenplay and a short leash, would be pitch-perfect for an insanely huge, thunderously patriotic ode to 'truth, justice, and the American way'. David Fincher would be great for a film that deals with the overwhelming responsibility of having godlike powers on a war-torn planet like ours. Kathryn Bigelow or Michael Mann could craft epics dealing with Clark Kent's heroics as his profession and how it shapes him as a man. Heck, Aaron Sorkin's rapid-fire dialogue, overwhelming sense of importance, and downright corny idealism would be a great match for the property. Point being, I've already seen Christopher Nolan's take on Batman. I'd much prefer to see someone else make Superman their own. Frankly, this was the same reason I wasn't thrilled when Bryan Singer jumped into Superman Returns. Singer's playground was (and now is again) the X-Men franchise. He should have let someone else make their mark with the Man of Steel. Same goes for Nolan. Or, here's an even easier idea. You want a Superman movie that reboots the series, reestablishes the origin in a modern-day context and manages to include Lex Luthor AND the kind of epic-scope super heroics that have been missing of late? Mark Waid already wrote your movie back in 2004. It's called Superman: Birthright. Take that 314-page comic book, make it into a workable screenplay, hire the Michael Bay who made The Rock and call it a day. THAT's the Superman movie that everyone has been waiting for. Because the world doesn't really need a new Superman movie, but that doesn't meant we wouldn't want one. And a good Superman picture will be welcome with open arms.