Friday, 12 February 2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Superman: The Movie of Steel

Apparently Christopher Nolan will be guiding Superman into his next movie outing. He probably won't be directing but I reckon this is still good news considering Nolan was behind two of the best superhero movies ever, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. But what kind of Superman movie will it be? Mark Millar, the writer responsible for Ultimates, Kick-Ass and Wanted has been discussing his ideas for a Superman trilogy for a few years now. Nolan would do well to get Millar on board. Millar knows how to turn comics to film. Wanted and Kick-Ass have been transformed into movies, and Ultimates was written as a great, big movie pitch for an Avengers film, with Nick Fury drawn as Samuel L. Jackson six years before he would actually play that role. The main reason to get Millar on board however is that his pitch sounds fantastic.

“It’s gonna be like Michael Corleone in the Godfather films, the entire story from beginning to end, you see where he starts, how he becomes who he becomes, and where that takes him.....I want to start on Krypton, a thousand years ago, and end with Superman alone on Planet Earth, the last being left on the planet, as the yellow sun turns red and starts to supernova, and he loses his powers."

These themes and ideas have obviously been with Millar for years. For example, in Superman: Red Son (spoiler alert) Superman lives long enough to see the destruction of Earth. Even way back in 1998, in Flash #141, Millar has the Flash running two billion years into the future and observing the Earth "engulfed by its own red sun with only a bearded man in bright red boots still alive to mourn it." Millar's been planning this for awhile. Mr Nolan, give him a shot!

Like all overweight, bearded social retards with an internet connection, I have my own opinions on what the new Superman film should feature.

1. No Luthor!

Don't get me wrong, I love Lex Luthor and I think he's the greatest comic book villain ever. But we've had Luthor in Superman 1, 2, 4 and Returns and in Superman 3 Robert Vaughn was Luthor in all but name. Let's give another villain a shot. And let's forget the real estate swindles and nuclear bombs. Let's give Supes a proper world threatening baddie that'll push him to his limits. Zod and his cronies worked really well in Superman 2. Superman 4 also had the right idea with Nuclear Man in that he was a villain who was Superman's equal in strength. The only drawback of course is that Superman 4 was a big pile of Milton Keynes based poo. Even without Luthor there's still plenty to choose from. How about Bizarro, Doomsday, Parasite, Mongul, Metallo, Darkseid or Brainiac? Superman repelling an alien invasion would be great, imagine WarWorld on the big screen!

2. Without his powers he should still kick ass!

I was one of the five Superman fans in the world who liked Superman Returns. Despite this however I do have a problem with this film. Superman gets his ass thoroughly kicked as soon as he loses his powers. I'm not saying that he shouldn't have got beaten. The hero of the film has to get the crap kicked out him once in a while because it makes it all the more satisfying when he comes back and triumphs at the end. But he goes down so easily! In Superman 2 Clark Kent at least invites that redneck who's nicked his seat to "step outside" before he gets slapped about. But in Superman Returns Supes hardly gets a punch in before he's rolling around in a puddle. One of my favourite Superman moments occurs in JLA: Foreign Bodies. Superman is trapped in the body of the villain Kobra. Kobra meanwhile is in the body of Batman. So Superman is powerless and he has to face off against one of the world's foremost martial artists, who is occupying the body of another of the world's foremost martial artists. And Superman wins! As Superman points out "There's practice, then there's experience." And Superman goes toe to toe with people like Doomsday and the Parasite, who are more or less his equal in strength, every day! That is the kind of Superman I'd like to see in the movie.

3. A good actress playing Lois

Superman is a character who's pretty hard to identify with. He's the guy we want to be rather than the guy we see ourselves as. So Lois Lane is a very important character. She's the human anchor that brings Superman and the audience down to Earth. Richard Donner and Margot Kidder got this. In the first Superman movie Lois smokes, she spells things wrong, she's accidentally rude to Clark, she gets flustered talking to Superman, she gets changed in the bog for a meeting with the President, she's human! Margot Kidder herself, as well as being a fantastic actress, is a beautiful woman but in a very ordinary way. She's not Hollywood beautiful, she's Eastenders beautiful. If you worked in a newspaper office, you could easily expect to see Margot Kidder's Lois Lane working on the desk opposite you. Before we believe a man can fly we have to believe in Lois Lane as a character. Then, as Lois starts to believe in Superman, we do too. In Superman Returns Lois Lane, arguably the most important character in the film, was played by a generic Hollywood actress who looked and acted like a thousand other Hollywood actresses. I'm a slightly overweight 28 year old bearded man from Wales and I would have been a more believable Lois!

4. If we're gonna see Krypton, let's see Krypton

Crystals were all well and good in the seventies and eighties, but nowadays we need to see the super, sci-fi wet dream of Krypton from the comics. Let's see the Scarlet Jungle, the Gold Volcano, the Fire-Falls and the Jewel Mountains. Let's see the crazy animals! The giant mole who has to be kept in the glass cage 'cos he eats metal. The beast with the tusk that gives you immortality, but you can't get near him 'cos he smells so bad. Let's see Kryptonopolis, Atomic Town and the Kandor Crater!  But let's not see Vathlo, the island where all the black people on Krypton live. Immortal stink beasts are cool, racial segregation is not.

5. The Legion of Superheroes

I might be on my own with this one, but bear with me. If Superman is joined by his buddies from the 31st Century then the audience would get a Superman movie that they've never seen before and Warner Bros. would get potential movie spin offs and lots of characters to put on merchandise and action figures. Everybody wins! Of course the next Superman film would probably have to be Legion-free and set in the usual places (Krypton/Smallville/Metropolis) in order to establish who Superman is for a new generation. But a sequel set in the 31st Century would be amazing! Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Superman and the Legion of Superheroes would make a great movie. Superman finds himself in the 31st Century on an Earth dominated by super powered villains who have whipped the people of Earth into a xenophobic, alien hating frenzy. Powerless under a red sun, Superman must search for and reunite his old teenage gang, the Legion of Superheroes in order to free the Earth from tyrrany! Who wouldn't want to see that in the cinema? It's like the Blues Brothers with super powers! Contrasting the grim situations of the adult Legionnaires with flashbacks to their care free, teenage adventures with Superboy would give us many a poignant movie moment. Also, xenophobia and racism are always relevant themes. The Legion contains characters like Lightning Lad, Chameleon Boy, Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl, characters that have the kind of powers that kids give themseleves when they're playing. Indeed many of the characters were created by a kid. Jim Shooter was 14 years old when he began writing stories for the Legion in Adventure Comics in 1966. I honestly believe that such a movie could work and I can see the right kind of movie making the Legion bigger than the X-Men.

6. The right guy playing Superman

Anyone but this guy.

Update: IGN have a cool article that echoes a few of the opinions expressed in this blog post. Check it out.