Reinventing Superman with Man of Steel

Everyone has probably already seen the teaser trailer for Man of Steel, which played before The Dark Knight Rises.

Both Batman and Superman are Warner Brothers franchises, and director Christopher Nolan is also producing Steel, the second attempt to reboot Superman in less than ten years.

David Goyer, who penned Batman Begins and the Blade series, also co-wrote Man of Steel, so Collider immediately pointed out the similarities between the new Superman and Nolan’s Batman films.

Addressing the similarities, Goyer said, “What Christopher Nolan and I have done with Superman is try to bring the same naturalistic approach that we adopted for the Batman trilogy. We always had a naturalistic approach, we want our stories to be rooted in reality, like they could happen in the same world we live in. It’s not that easy with Superman, and actually this doesn’t necessarily mean we will make a dark movie.”

Indeed, Batman and Superman are completely different entities as superheroes, and it would be foolish to treat it with a one-size-fits all approach. The late Tom Mankiewicz, who did major rewrites on Superman I and II behind the scenes, was the first screenwriter on Batman in the eighties, and Warners was dismayed when he turned in a dark script.

Warners clearly wanted another Superman, but Mankiewicz had to explain that Batman is a much darker scenario. This guy’s not an alien masquerading as the all-American boy on earth, he’s a billionaire running around in his underwear, beating the sh*t out of criminals. The irony is, when Batman finally got made in 1989 with Tim Burton directing, it was a much darker movie than Mankiewicz wrote.

Like the Hulk, Superman’s been having a hard time making it on the big screen lately. As you probably recall, Superman Lives had a tortured development back in the 90’s, where Nicholas Cage was going to play the man of steel, Kevin Smith wrote the screenplay, and Tim Burton was going to direct. A lot of money went down the drain in “pay or play” deals, a contract provision where the principals got their fees whether the movie gets made or not, and when Bryan Singer finally made his vision of Superman in 2006, it didn’t set the world on fire, hence the current reboot.

It’s great that Christopher Nolan’s going to be helping, and I’m very curious to see what he could bring to the table for a Superman flick, but the concern right now is director Zack Snyder. Snyder hit the mark with the Dawn of the Dead remake and 300, delivered a flawed but admirably risky adaptation of Watchmen, then completely missed the mark with Sucker Punch. With the Avengers, the Hulk finally hit the bulls-eye on the big screen, so here’s hoping we’ll get a cool new Superman for this generation as well.

Man of Steel, which stars Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Costner, hits theaters June 14, 2013.