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Why Rebooting Superman Is A Bad Idea For Warner Brothers

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The Dark Knight, according to Box Office Mojo, has made over $800 million dollars worldwide. In the wake of its financial success, Warner Brothers (which made The Dark Knight) has announced that several movies will be made from the DC Comics universe into movies with a similar style to that of The Dark Knight. That, in conclusion, means a series of Dark Knight rip-offs.

I understand that Hollywood is looking to familiar properties and remakes of previous films to get people to purchase tickets. I also understand that Warner Brothers has the right to bank on their recent success with The Dark Knight in order to stay in the forever changing film industry. I do not understand, however, why the style of The Dark Knight has to be incorporated into Superman.

It is true that Superman Returns didn’t do as well as Warner Brothers hoped domestically, according to Box Office Mojo, as it made only $200 million in box office sales (it cost $270 million). But according to that same site, the film made an extra $191 million dollars overseas in box office sales. Combine the two amounts, that adds up to $391 million dollars.

This is not including the $81 million dollars made from the DVD sales of the film. Add that to the $391 million figure from Box Office Mojo, and you’ll find that the film actually made about $472 million dollars. That doesn’t sound like a complete failure to me.

Warner Brothers should stick to their guns and push forth with what they already have, instead of being like an insecure high school kid following the pack. Superman is not like Batman. One is moody; the other is hopeful. They are opposites with different personalities. Why make them one and the same?

Superman III made a half-assed attempt at turning The Man Of Steel into a sleaze. It could have made an already bad movie better, but it came off as sudden and seemed like a detour in the Richard Pryor “mad genius” main plot. If Warners attempts to darken Superman next time around, it actually has to fit the character and not change the overall makeup of the character.

People seem to forget that the key, or at least one of the keys, to the success of The Dark Knight, was the death of Heath Ledger, who played the Joker in the Christopher Nolan directed film. Films shrouded with an actor’s recent death sometimes get a boost. It certainly worked for Brandon Lee’s own cult masterpiece.

Actor deaths cannot be repeated. Heath Ledger is gone. Warner has to realize that as they twiddle their thumbs for another sequel for The Caped Crusader that they won’t ever get that lucky again. That means they better have — wait for it — a good script to show they don’t need an unfortunate death to boost box office sales.

Richard Donner, who directed the first Reeve Superman movie, always went on about how you had to believe that the actor chosen to play Superman was Superman. This logic (expanded) could also be applied to making franchise films. If you can’t find the right actors and script for any superhero film franchise, you'll end up with crap.

Unfortunately, I fear with Warners' illogical thinking, that the Superman franchise will have two “reboots.”

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About Matthew Milam

  • Jordan Richardson

    This incessant need to “reboot” franchises is getting to be a bit much. Now they’re “rebooting” movie franchises that are less than 3-5 years old and it smacks of desperation. Where’s the creativity?

  • http://theotherchad.blogspot.com/ The Other Chad

    While I don’t agree with trying to turn Superman into the style of Nolan’s Batman movies, I still say REBOOT THE FRANCHISE, for the love of God. Just thinking about “Returns” puts me in a bad mood. Everything about it sucked.

  • Titan

    Does this mean Tom Welling has another shot?

  • Ronnie

    The Dark Knight was going to make around 350-400 million without the death of Ledger and had a great script, to me and many others it’s just that dang good. The main problem isn’t that they’d have to bank on someone dying, it’s that Superman shouldn’t be a dark brooding anti-hero. If you want the film to be dark most of that has to come from the villian, not Superman himself.

    A reboot is a good thing IMO because it gets rid of the illadvised super kid story line. Overall the film wasn’t that bad but what were they thinking with that one??? Give it a good script and a good villian and it will make 300 million domestic and another 400 million worldwide…easy. With a budget of around 200 million it would turn a tidy profit then hit DVD and bluray and make a bunch more money.

    It all hinges on that good script and good villian.

  • Casey

    The discussion for Superman’s reboot can wait for another day – either introduce a baddie Supes can either fight (Brainiac, anyone?) or go back to square one, all the while keeping Routh aboard – but I have one question:

    Did you really just say “the key, or at least one of the keys, to the success of The Dark Knight, was the death of Heath Ledger?” No, my friend – his death was not “the key,” nor should you think it was even close. The factor the morbidity played was minimal. Real, but minimal. For you to even insinuate that his death was “one of the keys” to the Dark Knight’s success – not Heath’s preternatural performance, or the airtight plot, or the unscrupulous writing of Jonah Nolan, to say nothing of Chris Nolan/Christian Bale/Gary Oldman/Space Chimps – is simply naive.

  • Charles

    Superman Returns proved there is an appetite for a Superman Movie; unfortunately Returns didn’t deliver. Singer deserves credit from rescuing the Character from development hell, recognising that Donner Movies added to the Mythos; BUT Returns became a half hearted sequel come remake, with one memorable scene, the Plane Catch, and a climax where we see Superman fight a big rock.
    What did he add that was new? A deadbeat dad Superman, a Superman that abandon’s earth?
    Most people don’t care what happens to Bosworth’s Lois and boyfriend. or what happens to the big rock, or Spacey’s Luthor.
    These loose threads would only contaminate a more action orientated sequel – so a reboot is logical.
    Personally I hope dark means adult and serious, not a black leather costume for example.
    Personally 2. I’d reboot Superman in the 1930’s – to put clear blue water between the reboot and Returns/Donner/etc AND the glut of contemporary post 911 superhero fliks – and evolve the character from his true gritty origins in the depression – gaining experience and powers such as flight – then intelligently bring Superman via a sci-fi sequel to the present day to tie in with a DC universe. A period origin would also tie in with Wonder Woman who is also a historic fantasy character.

  • http://childoftv.blogspot.com Brent

    There IS an appetite for a Superman movie. The problem that “Superman Returns” had, which anyone with a lick of sense should probably have been able to figure out, is that it was attempting to revive a series of films that had shut down twenty years before. Following the same logic, “Batman Begins” should in fact have tried to revive the series that finished (mercifully so) with the George Clooney film. Start from a clean slate and build from that.

  • Torian

    It’s a bad idea because I tohught Returns was terrific. Rebooting is not the answer.
    The sequel must come.

  • Anthony

    No, rebooting it’s a fresh start.
    Titan, I do hope Tom Welling gets another shot for the role. He’s earned the right to be given a chance on the big screen and spent 10 years building his character, gaining the most experience and potetial for the part and at the same time, becoming a better than he was few years back. He is capable of taking the character to the next step and making him finally fly and eventually becoming the hero h was set out to be; not as Clark, not as the “blur”. Superman.
    He’s earned it.