August 22, 2008

Saving Superman

Warner Bets on Fewer, Bigger Movies -

I think the WSJ article above is somewhat encouraging to me, as both a movie fan and a comic fan on a number of levels:
  1. I think we can all finally agree that "Superman Returns" was a failure.
  2. I think we can all finally agree that a "JLA" movie as a spin-off spaminator is a bad idea.
  3. I think we're all starting to agree that comic book movies do not have to be aimed at small children, since comic books themselves stopped being aimed at them at least 20 years ago.
I'm still a bit antsy about this "Green Arrow/SuperMax" movie, because I'd rather see Green Arrow as Green Arrow, not as the superhero version of Tom Selleck in "An Innocent Man". I'm also concerned that the studio may be making the same mistaken assumption about superhero storytelling that the comic industry made in the late '80's in the wake of the success of "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen": namely, that all superheroes need to be dark, grim, and gritty. Yes, it can work for certain characters - Batman, Wolverine, The Punisher, Green Arrow, even Wonder Woman to an extent (I mean, the S&M aspects built into that character from the very beginning are just too rich to ignore).

But Superman is different.

And, frankly, all this talk about how Superman is no longer relevant in today's world is a bunch of B.S. In fact, I think Superman is even MORE relevant than ever.

What most don't seem to get is that the best Superman stories are, essentially, morality plays. When you can do ANYTHING, it's not the physical obstacles that are the challenges, it's the CHOICES you must make.

Moreover, Superman's purpose is not just to save us physically, but to save our spirits by inspiring us to be better.

Honestly, in my dream version of "Superman Returns", he comes back and finds that the Earth has turned into....

naw. Can't give that one away. I may still get the call. :-)

Point being, you don't hire Paul Greengrass to direct a Superman movie. With the right script, I actually really like the idea of Tim Burton - the Tim Burton who did "Big Fish" and "Mars Attacks", not "Nightmare Before Christmas" Burton - making it into a sort of modern fairytale.

On second thought, the guy who could REALLY do it right would have been Luc Besson from about 10 years ago - Leelo Dallas was basically a female version of Superman.

In short, I'm cautiously optimistic. I'll relax when I see someone with real DC Comic street cred step up to be the Warner's equivalent of Avi Arad.