Making a Superman Movie

Date: January 2002
Author: Tim Wright (trwdayspring@aol.com)
Copyright © 2002

I sincerely hope that WB does go forward and some day make the movie, but only if it is a true testament to the Man of Steel.

I was a fan of Superman for a long time growing up, but eventually I resolved that Superman was childish and for years my love for the icon faded into nothingness. But recently the old feelings have been stirred anew within me and I have remembered something about Superman that I have long forgotten:

He taught me how to fly, as he did so many countless others.

I don't pretend to understand the workings of Hollywood execs: I don't understand all of what has to be done to make a movie like Superman. I fear that many of the higher-ups that would produce such a film are interested soley in profit, and therein lies their problem.

But it would be wrong to go completely in the other direction as well. Any movie must appeal to a broad audience, stir the souls of everyone, not just the fans and loyalists. It would be too easy to assume that everyone knows his origins and focus more on the "shell", the outward appearence that would turn the film into a fiasco.

Any movie must maintain a strict medium. It must not be an action flick or a fantasy flick, but something entirely in and of its own. The world must see Superman as not just the Last Son of Krypton, but as a son of Earth as well.

We must also not lose sight that making Superman into a movie must transcend the idea of merely retelling comic stories. It should be an inspired interpretation of Superman, but a movie nonetheless. Superman comics publish every week, that's 52 a year for years on end, and sometimes (let's face it!) with that much ground to cover the stories can feel soap operish at times. We also would not have the grand backdrop of so many super heros and villians.

The movie must show that Superman is both "super" and a "man", and he would be more human than all of us if we see him struggle to find his place in the world.

I agree completely that Nicholas Cage was totally wrong for the part. (I have heard many rumors though, one of which says that Jimmy Olsen will be played by Chris Rock! God help Warner Bros. if they go through with that one!). Christopher Reeve was the perfect choice for his day and it would be unlikely that we could ever find another like him, but the search would be worth the wait. I think that an unknown actor would be ideal for the role (preferably one that is 6'3" weighs 225 lbs. and is black haired and blue eyed).

Personally, I think trying to cover the death and return bit is too much to try and cover in one film. It took seven issues to kill him, nine to bury him, and dozens to cover the Reign of the Supermen. Anything of that scope would be flat out wrong. It would be better to show a struggle within Clark as well as without, battling between being human and Kryptonian, while meanwhile having to face opponents such as Brainiac (this contempary view of him as being part of Krypton) and the Eradicator. The special effects should blow us away, but they should not dominate the film. None of us want another Star Wars Episode I.

That being said, let me just finish by saying Superman is truly an icon. They should leave his costume alone and even more so his powers (I could only gape in horror in the last films when Superman teleported, used telekinesis, created false images of himself, and most especially, rebuilt the Great Wall with magic eye beams!)

I have read the Kevin Smith screenplay and have to say I don't like it. I know I am hardly an authoritarian on the subject, but the script is all wrong. It assumes too much of the audience, has too much of a "modern" feel to it, and the dialogue is just too full of smart aleck remarks. I would never presume to say that I could do a better job than Kevin Smith (whose accomplishments I do admire) I do think that better screenplays are out there and would be better.

Finally (I promise) we should all remember the epiteph which graced Superman comics in the wake of Jerry Siegel's death:

"He looked to the skies,
He dared to dream,
He gave us an icon,
And he taught us to fly."

Thanks,
Tim Wright (trwdayspring@aol.com)