Kevin Feige Says DC Films Can Learn From Donner’s Superman

With films in the DC Universe struggling to gain the critical and financial benefits that Marvel’s films have been enjoying, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was asked at a recent “Ant-Man and the Wasp” press junket what advice he’d give to the people in charge of DC Films.

“I always hesitate to come off as the person who is bestowing advice on people. It’s not really what I do,” he said. “What I do know is, they’re great characters. I’m not shy about saying, Richard Donner’s Superman, I still think, is the paradigm by which we all still should follow. It’s all there.”

For many people Richard Donner’s “Superman: The Movie” is still the benchmark when it comes to making a successful superhero movie, and with Henry Cavill’s Superman having had the chance to shine in a more positive light in the recent “Justice League” film, there’s hope that a Superman film, more in line with Donner’s vision, may not be too far away.

Source: ScreenRant.com

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sundevil82
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sundevil82

It’s pretty sad that they have to be reminded of that. Nolan also modeled his Dark Knight trilogy after Donner’s Superman. Get it together DC.

macca38
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macca38

I met a gentleman on a beach in N.Ireland yesterday who had multiple tattoos. I showed my new Superman tattoo to him & he said, “wow class, that’s from original Christopher Reeve film – the best one!” DC / Warner need to sit down, view Donner film & reset Superman films / TV series. I would bring Donner in to assist production if he agreed. Superman The Movie ‘is’ the benchmark for Superman films & being 40yrs old this year, it’s still held in such high regard. Listen to some of the discussion in ‘Castbox’ (podcasts) for some clues. Look… Read more »

Spidey2878
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Spidey2878

Ecellent point macca38. I love the John Williams Superman theme. It’s my favorite movie theme,and in my opinion the best movie theme. That theme goes with Superman like how Perry White said in Superman the movie ” like bacon and eggs.”

Marnoman
Member
Marnoman

I definitely agree to an extent. I wouldn’t say Superman: The Movie is perfect in every way. Even though it is one of my favourite films ever, if I had to really look at it critically there are definitely things about it I would change. But I think overall Kevin Feige is right. And what I think he means about the film and what others also love about the film is the fact that it is completely unapologetic. It is not sorry that it is a Superman film. It is PROUD to be a Superman film. You can see the… Read more »

redcape
Member
redcape

I’m sorry, but you can’t compare 1978 STM to our MOS. The times were dramatically different. They’re not going to be able to make another 78 version of Superman for that reason alone. And there was plenty of Clark in MOS and BvS.

Spidey2878
Member
Spidey2878

“But you can’t compare 1978 STM to our Mos”, what’s that’s suppose to mean??? Why did that sound like an insult to Superman the movie? Superman the movie is “our” Superman movie too ya know. And it can be compared. That’s how you tell what works in a film and what doesn’t. There were a lot of things that worked for Reeve’s Superman that didn’t for Cavill’s. For example, the development of Clark’s persona in Superman the movie over Cavill’s. That shouldn’t be over looked.

DW13
Member
DW13

Exactly! 8-)

lionhurly
Member
lionhurly

Didn’t they already try to follow Donner’s Version with Superman Returns? That didn’t seem to go anywhere. Justice League try to go that way too, but it became the lowest grossing modern DC movie to date. At this point, WB/DC should just stick with what Snyder’s version was going to be and move onward. Because let’s face it, nobody wanted to make another Superman Film after the disappointment of Returns. A Donner version of Superman came and went. Lets move forward with a new version of Superman and let the past go. Homage the past, but move on with the… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

Those are things that get tossed around a lot, but no. Superman Returns takes Donner’s version of Superman (with some traces of Lester’s S:II) but the interpretation lacks a full understanding of what made the Donner version pop and thus lacks key elements necessary to making it work. In my mind, it’s a weird mirror of Snyder’s MoS in the “how to make a movie that’s embarrassed about it’s main character” kinda way. Both are attempts to “fix” the character in both similar and very different ways; from the suit to how the character reacts to what happens to them… Read more »

lionhurly
Member
lionhurly

Except Snyder’s Version of Superman honored the character more than Bryan Singer’s version. Even Snyder wanted underwear on the suit but WB/DC said no. No matter what anybody’s opinions of Superman Returns and Justice League are on whether they tried to and failed on staying close to Donner’s version of Superman are, the people who worked on those movies still wanted to recapture that style of Superman. And those movies (with the ideal of trying to “lighten up” Superman) still disappointed audiences everywhere. So no, a modernized S:TM style movie for Superman would not work. It worked great for Wonder… Read more »

sundevil82
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sundevil82

Suicide Squad had a really great marketing campaign to go along with some great trailers and Wonder Woman was culturally significant. Regardless of what you thought of the films themselves, you can’t deny those two things. MOS and BvS has built in audiences already. Honestly who was not going to to go see a Batman/Superman movie? Had nothing to do with what version of the character they used. Had they focused more on Superman and made Batman more of a side character, I believe the movie would have been better. I think you misinterpreted this article. Nobody is saying that… Read more »

lionhurly
Member
lionhurly

A great marketing campaign can only get you a good opening weekend. Not a $700 million+ at the box office. People wanted to see Wonder Woman because she hadn’t had movie before and because of what they saw in BVS. Nolan used Donner’s S:TM to ground the character and to build up Batman. Snyder did the same thing. He took the classic interpretation of Superman and put him in our dark, dour world. Superman can only be as bright and colorful as he can be if the world around him is also that colorful. He wasn’t raised on an island,… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

Snyder’s Superman interpretation struck me a serious to the sometimes-point of self-serious. Imo, lines like “The Bat is dead. Bury it. Consider this mercy.” and “No one stays good in this world.” should never come out of Clark’s mouth. Ever. i don’t care how depressed he is, that’s not in his nature to me, even at his lowest. I’m 38. Grew up (still live in) Iowa (one state over from Kansas), middle-class lifestyle. So I’ve had a similar surrounding to what he would have had. The 80’s/90’s in the midwest wasn’t Donner’s Smallville, but it wasn’t exactly a Mad Max… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

Both SR and MoS/BvS hit marks and miss marks – and some miss in the same places but in different ways. That doesn’t mean it’s been done. Yes, WW didn’t have any movies before it, but it’s been 35+ years since the Donner take was done right. It’s not what I want to see, but I know it’d still work – given that they don’t screw it up. “The Incredibles 2,” while all CG, holds up pretty well 14 years after the first one, and it owes a lot to Donner’s Superman. People were down on the DCEU after BvS.… Read more »

lionhurly
Member
lionhurly

They already screwed it up with Returns. And the more WB/DC tries to humor-fill or not be so “serious”, the more “Green Lantern” and a reworked “Justice League” we’ll get. A more Donner version of superheroes may work for The Incredibles because it’s a animated movie and is still trying to aim for a younger crowd (not just kids or 13 year olds), and because its coming from a well-liked movie from a decade ago, not a 40 year old movie. A live- action movie with Donner like superheroes on the other hand, JUSTICE LEAGUE. Funny, for how well liked… Read more »

sundevil82
Member
sundevil82

Again, Nobody here said that every interpretation here has to be the Donner version. Not sure where you’re getting that from. I myself grew up with both the Donner version and the Byrne era in Comics and I want nothing more than to see a modern version of the character. MOS started in the right direction despite its flaws, but the Snyder movies rely too much on filling in the blanks on your own or using mental gymnastics to see where he’s getting at. 3 or 4 hour versions of films shouldn’t be required nor should you have to follow… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

Yes, they screwed up SR, but that’s not on the formula of the first Donner film, that’s on the execution of SR. They’re not the same thing. And as I’ve said repeatedly, none of this suggests I want the Donnerverse to continue. I’m saying it could if done right, not that it should. Tyler Hoeclin not being Superman since could be due to a great many things, licensing being one. Also, if he’s in too much, he threatens to overshadow Kara – which is the main reason I think they keep him out. They have one Kryptonian regular, and for… Read more »

redcape
Member
redcape

Disagree regarding the honoring aspect. SR show cased Superman in a light that was way closer to STM. As far as the trunks, Snyder at first was for having them but once the suit was developed it became obvious they wouldn’t fit.

lcmcbain
Member
lcmcbain

Well Said Kal-Elvis ! Very well said indeed.

LarGand
Member
LarGand

I love ‘Superman: the Movie’, though it broke my heart that the quality of that film series nosedived so steeply after Donner’s departure. Likewise, it breaks my heart that Snyder never managed to follow through on all the promise of ‘Man of Steel’, which I thought was a daring, modern interpretation of the story that I still (hoping against hope) want to see a sequel to. Superman’s appearances in ‘Justice League’ were the best thing about that movie (except for that cringe-worthy line “I believe in truth. But I’m also a big fan … of Justice!”, which is, I swear… Read more »

SuperJMC79
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SuperJMC79

I agree with so much of what you said here. Having grown up with the Reeves Superman films, and The SuperFriends, and reading comics, etc., I am okay with varying interpretations of the characters and their world as long as it’s faithful to the core character. Unlike a large portion of the fanbase that visits this site, I feel Snyder actually understood the character very well, but most didn’t appreciate that he humanized so much of his motivations or made him uncertain of how to move forward into the world at large. I’m fine with people having a favorite interpretation,… Read more »

SuperJMC79
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SuperJMC79

Downvote people: do you ever attempt to engage the people you disagree with? SMH… you lot are silly.

SuperJMC79
Member
SuperJMC79

Aaaaaaand there it is.

Nate1986
Member
Nate1986

This is very conflicting and everyone is against this and I’m one of them. The Donner Superman has come and gone, and going back to it has always been the bad idea. Superman Returns is the prime example, as is the changes to Justice League; and in general, everything I/we would want would never fit under this direction. Plus, today’s superhero films wouldn’t allow the direction the Donner Superman had; the various films are chapters, wheras in the Donner films, everything was set and done after the first or second film. There was nowhere to go after that and 3… Read more »

TheRBBlur
Member

Loved all the Reeve Superman films (including Quest For Peace) but I do disagree with Feige to a degree. Yes, Superman The Movie was a benchmark in the genre. But there were other benchmark superhero movies to follow. Tim Burton’s Batman, Singer’s X-Men, and Raimi’s Spider-Man all helped shape what the genre is today. As for Superman The Movie, I think the most casual of Superman fans, who’s only real exposure to the character comes from the Reeve films, use it to describe the absolute version of the character. As if everything before and after those films isn’t as good.… Read more »

s-shield
Member
s-shield

The dangerous side of this is that most people are not smart. Tell them to “Think of Donner” and you get Superman Returns. A film that played all the right music, piggybacked on the plot structure of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, and tried to link up with its continuity, all while ignoring the Prime Directive of the Donner movies, which is “Make the heroes likable.” The most important aspect of the Donner movies is HEART. Which is something DC/WB’s film division can’t wrap their brains around. Meanwhile, DC/CW leans heavy into that notion with their TV shows, and have even referenced… Read more »

Spidey2878
Member
Spidey2878

I don’t understand what this article is about. Are they saying that they should go back to the Donner verse? Or are they saying to look at what made the film successful and apply that to their series? If I remember correctly, they took a bit of the formula in regards to casting Cavill. Yes he was a known actor, but not a big name till Man of Steel. Much like how they cast Reeve for the part of Superman, they didn’t want a big name for the role. Superman Returns was somewhat a sequel to Superman 2. A movie… Read more »

cpm72586
Member
cpm72586

I think the only thing to take from Donner’s Superman is Donner’s favorite word verisimilitude, as well as casting an unknown in the role. Those two things are key, but other then then that I’m not sure there’s much to glean from it. That movie was great in it’s time, and is still great today, but there are other sources they should look to if they want to get the character right. Namely Superman: The Animated Series. That’s a pretty damn good template to draw inspiration from if you ask me, and I long for the day when people who… Read more »

cpm72586
Member
cpm72586

One other thing I’d like to see the next filmmakers take from Donner is to make us a believe a man can fly again. I guess flying on film has become pretty old hat these days, but I’d love to see the next Superman film really try to take ownership of it again, and do things we haven’t seen before that really wows audiences. Not sure if that’s even possible anymore, but I do think they need to really try to do something special with the flight. At the very least do something better then what we’ve seen in the… Read more »

car2nst
Member
car2nst

I thought Cavil learning to fly in MOS was a great showcase of the current “you will believe a man can fly” motif, especially with the dynamic camera angles, (which nobody seems to speak about due to most people being too busy bashing Snyder to actually appreciate where his talents are) and the ever elusive but actually smiling that Superman does in fact do while embracing the enjoyment of his first flight. Flying in and around the mountains, through the Serengeti (or wherever it was) & over the ocean I thought was breathtaking & the most impactful from any Comic… Read more »

Kal-Ed
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Kal-Ed

Absolutely hit the nail on the head. That was a fun and emotional scene in my opinion

Kal-Elvis
Member

Very true. I have a lot of problems with the movie, but I did absolutely love that scene – and it showed the potential that was there, and still is there (even after everything).

Kal-Elvis
Member

Ok, some fellow fans aren’t sure what he means by “look at Donner” – I can promise you that he doesn’t mean “copy it 100%” or “go back to the Donnerverse” at all. He just means look at what people connected with in those films and use that knowledge to craft your own version. I’m also seeing a lot of comments saying “SR was Donner” – but no, it wasn’t. It was Donner in name and not much else. As I’d said in a replay, it took on the canon but didn’t look at what made the original films work… Read more »

sundevil82
Member
sundevil82

You always some up my thoughts perfectly.

SuperJMC79
Member
SuperJMC79

In re-reading the quote from Feige I can see what he was intending to say, in that the roadmap for a successful Superman film was there in the execution, and not necessarily the overall narrative or even the tone of the film… but in Superman’s place within it; a beacon. I was ecstatic with the way Superman “morphed” in JL, becoming more like the man I see in the comics, but it felt like a weird jump in tone for the character; the character development felt bumpy. I like a humanized and somewhat lost Clark, in that it can allow… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

Absolutely agreed on JL. And (as I’ve said a few times, so please forgive the repetition) it’s too big a jump due to the lack of real character progression before that. Had it been more even, it wouldn’t have seemed so jarring. If I thought of JL as it’s own movie (just plopping us into the middle of things, kinda like the CGI TMNT kinda did years ago), everything almost works better. I don’t disagree that it’s neat to watch Superman go from starting to being the hero we know he will be. MoS was novel in that regard (at… Read more »

afriend
Member
afriend

I don’t disagree, but what exactly does “following Dinner” entail? Superman Returns, at least superficially, tried to follow Dinner. And it didn’t exactly set pop culture on fire. So what are the elements of Donner’s film that also show up in other successful comic book films? -Scripts that are generally smart, but aren’t afraid to have a little humor. But they don’t stop the film in its tracks for the joke. Done well in Superman, the first two Spider-Man films, and Iron Man. -Sticking to familiar elements without slavish devotion to the source. Changes make sense and are not simply… Read more »

afriend
Member
afriend

Stupid autocorrect! Richard Dinner?!

Kal-Elvis
Member

It’s never good when autocorrect is hungry. ;) lol

Kal-Ed
Member
Kal-Ed

Basically…Kevin Feige is right. The DC film division had the formula all along. They either forgot it existed or just shoved it aside underneath a pile of books. There is no better history lesson to learn from in order to have a bright and shiny future. While I did enjoy the new films, they need to work it.

Kal L
Member
Kal L

I find it funny that everyone keeps claiming that these movies are bad, and bombed at the box office… yet they all made a profit.
I guess what it comes down to is this, if enough people say something is bad, everyone just automatically believes them.

Every single one of them had problems for sure, but none were as bad as the critics wanted you to think they were. Even JL.

WB execs really do need to get out of their own way if they want these to succeed.

redcape
Member
redcape

Man Kal L….I couldn’t have said it better. When it’s comes to everything that gets judged, only the negative gets all the air play. Even if it’s a bold face lie! None of the WB/DC movies were BAD.

lcmcbain
Member
lcmcbain

Except they did not all make money. JL lost $ 50-100 mm according to the trades. And the diminishing returns speaks volumes.

car2nst
Member
car2nst

It actually passed the profit margin after 600 million…confirmed by multiple sources a long time ago….this is old news….wasn’t hugely profitably but still out of the red. (and if you are going to thorw around distribution costs & such then lets also include direct movie merchandise revenue from comics, toys, apparel & collectables during its theatrical run (which was the holiday season) shall we? since you know…all that revenue still ultimately ends up in the same Corp. execs pockets…so it defiantly made a profit.)

afriend
Member
afriend

The problem with ancillary revenues (toys and other marchandise) is that while they can be profitable, they’re also subject to expenses and percentage deals just like theatrical and home media distribution. DC/WB would have gotten an up front fee, but that’s probably long been eaten up by other costs (or bonuses, I wish I was in that racket). Then there’s the actual costs of production and distribution of the action figures or whatever. Offshoring production does make it cheaper, but it’s still far from free. Then come people slicing up the pie; actual stores get their cut, percentages are paid… Read more »

car2nst
Member
car2nst

You forget the fact that it costs only a fraction to make the toys & apparel vs. what they actually sell them for in stores. Even factoring retailer %’s, they are still making a decent amount of money for something that cost them so little to mass produce..and as my comment mentioned the JL’s theatrical run was during the Holiday season so they made sales & that does add up to a nice chunk of change. Not just DC toys & merch but Marvel, Star Wars, Transformers.etc. (plus Star Wars toys alone have made more than the movies have) Granted… Read more »

sundevil82
Member
sundevil82

Don’t you think that it should be ‘good’ or ‘great’ rather then ‘not as bad as people say’ or ‘it was fine’? I just feel like we shouldn’t set the bar so low. I don’t think any of these movies bombed nor have I ever claimed that, but BvS and JL definitely underperformed. I think MOS was right where it needed to be money wise as a good starting point for the franchise. The execs put unrealistic expectations in these films. To them, MOS underperformed which is why we got Batman headlining what was supposed to be a Superman Sequel.… Read more »

car2nst
Member
car2nst

Exactly. MOS was a decent hit. A lot of internet “self proclaimed” box office experts seem to think that every Superhero movie should make a billion dollars worldwide to be considered a success. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Personally I liked JL & yes I do see it as wasted potential of what it COULD have been & ultimately underperformed at the box office…but given all the drama behind the scenes and the toxicity/bashing of BvS, that was spread before and during the theatrical release, I think JL performed pretty well all things considering. (& yes as I… Read more »

sundevil82
Member
sundevil82

2 things: 1 they could have pushed the production of JL back to iron out all the issues it was having. It could have come out in March and taken the time to fix the cgi, writing and do a better job of making the movie flow. They didn’t do that because Tsujihara wanted his bonus. Nobody to blame but the execs there. 2. If you choose to believe the whole 5 movie story arc thing (which I don’t), it was dragging at a snails pace. As I’ve stated above, i only give BvS any good will because it has… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

Actually, looking at the cut of JL and circumstances closely, I’ve kinda come to the conclusion that they knew this wouldn’t be fully fixable without a lot of extra time and money, and even then it wouldn’t be where it should be.. so they chopped it to bare bones so there could be as many showings as possible to make as much money back as possible and cut their losses. And honestly, as much as that thinking sucks from a fan’s viewpoint… I do still get it. It’s understandable. One thing it did do was close the “dark” stereotype into… Read more »

Spidey2878
Member
Spidey2878

Whenever I see a movie, I try to avoid what the critics say. I find that it’s best to form my own opinion about a film rather than go by what other people say about it. If I like or dislike a movie, the opinion will be the result of actually seeing the film. True that I may agree with what the critics say, just as its true that I may disagree with them, but those opinions on those films would’ve been formed because I saw the film and not because of what the critics say.

MattComics
Member
MattComics

Donner believed in Superman.

The MCU believes in its characters.

I’m not convinced DC believes in anything except Batman.

Kal L
Member
Kal L

Plain and simple, take these these movies exactly as they are, without changing anything at all, and have them praised the way Marvel movies are, without the critics and fat celebrity podcasters hating on them, or finding even the most minuscule faults in them… We wouldnt even be having this debate. The fact is, thee is a unprecedented amount of hate to these movies. If you’re going to say that Black Panther (an average Marvel movie at best) is a 10/10, then why isn’t Man of Steel up there either? Argue all you like about the color scheme of the… Read more »

sundevil82
Member
sundevil82

Well if you really want to argue it, Ryan Coogler is a much better director than Zack Snyder or Joss Whedon. While you may have not liked Black Panther, it was a well told story and well directed. There are rumors of a four hour version of BP but coogler cut it down to about 2 and was able to still tell the story he wanted to tell… now tell me why does Zack require 3 and 4 hour cuts? The theatrical cut of BvS was 2 and a half hours and still couldn’t tell the story it wanted to… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

If that was true, I wouldn’t have walked into MoS more excited than I’d been in a long time and left it with a pit in my stomach for a week (not kidding). My disdain for Snyder’s direction with the franchise is all my own. The hate bandwagon certainly became it’s own thing, but it’s not a totally bot-manufactured thing, either.

Black Panther is, imo, a much more thorough, satisfying narrative with clearly defined characters and motivations while still having complexity.

redcape
Member
redcape

Yea….and Black Panther was new from the ground floor. And all characters that haven’t had any screen time before, have people seeing them as NEW and don’t have any expectations of their appearance or their on screen actions. That’s how Marvel got it’s following. Most of their characters had little to no audience back ground. And because of it Marvel gets away with absolute crap in a lot of their movies. And Wonder Woman for that matter gets all the high fives because we live in this time of women do no wrong. WW had no controversy. It was a… Read more »

Kal L
Member
Kal L

I feel ya man… I loved WW, but I agree it was more hype than anything. And we all know Marvel gets away with a lot. Hence my original point, the hate for these movies makes creates a stigma that isn’t necessarily accurate. And those that did enjoy the movies get vilified. No movie is perfect, MoS, BvS, SS, WW and JL all had their faults, but they were different enough (from Marvel), and enjoyable. When it comes to Superman, I think, most of us fans just have a better movie in our heads, and no matter what they give… Read more »

Kal-Elvis
Member

Your point about it being fresh is well taken, and same with WW – but Superman can absolutely work. They just need to fix the color palette of the visuals (some moody but not that moody), and make the character more consistent, with a bit more “rugged determination”.

There’s a happy medium between MoS and JL – they just need to find that if the DCEU is to continue in any way.