Nolan & Snyder: Let’s Count the Number of Things Wrong with Superman Returns
Now before everyone goes and gets their panties in a bunch, let me establish a few things:
-I’m writing this because I want the reboot to be as good as possible.
-I’m not asking you to agree with my list; it’s my list.
-Some will say, “But I liked Superman Returns.” That’s not the point here; it wasn’t all that it could be or a sequel would’ve been greenlit almost immediately.
So having said that:
1. Make it a complete reboot.
The only thing that I would retain from what’s gone on before is the music; I think that John Williams’ score has become just as iconic and identified with the character as the powers and the shield. The problem with Singer’s film is that it was a loose sequel/homage, which actually then lends it to a host of other problems as we’ll discover later.
Other than the unforgettable Superman theme (not the whole movie score; while awesome, it automatically makes it another homage), start fresh in your own universe. No need to drag Donner, Lester, Brando’s voice, etc. with you. When Clark changes to Superman, I want to hear John Williams’ theme, but other than that, New Melodies ‘R’ Us.
2. Have Superman’s motivations make sense.
Because leaving to find a long dead planet after all this time, with no explanation to loved ones, and then crashing back after five years was just a wtf way to start the whole movie. It made no sense. So whatever you have Superman do in your film, when you establish it, have it line up with his character as it is generally known.
3. Don’t blow the First Appearance Big Reveal.
If there’s anything that audiences salivate for, it’s for that “HELL YEAH” moment when both the hero and the villain make their first appearances onscreen. No one wanted to see Lex for the first time in the bed of an old woman with cannibalistic dogs and hints of Lex “pleasuring” her(cripes I just vomited), nor Superman passing out in his mother’s arms with his space travel suit on. You’ve only got one shot at that all important first appearance moment. Don’t blow it.
4. Light the movie like it’s Metropolis…not Gotham.
This whole thing was lit so darkly until it had an overly sombre, dour & tragic feel, and lit so poorly until you couldn’t see what was going on half the time. It both literally and figuratively cast a pall on everything.
5. Have the Villain’s “Big Scheme” Be UnStupid.
Lex’s asswipe conceived idea of “bringing fire to the people” by creating Krypton crystal based land masses so he could destroy the other continental bodies and corner the market on livable real estate was about the dumbest bullshit I’ve seen in all my days. A so-called criminal mastermind should do better than that. And also, not keep repeating the same damn scam scheme. And, Miss Tessmacher betrays Lex? Again? Only she’s named Kitty this time? *headdesk*
6. Make Superman figure out how to lock a Door.
Having Lex break into the Fortress of Sucktitude for a SECOND DAMN TIME, know all about its secrets, and pimp the A.I. for even more information is just ridiculous. And, um…….”Tell me everything.” Does that friggin’ mean that LEX KNOWS HE’S CLARK? Dangling unanswered plot points anyone? This movie’s servin’ ‘em up a’plenty.
Superman should know better than to leave the Fortress open and unguarded, with absolutely no security system of any kind, and foreaven’s sake, those crystals and the Jor-El A.I. shouldn’t respond to anybody but Kal-el. How hard is that to understand?!?
7. If you’re going to spend time in Smallville, let it have a Purpose.
The audience got absolutely no new information about Superman from the Smallville scenes; so what was the point of them? At this point, we don’t need nostalgia about Clark growing up. We got it already, from the Donner films to 10 years of Smallville on the CW.
Brandon Routh – Never made me feel like I was in the presence of unearthly power, in costume or not. Right face for Clark, but no impact as the Man of Steel. And the most oft seen expression on Routh’s face? Boredom.
Kate Bosworth – Too young, wrong face, too skinny, and just completely unbelievable as an ambitious Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. Just one of the biggest casting FUBARS in recent memory.
Kevin Spacey – Love him as an actor, hated him as Lex. Didn’t bring anything unique to the role, and I for one am sick of campy Lex. “krrrIIPtonite” and “WROOONNGG!!!” were like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Everybody else in the cast is barely worth mentioning. Which is a shame. Just so unbelievably unmemorable and replaceable by other actors.
Love them or hate them, but Reeve/Kidder, Cain/Hatcher, and Welling/Durance have left their mark on the Superman legend. But this movie? Yeah, not so much.
Nolan supposedly has a rep for “realism” and “real world grounding” which just makes me shudder when it comes to his take on Superman. Nevertheless, CGI will be unavoidable to pull off the Man of Steel, so it needs to be less obvious than the CGI Routh Superman that we saw in way too many scenes.
10. Iconic Moments.
*sigh* When Routh pulls his shirt open, in the middle of the street in broad daylight, it was just a big waste of an iconic moment. When the shirt comes open and the shield comes out, it needs to have a build up, dramatic tension, and it needs to last for more than 2 seconds onscreen. We didn’t get another iconic moment until way later, when he’s putting the car down, and that was rushed past as well.
11. Sakes a’mighty, that Costume.
Really? Do I really even have to say this? Superman’s look has become iconic in its own right. So there was no need to create a raised shield made of little “s’s,” to make the shield too small, to make a heavy looking leather cape, and to make the colors stripper blue and dirty blood maroon red. What the hell was Singer thinking? FIXED!
12. Superman’s Character.
He also wouldn’t try and make Lois cheat on Richard with him; if Lois had moved on, Superman would’ve been hurt for sure, but he would’ve respected Lois’ choice.
13. Don’t Make Every Human Being in the movie Blind & Stupid.
The big conceit of the Superman legend is that he can hide in plain sight. Behind a pair of glasses. With what has to be one of the most famous faces in the world. That somehow Lois, Jimmy & Perry can work with him, and look right at him every day, notice that Clark and Superman are never around at the same time, and they don’t get it. An office full of reporters. Um…okay.
But when Superman has been friggin’ gone for five years, and then he and Clark just HAPPEN to both show up at the same time, and NO ONE puts two and two together??? *headdesk* Lois, Perry, & Jimmy we’ve come to accept as a bigass wink. But everybody??? GMAFB.
14. Show Superman kicking some real ass.
Did he even throw a real punch in this movie? Were his powers on display for more than like 60 seconds? Ever? Can we please have a Superman movie where he fights hard, kicks ass, and we see those splendiforous powers on display? With no shaky cam so we can actually see what’s happening?
That’s pretty damn self-explanatory.
16. That Kid. That ridiculous, insufferable, pathetic, whiny, puke-faced, annoying, out of place kid.
He had absolutely no place or purpose in this story, and only ended up making Superman look like a deadbeat dad. He literally added nothing, and could’ve been removed altogether without changing the plot at all. And his convenient emerging super powers were beyond contrived. Superman and Lois don’t, and have never, needed a kid to work as a couple. Newt changed everything in Aliens. This kid made me wish I could feed him to a facehugger.
1 hour and 30 minutes into this ball of snot and I’m bored to tears. In a movie about an alien that looks like a man that can bend steel in his bare hands, and is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Sure.
The ubiquitous, always effective, overused mineral from the ol’ hometown. If it must be used, at least let its use be consistent.
First of all, you’ve got to decide exactly how it affects Superman. If it takes away his powers, then he’s human, but he should still be able to fight like an ordinary man. If it makes him sick because of radiation poisoning, then he still has his powers, he’s just too weak to use them. Which means he’s still invulnerable to some degree. His invulnerability comes from his dense molecular structure, not from metabolizing sunlight into all those powers.
Second of all, how much does it take to affect him? Does the quantity and mass of kryptonite have anything to do with how Superman reacts to it, or is an ounce of kryptonite just as deadly as a ton of it? Since Singer established that this was a continuation of the Donner universe, it makes absolutely no sense to have a 16 oz rock render Reeve/Superman damn near incoherent, yet Routh/Superman can land on an ISLAND MADE OF KRYPTONITE. And then get his ass kicked. And then get stabbed. And then come back and lift that same island. W.T. Flying.F.
Thirdly, how long do the effects last, and how long does it take Clark to recover? Will any wound that he sustains while weakened automatically be healed when he repowers?
The internal logic of the Superman legend when it comes to this whole kryptonite thing is just screwy; it would be nice to see something definitive.
19. Superman does not need to be Punked and Humiliated.
I personally cringed when I saw the scenes on the Lexville Krypto Island at the theater, and I never watch them when I view the movie again. Ever. Because I can’t stand to see the Man of Steel like that; it wasn’t just that he was weakened, that happened in Donner’s movie. It’s that he got his ass handed to him, and rolled over like a dog, and needed to be rescued by Cyclops and Lois and Super Bastard, screaming while the krypto shard was being pulled out, and then ended up in the freaking hospital after his miraculous mountain man move. With his costume just ripping right off like it’s ordinary cloth. I just did not, and do not, feel any need to see the Man of Steel go through all of that. I don’t want to see Superman Deconstructed. I want to see him triumphant. And he’d have been dead if it weren’t for the Whites.
20. A Solid 3 Act Structure.
What a disappointing third “act,” if you can even call it that. What was the central conflict of the movie, that Lex had stolen the krypto crystals? Because if so, not only was the resolution just pitiful, but the rest of the movie then becomes superfluous, and did Superman even recover the original crystals that Lex had stolen after Kitty threw them away? Plus, everybody realizes that Superman wouldn’t have been able to lift that island that way, right? Not because of strength, but because of leverage.
Lois Lane going to that hospital and not being MOBBED by TMZ and whomever else? Lois Lane in GENERAL being able to operate without being constantly followed and harassed when the whole world seems to know that she’s Superman’s girlfriend? That stupid Jason kid not being one of the most watched children in the world? The way people obsess over Suri Cruise and Shiloh Pitt? And no one, not even an office full of reporters, notices that yet AGAIN Clark is nowhere around? And then, having the comPLETEly anti-climactic scenario of Lois telling him that she loves him in the hospital, on his deathbed, a la Trinity and Neo, was just lame beyond belief. There wasn’t even a fight, Lex is stranded on some stupid island somewhere, Superman recovers, flies off, and then goes to see his illegitimate child and gives some lame speech? No talk of child support, or helping Lois raise someone that’s a human/kryptonian hybrid, no talk of offering to help with his emerging powers, what this means for Lois & Richard’s relationship…um, what? Talk about dangling participles. Holy crap.
People want to see a satisfying emotional conclusion to the story in the third act. And this tripe was anything but.
So, in Conclusion:
I hope to grunt that Nolan sees the obvious flaws in Singer’s messy homage and avoids them like the plague; I’m still quite trepidacious when it comes to this Nolan grandfathered reboot, because what works for Batman doesn’t work for Superman, and Superman Returns proves it.