Yesterday Deadline.com announced that Watchmen director Zack Snyder has been hired to direct the next Superman film, a mysterious and much-ballyhooed project being produced (oh, pardon me, godfathered) by Christopher Nolan. Ask me on the right day and I’ll tell you Snyder’s Watchmen is the best superhero film yet made. So why aren’t I happier at this news?
Eh. I don’t really know. Maybe because I’m one of the few people who thought the previous Superman film was pretty terrific, which makes it hard to get too excited over seeing the producers of the next one sprint in the opposite direction.
The last Superman film was the moving and visually stunning Superman Returns, directed by Bryan Singer. I liked that movie. Goddammit, I loved that movie. I loved it so much, I started this blog just so I could publish the review I wrote of it. And I still don’t quite get why it wasn’t hailed as a triumph in the same way The Dark Knight was. Shit, Batman Begins was showered with praise from geeks and normal people alike, and it was dogshit. What was so bad about Superman Returns?
Pretty much everything I thought was brilliant about it was lost on its target audience — maybe that’s it. I loved the visuals, which indulged in iconography with shots of Superman lifting cars and globes and falling from the sky in a crucifix pose, but also showed great subtlety, as when the fiery crash of Superman’s returning spaceship is seen only through the reflection in Martha Kent’s kitchen window. And I enjoyed how the story worried more about characters and relationships than explosions and super-powered slugfests. Here was a Superman movie resonant with classic human themes, that forced its hero to confront a world that had moved on without him.
But fuck that; the comic geeks thought it was boring. They were impatient with the film’s focus on the complexities of Superman’s relationship with Lois Lane, perhaps because most of them had never known the touch of a woman for themselves.
All I know is, on those days when you ask me what the best superhero movie ever made is and I don’t answer “Watchmen,” I’ll answer “Superman Returns.” Put a saddle on that and ride it.
Leaving my Superman Returns-related bitterness aside, there’s another reason I’m not entirely thrilled at the prospects for this upcoming film. It’s not Snyder, who I think is competent and showed a decent understanding of the source material on Watchmen. And it’s not Nolan, who after the great Dark Knight and the even better Inception is on a roll these last few years. No, it’s David Fucking Goyer, who is developing this new Supes movie along with Nolan, and apparently wrote the screenplay. I submit the clunky, overrated general shittiness of Batman Begins, scripted by Goyer, vs. the crackling, morally ambiguous awesomeness of The Dark Knight, scripted by Jonathan Nolan, as evidence that Goyer writing Superman is not good news.
On the upside, General Zod’s apparently going to be in this one. No word on casting yet, but Terence Stamp looks pretty good for 71. Just saying.