Oct 2010 21

by Damon Martin

It’s been announced that 300 and Dawn of the Dead director Zack Snyder will helm the latest installment of the Superman film franchise. The news has been much anticipated after producer Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) met with several major directors including Tony Scott and Darren Aronofsky.

As E! Online so astutely documented when the announcement was made, this isn’t the first, second or even third attempt at getting a Superman movie made in Hollywood. Of course everyone remembers the original Richard Donner classic featuring the square jawed Christopher Reeves, who perfectly embodied the Last Son of Krypton. That version of Superman spawned three sequels, although each successive film dwindled in fan fare and critical acclaim.

Everyone understands why Superman is such a winning franchise. The character is one of the most iconic super heroes of this or any generation. So why can’t Hollywood seem to get it right? The last version of Superman released in theaters was the 2006 lackluster Bryan Singer film Superman Returns, which featured Brandon Routh in the lead role.

While the film went on to earn over $391 million worldwide and got fairly favorable reviews, the studio just wasn’t satisfied overall with the project. A sequel was originally planned by Warner Bros.- also to be directed by Singer – titled Superman: Man of Steel, but was subsequently dropped.

There have been several other attempts at making Superman films, but maybe none documented better than the mid-90’s feature written by Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy). The script was commissioned by Warner Bros. and was set to be directed by Tim Burton with Nicholas Cage starring. Burton apparently had other ideas however, and promptly told the studio he would have his own writers develop a script, so Smith was dropped from the project altogether. Is that the full story? We don’t really know. But Smith brilliantly chronicled the entire process in his 2002 documentary An Evening with Kevin Smith.

When a fan brings up the once big project, Smith goes on to tell the tale about how he first got the Superman project by telling Warners the script they had already developed was terrible. He went on to write his own script titled Superman Lives and had several meetings with hairdresser turned eccentric producer Jon Peters.

When it was all said and done, Smith admits he wasn’t that disappointed that the project never took off: “I really wasn’t that upset cause I’d worked on it for two drafts, and I got to hang out with a really fucked up kooky dude. A dude who I can tell stories about for the rest of my life. And they paid me a lot of money to do it, like I would have done it for free, but I didn’t tell them that.”

[Mia in Supergirl]

The latest reports from the Snyder-led Superman project is that he’s going in a prequel direction. In an interview with French movie site Film Sactu (which was translated by Bleeding Cool) Snyder stated, “The film will focus on the early days of Superman, so there will be no links with other films.”

Snyder, who made the graphic novel Watchmen come to life in a brilliant piece of filmmaking, seems to understand how to stay true to the source material without making a direct copy. Hopefully, he won’t try too hard to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the Superman mythology.

He comes from the planet Krypton. He’s vulnerable to kryptonite. He flies, he can stop a speeding bullet, and he wears a suit of blue and red with a giant “S” in the middle. As long as Snyder doesn’t mess too much with any of that he’s got a running shot at this thing.