The Marvel vs. DC battle has, once again, been the topic of some comic head conversations lately and I take it that DC is trying to make a comeback by riding the momentum created by the Dark Knight series followed along with an upcoming reboot of the Superman series. I will admit that Superman is probably my least favorite comic book hero for several reasons, however, that’s not the point of this article. The production team for Man of Steel looks very promising since Christopher Nolan is involved in this project.
Another person that is giving me an ounce of hope is Zack Snyder. His most recent film was Sucker Punch, and that is not saying much, but in defense he HAS directed films like 300 and Dawn of the Dead, which weren’t bad productions. What really caught my eye is the title of the movie. I remember being in the theater watching the trailer not realizing that I was watching a Superman trailer all the way up until towards the end and for that I give props to Nolan on the subtlety and tone of the trailer.
When I think of Superman, I think of some hokey corny douche with an “S” on his chest that screams “I was born perfect, however I want the rest of you peasants to be able to relate to me.” In this particular trailer it almost looked if Superman was… well… human. Now I’m not here to down Richard Donner’s rendition of Superman by any means but I think it is very smart that Snyder and Nolan are taking a different approach to the reboot since, believe it or not, this is not 1978. I wonder if Bryan Singer, director of Superman Returns is kicking himself right now for his failure of a sequel because he, unfortunately, tried to bring back the original tone of Superman when in reality: writers, producers etc need to keep up with the times.
Audiences of the 70’s are going to want something different than audiences of the 00’s and Unless production companies are re-releasing the exact same film to theaters (e.g. Star Wars) there’s no use in trying to use the exact same tone as it had before. Not to mention that back then there weren’t really any other super hero movies to compete with. The simple fact is this:
New generations demand new trends. What’s probably stirring in audience’s mind is this question, what is so different about this film? Besides the obvious technological differences there are others? I already mentioned that the trailer had a totally different tone with the introduction and story as a whole. The subtle insertion of Clark Kent wearing a cape as a child and walking on the streets looking like the average Joe was only the beginning. Let’s compare.
Director: Richard Donner
Release Date: December 13, 1978
Tone: Light and hopeful. During this time the science-fiction field was in high demand from audiences and it was released a year after Star Wars.
Competition: Low. There were little to no other superhero movies being released at this time. If there were, they were very low budget and not nationally known. Donner had a lot of room to work with.
Superman’s Psyche: a confident unburdened hero who fought for justice. You did not see a dark side to Superman, but rather a man who does no wrong. He was the epitome of an All American hero (next to Captain America in Marvel).
Villain: Lex Luthor
Man of Steele 2013
Director: Zack Snyder
Release Date: June 13, 2013
Tone: Dark with a little bit of angst. I get the feeling that Nolan and Snyder are taking a different direction with this particular Superman. However, it fits what the modern demographic is used to (Twilight, Hunger Games etc), thus increasing its possibility of success
Competition: Very High. From The Avengers, to the Spider-man franchise, to its reboot, and more you’ll find a plethora of super-hero movies have been released in the last 10 years. Snyder has no choice but to produce this movie with a bit of an edge.
Superman’s Psyche: Based on some comments from Snyder and Nolan, Superman is going through a struggle of figuring out his identity. In other words, we see a possible different (more human) side of him than we have from previous films. Despite his superpowers he isn’t perfect. Clark Kent must fight the internal battle of how to use his powers for good.
Villain: General Zod
Just like in Batman Begins in which Batman’s biggest villain was not present, Snyder and Nolan decided to leave the super villain out for the second release.
In all actuality, it’s hard to compare these two movies in a hardcore sense. They are two totally different films with two different directions. During the time it was released, the tone matched perfectly with the audiences’ demands and demographics. Christopher Reeves also had an astounding performance of portraying Superman as the all American hero in the DC universe.
Henry Cavill’s portrayal will be darker and hopefully effective. I know many are going to try to bash this new reboot for not having a happy tone, but do you think a cheesy superhero movie will have a success? Movies like Green Lantern had mediocre reviews compared to what it could have had. I believe this generation deserves a new direction and with Snyder’s vision and Nolan’s creative abilities to create characters that captivate the audiences’ attention as well as draw emotional ties, I’m looking forward to it.