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Superman: Man Of Steel!

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It seems as if Warner are wanting to make between 6-8 tentpole pictures a year with two of those being DC franchises. Whilst this in itself is quite interesting as it will mean we get 4 key comic book movies a year as Marvel are also set to release at least two Marvel flick per annum the most interesting bit is that it seems Superman is getting an early reboot.

Emboldened by this summer's success with "The Dark Knight," Warner Bros.' movie studio is setting a new strategy.

The Time Warner Inc. unit, like some other Hollywood studios, is planning to release fewer films into the crowded marketplace. But the studio, known for making more big, expensive movies than most rivals, plans to make even more of those -- some centered on properties from its DC Comics unit, such as Batman.


Warner Bros/Everett Collection
Christopher Nolan directs actor Aaron Eckhart on the set of Warner Bros. hit 'The Dark Knight.'
Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov wants the studio to release as many as eight such movies a year by 2011. "The long-term goal of the studio is to take advantage of what has become a very global market by focusing on bigger films that require a bigger commitment," he says. Warner Bros. films released last year grossed <ccc style="font-size: inherit; background-color: yellow; " title="">£1.26</ccc> billion internationally, about 42% more than their <ccc style="font-size: inherit; background-color: yellow; " title="">£0.88</ccc> billion domestic take.

Mining the comic-book franchise is central to the success of Warner Bros.' strategy. Its lineup of "tent poles" -- Hollywood-speak for big movies that are the foundati<ccc style="font-size: inherit; background-color: yellow; " title="">£94.74</ccc>on of a studio's slate -- ha<ccc style="font-size: inherit; background-color: yellow; " title="">£27.73</ccc>s thinned. Warner Bros. has been slow to capitalize on DC, and it now faces a rival in Marvel Entertainment Inc.'s Marvel Studios, the company behind box-office gusher "Iron Man."

Superhero films based on comic-book legends, like "The<ccc style="font-size: inherit; background-color: yellow; " title="">£94.74</ccc> Dark Knight," have emerged as some of the strongest players in the global market, in part because they're natural candidates for t<ccc style="font-size: inherit; background-color: yellow; " title="">£135.79</ccc>ie-ups with consumer products and games that can also be marketed globally.

"Superheroes are more global than ever in today's commercial world, existing in 30 languages and in more than 60 countries," says Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics. The characters are "a world-wide export," he says.


Paramount/Everett Collection
Marvel's 'Iron Man,' was a big success at the box office. Warner has been slower to capitalize on its DC Comics characters.
"Films with our DC properties have the opportunity to support other divisions in the company in a way that our other movies don't," Mr. Robinov says, for example, with products such as a Superman game or toys. By 2011, Mr. Robinov plans for DC Comics to supply the material for up to two of the six to eight tent-pole films he hopes Warner Bros. will have in the pipeline by then.

While big ambitions can result in a huge payoff, they can also end in huge losses. Warner's car adventure "Speed Racer" bombed at the box office in May. The film, said to have cost as much as million, has taken in only million in the U.S. Some other big-budget Warner films, such as spy comedy "Get Smart," also have failed to meet expectations.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros. shut its two art-house labels, Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures. The studio currently releases 25 to 26 films a year. By 2010, Mr. Robinov plans to pare production to 20 to 22 movies a year.

A movie referred to internally as "Justice League of America," originally said to be for next summer, was planned as one of the studio's major releases. With that film, starring a superhero team, Warner hoped to spark interest in DC characters like Green Lantern who haven't yet attained the level of popularity of Batman. But script problems, among other things, have delayed the movie.

The studio said last week that "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," originally slated for November release, would come out next July -- on the same weekend that "The Dark Knight" opened this year. The Batman sequel made more than million in the U.S. that weekend. "We just needed a July movie," said Alan Horn, president of the studio, at the time.

Warner Bros. also put on hold plans for another movie starring multiple superheroes -- known as "Batman vs. Superman" -- after the million "Superman Returns," which had disappointing box-office returns, didn't please executives. "'Superman' didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to," says Mr. Robinov. "It didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned." "Had 'Superman' worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009," he adds. "But now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman without regard to a Batman and Superman movie at all."


One of the studio's other big releases planned for 2009, "Watchmen," is the subject of a high-profile copyright lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox.

Based on the premise that superheroes are real people grappling with their own problems, "Watchmen" is an apocalyptic vision of their world. Fox says it is seeking an injunction to enforce its copyright interest in the film. Last week, a federal judge ruled that it may have rights to the property. News Corp. is the parent of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co.

With "Batman vs. Superman" and "Justice League" stalled, Warner Bros. has quietly adopted Marvel's model of releasing a single film for each character, and then using those movies and their sequels to build up to a multicharacter film. "Along those lines, we have been developing every DC character that we own," Mr. Robinov says.

Like the recent Batman sequel -- which has become the highest-grossing film of the year thus far -- Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as "The Dark Knight." Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.' DC properties. "We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it," he says. That goes for the company's Superman franchise as well.

The studio is set to announce its plans for future DC movies in the next month. For now, though, it is focused on releasing four comic-book films in the next three years, including a third Batman film, a new film reintroducing Superman, and two movies focusing on other DC Comics characters. Movies featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman are all in active development.

Many of the studio's directors credit Mr. Robinov for taking Warner Bros.' films in a darker and deeper direction. Christopher Nolan, who directed "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight," says Mr. Robinov "really encouraged the logic of the villain" from "Batman Begins." That led to focusing heavily on the Joker in the sequel. "At the script stage, Jeff really wanted us to be very clear on the Joker's lack of purpose," he says.

http://online.wsj.co...=googlenews_wsj

Now this comes only three days after it was announced that WB were unsure which direction to take Superman (ie whether to continue with Singer's vision or start afresh) but the group President seems to be far more open on this being a completely fresh take on the character.

It is interesting to see a reboot in the offing for a film that is still only a couple of years old but I guess he is such a big name that they need to do something soon. I'm happy if they do a reboot as I thought Returns was a terrible film and I couldn't really see how they'd fix the issues with a sequel unless they ignored several key plot elements from the first. Although the talk of making it as dark as possible is concerning. A dark tone perfectly suits Batman but I don't think it can necessarily work so well within the Superman universe. I fear that with the success of TDK Warner may just make all DC franchises as dark as possible because they think it currently sells.

So where does this leave the new Superman film? Singer could still be attached as director although is he the right man and would he stay on a project when the studio have pretty much said his last interpretation sucked? If Singer was to leave then it is likely to mean WB will go for a more leftfield choice of director like they did with Nolan and the Batman films rather than just a director-for-hire. Timur Bekmambetov could be an interesting choice and he comes off the back of a big box office hit (Wanted) and his portfolio shows that he can do action which was something lacking in Returns. Brad Bird is another possibility and he is moving into live action with 1906 (see here) but he may not be available for a while. JJ Abrams is a director that fits in well with what Warner are probably looking for in a Superman film. He has the popular touch, is very much a visual story teller and is likely to build in an arc that would span several films.

So what do people want from a Superman film?

I'll admit that I've never been much of a fan of the character but I'd like to see...

- Some proper evidence of his powers. The technology is there to make this a big scale picture.
- No kid.
- No origin story.
- No Lex or if he does appear he isn't the proper villain but a background character.
- A villain of equal stature that doesn't have to resort to using kryptonite.
- No emo crap.
- A strong and slightly older Lois.
- Less emphasis on nerdy Clark.
- For it not to be dark like the Batman films.

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Are they going to ditch the cape, populate the fortress of solitude and have superman fight a giant spider??? :D

Do you know anything about spiders? One of the deadliest predators in the animal kindgom. :D

I know a lot of people seemed disappointed by Superman Returns, not enough action. I don't know why they need to retool it though, why not just let Singer ramp up the action and drop back on the emo stuff.

Personally I reckon Warner's should just take a look at the list Lord Cookie compiled and go from there. Incredible Hulk was a half decent attempt to lose a lot of the baggage of the first film and bring the character back to what he was known for.

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I know a lot of people seemed disappointed by Superman Returns, not enough action. I don't know why they need to retool it though, why not just let Singer ramp up the action and drop back on the emo stuff.

The changes they'd need to make would be a reboot in all but name. The idea of a Superkid is, and will always be, terrible so they can't exactly get rid of that in a sequel. I quite like Routh as Superman but the rest of the cast was rubbish especially Bosworth as Lois Lane.

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Also, I liked Superman Returns. The kid can be killed off with Kryptonite anyroad (look, in a film about a bloke flying around in his kecks they can magic up some more of that green stuff out of the blue, ok?)

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Please, Superman isn't Batman with Hulk strength at all which is the problem, its the whole boy scout goody pansy plus he's Superman.

The only Superman which I remotely enjoyed was the Morrison's All Star which would never work on film.

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The changes they'd need to make would be a reboot in all but name. The idea of a Superkid is, and will always be, terrible so they can't exactly get rid of that in a sequel. I quite like Routh as Superman but the rest of the cast was rubbish especially Bosworth as Lois Lane.

Agreed on both accounts - Routh really was good as Superman and Bosworth just didn't have the 'weight' to be Lois Lane.

Is it time for the Wachowski's to take over? I remember there was some discussion when Neo flew in Matrix Reloaded, that it'd be interesting to see what they could with the franchise (obviously this was well before Superman Returns).

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Please, Superman isn't Batman with Hulk strength at all which is the problem, its the whole boy scout goody pansy plus he's Superman.

The only Superman which I remotely enjoyed was the Morrison's All Star which would never work on film.

What? Yes, that's Superman. Or at least, as I understand it. I haven't read many Supeman comics because he's not Batman or Hulk (lol etc)

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Is it time for the Wachowski's to take over? I remember there was some discussion when Neo flew in Matrix Reloaded, that it'd be interesting to see what they could with the franchise (obviously this was well before Superman Returns).

They'd be an interesting choice but after Speed Racer was such a flop I'm not sure where they stand. They are still working with Warner as Ninja Assassins is being made by them but perhaps they'd want to tackle a smaller project first. Did I hear a rumoured Cowboy Bebop movie or was I imagining that?

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The changes they'd need to make would be a reboot in all but name. The idea of a Superkid is, and will always be, terrible so they can't exactly get rid of that in a sequel. I quite like Routh as Superman but the rest of the cast was rubbish especially Bosworth as Lois Lane.

I actually quite liked Returns, but the whole Superkid thing is just so insane, my jaw actually dropped in disbelief when that particular clanger was dropped. What possible potential they saw in the idea is beyond me, but there you go...

I thought Roth made a good Superman too, so I'd be sad to lose him.

Also, did I imagine a Superman: Man of Steel trailer I saw on the net the other day? If it was fan made, it was phenomenally good.

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I heard the were developing Plastic Man, with an eye to getting Keanu Reeves for the role.

Ah yes. That was a story originating from a German radio show wasn't it? They've been sniffing around Plastic Man for ages now but it seems a pretty risky project after Speed Racer (a film I really hope does well on DVD/BD).

I'd still prefer to see them tackle Cowboy Bebop or Lupin III (I know the latter was an influence for aspects of Speed Racer).

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Superman is so lame though.

He's Superman.

However, can't wait for the Green Lantern movie.

I agree with this person. He's just not a very good character. There's nothing interesting about him because he can do anything, and if someone DOES stop him, it always involves kryptonite in some way. Superman sucks.

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They should do 'Kingdom Come'. An actual aged grown man playing the lead rather than girlish boys.

SupermanJSA10.jpg

The story is set roughly a generation after the then-current DC universe. Ten years prior to the start of the story, the Joker massacres the staff of the Daily Planet, killing (among others) Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Lois Lane. As he arrives for his trial, he is killed by a new superhero named Magog. In an instance of Jury nullification, Magog is acquitted for his cold-blooded act and Superman is appalled by the public embracing a killer as a hero. Already disheartened at the death of Lois Lane, Kal-El abandons his life as Superman, retreating to his Fortress of Solitude where he will spend the next decade, failing to realize his importance as a constant inspiration/role model to other heroes. Other heroes, equally disturbed at the public's overwhelmingly positive reaction to Magog's actions, withdraw from the world at large.

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Dark works for Batman, he's a tragic character in a city teetering on the edge of madness. It doesn't work for Superman though, he's an ideal in a beautiful, shining city representing humanity's pinnacle.

They need to do something with him though, hopefully something with a bit more imagination than all the Matrix nutjobs who want mid-air fist fights and all that bullshit. His strength is but a minor part of what he is/can be and reducing him to just duking it out with some equally powerful bastard misses the point rather badly and simply drags him back down to our level.

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Whilst Kingdom Come would never happen I do quite like the idea of an older Superman even if Routh did a good approximation of Reeve. Someone like Mad Men's Jon Hamm would be good with Cate Blanchett as Lois. Of course the chances of Warner wanting to age the key characters is zero.

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He's not the kind of character that can suddenly get down and dirty. He's Superman. I guess he's a victim of his own powers. But then again, the comic book has been running for years and years, surely there must be a couple of villains worthy of moviedom?

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They need to do something with him though, hopefully something with a bit more imagination than all the Matrix nutjobs who want mid-air fist fights and all that bullshit. His strength is but a minor part of what he is/can be and reducing him to just duking it out with some equally powerful bastard misses the point rather badly and simply drags him back down to our level.

I think you can still please the action crowd whilst making him an interesting character, it is all about balance. TDK almost got it right - it had the action/character split down but it diluted the character of Batman by making it an ensemble piece*. Superman Returns didn't get it right at all. It didn't have the action and turned Superman into a strange inward looking stalker. He is a more complex character than what is portrayed on screen (and that includes the Donner films) but if the franchise is to move forward it is inevitably going to need those big set pieces to get bums on seats. The reason I want to see an equally powerful villain isn't so much because the action will look more spectacular but because without a strong villain it relies on Kryptonite to be an obstacle and it has been done to death on film.

*I'm in no way saying the next Superman film should be like TDK. It shouldn't be anywhere near as dark, as sprawling or aiming for realism.

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I'd agree that Superman just isn't a very compelling hero. He can do basically everything - super strength, ultra fast, laser eyes, ice breath, cellophane cape that traps people, can turn back time itself etc. His origins are dull and his surroundings are devoid of any grit. The guy's a relic.

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Whilst Kingdom Come would never happen I do quite like the idea of an older Superman even if Routh did a good approximation of Reeve. Someone like Mad Men's Jon Hamm would be good with Cate Blanchett as Lois. Of course the chances of Warner wanting to age the key characters is zero.

I was struggling to think of a suitable cast but you pretty much nailed it. LORDCOOKIE TO DIRECT!

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I'd agree that Superman just isn't a very compelling hero. He can do basically everything - super strength, ultra fast, laser eyes, ice breath, cellophane cape that traps people, can turn back time itself etc. His origins are dull and his surroundings are devoid of any grit. The guy's a relic.

His origin story is usually interesting enough and the tales of him in the Justice League are always good. Its just the bits inbetween that are a bit dull.

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I'm a bit disappointed if this is true - I was definitely interested in seeing what Bryan Singer would do with Film 2: the few comments that he and Routh had made about it sounded promising.

Superman Returns was very mixed, for me. For a start the film looked great, and overall I'm definitely glad it was made. But as much fun as Kevin Spacey was, the portrayal of Lex Luthor as a mad scientist is (All-Star Superman aside) generally less interesting than that of an untouchable Kingpin-esque businessmen. (His "Kryptonite continent and threat of alien weapons we never actually see" plot was pretty bizarre too.) And as much as I enjoyed the original theme tune, the Daily Planet's architecture, and Brandon Routh's Clark Kent's often uncanny resemblance to Reeve's, retaining the earlier films' continuity was probably a mistake.

Fortunately the plane/shuttle rescue was superb - one of my favourite action sequences of recent years. I admit that sometimes, all I want in a Superman film is to cheer along with the on-film crowd as he makes a spectacular rescue or strolls towards a blazing minigun... he's fundamentally a wish-fulfilment character, after all, and once in a while there's nothing wrong with that. :D

Having said that, I have to disagree with those who dismiss Superman as too overpowered be interesting as a character or to tell interesting stories around - there have been some great tales over the years (again, most recently Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman, whose tone is exactly the opposite of what the above article proposes). But to include characters on the same power level as him you usually have to team him with the JLA and/or send him into space. Come to think of it, making him the "space opera" superhero would at least be a change of setting from all the other comics movies around... but again that would be a massive deviation from what's been so successful with The Dark Knight.

If they're planning to reboot it, I can see them taking many of their cues from the Superman: Birthright origin story - knowing Lex Luthor growing up in Smallville for example. And since Batman Begins tried to make Batman's origin as plausible as possible, I can see them using Birthright's rationale for his "performance" as clumsy Clark Kent as well (there's a bit in that story where Perry White explicitly points out that he can't understand how someone so shy could be so successful as a journalist). The story also involves the public's mistrust of him as an alien (which Luthor does his best to spread), which is the kind of threat Superman can't just solve by punching, and is the kind of story you can only tell with a reboot of the character to a time before he's an established hero.

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Why, this sounds suspiciously like the work of cynical, soulless and worthless cunts who will never aspire to peddle anything other than shit so long as there are enough desperate fools willing to eat it.

Prove me wrong, you coke-addled twatbags!

Edit: changed shitbags to twatbags because otherwise it was just too much shit.

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