Lessons Hollywood missed from Christopher Reeve's Superman

Feature Rob Leane 4 Jun 2014 - 06:29

The Christopher Reeve-headlined Superman saga taught Hollywood lots of lessons - many of which it ignored...

This article contains spoilers for Superman: The Movie, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Amazing Spider-Man.

The Christopher Reeve Superman saga, which kicked off with Richard Donner’s seminal superhero blockbuster Superman: The Movie in 1978, taught future directors, writers and producers plenty of valuable lessons.

That first instalment showed us that it only takes two hours and 20 minutes to tell a superheroic origin story as well as leaving time for a good-versus-evil struggle in the final act, offering a plotting formula that laid the groundwork for all the best superhero films since. Whereas print comic books had established themselves over decades-long development arcs, Donner’s big screen introduction to Superman proved that you could summarise, amalgamate and streamline stories effectively for the screen outside the world of cheap B-movie serials. A lesson that Hollywood must have paid very close attention to, given the slate of cinematic releases in the years since.

Grounding fantastical elements in a pseudo-realistic world was also mastered by Donner. By investing audiences in the staff of the Daily Planet, Clark’s adoptive parents and the pre-Superman world before gradually introducing the big blue flying dude with laser eyes, Superman: The Movie became an inspiration for a generation of filmmakers. You could argue that this gradual introduction of the ridiculous affected everything since, with Batman Begins standing out as a particularly potent example. Not for nothing did the eventual deluxe Dark Knight trilogy boxset have a long chat between Christopher Nolan and Richard Donner as its standout extra feature.

Later, Donner's less-loved replacement Richard Lester even had a decent stab at handling the fairly obvious secret identity problem by having Supes fess up to Lois before deciding to wipe her memory (albeit by using a dodgy unexplained ability). What could have been a difficult translation from the page (where the differences between Clark and Superman can be exaggerated by illustrators), instead became a big emotional moment. The Amazing Spider-Man handled the secret identity plot point in a similar way, having Peter tell Gwen everything before regretting his decision and trying to keep her out of it.

What Hollywood didn’t pick up on though was the negative lessons it could have learnt from this inaugural cinematic superhero series. There were plenty of ‘what not to do’ moments in the franchise which seemingly fell on deaf ears, and continue to be repeated by major studios. Here are the now-common blockbuster problems the original Superman saga highlighted…

Auteurs can’t be replaced with mouldable stand-ins

Let’s start with one of the biggies. In the production period for 1980’s Superman II, a creative bust-up saw Richard Donner depart the series he had been integral in building. The director had intended to helm the follow-up and had shot approximately 75% of footage for it in a back-to-back shoot with the original back in 1977.

After this initial shoot, Donner shut down production to complete working on the first film. After its huge success, Donner fell out with the Salkinds (the father-son production pair behind the series), with Donner’s disagreeable response to a ‘more campy’ tone being the widely accepted reason behind the row.

Did the Salkinds respond by begging their auteur and Godfather of a new sub-genre which would go onto dominate the global box office to come back? Of course not. Their decision, which of course wasn’t the first of its kind in Hollywood, was to hire someone who would get the job done and, most importantly, do as they were told.

Enter Richard Lester, uncredited Line Producer on Superman: The Movie who finished the sequel, added in campier elements and cut Marlon Brando for being too expensive, despite his character’s actions being a major motivation for the villainous Zod.

Superman II survived and still stands as a must-see superhero flick, presumably thanks in no small part to Donner’s influence. The rest of the franchise hugely suffered and eventually completely failed as a result of this decision, though. The terrific book Superman Vs Hollywood details the story in some depth.

Worst example since: Although the Ant-Man falling-out currently unfolding has a similar whiff to it, Tim Burton’s departure from his Batman series around 1993 is the prime example of this lesson not being learnt. Camp was in and gothic was out, with Burton and the franchise’s credibility leaving with it as Joel Schumacher ushered in the grimmest days of Batman on the big screen. X-Men: The Last Stand is probably worthy of a namecheck too...

Beware of silly comedy characters

After Superman II came Superman III, naturally. What didn’t feel natural was the huge wave of changes, though. In fact, other than a superb sequence when Superman's darker rogue self fights Clark, this sequel was generally disappointing (although lots of us still enjoy it). This wasn’t a slightly camper take on a Donner-initiated movie, Lester was at the helm throughout and presented a veritable festival of camp in all its… what’s the opposite of glory?

Worst of all the changes and new additions was the introduction of Richard Pryor as Gus Gorman, the bumbling-unemployed-man-turned-vital-computer-genius who was brought into the fold to add some ‘much needed’ comedy to proceedings (and, to be fair, we did as a consequence get to explore what Superman III teaches us about 80s computer programming).

Cue drawn-out naff jokes, ridiculous money-making schemes and a spectacular set piece (with a painfully long build-up) which saw Gus skiing off the top of a building with a makeshift pink cape on after realising he can’t actually ski. This is where he also fall from a huge height, but landed with no problem.

This introduction seems to be symptomatic of very simple Hollywood thinking - children and families must want idiots larking about to be their primary source of entertainment, right? Recent Doctor Who series (amongst over things) have proved that kids can more than handle complex narratives and smarter humour, but try telling big studios that back in the 1980s.

Worst example since: Thankfully future superhero movies steered reasonably clear of this pitfall, but Hollywood in general did not. George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace introduced, to a chorus of whatever the opposite of deight is, CGI buffoon Jar Jar Binks in 1999. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been on an upturn since then.

Packing in more stuff doesn’t equal a good movie

Next up was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace which saw big budget cuts, a glamorous Milton Keynes shoot and an over-stuffed (and over-rubbish) story pummel the last remaining life out of the franchise (we looked at 10 remarkable things about Superman IV right here).

The plot featured the return of Lex Luthor (and the introduction of his superfluous gnarly nephew), an unwanted takeover of the Daily Planet, Clark getting seduced by his new boss’ daughter, the creation and destruction of Nuclear Man, the United Nations debating nuclear weapons, Superman ‘dying’ and coming back, a mysterious Kryptonian energy module being found and a sidelined side-plot involving Clark’s refusal to sell his adoptive family’s former home.

The whole narrative sounds like the writers Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, who have worked on various better productions including The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, confused ‘things happening’ with actual plot-points, narrative structure and character development. That said, there's every chance their screenplay was basically kneecapped by the late, substantive chop in the film's budget.

Oh, another lesson from this script might be that stars don’t always know best, seeing as the falling-flat nuclear armament subplot was Reeve’s idea.

Throughout Superman IV, the narrative is so bad that it fails to distract you from the shoe-string budget effects and overall cheapness of the film at all. In truth, there's still no hint of a great story untold here.

Worst example since: Despite no budgetary issues, the cramming-too-much-in problem was what ruined Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, with three villains, Spidey going bad, lost love and hip dance segments forcing Sony to press the big red reboot button.

Handle villains carefully

The villains in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace demand their own section here, with Lex Luthor and his new creation Nuclear Man making for a truly awful double act. Legend has it that Reeve wanted an environmental theme if the producers wanted him to stay for the sequel, which of course they did.

The result was Mark Pillow (in his one and only feature length part) as Nuclear Man, a near-mute solar-powered villain with terrifying features including … very long fingernails! The horror. In his quest to take him down, Superman must trap him in a lift, and then put said lift on the moon. When that doesn’t work, Superman follows him around, cleans up his mess and then chucks him in a nuclear reactor.

An idea as bad as inventing a villain so clearly politically-motivated that it verges on parody may not make it through Hollywood meetings these days, but the way in which Nuclear Man’s introduction hindered Gene Hackman’s much-loved Luthor is the kind of thing we still see in modern superhero cinema.

By introducing Nuclear Man, Konner and Rosenthal essentially nullified Hackman’s performance. Many loved Hackman’s wise-cracking, real-estate-obsessed Luthor, but Nuclear Man’s arrival (and that of Lex’s nephew) meant the greatest criminal mind of the generation had his screen time, character development and laugh-factor hugely limited.

At the time, perhaps the producers thought Superman would be enough to carry the movie. We know now though, after Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Tom Hiddleston’s comic book roles (amongs others), that a good villain can distinguish a truly great superhero film from the rest of the pack. That hasn’t stopped numerous new films failing to do their baddies justice though.

(Incidentally, there's a very good interview with Mark Pillow, the man who played Nuclear Man, right here).

Worst example since: Thor: The Dark World jumps immediately to mind, despite being a bit of a reversal. Here the return of a much-loved adversary (Loki) totally outshines the new introduction (Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith), leaving the latter very underdeveloped. It feels like Malekith got the chop in post-production...

Fans will always pick up on flaws of logic

When remembering the latter stage of this franchise with its silly villains, comedy characters and campy downfall, it’s easy to forget that even Donner’s brilliant franchise opener Superman: The Movie wasn’t without its 'what not to do' moments.

The film’s ending, which saw The Big Blue Boy Scout fly incredibly quickly around the earth to rewind time and save Lois, sparked outcry and speculation from comic book fans, making it one of the few dislikeable features of the classic film.

Did Superman go so quickly that he broke the speed of light and time-travelled himself, or did his spin somehow rotate the earth backwards which somehow rewound time? Either way, many see it as a fairly big goof. Claiming that a backwards Earth rotation would alter time is just silly, while assuming that Superman can time-travel begs one big question - why doesn’t he use that power all the time?

Donner clearly doesn’t think giving Superman this ability was a mistake though. The 2006 re-edit of Superman II - known as the Donner version - saw Supes use the same technique again. Fans have never stopped speculating about this ability, which doesn’t appear in the comics, with many still considering it an error. The franchise was littered with a few other questionable powers too, including Superman’s convenient ‘amnesia kiss’, Zod’s abnormal telekinetic pointing powers and Supes' random ability to rebuild walls with his eyes.

These may all seem like minor problems, and they probably go unnoticed by a lot of casual viewers, but they do prove one lesson – fans will always pick up on errors in logic, continuity goofs and silly creative decisions. If you don’t want to leave even the slightest post-film sour taste with fans or incur significant online scrutiny, you should be very careful when dealing with properties featuring fantastical elements and/or fervent fan-bases. We all know how Hollywood took that lesson…

Worst example since: There’s a fair few to choose from, but Star Trek Into Darkness is possibly the most notorious example in recent years. Just like Superman’s time-travel which made his future adventures seem a bit pointless, Khan’s ability to beam from one planet to another makes huge spaceships pretty useless whilst his lifesaving blood potentially renders future adventures totally harmless.

All in all then, there are plenty of 'what not to do' tips that Hollywood could have learned from this troubled quadrilogy, on top of the vital lessons in style and plotting that Donner’s Superman: The Movie delivered.

If Hollywood execs had considered the pitfalls of this franchise back in the 1980s we could have ended up in a world with less silly errors, no Gungans stepping in poop, fewer mishandled villains, sequels which weren’t over-stuffed and no Joel Schumacher Batman films…

So who wants to fly around the earth really quickly to go back and warn them?

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Fantastic! I love this article. The old Superman film is still a firm favourite and giving it context against modern cinema is fascinating.

surely under the comedy characters section special mention must be made for Rob Schneider in Judge Dredd, toe-curlingly bad!!!

The "memory wipe" ending wasn't Donner's, it was Lester's.

The whole earth spinning backwards resulted in one of my most humiliating school incidents, when I asked a teacher "What would happen if the earth spun backwards?". I got some abuse from the teacher about how ridiculous a question that was, and felt about 2 inches tall. It didn't seem so daft at the time, because I had recently heard that the earths poles can change from time to time, and this was a big deal to me.

Also, in the defence of Into Darkness (if there is any) that planet to planet beaming technology as I understood it was a one way trip. The device sent Khan to Kronos, but the device was left behind, hence Scotty found it and found his equation in it. Also, it was his equation, which suggests that the equation exists in the future anyway. You could argue that if you flew to every planet and dropped off one of those long distance transporters, you would have everything covered, but you still need the ships and the deep space missions to do that. And isn't Kronos relatively close to earth?

Great article! Many good points here. Although I don't think the rewinding of time was first and foremost a problem for fans: It was - as you remarked - just silly. And everyone could see that, whether they had read a comic book or not.
Comedy characters don't just ruin superhero comics, they don't do much good for any action or sci-fi or what have you-flick (except comedies, perhaps). Imagine if somebody had tried to make The Joker funny? There has been quite a few attempts in the comic, after all. Luckily, even Jack Nicholson's Joker was pretty scary.

What a good read that was!

I was ok with the time travel thing because at the start of the film, his father tells him he is by NO MEANS allowed to change history. He can help, but he can't interfere with their future.

So I guess this was Donners way of showing just how much he cared for Lois. He went against his father’s instructions and altered history to save the woman he loved.

What will never sit well with me is the last act of Superman II in his Fortress of Solitude. I will never quite understand the giant ‘S’ logo cling-film wrap he throws from his chest. How he appears several times at once and how he turned himself into an ice sculpture.

Also, in Superman IV, there is a scene where Nuclear Man takes Lacy Warfield into space and she has no problem breathing. Bit odd how they missed that one.

The word "re-edit" makes it sound like that the Richard Donner cut of Superman II just copied and pasted the Superman: The Movie ending of spinning the Earth backwards in time. In reality the spinning the Earth scene was originally filmed for Superman II but in the last minute inserted into Superman: The Movie. The production team were unsure if Superman: The Movie would be a success or not and it's intended "to be continued" ending of Zod, Ursa and Non being released from their prison by the nuclear missile Superman shot out in space looked like a huge gamble - they had run out of money and it looked unlikely that Superman II would ever be finished. So instead they decided to kill Lois off for a big emotional scene at the end and inserted the ending of Superman II to undo her death.

The Richard Donner cut of Superman II is based on the version of Superman II that Richard Donner was working on in the seventies. i.e. before he knuckled down and finished Superman: The Movie. Hence the inclusion of the spinning the earth scene, which was the mechanism that the "amnesia kiss" replaced in the theatrical version.

In fairness the scene works a bit better in the Richard Donner cut as it includes scenes with Lois and Perry that show time flowing backwards which couldn't be used in Superman: The Movie.

Still a silly concept though.

You see Richard Lester as a mere 'mouldable stand-in', not an auteur? Rather bold statement, isn't it?

I hated him SO much in that film. In fact, I hated EVERYTHING about that film.

Actually, having a think about it, Schneider was probably the best thing in it!

Having grown up with 2000 AD and loving how dark it was, I could not believe my eyes when that piece of crap film was released.

Possibly the 1st time I have come close to walking out of a cinema.

Although Mario Bros came a close 2nd to a walkout.

It does sound a bit harsh now that you mention it. I just meant that, in the case of Superman II, he was brought in to fulfil the producers' vision when their original director didn't want to.

I know that wasn't how he spent his whole career, but in that instance I see him as a mouldable stand-in. Just my opinion.

I would have thought that if the earth slowed down and stopped spinning, we would all float away as there would be no gravity.

For that reason, I think we should try.

Good spot, amended!

do you think if we all push west we could get off this planet?

Yeah, I had an issue with the label of "stand in" thrown at the director of A Hard Day's Night.

We'd be stupid not to.

thankfully I never saw Mario Bros at the cinema...Judge Dredd though...oh god what did they do. At least Karl Urban's take on it somewhat made up for it.

we probably need to get this out to everyone...Facebook, Twitter, YouTube...MySpace...well Facebook and Twitter at least.

No, there would still be gravity, there would be no day or night though as you'd be stuck with whatever was there when the earth stopped.

We could call the group, 'Go West'.

Or does that have a different meaning??

Thank you for this. People like to deify the early Superman films as if they were perfect. Man of Steel, while it had its flaws, was a far superior handling of the character that was much more in keeping with the depiction of the character in the comics and animation.

Heath Ledgers' Joker is hilarious, in an appropriately dark way.

I first saw that movie when I was a kid obviously so the reversing time thing never bothered me. Imagine if Man Of Steel had done that at the end, though? The internet would have exploded.

True. He's not a 'comic character' though, is he? Characters in non-comedies whose primary role is to be funny, suck.

One of my favourites.

Haha so Schneider was the best thing about the film, and he was utterly dreadful? A damning verdict.

I walked out of the Expendables 2.

It did explode though. With the whole neck breaking thing.

Doesn't matter what happens, the internet will always explode with people not happy about something.

There were loads of changes in Man of Steel that made fans un happy, but as a film, i loved it.

The fact his dad dies in a twister as opposed to a heart attack was also a big one for internet folk.

I applaud you there.

I enjoyed Man of Steel, too. Although I could have done without the rather boring action scenes at the end.

You're right though, with a character as iconic as Superman, screenwriters can't do right for doing wrong - somebody will always be unhappy about something.

Forgot about Gus Gorman. I always loved the part that one week he was signing on, and the next week (after the obligatory one week intensive college course) became a master hacker. Never saw Supes 4, thank the lord.

Yeah if they are brought in for the sole purpose of being funny without any added motivation, things tend not to go well.

that's perfect...we'd need a camp 80's synth song to keep people going though, any suggestions?

see it's all true...Education was better in the 80's!

Nuclear man was HOT

The Superman movies were about one thing and one thing only: Christopher Reeves filling the iconic role in a way that the actor himself has become the embodiment of the character. When you close your eyes and think about Superman, Reeves and his take immeidately pop into the minds of anyone who has ever seen him in the movies. Just look at every photo of him in the suit the article posts, and you actually believe that Superman is a real, living person that could exist.

As for Hack-man, I for one DETESTED his protrayl of Luthor (though a large part was how the character was written), mostly because of his refusal to be bald save for one scene each movie. Hack-man added absolutely nothing to the role, and the first movie ceases being great the instant we follow the even more useless Otis into the subway where we are introduced to "the greatest criminal mind that has ever lived".

Seriously? Which comic or show has EVER shown him as whiney or mopey as he was in Man of Steel? Instead of always having the desire to use his powers for good, MoS wants us to believe that Clark has gone out of his way to distance himself from humanity, then ONLY appears once Zod and his fellow Kryptonians out him and destroy half of Metropolis! So, instead of spending years being a hero on Earth that the people know and trust, he just suddenly appears to the public from out of nowhere and knocks down dozens of buildings before PUBLICALLY KILLING ZOD! How the hell is anyone supposed to trust this Superman, especially when the first time they see him is after his own alien people out him, and his VERY FIRST PUBLIC ACT IS TO EXECUTE SOMEONE!?!?
As a reader of Superman comics goin back 20 years, and a watcher of every cartoon (and all of Smallville), I am more than qualified to comment on this post. The original Superman movies were FAR from perfect, but the ONE CONSTANT THING THEY GOT RIGHT WAS REEVES DEAD-ON DEPICTION OF THE CHARACTER! The real problem with MoS lies with the wrter David Goyer, who wrote all the Dark Knight movies and collaborated with WB, Chris Nolan, and Zack Snyder to make MoS's Superman as "dark" as Batman, thus proving they fundementally don't understand the character. Goyer is the worst, becuase just like he destroyed the character of Batman after the horrendous Dark Knight Rises (after nailing it in The Dark Knight), he nearly did the same with his cavalier attitude about Superman killing someone with basically zero consequences! And the WORST part about Superman killing Zod is how you KNOW future films aren't even going to bring it up, despite the way it fundementally changes EVERYTHING about the character (kinda the same way the original Batman films did when he failed/refused to save dying villains, and even caused most of their deaths (Joker, Penquin. Two-Face). If I lived in Superman's world, why would I not fully expect him to simly kill each and every bad guy that promises to never stop trying to do so? What happens when he refuses to kill Luthor or Brainiac, and the public simply points to him killing Zod?

We reach. He's the Scrappy Doo of Comic Book movies!

Every character that's ever been created is open to interpretation when somebody knew starts writing the character, including Superman.

I can tell you're very passionate about Supes - and that's great - but I don't think its really up to any fan (no matter how long they've been reading the comics) to say what is and what isn't Superman.

All characters evolve with the times and, in today's age of 'serious' superhero movies (eg The Dark Knight trilogy), then I'm glad to see a version of Superman in that style.

Nobody is saying this is the definitive Superman. This is the way movies in 2013 interpreted him. Personally, I liked it a lot.

Do you know what whiney or mopey even means? You really missed the whole point of the movie. Fans like you really hold the rest of us back. Man of Steel was not a dark movie and you have a weak constitution if you think it is.

Superman saved the world in Man Of Steel.As for the neck snap, he had no choice but to kill Zod as he was going to burn that small group of people in half and keep on killing people.I would say the people of Metropolis regard Supes as a hero for saving them.Also, before the invasion began, Superman was willing to give himself up to Zod and sacrifice his life to save the earth.Pretty heroic stuff if you ask me.

Actually the job of the film maker with a long existing character is to capture the essence of the character. This was in no way done in man of steel. The character did kill in his early years but has long since evolved from that place. He has killed in more modern times but it been vary seldom that he has done this. The number of times could be counted on one hand. To depict him as a killer in a a movie in no way captures the essence of the character. In the comics there are thousands of stories where he doesn't kill. How many Superman movies are there? Just a handful really. If someone who knew nothing about Superman(like a child) they would think that killing is something he does like a cop would. But he is supposed to represent something higher. That is what the character has evolved into in his 75 years of existence. In the movie Superman says his symbol means hope. There is no hope in that movie.., I felt weary after watching it from the incessant battling..

your teacher was a prick tbh

Great article, really enjoyed reading! I also disliked Richard Pryor in the third movie. It became more about the comic actor than about Superman, and I think the producers at the time were just pandering to Pryor's wishes. As regards to the pink tablecloth moment, Reeve also found it in "poor taste", as he says in his autobiography Still Me.
Looking back at Superman IV, it was just awful. But I still really enjoyed parts of the movie that retained some form of the orginal Superman movie. Particularly the chopping and changing from Superman to Clark at the dinner party with Lacey and Lois. Plus, there's something about seeing the wires flash by when Nuclear Man and Superman fight on the moon that strikes a chord here. It ruins the suspension of disbelief for sure, but at not one point did I believe that Superman couldn't fly, and that really shows how fantastic Reeve was in the role. But I'm going to borrow from Reeve's Still Me again: "The less said about Superman IV the better."

I know the 80's rocked.

I've heard this before about the ending of Superman I originally being
intended for Superman II. It makes me think that we need a Donner
version not only of Superman II, but also for the first film, since it's
ending was originally different. Because watching Superman I and
Superman II Donner version back to back is ridiculous, with the time
travel ending for both films. I'd love to watch them back to back as
close to how Donner intended as possible. As much as I love Donner,
though, I actually like the theatrical release of Supes II better than
the Donner version. Largely because of the
flying-around-the-earth-reversing-time ending.

It also
makes me think of how Lucas originally didn't intend the Death Star
battle to be in Star Wars, but he wrote it into the end because he
wasn't sure if he would get to make a sequel.

Christopher Reeve's speech at the end of Superman IV is brilliant.
I defy anyone to argue with me!

If they made the film the way you wanted it would end up like Watchmen.
Boring, irrelavant and pizazz....bit like the remake of DREDD actually with it's Volkwagens and Sweaty Leathers

On the subject of "made up powers", the "amnesia kiss" from Superman III was a classic WTF moment, but I cannot let this article pass without mentioning these two stinkers from Superman II:

In the final battle in the Fortress of Solutide when he grabs a celophane 'S' logo from his chest and throws it at Zod. WTF? Just, WTF?

And then they do the whole teleporting/holographic projection game where Superman says "I used to play this at school... Never was very good at it." WTF? He went to school at Smallville, here on Earth, right? And there he played a teleporting game with his buddies? Errr... OK.

And then in superman III the whole idea of a mega-computer controlling all of the computers in the entire world, including the little green men in traffic lights (which are technically just light bulbs not computers). I mean, just.... W. T. F. even in the year 2014 with the Internet it makes no sense that a central megamind computer would cause the green man light to climb up on to the red man's area and beat him up. In the 80's the idea was even more nonsensical.

A man in red pants flying around caching bad guys however was perfectly plausible. They ruined it with minor logic errors!

It was OK I guess but for me, even as a child, it felt like Christopher Reeve was speaking, not Superman. I could sense the whole thing of Reeve using this movie as a vehicle to spread peace and love.

"Man of Steel, while it had its flaws, was a far superior handling of the character"

No it wasn't. Reeves' was an unforgettable and majestic portrayal of Superman. He looked the part, talked the part, WAS the part. He had an heroic appearance never matched by anyone else.

Henry who?

Of course he had a choice. He's Superman! Could have used his super-speed to move the people to safety, or fly Zod out of the room, or just cover Zod's eyes up. It was the crowning ridiculous moment in a ridiculous movie.

Fade To Grey?

Maybe Fade To Grey?

Jack Nicholson's Joker is also funny - the manic laughter is almost contagious. But it just takes a second before you remember that you're laughing at a grisly murder.
Ledger's Joker had quite a few great lines, but as you say, in an approriately dark way.

Awesome article and on the money . I especially agree on the 'replacing auteurs' part. Oh Disney Marvel, you are flying close to destroying your own franchise if you continue to suck individuality out of ALL films. And Fox of all horrors just knocked out a rather good X-Men film by a big director. How things can change so quickly.

The game he was probably referring to was Concentration, or Memory, where you have to remember where the cards are so you can find a match. That's my guess.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Reeve truly was an exceptional human being, not unlike how Superman is supposed to be. Another lesson that Hollywood has failed to learn.

Pryor was in III, but the quote you give was about IV....

I think you have perfectly valid points, but in the end, the Superman movies were made for kids,as well as adults so they needed to put some humor in there.

Hey, some people just have the touch.

I have to completely disagree. Yes, the Reeve Superman movies had many flaws, but one of them was not the depiction of the character of Superman or Clark Kent. If nothing else, that's the one thing that was absolutely spot on. People can argue day and night about whether Superman is the real person, and Clark Kent is the disguise, or whether It's Clark Kent with Superman as the disguise. This dichotomy has been hashed out many times in comics and movies. Reeves, I think, played it as a combination, he is both Superman and Clark Kent. As for the rest of it, hate all you want.


It boils down to the writers, they wanted Superman to kill, so they made sure to put him in a situation where he would kill. Honestly, I have no problem with him killing Zod, he actually does so in the comics (an alternative universe Zod), but, as a result of this Superman loses his marbles a bit, and develops a dual personality and eventually exiles himself from the earth. If Supes had not killed Zod, and had banished him to a phantom zone, then, two movies later he came back and caused more damage, THEN Supes killed him, that would have been better. Then also, even though the killing was justified, Supes punishes himself over it. That, I think would have been more true to who Superman really is.

You guys suck, get with the times.

Oh please, dark and brooding characters are everywhere, It's a consequence of the whole Gen X thing. The Avengers movie was not dark and brooding and it did well. They don't need to take what is a positive and uplifting character and make him something he's not just to make a buck. I really think their choice hurt the franchise a bit.

Amen Lorrak.

Haha! Who wants comedy in a COMIC book???? Amiright?

Actually, the spinning of the earth would actually have the opposite effect. The centrifugal force of the spinning of the earth pushes pushes us away from the gravity of the earth. If the spinning stops, we actually will be smashed into the earth because of the earth's stronger pull on us. Something to think about before you try to do anything funny.

And he didn't know how he was doing the hacking. If you freeze-frame the classroom scene and look at his screen, he's programming in BASIC. I guess that's what passed for hacking back then. LOL

I think both series have merit. "Superman Returns" however, was a steaming pile.

No, he didn't have a choice. He was barely holding Zod back from frying the people. If he had hesitated, that family would have been toast.

Okay, I see your point, but Superman killed Nuclear Man in part IV by dumping him into a nuclear reactor. And he killed Zod in Superman II (although one can argue that the 3 villains lived and were arrested, if you count the deleted scene as canon).

Quite literally!

I will disagree with that. Sure there was very little action, but Routh did a fantastic job at doing Superman/Kent. Sure, he tried to emulate Reeve a bit, but he did make it his own in some ways. There was lots of character development too. Sure, he went with the tired Luthor land grab ploy, and it was kind of lame. The movie was actually meant (in some ways) as a direct sequel to Superman I and II (completely ignoring III and IV). If viewed that way, I think it becomes a stronger movie as well. I really wish that singer had been allowed to make another one, I think he would have made it more action packed and it would have made more fans happy.

Dredd had more than its fair share of comedy characters and Schneiders character was named for, if not actually based on Fergee, King of the big smelly; Walter the Wobot was a particularly awful creation, out Jar Jar-ing Star Wars, and Judge Cal was both evil and ridiculous in equal measure.

For a certain generation of moviegoers, Reeve WAS Superman.

Its a different generation now and for the next few years Henry Cavill IS Superman to kids who will grow up with his movies.

And then what? How else was the fight supposed to end? Zod would keep on trying to kill people and no cage on earth would hold him.Zod said it himself during the fight '' This ends only one way Kal, either you die or i do! ''.

Supes HAD to take him down.At least he didnt grin like an idiot just like Reeves Superman did in Superman 2.

Too often the comic sidekick is a stand-in for explaining every plot point or telling how adventurous the adventure is ("are we really - fill in something hilariously unrealistic ?" - "I knew it, it was... fill in a ridiculous plot twist"). Or it is used as a stand-in for the audience ("wow, I really do this and that with... whoever is cool in the movie").
It is mostly unneeded or painfully obvious. Or both. But they might never learn that lesson.

Even Steven Spielberg was a mouldable stand-in in Indy 4. It can happen to the best, I guess. Paul Verhoeven said he lost all his professional confidence on Hollow Man. Sam Raimi and Tim Burton just fulfilled what the studio demanded. David Fincher started his career as a stand-in. Most great auteurs get broken by executives while doing big blockbusters. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Andrei Konchalovsky, Marc Foster, just to name a few.

Warner can't handle positive and uplifting (Green Lantern). But I'm okay with that. They get the dark and broody right, Marvel owns the positive and uplifting. It just gets annoying, when others try too hard to copy either way (Amazing Spider-Man).

Sorry, but I'm afraid you're mistaken. Reeve directly refers to the third movie and the humour they used as "poor taste". He then finishes by saying that the rest of Superman III was a "misconception" on pg 203 of my copy of Still Me.

I think what you meant to say was: "This has been a fascinating exchange of views and I respect your right to think differently from me."

Superman could time travel in the comics. It was an ability he used all the time in Legion of Superheroes to journey from the 20th Century to 30th Century Earth.

Ironically, Marvel comics have always been darker and better at dealing with darker issues, they took on things like aids, spouse abuse, drug abuse and persecution and other grave issues, while DC comics has usually kept away from too much of that stuff.

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