By Peter “Pops” Killip.
In 2002: In “An Evening With Kevin Smith” the no longer silent Bob is asked if he can shed any light on his brief stint on the aborted “Superman Reborn” project in the mid 90’s, being a born raconteur he regales the audience with an amusing cautionary tale of what could have happened if ex hairdresser and now producer Jon Peters had his way.
With highlights being: Sean Penn cast as Superman (as he’d been seen in “Dead Man Walking” at the time and had the “eyes of a caged animal, a fucking killer!”), no flying, no suit(both deemed “too faggy”) for Superman to fight a giant spider and Brainiac (the chief villain at the time) to wrestle with some polar bears…….how we laughed at the time. Rolled our eyes, to think: a huge comic adaptation blockbuster that ill-conceived.
FADE TO BLACK.
Cue title: 10 Years Later: Jon Peters “Man Of Steel” project gets greenlit…… With the tills still ringing in the ears of Warner Brothers and Legendary film studios after the hugely successful Dark Knight Trilogy, the smart money was on their not letting Chris Nolan pick free from his golden handcuffs too soon. Under the impression that he had a comic-book Midas touch with these films, he could deliver a meaner, edgier and darker Last Son Of Krypton to the youtube generation. Marvel could keep their “Movies for fans BY fans” approach, this would be the flipside of that scarred coin, a complete fresh start with the Canon friendly “Superman Returns” a now distant memory and the Dark Knight films something of a “how-to” guide for comic book adaptations.
When hearing that Zack Snyder (he of “Watchmen” and erm……”Sucker Punch” fame.) was at the helm as director and Nolan’s hands on as producer, I imitally thought this could REALLY work, if they make the decision to put in half as much leg work on the Clark Kent character as they did with the Bruce Wayne character then this could be a bloody interesting experiment. HOWEVER….what they’ve decided to go with is the alienation (forgive me) of the character and the brooding of his being an orphan playing forefront. More of the “Super” less of the “Man”, we’ve got Kevin Costner doing his bit for the “Best raised hand death scene” Oscar, a Superman who doesn’t fly as much as jump really high, Russell Crowe giving monosyllabic directions around a space ship, plastered on christ allegory, a Superman who won’t kill as it’s how he’s been raised up…….unless he REALLY has to and then feels REALLY Sad about it and finally: a complete disregard for the Clark Kent Persona.
Eliminating the Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle may indeed make it a little more streamlined, edgy and relatable to modern audiences but in a film where Russell Crowe flys off on a fucking dragon to escape a Zod shaped killing, let’s be honest: edgy and relatable left the building a good while ago.
Quick thought: If they’re going to run with this “realistic” vibe then will the sequel address the repair bill for Metropolis as the undoubted Millions upon millions of damages that Kal-el and his mate caused with their Matrix lite tusselling? All in all, it felt like a film made by committee, a cold , tonally confused mess with shoehorned tagline friendly dialogue(“Every person can be a force for good.” fuck right off) and where the studio ultimately didn’t know how to handle this new era of super hero film.
Judging by the Box Office takings thus far, a sequel is a no-brainer and a Justice League movie has been given the go ahead so they’re clearly getting the arses on seats. Boxes are being ticked it’d seem. Not for me mind you. However with a killing and non flying Superman and a brief cameo from a bloody Polar Bear, I dare say Jon Peters is one happy former hairdresser.
Well played Sir, well played.
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