My view on the Wachowski Bros possible involvement in WB SUPERMAN Franchise
With rumors flying that the Wachowski Bros, of Matrix fame, have been offered the Superman franchise over at Warner Bros, one has to wonder if that would be a good idea or bad. With the superhero film still being the hottest commodity in Hollywood, the studio certainly want to keep the man of steel flying on the big screen but there’s no doubt they are also still somewhat shell-shocked at the over all box-office of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. It pulled in $391,081,192 worldwide on a reported production budget of $291,000,000 (that according to Boxofficemojo.com.). While not awful, it’s still a far cry from The Dark Knight’s almost billion dollar worldwide gross.
As for the movie itself, there was a clear disconnect between critics and the general movie going audience. On Rotten Tomatoes, Superman Returns has a 77% positive rating, with many reviews being outright raves. Unfortunately the public didn’t see it the same way. Many fans complained of a several different things; namely that the film lacked substantial action, the recycled plotline involving Lex Luthor and real estate; and, its focus on the Clark/ Lois love story was not what many were looking for in a Superman film in the 21 century. While I agree with some of the criticism I still enjoyed the film overall. Although, if I were making the decisions over at the studio, I wouldn’t bring back Singer as I feel the franchise should go in a different direction. Singer, for some reason, felt compelled to make his film an extension of Donner’s original Superman movie and never really updated the concept for a new generation. For that reason alone WB would be wise to find a different vision.
There’s no doubt the Wachowski’s would create strong interest among fans and give the material a very different spin. Whether it would prove to be a success is anyone’s guess but I would be willing to give them the opportunity to create something very special. At this point it’s clearly better to go forward than to live in the past. I still believe Superman is one of movies more viable comic book heroes and, with the right storyline (I would prefer a realistic and very menacing alkita like terrorist type plotline), he would be embraced by movie fans once again in a very big way. At the end of the day, the Wachowski’s will need a really good script to make this a successful endeavor. That will be the most important factor re-booting this franchise once again. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
In a footnote, I finally got a chance to check out the Richard Donner cut of Superman 2 and was stunned how bad it was. Being a huge fan of Superman 2 (I think it’s one of the great superhero films ever made), it’s very apparent that WB made the right choice bringing in director Richard Lester. His 1980 version had the right touch that made the story both fun and exciting. His addition of the Eiffel tower opening sequence is far superior to Donner’s awkward opening which starts off with Lois challenging Clark about whether he might be Superman, which feels rushed and confusing. Lester’s interpretation of that very scene doesn’t take place until 40 minutes in and it’s in a totally different location. The timing is much better and works beautifully. Overall, Donner’s cut turns a great film into a mediocre one at best. His version feels flat and all the fun of Lester’s cut is literally sucked out with a way too serious overtone. Being a fan of Donner’s work, and his original Superman film, I must admit I was stunned with his vision of the material and I’m glad it never saw the light of day – unless you buy the DVD of course, which I did.
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