Although I was a fan of Superman comics since childhood, I had no great love for Richard Donner’s Superman movies. It was not a fan boy disdain for a movie that wasn’t an exact copy of the comics, but that the 1978 Superman The Movie just didn’t live up to the hype. Mario Puzo, writer of The Godfather, wrote the story for both Superman and Superman II, so for me, the expectations were pretty high. Instead, I got a story in which at the end of the film, Superman goes back in time and fixes everything. That’s functionally no different than the character waking up to discover it was all a dream. To me, that has to be one of the worst endings for a major motion picture. No matter what they paid Mario Puzo for that, it was too much.
So I didn’t have exceptionally high expectations for Man of Steel. I suppose that’s the best way to go into a movie since I ended up enjoying it without bringing my Mario Puzo baggage into the theater. It was Superman recast as more of a Science Fiction movie. Superman who grew up not knowing his origins and who he was, and a Superman who (spoiler alert –bail now if you haven’t seen the movie) actually goes too far and kills his nemesis, General Zod.
Although Man of Steel was no Avengers or Star Trek, it was on a tier just below that; a good retelling of the origin and a good possible springboard for future movies involving superheroes from the DC Universe including a Justice League movie. Warner would love to capture the magic that The Avengers has brought. I just don’t think it’s possible to replicate that with the DC Universe. There are too many differences that would prevent that.
For one thing, the known characters are lame. With the exception of Batman, most of the DC characters that Warner has to pull from their grab bag just would not be interesting on film. Wonder Woman is a character that has been attempted for movie and film for years, including a series developed for this fall, and one planned for last fall and they just couldn’t make it work. It’s hard to take a character inspired from Greek mythology and fit it into the same Science Fiction Universe that Man of Steel has created. The Martian Manhunter is so powerful as to be almost god-like, and would look ridiculous outside of an animated treatment. Green Lantern, although it didn’t exactly bomb, failed to generate any excitement and it would be hard to argue that character deserved another shot (although The Hulk got exactly that kind of makeover for Avengers). It’s possible though. There are multiple Green Lanterns to choose from. If Hal Jordan doesn’t work, there is also John Stewart, Guy Gardiner, and Kyle Rayner. One of them is bound to work.
And then there is Aquaman. Less said about him the better.
Although it’s just in the rumor stage, it’s possible that Warner may try to pull a reverse Avengers and do a Justice League movie first then spin out stand alone movies from there. That would be an exceedingly bad idea in my opinion. None of the Marvel characters used in the Avengers were really that well known (with the exception of the Hulk). They had name recognition, but no knowledge of the characters and no reason for the movie going public to have an interest in them until that interest was created by the stand alone movies. Those stand alone movies made the appearance of characters like Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man appearing in a single movie an event.
Marvel walked before it ran, and that’s what DC needs to do.
How, you may ask? If it were up to me, I would make the Man of Steel sequel a Superman/Batman movie. Since Batman has to be recreated and reimagined anyway, why not make the next movie one in which the Batman character is introduced as living in the same movie Universe as Superman? Given the popularity of Batman, if you can’t draw fantastic box office numbers with a movie that has both Superman and Batman, there is no point doing a Justice League movie.
Creatively I think it would make for a great movie. In the comics, Batman was often able to get the upper hand on his super powered buddies by thinking several steps ahead. Superman plays checkers, Batman plays chess. Naturally enough, a super powered being would tend to rely on those same super powers as a solution to any problem, but in a world of super powered people, how does a normal human compete?
With his mind of course.
Just an idea, and if it doesn’t work, Superman can always go back in time to fix everything.