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Superman Returns

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Last month, Nick pointed to the teaser trailer for what he called Jesus Christ, Superman, for reasons that will become evident at the end of the teaser.

I laughed and laughed. And then I went and read (much of) a very long and detailed description of the eighteen-year saga of the making of Superman Returns, which is much more about the rumors and gossip surrounding the movie's history than about that history itself, but is still (at least in parts) fascinating, and awe-inspiring in the sheer awfulness of what we might have ended up with.

For much of the movie's development, if that story is true, most of the people involved actively disliked comics and were planning to throw out pretty much everything about the Superman story. For example, according to the article, Ain't It Cool News revealed in 2002 that the following things were true of the then-newish J. J. Abrams script:

Krypton doesn't explode. [...] Jor-El is literally the king of Krypton [...] and he and Lara send Kal-El to Earth because [Kal-El] is "the One" whom a prophecy states will save Krypton from destruction[....] Superman's costume is a living entity housed in a can, and it climbs onto him when he needs it. [...] Lex Luthor is an evil CIA agent obsessed with UFO phenomena. [...] Jor-El magically senses Superman’s death from across the galaxy, commits hara-kiri with a rock he sharpens in his prison cell, goes to Heaven, and talks Superman into coming back to life[....]

Oh, and at that point the movie was going to be directed by McG, the director of the second Charlie's Angels film.

The original AICN piece about the Abrams script notes that Abrams is a good writer (I agree--his work on Alias around that same time was totally brilliant) and that the parts of the script that aren't busily tearing down 70 years of canon are extremely good. But wow, what a mistake that script would've been. As Moriarty put it in that AICN report: "You'll believe a franchise can suck!!"

At any rate, eventually WB settled on Bryan (X-Men) Singer (!) to direct the movie, and there's now a new script, so (one hopes) there's a chance the movie won't be awful.

(I should note that I'm not actually a big Superman fan, nor was I ever all that fond of the last set of Superman movies. But I'm enough of a comics fanboy and canon-adherent that I was pretty horrified by the description of the Abrams script, no matter how much I love Abrams's writing.)

A couple more tidbits:

In a comment on Nick's aforementioned entry, st_rev quotes a Grant Morrison interview in which Morrison (responding to the question "is Superman a Christ-like figure for the mythology of the 21st century?") said:

I don't want anyone to think I'm taking this literally--it's not like Jimmy Olsen's one of the disciples or Lois is the Magdalene--and imagine how different Western religion would be would be if God had rocketed Jesus to Earth so that he could escape the destruction of Heaven...brrr... Superman is very different from Christ in that here we have a powerful redeemer who doesn't feel the need to sacrifice himself to get his point across. No-one has to die in Superman's name.

One last thing: it looks like there's an unofficial site for the movie at Blue Tights Adventure Network, featuring (among other things) Bryan Singer's video journals about making the movie.

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In fairness, McG was the director of both Charlie's Angels movies, not just the sequel. (In my book, that means he was responsible for one film I can watch over and over, followed by one of the worst films ever. Your mileage may vary.)


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