Monday, August 1, 2011

Superman: Flawed

Has anybody noticed that they have NEVER made a live-action 'Superman' film that does both the character and the universe surrounding him justice? People will applaud the original 1978 Christopher Reeves version as being the best of the lot (which it is) but that version completely dropped the ball by trying (and failing) to make Lex Luthor funny and giving him a moronic sidekick named Otis. Watch the 'making of' documentary on the DVD and they will tell you that the reason that he is not bald in this movie was because Gene Hackman didn't want to shave his head and that the scene at the end when he pulls off his wig was a compromise with the producers. (And the scene where Lex Luthor figures out that Kryptonite will kill Superman is just ridiculous. He just pulls the explanation STRAIGHT out of his butt.) 'Superman II' dropped the ball by firing the director of the original (Richard Donner) and firing Marlon Brando because his fee would have been too much to reprise his role as 'Jor-El'. Both Superman I and II nailed the characters of Lois and Clark/Superman with brilliant performances by both Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder. Their scenes together are great. 'Superman II' gave Superman characters to fight that he could actually duke it out with ("Kneel before Zod!") and that scene only suffered from bad special effects. 'II' also had a great story where Clark was debating whether or not to give up his powwers. A scene where Superman fights with someone strong could have only improved 2006's 'Superman Returns', a movie with a number of great scenes that really felt like Superman (flying up the elevator shaft ditching his clothes, catching the plane and landing it in a baseball field, throwing a Kryptonite island into space) in a BORING movie!!! And we are not going to talk about 'Superman III and IV' and just hope that they will go away. (Lex Luthor couldn't kill Superman, but Richard Pryor can kill him at the box office!!!)

Yes, Superman has been done ALOT better on television...and not JUST animation either. Yes, 'Superman: the animated series' from the mid-90's was the most perfect version of (the adult) Superman that has ever been filmed and the 1940's Max Fleischer cartoons (simple as they were) added much to the iconic character ("This looks like a job...for Superman!") , but the popular TV series 'Smallville' nailed not only the character, but the universe that he inhabits as well, better than any of the movies (villians that he can actually fight, a cold, evil, wealthy Lex Luthor). Yes, we are going to ignore Teri Hatcher's 'Lois and Clark: the new adventures of Superman' and hope it will go away.

No, I have not forgotten 'Superman: Doomsday', the only Superman feature film that actually did nail both the character and the universe perfectly. However, the fact that it was a direct-to-video cartoon will allow mainstream moviegoers to dismiss the film as childish, despite a PG-13 rating, Superman getting beaten to "death" (blood shown) and two scenes where Lois and Clark wake up in each others places. Plus, I would like to see a 'perfect' Superman movie that tackles his origin story and/or life...not the supporting characters' reaction to his death (as interesting a twist as that is)

At any rate, if they ever come up with a perfect 'Superman' movie, the way that 'Batman Begins' and 'Dark Knight' were PERFECT Batman movies, I think this would be a great song for a scene where Superman is flying around sad about something...

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