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Will Nolan save Superman?

SupermanReturns_Poster.jpgIt's being raved about where ever you look, Christopher Nolan is going to step onto the Superman franchise and "mentor" the development of the next Superman film. That doesn't mean he's going to be writing or directing it, just advising those people who are on the direction to go.

Now while a lot of people are getting excited, since he saved Batman surely he can do the same to Superman, after all they are both comic book characters and big on screen heroes. Well let me be a sceptical voice. Not that I think Nolan isn't capable, but that this isn't Batman, not by long shot.

The news is that Christopher Nolan has been hired to be the mentor for the next Superman film, and that it is actually going to be a reboot of the franchise, again.

Mind you, in the story over at Deadline Hollywood Daily that is filled with rumour and inside sources, there's still a hint that the Superman Returns (Filmstalker review) sequel idea isn't totally dead, if the right story comes up that makes sense to do, then they might move forward with it.

I don't think that will happen though. As much as I liked Superman Returns and believed that it was a tremendous return for the character, it had it's flaws, the public didn't fork out to see it, and the studio didn't get the spreadsheet figures that they wanted. So that will mean there's no way they want to go back that way, unless Christopher Nolan says that's the way to go.

I doubt he will. However will Nolan be the one to save the Superman franchise? Well by not directing he's distancing himself enough so that if it fails he's not tarnished with it, but I'm pretty sure we'll see him get involved in the writing side.

Yet for all the great work he's done on the first two Batman films, and is going to be doing on the third, Batman is not Superman. Superman is not the human character that Batman is, and that to me is where the strength of these films lie.

Nolan first wrote a superb thriller and secondly he had the heroic and more fantastical elements of the Batman character. Interestingly when he got too far away from the human and reality grounding that made it work so well, as he did in The Dark Knight with the mobile phone vision scenes, it started to get a little silly and the strength of the film was ebbing away.

With Superman you're going to see a lot more of that fantastical element, he's not anything like Batman, he's not human and he's not facing human problems.

In the film version he's a superhero who is unstoppable by human hands unless they've got Kryptonite, and it always comes down to that in the end. Of course he has faced creatures from outer space before, but they were just like him, and levelled the playing field. It was that film where we saw him more human than ever.

Yet he's not. He's a super, all powerful alien, and making that work is going to be a lot harder for Nolan.

The film version is an all good-guy perfect hero, so perhaps it's the comic version that offers a little hope, for in the comic version he wasn't all-powerful and unstoppable, his powers had limits, failings, and sometimes presents meatier stories with more depth and grey areas to them rather than the black and white of the film version.

Still, even then, he's not Batman.

I think there's going to be some huge challenges to be had here with restarting the franchise, and there's even more pressure on Christopher Nolan after Batman, for now everyone is expecting a really dark and moody Superman in the same vein as Batman. Remember too that the majority of the audience are not comic book readers, and probably have never read a Superman comic, there may even be a percentage that haven't seen the original films.

So what is the way forward? Well right now the clear option is tone down the all-American superhero and make him more as the comic book sounds, and no, I doubt they'll ever go for Superman: Red Son story, they want something to make an ongoing franchise, and Red Son would be a limited run, a spin-off for the character, they couldn't keep it going year after year.

Tone down the powers, allow him some more foes than just green rock, and maybe we're going somewhere. What Christopher Nolan will "mentor" the team into delivering though is still a guess. What would you bet your money on, and who will that team be?



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