The Holocron: The Man Of Steel Will Rise Again

The Man Of Steel Will Rise Again
by M. Neiser 

     Next summer Superman returns to theaters.  We all anticipate seeing the first teaser trailer for Zach Snyder's The Man Of Steel soon but until then and until the movie is actually released next year, we hold reserve as to whether this really will be Superman's true return to cinemas.  Recently I revisited the original Superman film, along with Superman II The Richard Donner Cut, and Superman Returns on the very cool triple feature Blu-Ray release sold in Target Stores only.  In watching the original 1978 classic, I realized the simple purity of Superman, and how it will always hold up to the test of time.  Some people believe that Superman is still too Boy Scout like, and it's why his comics don't sell as well today because kids like the more violent super charged heroes.  I disagree with this.  When it comes to comic book sales, DC simply needs a good writer who tells good stories, and even Superman will be successful, Boy Scout like and all.  This article isn't about the comics however, and Superman's goodness, and his ultimate willingness to save innocent lives are what makes him the great hero that he is.  Not every hero has to be a vigilante to be cool or popular.  There was a time that Superman was the single most popular hero in the world.  In recent years the popularity of Batman and Spider-Man has allowed Superman to take a backseat but he will surely make his return to the top.
      Bryan Singer tried really hard in 2006 to revitalize Superman in his film Superman Returns.  The film has created a divide amongst fans, some loving it and some hating it.  The film was a loose sequel to Superman II, using the same incredible John Williams theme music, and taking place five years after the events of Superman II.  The film really isn't that bad.  It has a few incredible action sequences, the execution itself was perhaps what didn't work with the film.  Many people found it too somber and the absurd Lex Luthor scheme to be simply too silly.  People also didn't like the fact that Superman suddenly had a son through Lois Lane.   Overall Singer's attempt was worthy, it just missed the mark a bit with audiences.
      So how do you make Superman cool for today's audiences?  What worked so well in the 1978 film, and the incredible sequel Superman II in 1981?  Quite simply it's great story telling.  You don't need super spectacular effects to get people in seats.  Sure it helps, but a great story will sell to any audience member.  1978's Superman The Movie told the origins of Superman and of his early time on Earth from a teenager, to taking the mantle of Superman, protector of Earth.  The story was fantastically told through the direction of Richard Donner, Christopher Reeve's portrayal of Superman, and a fantastic Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, and it made audiences believe in the characters.  It was the first time that Superman truly came alive on the big screen.  1981's sequel Superman II was also well received through great story telling.  Events in the first movie set up the catalyst for the sequel in which Superman faced off against Kryptonian outlaws led by the evil General Zod.  It featured a thrilling climax in the streets of Metropolis and Superman was pushed to the edge to protect those he cared about.  There are great things about the Richard Lester cut and the Richard Donner cut of the film, but whichever you prefer, Superman II is a great sequel!
     Of course mediocre sequels in Superman III and IV, along with the darker, edgier 1989 Batman film, sent Superman to the back seat in theaters.  Superman lived on in television shows such as Lois & Clark and Smallville, but his cinematic popularity had taken a hit.  Years of on again, off again projects eventually led to Bryan Singer getting Superman Returns made.  Now Warner Brothers is getting ready to reboot the franchise in 2013 with Man Of Steel directed by Zach Snyder.  Expectation are high due to Snyder's success with comic book franchises such as 300 and Watchmen.  Henry Cavill will be portraying Superman, like Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh before him, he is a relative unknown taking the lead of one of the greatest heroes of all time.  The cast is rounded out by Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, and Amy Adams as Lois Lane.
     Will Man Of Steel be Superman's rise back to cinematic greatness?  We have to wait until next summer to find out.  We certainly hope so but if not Superman will rise again and stand the test of time.  He is one of greatest super heroes ever created and will always stand for values that people hold dearly, which alone is enough for him to survive through anything, especially lacking sales at comic book stores, or a mediocre film or two!