Bryan Singer jumped ship on the third X-Men film to go to Warner Bros and direct their much beleaguered Superman movie. And if you've read my X-Men: The Last Stand review, you'll see I thought the Marvel franchise suffered for it. Well, their loss was DC Comic's gain.
DC's franchises seem to have a problem when it gets to the fourth flick. The Batman films of the nineties tanked with Batman and Robin, with it's neon colours and throwback to the sixties TV show. Superman suffered the same way, with the series bombing due to the fourth flick's preachy message and stupid, stupid supervillian. Until Marvel's success with it's properties, superhero based films looked dead in the water.
When Marvel was making money, it was by making quality movies that focused on the core of the characters. Then, it was DC that looked dead in the water. But they pulled themselves up with Batman Begins. They found a director/writer combo that got the character, that returned to the source material; Batman has been around for over sixty years, the source material must be doing something right!
When a character is already established, in comics or, in some cases, on the big screen, there's not need to completely recreate it. Or revamp it. Or recreate it. Or glitz it in neon.
People reading this will notice that, for a Superman Returns review, there seems to be little Superman Returns reviewing. I'm just giving you some backstory so you can see how I came about my opinion. And I think it's the same mindset that's forming the positive opinions of many a critic.
I remember watching Superman and Superman II. Not in theatres, I'm not even thirty, after all. I mean recently, on DVD. And those films, almost as old as I am, still hold up today. Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, and Terence Stamp all awed the comic book geek in me. It was Superman! And Lex Luthor! and how cool looking was the Fortress of Solitude?
When I heard Singer was not only going to not reinvent the series, picking up on the original movie series instead, I was happy. When I heard he was ignoring the embarrassing third and fourth, continuing off the first two, I was excited! And when I went to watch the film, I nearly had a nerd overload!
The film opens with Marlon Brando's voice as Superman's father. It has the John Williams score you remember. And, for the best part of fond memories, even uses the zoom in blue 3D text credits during the opening! Those elements will define the film... continuing a set tradition, a set way of thinking. We're not introducing gay robots, giant mechanical spiders, or making Lex Luthor a kryptonian (and yes, previous drafts before Singer had all those things, ugh), we're bringing a classic back to screen.
Even with it's massive budget and eye popping special effects (yay, Frantic Films!), this is not X-Men or Spiderman. This is not a modern day, summer extravaganza. This is a sequel to a classic Richard Donner series, done in the same style and mindset. I recommend you watch Superman and Superman II, if you have not already. You'll either magnify the buzz when you go see Singer's film, or save yourself the price of a movie ticket :)