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Sunday, March 30, 2014 

Of course Superman Returns didn't flop because of female audience promotion

Forbes spoke almost two months ago about the failure of 2006's Superman Returns, and an interview its director gave where he wouldn't admit the clear reasons for the movie's failure:
[...] While technically plugging 20th Century Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer gave an interview with Empire Magazine where he stated that Superman Returns failed because “It was a movie made for a certain kind of audience ADNC -0.78%. Perhaps more of a female audience.” That wasn’t just an off-the-cuff statement either, as he gave an interview to Comic Book Movie in 2011 where he stated that ”I was making the film for that Devil Wears Prada audience of women who wouldn’t normally come to a superhero film.” He is just one man talking about one film, with I presume no intent to offend or belittle. But aside from the inaccuracy of those statements, it shows an example of the industry-wide dismissal of that “female audience” when it comes to critical consensus and box office security.

First and foremost, Warner Bros.’ (a division of Time Warner TWX +1.86%) Superman Returns didn’t fail because it was aimed at women. One can argue that it didn’t fail at all. The film earned $200 million domestic and $391m worldwide (more than Batman Begins and Star Trek). It’s only considered a failure in retrospect because audiences didn’t care for it and because it was anchored by a $270m budget; $70m of that from the prior decade’s many aborted attempts to reboot Superman. But I digress. Let’s accept the conventional wisdom that Superman Returns was a failure for at least the next few paragraphs. I don’t know a single female who likes the picture. It’s far more a male fantasy than a female one. It completely plays into the male fantasy of a woman who still longs for you after you abandon her for five years without so much as a note. It’s entire emotional arc is us feeling sorry for Superman because Lois Lane had the gall to move on with her life after being ditched five years prior. That is not a female fantasy, it is a male one.
Those are good points, but the writer leaves out one more fatal flaw in the movie: the contempt in the screenplay for "truth, justice and the American Way", replaced with "all that stuff". Another could be the whole "deadbeat dad" subject the movie revolves around with the son. Why don't those issues factor in here? This is another mainstream article that, while it does point to some valid reasons for the movie's botch, the writer still doesn't have the courage to bring up an all but overlooked bias that doomed the movie just as much as the flawed male fantasy approach it takes. What is so hard about discussing these politicized issues that hurt the movie? If Forbes said it was because they didn't want to get into politics, that would ring hollow, because the movie is already politicized as it is, and besides, this is a magazine that discusses politics all the time. So they're only disappointing everyone via their lack of courage to raise hard questions.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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