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Friday, November 11, 2022 

But what would those "best" Superman stories be?

Forbes writer Mark Hughes addressed the news Henry Cavill would be returning to play the Man of Steel, in a sequel to the 2013 film, and says whatever they have in store should be inspired by the best Super-stories, whichever they are:
Henry Cavill has returned to the Warner Bros. Discover fold as Superman in the current DC Comics superhero release Black Adam, and the actor will reportedly reprise the role in an upcoming DC Studios sequel to the 2013 film Man of Steel. Cavill has even bowed out of the popular Netflix series The Witcher to free up his schedule. If this project truly gets made, then WBD’s Superman sequel should be inspired by the best comic book stories and other superhero movies.

[...] According to Cavill and studio sources, the next Superman movie will attempt a less deconstructive approach and will spend less time examining the hard choices and obstacles Superman faces in becoming a hero, and focus more on the fun and joy of Superman’s role in society.
Obviously, that'd be a wise move in an era where PC wound up dictating that darkness was the path they had to tread. Trouble is, in an era where wokeness lurks, PC could still dictate, and as a result, the sequel film could still end up a huge disappointment, unless WB really does want to mend the SJW damage seen in the past decade. It remains to be seen what'll happen.
If DC Studios is going to go back out to theaters with another Henry Cavill Superman movie that overtly revives a foundational component of the DCEU and its early reputation, it’s imperative that the sequel not only please the fanbase who are most supportive of Cavill and/or of the early DCEU films, but also something that exceeds the popularity and reach of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman across a larger mainstream audience who need to show up to support a relaunch of Cavill’s Superman.
It's a bit rich to say the 2013 Man of Steel - and certainly the later Batman vs. Superman - were "popular" when they had their own problems with PC, and in the latter case, was more like an excuse to see Batman trying to defeat Superman in a film where the Big Blue Boy Scout gets 2nd billing. IIRC, Batman vs. Superman may have had a big opening at the box office, but took a considerable dive in its 2nd week, becoming an example of various blockbusters that saw their fortunes taper off pretty fast after their debuts.
As I wrote recently during the final marketing push and release of WBD’s Black Adam, DC movies cannot truly succeed at the level they have to perform by simply appealing to the fanbase, they have to become global phenomenons with average moviegoers who don’t read the comics and don’t care about Twitter battles or hashtags or anything other than watching exciting, high-quality movies worth the price of admission. Which requires looking at what made the most successful DC movies successful, but also what makes the MCU the gold standard for critical-audience-box office success at the highest consistent levels. (And I have a further assessment of Black Adam’s box office today, so be sure to check that out.)

Because however much some DC fans loath the MCU and hate comparisons to Marvel movies — and who especially resist any implication that DC movies need to take a page out of the MCU playbook to have much broader, more consistent mass appeal — and however much plenty of us may love most of the DCEU movies at every stage, they clearly did not play to the same critical-audience-box office level that the MCU achieves.
A level the MCU's no longer achieving, seeing how underwhelming the box office results for the woke 4th Thor sequel turned out to be. On which note, since the DC films had their own problems with wokeness (including how the Justice League movie employed a cameo by the diversity-pandering Asian Atom, Ryan Choi, instead of Ray Palmer), it's hard to argue whether it makes sense to borrow a page from the MCU when DCU's not doing much better, since they've not only taken paths that replace and obscure story merit, they may have preceded Marvel in going miles out of their way with the same. That's something anybody worried about PC influence must consider, and can't overlook.
That doesn’t mean “do it like Marvel” (although anyone trying to figure this out should at least consider what the DCU might look like through a more MCU-style lens, just to be thorough), so much as “learn the correct answers to the same questions and lessons Marvel took to heart and answered correctly for their own characters and content.” Marvel dug deep to find the greatest cinematic representation of their particular greatest Marvel comic book characters and stories with the greatest themes that resonant most strongly when portrayed to their greatest potential.
Trouble is, in a way, they were trying to do it like Marvel, or, they were following a sad staple of a belief that the only way to compete with Marvel is to ape them with ingredients like jarring violence, if we take the obsession with darkness that crippled Green Lantern back in the 1990s as an example. And regarding Marvel's movies, some of them built more on what was written since the mid-2000s, like the Civil War crossover, so what's the point here? The sad reality is, they're not building on classic stories in the long run, but rather, on more modern material, including Jason Aaron's Thor run, as seen in this year's movie adaptation. And on that note, look what Mr. Hughes believes is the perfect wellspring for a DC movie:
Another excellent source of supporting villain ideas for this type of opening scene or side mission in the film would be the Superman: Secret Origin comic book miniseries by Geoff Johns. The Parasite and Metallo are both introduced in the comic, and either story could be edited down into an opening scene or subplot in a movie. I think incorporating a couple of side missions — especially starting off with one — is a good way to reintroduce audiences to Cavill’s Superman and show them what’s going to be different this time around, with some solid superhero action-adventure that’s fun and has a bit of humor. It will set up the idea of how Superman divides his life into super-stuff and Clark stuff, and how Metropolis has increasingly faced threats that arise to challenge Superman.

[...] Back to comic book sources of inspiration, the most popular suggestion among fans is indeed the best option for main antagonist and story in a Man of Steel movie sequel — the comic book story arc Brainiac, also by Geoff Johns. Not a direct adaptation, mind you, but rather a source of inspiration akin to Marvel Studio’s use of comic stories for broad ideas and certain beats, but otherwise loosely adapted into an original film idea.
Whoever these "fans" are, they don't speak for me when it comes to Johns. His writing style is so excessive and overrated, as noted earlier, one of the reasons why all his attempts to "build" on the JSA's legacy fall flat in the long run. I'm deeply disappointed with Hughes for recommending Johns almost instantly. What's so great about his writing that isn't so great about say, Elliot Maggin and Cary Bates' writings from the Bronze Age? Johns' writing on the Flash in the early 2000s stands out as a particularly execrable example of his portfolio, and anybody who's going to be that crude has no business working in the medium. If the movies and TV shows Johns has worked as a producer on to date weren't as obnoxious, it just goes to show what kind of a double-standard exists for comics versus movies, and it's embarrassing for comics readers, because it makes them look like they have low standards in taste, as opposed to moviegoers.

This is all that's needed to know Mr. Hughes is sadly not serious in his recommendations, if all he can look to is the easy choices for whose writings to recommend. The Superman stories up to the turn of the century aren't perfect, but there's bound to be plenty of ideas from those eras that could make far better choices for creative wellsprings, and instead of researching that period, Hughes goes for cheap selections. If Johns' stories end up being the basis of a Superman sequel, it definitely won't be worth buying tickets for.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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