ANIL RICKLY'S SUPERMAN Editorial = The MAN OF STEEL Returns

A New Superman will be chosen... Who Will We See When We Look To The Skies?

Recently, we were recipients of the much acclaimed, generally well received and respected news that Zack Snyder will be helming the ‘Superman’ reboot, a new film that we as comic book fans and comic-book movie (CBM) fans have clamored for, for some time now. Many fans quickly, sometimes rashly, jump the guns and immediately swish and swoon in opinions in quite turbulent and fervent manners as to whom needs to be cast as the ‘MAN OF STEEL’ to don this new cape…but before we do this…there are many factors that one need consider so that we gather a coherent, viscous candidate to bridge the gap between a comic book Superman and a comic-book movie Superman; so that an incandescent choice is made that suits the script, director…the books that source material were drawn from…and of course, true to the faith and lore of the die-hard fans; as well as the franchise under question.
Now I postulate that maybe we won’t be given the plain, ‘American-pie’ tale Superman that we know of for so many years. Why? Well, Mark Millar is one of my favorite writers of comics, and I admire a lot of his works, and I contribute a lot of Marvel’s ‘Avengers’ Film rumblings to him, as his “Ultimates” retooling and modern “Avengers” depiction, spun in a new-era, is echoed in the “Iron Man” films, where like his books, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” is basically the employers of the Avengers team in an initiative to act and police the world as a superhero faction assembling to evade worldwide threats, counter terrorists and simply…rescind the bloodthirsty human harm that so many villains promise. I also purport that Sony’s “Spiderman” reboot will be drawing from the “Ultimate Spiderman” series of Bendis, as the Marvel-616 series was played out in the previous films, and while the first 2 were brilliant, Raimi and company tanked with Spiderman 3…badly. Such a script was decrepit to me, and well, they decided NO to part 4…and onto new pastures, and some internet rumors are pointing to the “USM” vibe. I did feel that a part 4 should have followed with better writers and scripts…but alas, the damage was done. That said, to me, it seems that 616 is thrown out the door, and with an ‘USM’ animated series coming soon, maybe tis a prelude to the new film? Maybe this new film won’t be fully ‘Ultimate’, but they’ll mix in 616-Spiderman as well…but I’m sure they won’t fully stick to 616 Spidey…and I do love how Bendis writes my favorite comic damsel of all time,’ Gwen Stacy’, so I’m up for the balance between 616 and ‘Ultimates’…a theory I hope they adhere to in the “Thor” and “Captain America” films. That said, as I digress, I hope that DC and WB know that other works, such as “Superman: Birthright (Waid), Red Son (Millar), Secret Origins (Johns) and All-Star (Morrison)” are all brilliant books by DC writers who have shown different yet assuming and holding grasps on this iconic character, which is to me, the most recognizable comic character ever. And I do hope, that some material is drawn from one or more…or all of these books, and blended with the mainstream lore of Clark Kent we all grew up on. Breaking my words down, I’m stating that maybe a more modern spin is needed, and complimented by the older source material of Superman, to present this fresh new tale to us.









Now what’s that view above you ask?
Well…first off...Joe Straczynski (JMS, as I call him) and Shane Davis are bringing the heat on October 27th to DCU comics…”Superman-Earth 1”; and this is a modern take on our hero, showing his journey in a time that’s immensely different to when we first saw our old-school Kent lose the glasses and don the cape in the good ole days. Well, the modern take is apparent, after all, notice there isn’t the glasses as yet, no suit and tie neither…and *gasp* - IS IT A HOODIE???
Well, this new book is coincidentally dropping soon, and hot on the heels of Snyder’s reveal, I think this will be the hottest selling graphic novel of the year (and stay tuned for Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s “Batman-Earth 1”) and is something I think needs to be taken a close look at. Shane Davis, along with Francis Manapul (who is spot on with Geoff Johns’ “Flash and Adventure Comics” works), are higher than my other faves at DC (such as Reis, Mahnke, Van Sciver, Finch etc) and they all rank highly in my eyes. Marko Djurdjevic sets the bar at Marvel, and along with the ‘floating’ artist Alex Ross, Marvel’s Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato, Steve McNiven, Stefano Casselli and Olivier Coipel, these other DCU guys all are talented and brilliant. Manapul is tied with Davis as my DC genius guys, and Shane has been amazing (simply see his ‘Bruce Wayne: The Road Home’ banner, which is larger than life I tell you) and view his DC works (get off your ass and check this guy’s art out) and see the definition of epic. Now that being said, his work on covers and interiors, as seen in the preview above, well…need I say how immaculate it looks? This new look of Clark and Superman is most welcome to me, so who knows? Maybe they might lose the tights in the new film or redesign a new costume entirely, but when you have such artists as Shane (see pic below) at DC, well why not utilize some rare talent?


SCREENPLAY

Well, I won’t forget that this new book is written by JMS (pic above), and have you read his works…cuz you won’t forget him either!!! This icon wrote for TV (animated series such as He-Man, She-Ra, Ghostbusters, Murder She Wrote, Twilight Zone, Walker - Texas Ranger)…and again, get of your ass, go to Google…and look at his resume. It doesn’t end there – his screenplays are something to watch for. He had the remedy (I hope) for the follow up to the awful Fantastic Four sequel, and ‘Daily Variety’ eyed him as one to watch in 2008. He also wrote ‘Ninja Assassin’, and upped that with ‘Changeling’ which Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie amazingly brought out on screen. BAFTA nomination was just the icing. He wrote 3 horror novels – Demon Night, Othersyde, Tribulations – and in the 80s his comics delving included “Teen Titans, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Twilight Zone”. He also wrote for Image Comics and his own banner ‘Joe’s comics’ and at Marvel, he is known for his much talked about Spiderman books, FF4, as well as Silver Surfer works…and those aren’t all. He did more works there, but to me, his Thor run is the best on the market. Sure, I loved his Spiderman run, as it was controversial yet telling and emotionally visceral and relatable, and to me, (PS - I’d love to slap Joe Quesada for what he did to the book since), but when Coipel did art to JMS’ Thor book, it jumped to my favorite title ever. JMS left and handed it over to Coipel and Gillen for ‘Siege’, and they did well before they transferred Thor to Fraction/Ferry, but that JMS run on Thor remains my favorite solo title to date. Well written, with dialogue that made me believe Asgard was a ‘short-drop’ away from Curepe Junction in Trinidad, and blended with Coipel’s art, this book never gave a weak issue. The guy is a brilliant writer…simple as that! Exclusively with DC now, his works – “Brave and the Bold, Superman and Wonder Woman”, show he is getting big titles at DC. So Johns, Didio and Lee have faith in him? Why not? He always delivers amazing scripts and books. Oh wait…he is on Superman’s main DC title? Yes he is…along with that out-of-continuity ‘Earth 1’ book, it seems that right now…the go-to guy at DCU with respect to Superman, is JMS! Now that’s ironic. And JMS loves to devote to a singular character without tying him into major events or crossovers…so he’s as dedicated as they come to a character!

Let me excerpt Wikipedia here for ‘Superman-Earth 1’ –
“Writer J. Michael Straczynski described the project as a dream come true, as writing Superman was among his intended plans which also included Babylon 5. The project was alluded two years prior when JMS announced his contract with DC Comics, as it was obvious he was going to be working on one of DC's "Big Three" that consist of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, but it was unknown to whom he was attached towards. However, before it was announced, he had to keep tight-lipped on the project, while he worked on the Red Circle characters, as well as his run on The Brave and the Bold.
As a journalist, Straczynski placed his past experiences within the environment of the Daily Planet, in order to make it more real. One major example being Jimmy Olsen, who will be known as Jim Olsen in the book, being seen as tougher and smarter than his mainstream counterpart as he will be seen getting himself in harm's way to get the shot. JMS wanted to retell the beginnings of Clark Kent coming out as Superman, but bring in the thoughts of what-if Clark thought of becoming something else instead of being a superhero. As JMS stated; "he could have been rich as an athlete, researcher, and any number of things. There's a flashback scene to when Martha Kent finishes his uniform and gives it to him as a gift, hoping he'll go that way. He looks at it and says, in essence, "Shouldn't there be a mask?" She says no, that "when people see how powerful you are, all the things you can do, they're going to be terrified... unless they can see your face, and see there that you mean them no harm. The mask... is that what you're going to have to wear the rest of your life."
Among his ideas; the villain featured will be brand new, and have a connection to Krypton to explain its destruction.
Shane Davis's approach was to remove all stereotypes associate with the design of Clark Kent, both in his civilian and superhero identities. As a 21 year old male in the book, Davis had Clark wear layers of clothing, showing that he is trying to blend in; "he doesn't want to stand out" as said by Davis. This of course strayed away from the classic Clark Kent look, wearing the suit, tie, and glasses, since it "didn't make sense" to Davis. He also re-imagined Metropolis. Historically depicted as an art-deco expanse, Davis designed it to look and feel like a more realistic place


So now let me get to the point –
A new book, new continuity, with brilliant art, and well…one of the best screenwriters/comic/novel writers of the past decade or so = a fit for the studio to look at when producing Superman.

And we all know David Goyer (seen above) has been brilliant as scribe to “Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Blade 1 and 2, Dark City and even Kickboxer 2”; but he has been miserable with misses such as “The Unborn, Jumper, Blade 3, and even Threshold and Flashforward for TV”. He has lots of other works out as well, but his Bat-Works stand out. He did have a JSA run at DC before Johns took over, and has offered scripts for the Ghost Rider sequel, Flash, Dr Strange, Green Arrow in Supermax, so we know he has a comic repertoire, but is he gonna hit or miss on this Superman script? Well, I’d keep faith he will produce something spectacular as he did on the bat-films, especially as I know the Nolan brothers, Chris and Jonathan, are there to offer treatment to the final script. And the end product of this exothermic reaction = an awesomely kickass fine-tuned script…and I do hope they use this new graphic novel to enhance the work, as I haven’t read the novel yet, but my God, I’d bet 200% that this ‘Earth-1’ book will rock! This leads me now to the film itself in the meat…and what is the key thus far…a key that Fox Films, Sony and so many other studios/directors/producers fail to land, something that these guys miss – that they are making a CBM rather than just a movie – something that bodes essential… A DAMN FINE SCRIPT EFFICIENTLY DOSED WITH PROSE CONTAINING INGREDIENTS OF THE COMIC LORE!
For example, my personal take would be - we know Brainiac as villainous, but Brainiac-5 of the Legion’s future is an ally so perhaps, we can see a new take on Brainiac, being the engine of the ship that Jor-El sends Clark in to Earth. Brainiac is responsible for guiding Kal to Earth and upon the turn of age, Brainiac reveals Kal’s heritage to him as Brainiac is the ‘black box’ of ship, and stores all the info from Jor-El concerning Kal’s heritage. I think that it’d be better to have Brainiac as the encyclopedia and crystal storage that Kal learns from. This could be the teacher/mentor that helps him build the fortress and achieve his destiny. I felt that Jor-El died so he left all his works to the algorithm known as Brainiac to care for Kal. This would be a good way of tying Clark more to his human father/family and have him distant from his birth parents more than ever, thus have him long for a piece of home, as all he’s known is the computer. This can be key to further detaching him from Krypton and attaching him more to Earth. I never liked Jor-El in the fortress teaching Kal at all (cuz he died!!!) but having Brainiac as the text book to the universe seems fitting to me. Maybe we can leave future threads for Brainiac’s betrayal or corruption, or have it tie into a future Legion arc? Who knows? Maybe other villains from other books (Green Lantern villains, Darkseid etc) can come knocking to take Brainiac away for their evil intent?
Now…back to the Nolans and Goyer…well as Johns’ said ‘All will be well’ is what I believe…we’re in good hands. Have faith!

DIRECTOR –
Well, did Zack Snyder share classes with Mike Bay and Tarsem Singh? Weird, cuz to me, they pale in comparison to him. From music videos (MCR’s ‘Desolate Row’ and Morrisey’s ‘Tomorrow’); he’s been director on “Dawn of the Dead, 300 (writer also), Watchmen, Legends of the Guardians and Sucker Punch (where he wrote and produced also)”. ‘Dawn of the Dead’ is the only zombie film I’ll watch these days, and 300 rocked. ‘Legends of the Guardians’ was also good, and well…’Watchmen’ was epic. ‘Sucker Punch’ is looking amazing and the trailer was mind-blowing. So thus far, I give him a thumbs up. The guy, once he gets a script sound and solid, delivers a film, which as 300 and Watchmen showed, can be visually aesthetic and pleasing to all fans of films, and also collaborate a majorly action-packed film, with just the right portions of romance, even if in small measured doses. His action scenes and fight sequences are spot on target, and the pace of his films never disappoint me. He’s perfect to me for this job. And he appears ready, able, willing and dedicated as much as Favreau did to “Iron Man”.

Bryan Singer failed (to me) in all his X-films, and even Ratner’s bombed in quality, as I felt they deviated too much from the comics, and filled them with unnecessary cameos that lent no credibility nor positivity to the plots, and well…we saw no ‘Sentinels or Apocalypse’ in 3 films, but got a ‘cure’ and too much ‘Brotherhood/Magneto’. After his 2 X-Films, I guess his aptitude to produce ‘House’ and helm ‘Usual Suspects’ got him off his Halle Berry ‘b-fits’ and onto ‘Superman Returns’ and can anyone tell me when James Marsden is gonna get the girl? (Cuz he didn’t in X-Men, neither in Notebook, nor in Superman Returns). Singer did a tribute film, that was well done and fine, similar in vein to Ang’s Hulk, but it wasn’t the film we deserved as CBM fans looking to reinvigorate this franchise. Nolan did what was supposed to be done, to get Batman electrifying cinemas in the air again, but Singer just wanted a Donner tribute and self-appease. It was the film he wanted but not what the franchise needed to reintroduce Superman to us. Maybe had he a sequel he’d make more sense to us but we can’t wait for re-do’s or second chances. He mucked his chance up I think. On top of that, we got no action nor fighting from Superman, we got another Lex ‘real estate schitck’, a weak romance with Lois which is fizzling faster than bacon at K-Fed’s home, and what the hell? A son? This topic is taboo in the bloody comics, but Singer gives Kal a son? This was almost as dumb as the ‘fly around the world to reverse time’ or ‘kiss Lois and make her forget’ arcs of SUPERMAN 1 and 2 respectively. 1 and 2 were good films, the ensuing films sucked, and then Singer more or less made a mediocre part 3. Well, it ended up like Ang Lee…REBOOTED. Directors…note – don’t please yourself, in fact before you please the fans…pay respect…and please the comic book franchise you possess!!!
That leaves Snyder to give us an ass-kicking, fist throwing Superman with the proper elements of drama and emotion, that’ll certainly make Oprah and Dr Phil take note. And, my bet? He will awe us. I believe in Zack Snyder…fully endorsing him.

THE NOLAN FACTOR -

Chris and John fine-tuning Goyer can only give good news, as seen with the bat-films, but I do hope, they allow room to tie Superman into a JLA universe. The Green Lantern Film has opened this Earth to aliens, and I feel that Berlanti/Guggenheim will soon tie ‘The Flash’ script into this universe, so while Geoff Johns has said their films won’t be unified like Marvel’s, I do hope DC does solid solo films, but still leaves room to tie in JLA, eventually. After all, Bale could barely beat Joker and dogs, so we know he can’t tangle with Darkseid, so Nolan did kick him to a realistic universe. So I guess when Nolan finishes his trilogy, a Batman reboot is open to come into this new universe, one that’s more comic oriented! Either way, Nolans on script = win, but Nolans affecting which universe Superman lies in = be wary fans!!!!
C’mon, when Superman beats Doomsday, dies and is reborn, we know he’d reluctantly want help when Darkseid’s forces invades…and wouldn’t that be epic for a JLA film? Sesame Street nailed it when they said ‘Cooperation makes it happen…working together!’

NOW…CASTING SUPERMAN
First off, The Superman R.I.P. column –

Tom Welling –

You were endorsed by Chris Reeve (God bless him for making us believe a man can fly), and while you did a great job early on as Superboy, your acting left a lot to be desired. Hence when linked via rumors to Superman under Singer (along with Eddie Cibrian and Christopher Douglas), I cringed but when he showed reluctance if offered officially, I was relieved…as I felt him more suited to Smallville than the big-screen (and his movies have not proven me wrong!). He has improved drastically on Smallville, and even took the director’s chair in some episodes, as well as exec producer, but now, to hear him linked with the reboot, is simply futile. He is and will forever be…Smallville…and that is a different continuity and a different entity…it isn’t like Evans leaving FF4 from one studio to go to another studio to play Cap! Tom simply can’t play the same character in a different continuity. That’s comics 101. Not too close, and surely no cigar!!! But I must mention that Smallville has been doing well recently and should end on a bang as I’m seeing Johns influence on the JLA, JSA, Legion, Booster Gold, Beetle plots etc, and the writers seem to be more faithful to comic mythos (and I smell ‘Final Crisis’ in the Darkseid plot this year), but Tom…goodnight and godspeed.

Brandon Routh –

Debunked for a return already. I wonder what he would’ve done with a grittier script and more action. His Clark was decent but that Superman was such a sap…well, there isn’t a second chance, so ‘what could’ve been’ is moot. Whether or not he improved since (on ‘Chuck’, ‘Unthinkable’ or ‘Scott Pilgrim’) won’t help his cause as he is linked to the disappointing Singer film. We wash the slate clean.

Candidates anew –
Well, simply…I have no clue. I’ve heard bold cases for Leo Decaprio and Jim Sturgess but Leo is fit only for a villain in Nolan’s final bat-chapter (cause he aged and can’t play Steve Rogers), and Jim is too much Peter Parker or Ray Palmer than Clark Kent (but Garfield is on par with him so God Bless the Spidey-reboot)…
This leads me to –
We need a guy with the acting chops, charisma, charm, physique and essence on-screen to deliver the goods, so joining Welling, and Routh will be – Josh Hartnett and Jake Gyllenhall (simply don’t have the looks or essence of Superman to me), Jon Hamm (ummm…too old and how’s he gonna last in this franchise for sequels and future films? Unless 'KINGDOM COME' is done, he is out as Kal-El), Jared Padelecki (cannot act well…at all) and Matt Bomer (I wanted this guy to play Superman badly as he has the skill and always does well leading on screen/TV but I guess being too feminine and short hinders his progress – as I hope him being gay was not a factor to his detractors!) – see candidates below in order as stated above.






All fall into the ‘Not cutting it’ category.

Unknown casting? I doubt...especially as Nolan knows enough talent at his tips, and well, I think he will influence a British pick. Rick Malambri (see below) seems the best looking out of the bunch with the Superman look, but again, little has been seen in the way of him being a great actor to take this role forward…but who knows? Maybe an unknown can surprise us as Heath did with the impeccable Joker performance!



Routh was 6’ 3“; Reeves 6’ 4”; so we consider physique key right?
Well, I’m up for acting skill and ability to lead on screen first, cuz Superman leads…whether in JLA or solo!
The King of Kings is seen below - CHRISTOPHER REEVE (Let's come close as we can shall we?)


HENRY CAVILL –

6’ 1” but a heck of an actor (as seen in Tudors, Count of Monte Cristo, Tristan & Isolde and Stardust). McG eyed him as Kent and he was even a James Bond, Ed Cullen contender. I’m sure once he nails the accent, tones up in the gym, and under the direction of Snyder and eyes of the Nolans, he has the potential to own this role. He has charm, charisma, looks, acting ability and overall, a presence that can echo what Snyder needs. And I find some resemblance to Davis’ Earth 1 Superman…and if Evans can go play Cap, then this guy can play Superman!

Now,
TOM HARDY –

Just under 6 feet, similar to Bomer (in more ways than one if you have done certain research on his private life). But again, he meets the criteria for the actor that should play Clark Kent, and I know Nolan is a fan of his. Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, Inception, Layer Cake, Sweeny Todd, Star Trek, RocknRolla etc, all show this guy as a skilled actor, who can deliver if called upon. So with some gym work, and toning, as well as getting the accent down, I think he has the chops to pull it off…but sadly, a lot of the negating factors here are similar to that of Matt Bomer that pushes him down the ladder…

Conculsion –
I’d bet on a guy who has the chops, skill, versatility and dedication to pull off CLARK and SUPERMAN, and I boldly think he’d be a Brit, and also have the physique to deliver the goods. Presence and talent is needed for this role…and the guy who fits all above = HENRY CAVILL!

I think right now, I can fathom no better option, and I do so, taking into account my years of reading Superman comics, from the past in the 90s…till this current day…all arcs, all continuities, all films Superman I have seen, as well as all TV series and documentaries, so I kid you not when I say I have done my research for this article. Some say that an American is needed for this lead role, but with the exception of Captain America, I don’t think nationality comes in to play here for this alien masquerading as human. (He did fight for truth, justice and the American way but is nowhere near the visual icon and nationally stable hero that Cap represents…Cap was a symbol of America…Superman is a symbol for worldwide peace! This is seen where writers in comics scribe Rogers as an American soldier/war emblem but Superman is scribed as simply…a hero based in America…Bale is Welsh and he stands for justice in America just as much as Superman does, it’s just that he is in the shadows…so rest easy…an American is not needed here as Kent). I COME FROM A COMIC PERSPECTIVE but lending credence to the CBM aspect of it…I have seen the works of these writers, directors and producers and know their works intimately (their major ones perhaps), thus I hypothesize who would be the best bet for Superman. And of course, expect a follow up to this article once I READ (and implore you all to as well) ‘Superman- Earth 1’ as I think it’s time for a reboot but one with a new modern spin on things, that adheres to the precepts and doctrines of the olden Superman tales, that make for the best concocted blend of continuity so that we get a film continuity loyal to source material, the fans, DCU…and to the SUPERMAN FRANCHISE…

ANIL RICKLY…wishes you peace in the world, love in your hearts…and good luck to WB on this new film

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