Superman is more than just a comic book character. He is an American icon as well as a pop culture icon with global appeal. He is arguably the reason why we have superheroes to enjoy through varied media forms like comic books, video games, movies and television.
Co-created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman debuted in comics way back in 1938. The icon became even more iconic around the world in 1978 with the success of the Superman live-action movie that starred Christopher Reeve. To this day, Christopher Reeve is still beloved and millions of people around the world still hang on to him as their preferred cinematic Superman.
Then in 2013, Warner Bros. released Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill and directed by Zack Snyder. While it grossed $668 million globally, the movie was divisive among fans and movie critics due to its dark and gritty presentation.
In 2016, the hyped Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie was released featuring DC Comics’ two famous icons (plus Wonder Woman). It was darker, grittier and simply was not entertaining enough for the many moviegoers who seek fun with superhero movies. It did not help that Superman was secondary to Batman in the film.
In 2017, Justice League (directed by Zack Snyder but Joss Whedon finished the film) was released and brought back Superman who was portrayed by Cavill to be more optimistic and somewhat inspiring much like Christopher Reeve. The movie ended up as a disappointment which prompted Warner Bros. to adjust again their executives handling the DC Comics movie production.
The good news is that Aquaman (released December 2018) gave the DC Comics movie franchise a new lease on life as its optimistic tone (laced with humor and even romantic comedy), intense action scenes, memorable performances and immersive presentation of the aquatic world from the comics made it succeed big time. Like the Wonder Woman movie of 2017, Aquaman was made to be fun with thrills (none of the darkness and grit) while at the same time paid close attention on presenting Aquaman/Arthur Curry as an inspiring cinematic superhero.
This brings me to my main point – it is high time for Warner Bros. to bring back Superman on the big screen big time with a Man of Steel sequel with optimism, fun and straightforward heroism in mind.
I know that as of this writing there is uncertainty about Henry Cavill reprising DC Comics’ famous icon. Still I really want to see the British actor return on the big screen and his legacy on playing Superman can be improved while giving moviegoers a lot of fun.
Here are some things I want to see in a Man of Steel sequel:
- Henry Cavill playing a more optimistic and inspiring Superman – What this means is not necessarily Cavill copying the way Christopher Reeve memorably portrayed the caped icon in the 1978 movie. Rather it’s more about the British actor making Superman his own but without the darkness, without the grit and without the depressing stuff of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. With the right script and right direction, I believe Cavill can make Superman inspiring and believable for moviegoers similar to how Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa produced results with Wonder Woman and Aquaman respectively. When it comes to delivering humor, I prefer to see members of the supporting cast to do it and let Cavill play the superhero straight.
- Maintain the brutal action (but no neck-breaking) – This one requires having the right director and creative team. While Man of Steel’s cinematic tone was not ideal for most moviegoers, I still loved that film’s brutal action involving Superman and there is nothing like watching invulnerable characters hit each other, crash through walls and causing collateral damage. In a sequel, I’d like to see brutal action again but with key limits: toning down somewhat the collateral damage (way excessive in Man of Steel) and no neck-breaking. However the filmmakers will plan the action scenes, they should pay close attention to what has been presented in the comic books of the past twenty-five years.
- Bring back Doomsday – OK. This one could be divisive. A lot of geeks I encountered felt that the filmmakers brought Doomsday to the big screen way too early in the current DC Comics cinematic universe as he appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Doomsday’s appearance in one of the movie trailers already generated a lot of speculation that Superman would be killed on the big screen given the literary history that the monster did just that in Superman #75 in the 1990s. For the Man of Steel sequel, I feel that Doomsday can be used to give the caped icon a major physical challenge. I can imagine that Superman, remembering what Doomsday did to him in the 2016 movie, will be more cautious on fighting the monster while at the same time ensure that civilians won’t be harmed along the way. That being said, I don’t think Doomsday needs to be the main antagonist which brings me to my next point…
- Have Lex Luthor and Brainiac as the main villains – These two villains I would love to see on the big screen working on a scheme to overwhelm Superman and the people of Metropolis. This is also an opportunity for actor Jesse Eisenberg to play Luthor in a more focused way that would resemble how the villain really thinks and acts in the comics. As for Brainiac, I can imagine him in his classic green-skinned human form laced with cybernetics and he can use technology to not only hurt Superman but also cause chaos on the world. With Luthor and Brainiac as the top schemers backed with Doomsday as their muscle, Superman will surely have his hands full and he will need the help of some allies from Metropolis.
- James Wan should be the director – Considering the success and impressive presentation of the Aquaman movie, I feel that James Wan should be hired for the Man of Steel sequel. I know this might sound like a rushed idea but in my experience watching Aquaman twice in the cinemas, Wan and his team delivered the big-time spectacle (lots of thrills and action), handled the large cast who delivered solid performances and told the story with a moderate-to-fast pace (not a single boring moment). Remember the interactions between Aquaman and Mera? There was really nice chemistry between Jason Momoa and Amber Heard. As such, I believe Wan has what it takes to make Henry Cavill and Amy Adam click more positively (and with romantic comedy) on the big screen as Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane.
- Colorful visuals – As the DC Comics cinematic universe is moving forward under the watch of Walter Hamada, it is obvious that moviegoers have a preference for colorful visuals when it comes to superhero movies. Look at the movie Aquaman. Its visuals are very lively with colors combined with fantastic art by the filmmakers. Look at the Themyscira scenes in the Wonder Woman movie of 2017. They literally are so wonderful to the eyes. Going back to Superman, a new movie for the icon must be in full color. No more color desaturation (decoloring)!
Those are my ideas about what I’d like to see in a future Man of Steel sequel. The DC Comics cinematic universe we have right now is moving forward and clearly the Wonder Woman and Aquaman movies respectively have the correct formulas to succeed with movie critics and moviegoers. Considering his iconic status, Superman deserves much better and so do the fans and all other people who are willing to pay good movie to watch him in the cinemas and have fun. I am appealing to the executives of Warner Bros. to make the best and most optimistic Superman movie they can with Henry Cavill.
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