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Why is it difficult to make a good Superman movie?


Since X-Men in 2000, we've seen a ton of quality superhero movies, such as Iron Man, Dark Knight, Logan, Captain America, Thor, Black Panther, Spiderman, etc.

Superman, however, hasn't enjoyed the same success. Why?

The recent movies have been especially bad:

1). Batman v. Superman
2). Man of Steel
3). Superman Returns

Then there are the older ones, which are not bad yet also not particularly excellent:

4). Superman III
5). Superman II
6). Superman

Is it because Superman is too strong? Is it because his personality is too vanilla and goody-two-shoes? Is it because his appearance (the cape, the red & blue) is outdated?

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I think Superman with Christopher Reeve is a classic! A great superhero film. The second one is pretty good too.

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They depowered him a bit in the 1990's. In fact wonder woman can go toe to toe with him. But maybe he's too powerful in the movies.

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Its all of the things you mentioned, he could still work very well with a charismatic actor playing the part with great writing and direction.

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Superman seems like a character that's easy to get right on paper, hard to crack on film. Of course, one could argue that WB is severely overthinking their approach by asking, "How can we bring Superman into the 21st century and make him appeal to the four-quadrant marketplace?" instead of entrusting the character to a skilled storyteller with a clear vision.

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They've done plenty of good Superman films, they just happen to be animated.

All Star Superman and Superman Unbound were especially good. Then of course The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and 2 was an excellent adaptation of the comic. And the definitive Batman/Superman film up to this point

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Superman vs The Elite is my favorite. A really deep Superman movie.

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Because the filmmakers keep ignoring the excellent Superman: The Animated Series which came out in 1996 and won't take any inspiration from that series.

It doesn't help that most people stuck on the same two visions of what they think Superman should be - whether be this extremely 1950's overly-patriotic American boy scout or the dark, mean, overly cynical Batman-wannabee Superman that we see in Man of Steel and the DCEU. There never seems to be any in between vision for the character and Warners Bros./DC Comics can never seem to create a Superman film film without making him into some ridiculous caricature.

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Pretty much due to everything you listed. Him being invincible is also the reason there aren't any good Superman videogames out there.

The fact that he has so many superpowers is something I really dislike about him. He's more of a god than a hero. When I think of a given superhero, I usually associate the hero with a main superpower/ability that he/she possesses and it becomes a trademark.

Which doesn't happen when I think of Superman. The first thing that comes to my mind is some kind of all powerful being without a signature of his own.

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No offense, but this attitude among modern casual superhero fans is why Superman can't seem to win over movie-going audiences anymore and it's a big problem that is not character's problem, but the audiences.

It's a simple fact that the tastes of the general public have changed a lot in the last 20-30 years. People just can't seem to enjoy heroes who enjoy being for the sake of being a hero or enjoy doing good for the sake of doing good anymore, they want all their heroes to either moody angsty and brooding anti-heroes with a tragic history in their family like Batman or some "badass" stoned slacker that that does nothing but quip stupid jokes 24/7 and just loves the celebrity life that comes with a being a superhero like Deadpool or the new Spider-Man. God forbid that we actually relate to characters we watch on the big screen and see some of our selves in them anymore.

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The directors of the recent films obviously do not understand Superman. The most stark example occurs in BvS when Superman says to Lois that "no one stays good in this world." This comment is absolutely anathema to Superman. His entire character is belief in the inherent goodness of people (not just human beings). He has been described as a big, blue Boy Scout and that is truly who he is.

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THIS. A thousand times, this.

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Agreed, I like it.

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And that's why the 80s films were so good, or at least the first two were. In an era when cities were gritty, cynicism ruled the screen, and flawed antiheroes were the filmic norm, they put a big blue boy scout on the screen and just let him be totally out of step with the modern world.

And that's the problem with the Cavill Superman, he's let the world drag him down, instead of being the guy who lifts the world up a little wherever he goes. The new Superman has become dreary, ordinary, and uninteresting, just another whiner with vague good intentions rather than an actual hero. I don't need to pay twelve bucks to see a guy like that, I'm surrounded by them in real life.

But the Reeve Superman... reality offers nothing like him, and that is a goddamn shame.

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Agreed.

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this right here is true.

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Because Superman doesn't have a good balance of power and conflict. He is so powerful and yet there is almost zero conflict with his character.

By way of contrast, Dr. Manhattan is arguably more powerful, but a very dynamic character considering his logical/molecular view of reality. Manhattan is an interesting character and, as shown, not always a viable solution to the world's problems.

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However, Dr. Manhattan has appeared in one mini-series of comics and one movie with little follow-up since he first appeared. (there have been several re-issues). Superman has been as staple for 81 years. There have been good and bad Superman movies. There have been several TV shows which were generally successful. He has stood the test of time. Dr. Manhattan has not.

I'm not dismissing Dr. Manhattan or the Watchman comic (or movie). It came from a different POV and did so successfully.

But I still prefer Superman. Especially these days when so many seems to demand dark, troubled, questionable "heroes."

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Manhattan was done so well he only needed to be done once. And I honestly don't think I like any Superman movies, not even the Reeves original.

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One of the things that made the two 80s movie worked us that the writers realized that 1) Superman has no internal conflicts, and 2) he doesnt need any internal conflicts!

That doesn't make his emotional life dull, he's constantly in conflict with the humans around him, both in ways that make him extraordinary and in ways that make him vulnerable, he's in conflict with the woman he loves because their world views are totally different, etc.

It's easy to forget that although most screen protagonists are all about internal conglucts, some are not. Heroes played by John Wayne or Carry Grant are free of doubt or indecision, James Bond can get through five or six films without worrying about a thing, and of course comic charachters like Bugs Bunny or Groucho Marx have no character development or emotional depth, they're just funny. Superman falls into this general character category, he's the opposite of an everyman and doesn't think or feel like an everyman, and Snyder's mistake has been to try and make him act like one. He's not, he's the hero that we every men ought to be looking up to.

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Excellent analysis.

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