In 2006, Warner Bros. made an unsuccessful attempt to revive the Superman franchise with Superman Returns. Bryan Singer, who directed the well-received X-Men and X2: X-Men United, helmed the Man of Steel’s latest big screen outing. However, Returns was met with a mixed reception from fans and audiences, grossing a mere $390M worldwide on a $200M budget. A number of problems weakened the film – from its connection to the Richard Donner Superman series to a minimal amount of action in a two hour and thirty minute movie. How would Singer have done Returns differently if he had the chance?
Speaking with Empire (via Comic Book Movie), the X-Men: Days of Future Past director looks back on the reactions that his Superman movie received, and admits that he would have completely rebooted it if he were to go back and change it. “Half of that I understand and half of it I never will. It was a movie made for a certain kind of audience. Perhaps more of a female audience. It wasn’t what it needed to be, I guess. I think I could lop the first quarter off and start the movie a bit more aggressively and maybe find a way to start the movie with the jet disaster sequence or something. I could have grabbed the audience a little more quickly. I don’y know what would have helped. Probably nothing. If I could go again, I would do an origin. I would reboot it.” Of course, WB decided to redo Superman’s origin on the big screen with last summer’s Man of Steel.
Despite Superman Returns‘ lukewarm reception, a sequel was put into development. Singer confirms that it also would have been called Man of Steel, saying, “That was the title. Actually, my buddy, one of my two best friends, came up with that.” And despite Brainiac and other Kryptonians reportedly being planned for the follow-up, Singer reveals that Darkseid actually would have been the villain. “We did explore it a little. Just hammering out ideas. I think Darkseid was going to be the villain. It was pretty world-destroying, actually.” And why didn’t the Returns sequel move forward? “I ended up having the opportunity to go and make Valkyrie, and I think the studio lost interest at that point. I can’t say it was all the studio’s fault and I can’t say it was all my fault. It just fizzled out.”
While Superman Returns was disappointing, the sequel admittedly sounds like it could have been a major improvement. Still, Warner Bros. made the right choice to completely reboot the franchise with Man of Steel, with virtually no connections to the Richard Donner series. Perhaps Darkseid will make his big screen debut in the planned Justice League movie?
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