Recently, I began tossing around thoughts and concepts for The Man of Steel, the 2009 sequel to Superman Returns. All of this is pure fan speculation. And now, the conclusion. . . .
Besides updating the Superman suit a bit, the most controversial aspect of Superman Returns was the introduction of Jason White, the five-year-old son of Lois Lane and Superman. For those just looking for a mindless action flick, he was nothing more than another Jar Jar Binks or young Anakin Skywalker.
For me, Jay-El was far from the ruination of the movie. In some ways, he may have been its most important element. Bryan Singer’s instincts were right, for the character adds a whole new dimension to Clark and the overall mythology.
Though Clark may have temporarily lost his romantic connection to Lois, the two are now irrevocably attached through their son. Not only does Jay-El bind Clark to Lois, but he also binds him to Earth – even stronger than his ties to Martha Kent or Lois. His human son makes him one of us.
Of course, Jay-El also presents Clark with a new vulnerability that is, in many ways, even greater than that of Kryptonite. Luthor had obviously surmised Jay-El’s heritage by the end of the movie. He evacuated that yacht very quickly after learning of Jay-El’s handiwork, after all.
Since only one Superman movie has not involved Luthor (he is kind of like Star Trek‘s Klingons in that regard), he will likely return for revenge in The Man of Steel. On the surface, the kid seems like a much easier target, and Luthor may try to use him to manipulate and control Superman.
Though this is not spelled out anywhere as far as I have seen, there is some evidence in Superman Returns that Kryptonite affects the half-human Jay-El a bit differently than his father. My interpretation is that exposure to the rock actually revved up Jay-El’s latent superpowers for a bit, rather than weakening him. This could prove to make things a bit tricky for Lex if he thinks he can contain Jay-El with Kryptonite.
However, the movie in general should downplay Jay-El’s powers. As much as I like the concept of the character, it could easily be overdone into “Superman . . . and Son!” We saw a bit of his powers in Superman Returns and I am sure they’ll pop up somewhere in The Man of Steel, though hopefully not as a convenient plot cheat.
Let’s not have him flying around, though, or even leaping through cornfields just yet. There would be a huge mistake in going overboard to make him a Superboy character. Keep most of those powers dormant and not accessible at will, and do not grow him up too quickly by rapid-aging him into a teenager, as Hollywood is prone to do. He should be about eight-years-old next time, if I do my math correctly.
Jay-El seems to already have the whole Clark is Superman thing figured out, not to mention some sort of psychic bond with his father. As a subplot, I would like to see those areas explored a bit more.
Jay-El is a great character that should not be ignored. Nor, however, should he be over-emphasized. The trick will be finding the right middle ground. I have confidence that Singer will pull this off, much like he did in Superman Returns.
But what of the movie’s villains? I have already mentioned that I’m sure Lex will be in it, but obviously it is also time for Clark to take on a superpowered villain. I am hardly the first fan to call for this. Bryan Singer has hinted at it, and even Brandon Routh is hoping for it.
Who should this supervillain be? Here is a rogue’s gallery of potential adversaries.
It is tempting to bring back a popular villain like Zod, the leader of the Phantom Zone criminals from Superman and Superman II. However, giving in to this temptation would be a huge mistake.
Some criticized Superman Returns for being little more than a remake of 1978’s Superman. There may be some merit to a structural comparison of the two movies, but overall I disagree. Using the villains of Superman II in the Superman Returns sequel would serve only to add massive amounts of fuel to that fire, though.
As I said last time, The Man of Steel needs to firmly establish its own identity away from the Reeve/Donner/Salkind movies this time out. Resurrecting Zod would destroy any chance of that.
Instead, bring in a supervillain who has never graced movie screens before. There are many contenders, any number of whom could be effective.
Unfortunately, I have to eliminate Doomsday. To do justice to the original comic book story, Clark would have to die. We just went through all this business in the last movie of getting him back, so leave Doomsday out for now. If the Doomsday story is ever presented in a live-action form, it should be a trilogy of movies — which would be a tough sell. A variation of the Superman vs. Doomsday tale will appear in an animated, direct-to-DVD movie later this year.
Mxy and Bizarro
I am also going to dismiss Mxyzptlk and Bizarro. While they may work in the comics and animated versions, neither character would play very well to modern movie audiences. The only way these characters could work would be in brief cameos, but certainly not as the key villains of the film.
Thus far, the Superman movies have essentially existed as their own island. They do not give the impression that the rest of the DC Universe is out there. While Darkseid is potentially a fantastic choice of supervillain, I am not sure he would work as well within the otherwise normal context of these films. Perhaps save him as the key adversary of the Justice League movie, as long as Clark gets a key role in the film as well.
A supervillain whose time has come for the Superman movies, Metallo would offer room to show off modern effects and present a formidable opponent for Clark. No matter the villain, what The Man of Steel needs is a massive battle to make Superman II look like an opening act. For that, Metallo may be the perfect foe. Just as long as he is not played by Scott Valentine.
Brainiac has taken on many forms over the years, which would allow Singer plenty of creative room – especially given modern effects technologies. This would also allow for at least two super battles, including an earlier one in which Superman appears to win before Brainiac reinvents himself to wreak further havoc in an altered and even deadlier form.
Of course, I have only scratched the surface of Superman villainy here. These are the marquee villains, but other worthy candiates could include Mongul, Imperiex, or even Parasite. This time out, given the scope of the Superman movie universe to this point, Brainiac or Metallo are the way to go.
* * *
Have you voted for your favorite Star Wars stamp yet? An e-mail address can vote once every 24 hours, so I imagine a lot of my fellow fans out there have already voted dozens of times each by now.
Me, I simply picked one stamp and voted once on the first day. In a sense, this vote is not that important. All of the stamps will be available for purchase together, no matter which one wins the vote to earn a solo sheet.
The winner will likely boil down to Darth Vader, Yoda, or Boba Fett. After much consideration, I didn’t vote for any of those stamp images, though.
For me, the most important aspect of the stamp release is to honor the 1977 film. Yoda and Boba did not appear in the original movie, of course, and the Vader stamp image appears to be from The Empire Strikes Back.
Wanting to stick with the first Star Wars movie, this cut my choices from 15 to 8 (the Falcon, Luke, Leia and Artoo, Threepio, Obi-Wan, Chewie and Han, the X-Wing, and the Imperial Stormtroopers).
Star Wars contributed immensely to movies, but its most groundbreaking feat was the unbelievable special effects. Wanting to honor the people who worked on those original designs and effects, my choices were quickly narrowed down to the Falcon and the X-Wing.
A tough decision, to be sure. I’ve grown to love the Falcon almost as much as I love the Enterprise-A. The best Falcon scenes are in The Empire Strikes Back, though. It is the X-Wing that shines in Star Wars, so that is the stamp that earned my one and only vote. It has no chance of winning, but c’est la vie.
It is still hard to believe that Queen Amidala and Darth Maul will have US postage stamps. Or that a marketing image from a 2005 movie will appear on a stamp just two years later.
What’s missing from the big Star Wars anniversary celebration? Find out in two weeks.