— by BEN FOWLER —
I would love to be writing an article right now, straight off the success of the “Superman Returns “sequel “Man Of Steel,” on where the third installment of the Superman franchise could go next. I would love to. Sadly, I will never get that chance …
I am one of those (seemingly) few people who loved “Superman Returns.” I feel like I’m not too short-sighted so as to see what an amazing franchise it could have become. I look back and I can see faults in it. Some things that grate on me that I think I wish they’d done differently, and maybe if they had, I could be writing the aforementioned dream article right now. However, of the things director Bryan Singer might have gotten wrong, one thing he got spot on was Brandon Routh.
Iowa native Routh originally auditioned when McG (shudder) was trying to launch the franchise again. But when Singer took over and saw the (then) 24-year old’s previous audition tape, he knew he had found something special. The rest, as they say, is history. But what I want to discuss is whether Routh could launch Superman again in a brand-new franchise?
Warner Bros. have pretty much stated, if not always explicitly, that they have no plans for a “Superman Returns” sequel any time soon, and let’s not even try and wade through the legal snafu that WB are in the with Siegel/Shuster families at the moment. If WB got off their backsides and decided to get things rolling on a new “Superman” film, could Brandon Routh take on the mantle again? I would love for him to have another go. Routh just exudes everything that is Superman. There was the common joke doing the rounds on internet message boards in recent years that Brandon Routh was actually Superman’s real identity. I met Routh a few years back when “Man of Steel” was supposedly in the planning stages and he was genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve met. No one from the Superman film universe has ever put themselves out for the fans as much as Routh has — not even Christopher Reeve. Routh truly invested in his character and in the fandom that came with it.
Onscreen, the guy (even whilst wearing questionable costume choices) haemorrhaged Super from every pore. Any shortcomings on his part in “Superman Returns” are easily revealed to be wrong decisions by the powers that be. His lack of lines in the film was down to script and director choice. His slighter frame was due to the costume designer asking him to stop working out so he didn’t rip the outfit. If you’ve seen him in the TV show “Chuck” recently, you know he can bring the cannons to the gun show (see a recent picture of him below).
His Clark Kent was as near to perfect as you could get. A fine balance between Reeve’s klutz and Dean Cain’s everyman, with a little George Reeves “charm” too. I hate the line how Routh’s Superman looks like Christopher Reeve’s Superman. No, Routh AND Reeve look like Superman.
Now, people might bring up the argument that if he starts a new franchise he brings the baggage of the old franchise and confuse Joe Public. Not necessarily so. For one, I think enough time has passed now from “Superman Returns” for people not to make the immediate connection. Two, surely if people truly believe its Superman they are seeing on the screen, they will happily go with it. Forget Routh or Reeve for a minute — Superman as a character has been through many questionable storylines over the years in both comic, TV and film forms. He’s survived it all. So if the public can be sold on the fact it’s Superman up there on the screen, not Reeve or Routh or even Tom Welling (but that’s a whole other story!), they will happily follow the story unfold. And if you want evidence that Routh is the guy to sell them Superman, just read the last few paragraphs!
Simple enough then, it just needs to go back to basics. No twisty-turning “conflicted” storylines. Go for a simple origin story. People always want to skip the origin saying that we already have the perfect origin film in “Superman: The Movie.” That one doesn’t cut it anymore. We all have warm and fond memories of those films, but if you want Superman to last, you need to invest the time into him and the franchise. Can you really imagine an average teenager these days getting excited to see a film from the ’70s? No, we need to put the effort into Superman again.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Make it fun. Make us want to be Superman, not make us glad we’re not!
It is with a melancholic tone I finish this piece as this idea is more of a pipe dream than what could actually come to reality. But like most fanboys with any of their passions, I will cling onto my dream for as long as possible. And if any WB execs are reading this article, to you I simply say …
… don’t doubt the Routh!
Follow Ben Fowler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Localboy99.