Depending on whom you ask, “Man of Steel” was anywhere from one of the best superhero movies ever or a complete and utter miss at everything that represents Superman as a character. It’s, undoubtedly, a mixed bag, but there is a ton of promise there. With an excellent cast, drop dead gorgeous visuals from director Zack Snyder, and a great place to move forward from, the sequel easily could be a universally acclaimed film that would be a pitch perfect launch vehicle for DC’s whole film universe.
But how do you get there? What steps do they need to make to make Superman really reach the stars?
On today’s Countdown, we have the five things we most want to see in the “Man of Steel” sequel that would best set it up to be a truly amazing – and super – film. What do you think it needs? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
5. Just Save a Cat From A Tree
Why the movie needs it (Matt Meylikhov): Ok, he doesn’t actually have to do that. If Superman doesn’t even see a tree or a cat, I won’t lose too much sleep.
However, in the original Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeves, the cat-in-tree scene means something. It means, more than anything, that Superman cares about everything, even the littlest and silliest of problems — he’s proactive, not reactive. That is one of many differences between Reeves and Cavill, but it’s arguably the most important one: everything Reeves does in that original movie shows that Superman is here to protect us from everything, perhaps even ourselves. Cavill spent his whole movie just responding to one disaster after the next, and while there is validity to that it doesn’t make him any different from any other superhero.
And what is Superman if not different? Better, even.
Why the movie needs it (Brian Salvatore): When the original Superman movies were made, Lex Luthor was the obvious choice for main villain, as the special effects needed to do some of the other heavies just wasn’t there. Well, folks, the technology is there now, and it should lead us to undisputed right villain for Man of Steel 2: Brainiac.
If they’re serious about making this series stand apart from other incarnations, hold off on scratching the Luthor itch just yet. Brainiac is a character that could be presented any number of ways (just not as a giant spider, please?), would follow with the sci-fi feel of the first film, and would not tread on old territory. It’s a no-brain[iac]-er.
3. A Greater Tie to the DC Universe
Why the movie needs it (Vince Ostrowski): After the massive scale of the first film, the Man of Steel sequel can raise the stakes by having some overt references to a greater DC Universe. For a variety of reasons, it just makes sense to take this approach going forward. It’s not just because that’s what Marvel is doing with the Avengers – though the “Justice League” should be as big a property as The Avengers. It’s also because the names that make up the Justice League were the most recognizable comic characters in media before Marvel Studios got the ball rolling. Despite the general trend toward realism and that idea that most people seem to like Batman the most because he’s “dark” and “the only one without powers” – fans do want to see these characters together. Marvel already proved that a god can share the screen with somebody who’s nothing more than an intelligent man in a robot suit, so the reservations about putting Batman and Superman in the same world should be put to rest going forward. Now that the franchise has dealt with the Kal-El/Clark Kent self-realization, the next things to cover with the character could easily be his responsibility to the people of Earth and his status as the beacon of hope to the world. Putting him alongside a Justice League character can sow the seeds of bringing others into a quest for justice and inspiring potential heroes.
2. More Daily Planet and More Normalcy
Why the movie needs it (David Harper): To me, regardless of what Bill from “Kill Bill” might have to say, the side of Superman that is Clark Kent is every bit as important as the Kal-El/hero side. Sure, it’s a mask for him, hiding who he really is while maintaining a facade of normalcy, but his day-to-day interactions with Lois Lane, Perry Allen, Jimmy Olsen and the rest are paramount to who he is as Superman. They help remind him that people are good and people are worth saving, and they help him be a better hero and a better person.
Plus, the Planet itself is a vital world, filled with action (in a different way) and great potential for character moments. Characters like Allen or Olsen can add levity to potentially dark storylines, without bogging them down in silliness. They can help add story tension and investment for both us and Superman.
These are all things that were missing from “Man of Steel” in my opinion, and the sequel would be all the better with more of this in it.
Additionally, it would give Henry Cavill the opportunity to inform viewers that Clark Kent isn’t simply Superman in glasses, it’s a full out disguise as Frank Quitely so accurately pointed out. Henry Cavill slouching? Now that’s acting.
1. A Better, Stronger Lex Luthor For Tomorrow
Why the movie needs it (Matt Meylikhov): Remember the first Superman movie, with Gene Hackman as Lex? It’s funny, I guess; it’s very much of its time, and it is SUPER dated now. Luthor is smart, but he’s still basically an idiot with a half-assed scheme to make money.
Remember Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns? Spacey is a far better actor than Hackman (no offense to Hackfans), and even he couldn’t maintain a coherent balance between the Luthor that is an industrialist, a futurist and a genius and a mad man with a hard-on for killing that damn alien.
So if we’re to get Lex Luthor in a sequel, which one would assume we will, and if that Luthor is to follow-up this idea of super realism, then you need to get somebody awesome to play him — and the role in general needs to be that of a lifetime. I don’t want to lean too hard on Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker in Dark Knight, but it’s a good starting point: here is a character that everyone was familiar with completely reborn within the film. He was smarter, sneakier, trickier and downright a joy to watch on screen, absolutely captivating in every scene he’s in.
That’s what you want for Lex. Make him smart, cunning, clever, unpredictable. He thinks he’s better than Superman? Then he should act like it. He should be the hero that we deserve to match against Superman’s destruction in the first film, rising up to oppose the alien menace and save us with his money and industrialism. Lex can be a capitalist hero for all I care, as long as he’s a character who thinks that he is — in fact — the protagonist of the film. When it all goes downhill for him, we’ll love his descent into madness even more.
Zod is cool for a “here’s an excuse to have super powered people punch each other for a while “movie, but we’ve done that. Man of Steel 2 is time for something different. You need a Lex who is ostensibly better than Clark/Superman in every way, even if the audience knows that he is the villain. Infuse the film to the brim with so much dramatic irony that our eyes pop, and make us love the performance.