How Superman Movies Should Be


Superman is the greatest American mythological character and it isn’t even close. After six films, all but one can be considered a blockbuster, but none have topped the original 1978 film starring Christopher Reeves. Yet while it is indisputably the best it is nonetheless flawed.

Superman has a nice three part story arc if any hotshot Hollywood writer wants to use it.


The first movie would not deal with his origin. This is one of the flaws of the recent Man of Steel, overburdening a movie with a bunch of hastily scribbled nonsense does nothing to advance the character. The first movie is about a super man, emphasis on the man. It is his humanity that should be the focus.

Begin with Kal-El crawling out of a strange looking meteor (swaddled in a unique material that in certain angles reveals the S Shield). Jonathan and Martha Kent find him and eventually adopt him, raising them as his own. He comes into his powers slowly and Pa Kent imbues him with a sense of honor, sacrifice and other such noble sentiments. Paired with Superman’s childhood is the upbringing of Lex Luthor, whose hard life motivates him to gain riches and domination. At the brink of adulthood they both experience an enormous personal loss Luther loses someone/something (Hey, I can’t do all the work here, I’m not getting paid) and Superman loses his father. Keep in mind that Clark, as he is known, just knows that he is “special” and his entrance into the lives of the Kents was “miraculous”.

Leaping ahead to Clark in Metropolis as a young reporter and Luthor already the established as the Mark Zuckerberg of everything, there is a minor scandal (remember: Not Getting Paid for This) perhaps mob related outbreak of violence. Superman debuts and foils an assassination/act of terrorism/kitten punting tournament/ whatever and becomes the toast of the town. His father raised him to be modest, nonthreatening as Kent, but as Superman he’s transformed. This leads to the embitterment of Luthor and more so when it comes out that he’s connected somehow to the scandal, that leads to a crisis that threatens the city until Superman saves the day. Luthor, though not intending to harm the city, gets caught trying to cover up his involvement and is severely punished. This sets up Luthor for the third film.

You’ll notice that there is no worldwide crisis (Man of Steel) nor nationwide crisis (Superman), but a smaller scale story that focuses on the two principle characters, much like the first Spider-Man movie. After setting up Superman as human this sets up the next film.


Superman: Son of Krypton

This is where you could introduce the Alien aspect. Now that Superman is accepted as Human in the first film you can rip that away by introducing Krypton (this is where the first movie erred in having Superman reveal that he’s an alien to Lois in a news article. It serves no dramatic purpose there). You do this by way of the threat in General Zod and his cronies. The threat is larger now, plus people have lost faith in Superman since it is revealed that he is not human. Superman, estranged from earth, fights for earth against three opponents who equal him in power. I would also have earth turn to Luthor, who is only too happy to fan the flames against his rival. Superman is victorious, but his relationship with earth is on tenuous terms.

Superman: Man of Steel

The third movie would again leap ahead, but there is a divide in how people view Superman.  Some accept him, but others do not trust his power. He’s not the fully beloved hero and Luthor has reestablished himself as brilliant thinker, capitalist and philanthropist. But he has nursed his grudge against Superman over the years and has finally created the weapon to rival him. I would use a retooled Doomsday. It would be in this final conflict that Superman proves to the world of his loyalty and love of humanity. The brutal conflict with Doomsday would leave the world saved but the world’s hero dead. It’s sad, but I would end with a lingering shot of Superman’s tomb, the classic Superman theme rising in volume, before a low rumble, a crack leaps and the music blares over a black title card and end credits.

Ordering the trilogy this way gets you rising difficulty level, an arch villain in Luthor for all three movies and a story arc on which to hang plenty of other cinematic elements (but to mention those would require some fat checks to get them out of me). Sadly, Man of Steel leaps over Superman’s chief rival, botches his origin, mistakes volume for epic, and in general fails to realize that what makes Superman unique is not that he is an alien with powers, but that he is a Man, that was an Alien, but who became godlike.

So where’s my millions Hollywood?



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