Man of Steel Sequel: 7 Things We Want to See –

By Russ Burlingame
There’s a Man of Steel sequel in “active development” at Warner Bros., which likely means we’ll start hearing sooner than later what the plans are to continue superman’s story in solo films.
I’m excited by it — both as a fan of Superman and as a fan of the DC Extended Universe. But he hasn’t been handled perfectly, and there are a number of areas where I have strong opinions.
But where should they stay the course, and where should they do something different? Well, that’s what this story is all about.
So…what’s my take on a Man of Steel 2? I sat down, thought a little, and reached out to some Superman super-fans to make sure we were on roughly the same wavelength. Here’s what I came up with.
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Obviously the DC Extended Universe have drawn from the comics a lot so far, particularly in Batman v Superman, when the movie pretty closely mirrored events that took place in The Dark Knight Returns and Doomsday!: The Death of Superman.
Keep doing that.
One of the things that we see with a lot of the comic book movies that don’t follow a specific storyline — whether it’s Iron Man 2 or Suicide Squad — is that the filmmakers can sometimes lose track of what they’re trying to accomplish. A direct, faithful adaptation of the comics can be paralyzing, but creating your own original story strips a filmmaker of the kind of guidance that drawing from the source material can provide.
And frankly, the Tim Burtons and James Gunns, who can make a stellar one-off movie using just the core concept of the characters without calling back too much to the comics, are few and far between.
The comics did the death better. The comics do CLARK KENT better. Please, somebody, figure out a way to fix Clark Kent.
There was something absolutely heartbreaking about Jonathan and Martha Kent in “Funeral For a Friend.” They had to bury a box of their son’s toys and childhood things, alone in a cornfield, because they couldn’t gain access to their son’s body. Superman, after all, belonged to the world.
There was an upside, though: When Superman came back, Clark’s body had never been found. This meant it was plausible enough for him to ave been trapped under rubble, only to be “discovered” and rescued a few days after Superman’s return.
Once you put that pine box in the ground in Smallville, you’re declaring that you have nothing more to say about Clark Kent. And that’s a huge loss.
I liken it to one of my big problems with recent comic books. They’re so event-driven, so preocuppied with world-building, that it’s rare for a superhero’s supporting cast to get much, if any, attention. More often than not, superheroes surround themselves only with other superheroes, which makes the Marvel and DC Comics Universes fairly one-note a lot of the time.
More on this later.
While some fans have claimed that the DC Extended Universe take on Superman is too dark to be legitimate, I’ve always bristled at the notion that in order to be true to the source material, Superman had to be exclusively a positive character.
After all, some of his best stories are built on darkness, violence, and tragedy. And, yes, it would be tempting to draw from some of those since they’re well-known to the fandom.
Let’s try not to do that, shall we?
There’s already a call from some corners of the web to build to an Injustice: Gods Among Us-style Superman, which they feel was teased by the Knightmare sequence in Batman v Superman. I’m going to go with a big, fat NO on that one, and not just because it would involved killing off Lois.
Killing off Lois, by the way, is a thing that happens in plenty of popular Elseworlds and Imaginary Stories. But that nonsense should be — and almost certainly is — completely off the table for a mainstream feature film.
Similarly: I love What’s So Funny ‘Bout Truth, Justice and the American Way? as much as anybody. But doing a version of that story is NOT how you re-establish Superman as a paragon of virtue, confident in his powers and role, even if it’s likely VERY tempting for Warner Bros. to consider it.
I love the DC Universe as much as the next guy, but something that’s been neglected in the attempts to build a coherent shared universe is the world Superman himself inhabits.
Warner Bros. got a bunch of award-winning actors and then gave them a half a dozen lines in each of the first to DC movies.
And that’s a shame not only for those actors, but for the fans. Because Superman, when done right, has one of the best supporting casts in all of comics.
Let’s, first of all, try and establish that wasn’t really Jimmy Olsen who got murdered, okay? I mean, I guess if it has to be, it has to be, and maybe you can use Ron Troupe in a similar role as a younger friend to Clark. In fact, Troupe would be a great addition to the newsroom in general. When Clark died in the comics, they gave Troupe his job and desk, and it became a bit of an awkward dance, the pair of them working together, when Clark turned out to be less dead than previously advertised.
We likely can’t get Cat Grant back, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make the Planet newsroom more interesting. Or bring in some of Lois’s family. Or give Martha Kent more to do. Or give Clark a neighborhood bar, where Bibbo is the bartender. Or. Or. Or.
Whatever it is, let’s give Superman people around him who aren’t all superheroes. People who can revere Superman, who can debate superheroes and supervillains without knowing that they’re speaking truth to power. That grounds Clark in a way that all the politicking and pontificating in Batman v Superman did not.
This one might be a little unfair. Lois Lane was a highlight of both films, and really it’s hard to argue that they didn’t treat her like the best reporter in town.
In the outstanding Superman: Lois and Clark miniseries that recently brought the pre-Flashpoint Superman, his wife and son into the post-Flashpoint DC Universe in the comics, Lois spent a chunk of her time writing books in the vein of what you might see from Bob Woodward or Greg Palast: things that would speak truth to power, take down the corrupt, etc. This kind of thing — being an excellent journalist, and someone who’s afraid of nobody and nothing — shouldn’t be an opportunity to make her a damsel in distress, as it did in Batman v Superman. It should be an opportunity to make her somebody who inspires Clark. It can help inform WHY he’s so in love with her, beyond the idea that Amy Adams is gorgeous.
In Lois and Clark, it put her in direct conflict with the mainstream media who wouldn’t cover that kind of thing, as well as with Intergang, a vicious organized crime group with metahuman ties. Intergang have frequently been a target for Lois — something to give her a purpose without getting her too bogged down in the superheroics where, honestly, she’s kind of wasted most of the time.
While I don’t want to see another Kryptonian villain, thanks very much, I absolutely would like to see how a Superman who’s accepted by the world (more on that in a minute) utilizes the available Kryptonian technology to make his life better and easier.
A Fortress of Solitude hasn’t really been done in this film series yet, in spite of the fact that we all kind of acknowledged that’s what the submerged Scout Ship was supposed to have been in Man of Steel. And some of the best material from that movie was there they tried to define the world of Krypton. Seeing some of the cool science fiction trappings of the world again would be great, and maybe getting a DC Extended Universe take on concepts like the Bottle City of Kandor, Superman robots, or The Eradicator could be really interesting.
(The Eradicator, if it were there, I’d like to see as an artifact first, like it was in the comics, and then deal with the possibility of the AI becoming a threat in another movie or a Justice League sequel. Again, I’m pretty dead-set against the villain being yet another Kryptonian.)
Look, I liked the idea of exploring a Doctor Manhattan-style fear of the Other that Superman would likely bring around.
But we’ve explored it. Quite thoroughly. And he got a hero’s burial. When Superman comes back, I want to see a world that EMBRACES him. I want to see him soar back onto the screen with the John freaking Williams theme, and I want the world to celebrate his return.
This is something that’s important to Superman. People don’t hate and fear him. He isn’t the X-Men or even Batman. Superman is a symbol of hope. Up to now, we’ve been TOLD that many people see him that way but the only characters who got the figurative microphone, were terrified of him.
Let’s change that dynamic, and see a Superman who’s comfortable and confident.
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