'300,' 'Watchmen' Director Zack Snyder Chosen to Helm Next 'Superman' Film
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images Darren Aronofsky might have been more adventurous and Matt Reeves might have been more Spielberg-ian, but as it turns out, the director of the second "Superman" reboot will end up more Dr. Manhattan-ish.
As first broken by Deadline yesterday evening, producers Christopher Nolan and David Goyer have selected "Watchmen" director Zack Snyder to helm the latest incarnation of "Superman. " Snyder, who's currently in theaters with "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," confirmed last night that he'll start working on "Superman" as soon as he finishes his next movie, "Sucker Punch," out next March. The "Superman" film, with a script by Goyer from an idea by Goyer and Nolan, is expected to be released around Christmas 2012 (assuming the world hasn't ended by then).
Snyder might not have been the most daring choice among the shortlist, but he's not the dullest either (that would have been Tony Scott). His career has been a curious one. He began as a music video director and did not direct his first film, 2004's "Dawn of the Dead" remake, until age 38. (As a contrast, Nolan made his first film when he was 28, and Bryan Singer, the director of "Superman Returns," was 23 on his first movie.) "Dead" wasn't a major hit, but "300," his next film, was, though it's probably best remembered for extreme slow-motion shots of men's abdominals. "Watchmen" was his most high-profile film, his lifelong-passion project, and even though it was a slight disappointment at the box office, many admired it. "Legend of the Guardians" has done well in theaters so far, though it's worth watching how "Sucker Punch" does. Warner Bros probably wouldn't enjoy watching their "Superman" director having a film tank the year before they try to relaunch a franchise.
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It's understandable why Warners has had so much trouble with "Superman" films. You can argue there hasn't been a good one since "Superman II," back in 1980, with two bad Christopher Reeve sequels after that, an ill-advised "Supergirl" movie in 1984, and Singer's polarizing reboot attempt in 2006, which some loved and others found dull and cloying. (Superman has a super-son? Oh, and Kate Bosworth has to be the most boring Lois Lane imaginable.)
Superman projects have vexed filmmakers as varied as Tim Burton, Kevin Smith, McG, J.J. Abrams, and Brett Ratner. The main problem with "Superman" is that we have turned into more of an antihero culture. We like Batman because he's human and flawed and full of rage and guilt. We like Tony Stark because he's selfish and vain and a party guy.
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Superman is, by his very design, perfect and cheesy -- he's a relic, Ward Cleaver in a blue skintight suit. Singer attempted to capture that naïveté and bring it to today, but his Metropolis seemed as steeped in the '50s as the Steve Reeves films were. The reason the first two "Superman" films worked was that they were rooted in a recognizable place: Metropolis was late-'70s New York City, with all the grime and cynicism that came with it. Superman was an alien (he's the one who was out of place), an actual hero here to save the day, to give everyone faith again. To believe a man can fly, you must at first believe a man cannot.
If Goyer and Nolan have figured out how to channel that spirit, maybe this new "Superman" can work. Apparently, Snyder's the guy they trust to find out.
Watch clips from Zack Snyder's "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole":