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Top Six Ways to Ruin the Broken Superman Franchise

Zack Snyder once said the Superman movie franchise is "broken," but he's wrong. It's almost broken.
Here are six ways to kill the Superman franchise for good. Lame villains, no budget and comedy galore will kill it foever.

1. Get the Lamest Villain You Can Find
All the great Superman movies have great villains, so get the worst possible villain or make the villain so weak that he becomes a joke.
Superman I had Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor.

Superman II had General Zod. Superman III was supposed to have Brainiac, but they wisely decided to shelve him in favor of Richard Pryor and generic "super-computer."
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace had Lex again, but they made him an idiot, stuck him with Jon Cryer and added Bizarro as two laughable "Nuclear Men." The idea of cloning Superman could have been good, but they made them so weak that it was a joke.
Superman V had Lex Luthor again, except his plan was the same as Superman I: real estate.
The best way to ruin the franchise is to make the main villain:

A) the impish Mister Mxyzptlk
B) the Joker knock-off Prankster 
C) the zombie Solomon Grundy
D) Lex Luthor planning to destroy the world's supply of catalytic converters to reduce the ozone layer.
Even better, why not do all the above?
2. Spend as Little as Possible on Special Effects 
The special effects for Superman I were cutting edge using various mechanical and photographic techniques to create the illusion of flight. These movements were highly choreographed and beautiful. It cost $55 million. That was a lot back then.
Superman II and III had a budget of $54 million and $39,000,000 respectively. Slowly dropping.
Superman IV had a budget of $17 million which led to some horrible budget decisions. Filming the scene where Superman goes to the United Nations in London. Using less wire work and more backlit flying scenes. Horribly perfect.
Superman Returns had a larger budget of $270 million. While the movie suffers from other issues, it's visually stunning. The next film should have a budget of less than $50 million to make it truly horrible.
3. Make Superman a Slapstick Comedy
Superman should have a sense of humor, because the great films always break tension and action with a little light comedy. But the best way to kill the movie is to make comedy the focus. Really make people groan with laughter all the way through.
Superman II was reshot by Richard Lester as a comedy with people being blown around on roller skates. It didn't kill the franchise because Terance Stamp's portrayal of General Zod was so evil that he could have come out of a clown car throwing cream pies in everyone's face and it would still be good.
Superman III almost did the job with a goofy Richard Pryor mugging through the film, but he was in rare form and Christopher Reeve's "evil Superman" was so powerful that the film managed to make it to a sequel.
Superman IV almost made it the nail in the coffin by having nothing to balance out the comedy. That's why it took over two decades to make another one.
Superman Returns had a good balance of humor to drama, but it just wasn't enough comedy to make it memorably bad.
To kill the franchise hire Jim Carrey to play Superman and have it directed by the Farrelly Brothers.
Call it There's Something About Superman.
4. Make Superman Evil
The thing people know about Superman is that he represents the best of humanity. To destroy that idea once and for all, have Superman do something really evil.

Superman II had him exposed to black Kryptonite and manifest an evil Superman that got drunk and tried to murder his alter-ego.

Superman is a fascist in Superman IV when he set out to decide if governments had the right to bear nuclear arms.
Superman Returns had the Man of Steel become a dead-beat dad who gets Lois Lane pregnant, fathers a kid, skips the planet to avoid child support and refuses to acknowledge his son.
Have Superman use his heat vision to melt some orphanages down to build a monument to Lady Gaga while praising the virtues of Adolf Hitler.  That'll show 'em.
5. Superman's Powers Should Be Limitless

Superman has a wide array of basic superpowers: Flight, speed, strength, heat vision, cold breath and invulnerability.

Clever writers can use these powers to make Superman get out of any situation necessary. Weak writers create a whole list of new superpowers to hide their bad writing.
Superman II takes his shield off and throws it at General Zod which gift-wraps him and drops him into a trench.

In Superman IV, he restores part of the Great Wall of China using energy beams from his eyes. Superman moves the moon by pushing on the ground without cracking the planet in half by the gravitational forces.
Superman Returns raises his invulnerability enough to allow a bullet to bounce off his eyeball and survive massive kryptonite poisoning.
The best way to completely destroy the illusion of reality with Superman is to give him infinite powers. He lifts the population using his eyebeams and carries them into the future. Using his limitless mental telepathy he convinces the planet that they're actually gorillas. Meanwhile, he uses his super-speed to accelerate time till they evolve into humans again. After that, he punches Lex Luthor hard enough to send him into the sun.
Hope I haven't given away the twist ending of the next film.
5. Cast a Big Name Actor to Play Superman and Unknowns For Everyone Else
Nothing destroys the realism of a superhero film better than having to pretend Superman is not the guy from Married With Children.

Both Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh were unknown actors before the Superman films. This allowed the movie to focus on the acting instead of the name value.
Instead of going that route, check People magazine's "Top 100 Most beautiful People." Cast High School Musical's Zac Efron, Calvin Klein underwear model Kellan Lutz or even 80's rock star Jon Bon Jovi.
If you have the money, go all out with Johnny Depp, Adam Sandler or Will Smith. That way people will race to the theater and run even faster out again.
Of course, with the money you spend on the main actor there won't be much left for others. The original Superman cast classic actors like Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford and Ned Beatty to play minor roles that complemented the film.
Just go onto the street and grab a few homeless people to play Superman's father or even "Daily Planet" editor Perry White. No one will notice the difference.
6. Threaten the Entire World
The worst Superman films threaten the world. It makes it hard to film and costs a fortune. Plus, the story becomes impersonal, so it becomes hard to engage the audience.

In Superman I the threat was to the west coast of California. In Superman II the world was at risk.

Superman III was limited to just the U.S. presumably. Superman IV had the whole planet threatened by nuclear mayhem. Superman Returns threatened the East coast for a change of pace.
The next film should threaten the entire solar system. Maybe Lex Luthor plans to destroy all the planets except for Pluto and force everyone to live in penthouse apartments on the cold dead world.
So there you have it. Zack Snyder, if you're reading this, stick a lousy villain threatening the universe. Add a big name Superman with limitless superpowers juggling cream pies and you have everything you need to make sure you ruin the Superman franchise for good.

That'll leave more room for 300 III, Watchmen II and the New Adventures of Plastic Man.  Everyone wins.
What do you think it would take to kill the Superman franchise for good? Are these six things enough?
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  1. Alex J. CavanaughJuly 28, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    The slapstick comedy really ruins it. The Superman comics are good, but I've yet to see a film version that matches the quality or feel.

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