(File this under “Stuff I don’t give a shit about, but for some reason still feel the need to comment on.”)
Amid all the noise about Sucker Punch (especially after its collapsing box office) there’s been a lot of talk regarding Zack Snyder’s impending “reboot” of the Superman movie franchise. And almost always embedded in there is some kind of dismissal of Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns as a failure.
I suppose failure is in the eye of the beholder, so it’s pointless to argue against this notion. But I didn’t hate Superman Returns, and I remember that I wasn’t alone in this assessment. And, perhaps more importantly, I seem to recall the movie doing fairly well. Indeed, its performance, both critically and financially, at the time mirrored another big Warner superhero movie, Batman Begins (directed, of course by this new Superman’s producer, one Christopher Nolan). To wit:
I’m admittedly being a bit of a devil’s advocate here, since I actually adore Batman Begins to death and only kind of liked Superman Returns. And yes, in both of the above metrics (such as they are) Superman comes off a little less successful than Batman – but only by a little. In fact, Superman made a bit more money overseas, and it had a bigger opening weekend. (Though it did open over the July 4th weekend, so that was to be expected.)
Superman Returns did, however, cost a sizable chunk more than Batman Begins, and that was probably the biggest nail in its coffin. Still, at the time, the consensus on both these films seemed to be that their box offices had been a bit less than hoped for but still respectable, and that it’d be interesting to see how the franchises would develop, yadda yadda yadda. And obviously that turned out to be key – Batman Begins begat The Dark Knight, while Superman Returns begat…well, what, exactly? It couldn’t even improve the career prospects of its stars. (Even Kevin Spacey kind of vanished in its wake.)
But still, this notion that Singer’s Superman flick was a bust straight out the gate seems a bit revisionist, at best. It wasn’t.
I mention all this not because I care about it, but because it seems like a minor example of how we so often wind up rewriting history in our minds based on later perceptions and events. What if that godawful third X-Men movie (which I think Singer declined to direct so he could tackle Superman) hadn’t been a huge box office hit? Would Singer then have looked like some kind of golden god, a superhero-franchise-whisperer? Instead, Brett Ratner outgrossed him. What if Valkyrie had been a hit?
Who the hell knows? Who the hell cares? Heck, even I don’t care, and I’m the guy who just wasted an entire blog post on this.