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Old November 10 2009, 12:06 AM   #1
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Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Ok, so it's pretty much a given that Superman: The Movie (and to a lesser extent, Superman II) is regarded as a benchmark in big screen superhero outings, and rightly so. They were great films that did an excellent job of bringing an iconic hero to life. However, is it time that we stopped trying to emulate them in modern Superman outings?

I admit, I got a bit of fanboy enjoyment out of hearing the Superman fanfare at the beginig of SR, and the homages dotted around in the Smallville TV series are cool and everything, but I'm starting to think that it's time to move on, at least from a cinematic point of view.
Superman Returns had a lot of critisism leveled at it for various reasons, a lot of which I agree with. For example, I am sick to death of Lex being nothing more than an elaborate real estate swindler. We need a different portrayal of Lex, to put him on more of a level playing field with Superman.

I'm not necessarily talking about a huge reboot with a new or remade origin. I mean, you could cover Superman's origin in the opening credits with comic book panels or whatever, but I think a fresh take on Superman would be interesting. Obviously I don't think they should alter the fundamental aspects of his look and character - none of the silly shit people like Tim Burton and Nicholas Cage have come up with, but a serious attempt at bringing the character to life in a way that stays true to the character, but set in a new 'verse, so that we're not bogged down too much in past incarnations.

I mean, Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner did a fantastic job of realising Superman on the big screen, but do we really have to milk it forever?

Thoughts? Anyone agree? Disagree? Not care?
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Old November 10 2009, 12:47 AM   #2
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Have you ever seen Lois & Clark? That was a fresh take on Superman. Dean Cain claimed that he based his performance on Christopher Reeve, which was not even remotely close to the truth, but what the hell, let the man think what he wants.

Yes, that show did degenerate into a soap opera in it's last two years, but it was still good, and one of the best incarnations of Superman since the character was created.
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Old November 10 2009, 01:01 AM   #3
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

I've never cared much for the Donner films myself, so I would be happy if they abandoned them in favour of a reboot. I could see continuing them if it was the early 90's, but it's been far too long. We need a fresh take on the character. Something like the DCAU Superman would be great.
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Old November 10 2009, 01:07 AM   #4
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

I've said all along that Bryan Singer's biggest mistake was in trying to make his movie a sequel to a decades-old (even pre-Crisis!) interpretation of Superman rather than doing something new and fresh. Indeed, I question the implied premise of the thread title, that Superman adaptations have been in the "Donner-verse" (or perhaps "Salkind-verse" would be more accurate) up until now. Maybe that's true of feature films, but where the comics and TV adaptations are concerned, the Donner continuity and designs didn't really become influential until Bryan Singer revived them. If you look at the first several seasons of Smallville, their designs for Kryptonian technology and paraphernalia have no connection to the Salkind films' look. The show didn't retcon Kryptonian tech to emulate the movies' look until its fifth season, in order to tie into the then-in-production Superman Returns. Superman in comics and TV had long since moved beyond what the Salkind films did; Singer took an enormous step backward.

So it's not so much that it's time to leave the Salkind/Donner/whatever "'verse" behind; I'd say instead that its time was long past and it was a mistake to revive it. The Reeve films were a product of their time, and the Superman franchise has evolved a great deal since then. So yes, we need a Superman movie that takes a fresh approach. No more sterile, crystalline Kryptonian buildings, no more Lex Luthor as bumbling land-baron wannabe, no more goofball pre-Crisis Clark Kent.
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Old November 10 2009, 01:23 AM   #5
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Christopher wrote: View Post
no more goofball pre-Crisis Clark Kent.
Definitely this. One of the best things about the Animated:Series was how cool Clark was. He was a no nonsense kind of guy who held his own against Luthor and Bruce Wayne. Definitely one of the best takes on the character, just like Cain's Clark.

Unfortunately I don't think that is what the now general public wants to see. I still remember in this very forum how thrilled everyone was that Routh supposedly looked so much like Reeve's Clark, goofball and all.
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Old November 10 2009, 01:25 AM   #6
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

I don't think Returns' (which I liked) problems lie with being in the "Donner 'Verse." I mean, it's silly to think the look of Kryptonian technology/the FoS would've effected the movie, and the newest Superman movie certainly didn't need to be yet another retelling of Superman's origins.

I think the problems with Returns was that it was simply, well, slow and Superman wasn't well realized or potrayed. (I'm not a fan of Routh's Superman/Clark.)

I'm mean we've the morose series of scenes with Superman "staling" Lois, the revisit of the "Can You Hear My Thoughts" flying scene (though it was beautifuly done and scored) and little of Superman being, well, Superman.

Now, I don't think a "good" Superman movie should be Superman chucking tanks at some unstoppable foe but it's hard to "cheer" during a battle scene when all your hero is doing is stopping people from dying in a fall, stopping people from dying from falling things, and lifting boat-hulls out of the ocean.

There were no real "moments" in S:R of seing Superman being everything that He is. (Capitalization of "he" intentional there.)

I mean, the boat is sinking, we hear the thumps of him landing on the boar, then the score swells to the Superman theme to a angelic choir singing as Superman holds the boar in the air. Yeah, that's a great moment but that's all it is. But that scene along with the other "superman moment" scenes in the climax is alot like masturbating to a well-draw comic-cover. Yeah it looks awesome, but inside the story has Superman, yet again, being a dick to Jimmy to teach some-kind-of half-baked lesson.

Superman, also, in S:R is rarely used, amazingly enough. He's in it a lot, obviously, but he doesn't say a whole lot and we're not given much with him. S:R's problems weren't in using the Donner 'Verse it was in the film-maker being more in love with making grand scenes and moments than he was making a great Superman story.

If/When they use the next movie the use or non-use of the "Donner 'Verse" doesn't matter much to me. I may argue that the score (very much hard-tied to Superman) and presentation of the credits may be "requred" but the atmosphere/look of the movie and the history of the characters need-not necessairly be tied to Donner.

But, Superman Return's faults lie far, far, away from the Donner illusions.
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Old November 10 2009, 02:43 AM   #7
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Servo wrote: View Post
Ok, so it's pretty much a given that Superman: The Movie (and to a lesser extent, Superman II) is regarded as a benchmark in big screen superhero outings, and rightly so. They were great films that did an excellent job of bringing an iconic hero to life. However, is it time that we stopped trying to emulate them in modern Superman outings?

I admit, I got a bit of fanboy enjoyment out of hearing the Superman fanfare at the beginig of SR, and the homages dotted around in the Smallville TV series are cool and everything, but I'm starting to think that it's time to move on, at least from a cinematic point of view.
Superman Returns had a lot of critisism leveled at it for various reasons, a lot of which I agree with. For example, I am sick to death of Lex being nothing more than an elaborate real estate swindler. We need a different portrayal of Lex, to put him on more of a level playing field with Superman.

I'm not necessarily talking about a huge reboot with a new or remade origin. I mean, you could cover Superman's origin in the opening credits with comic book panels or whatever, but I think a fresh take on Superman would be interesting. Obviously I don't think they should alter the fundamental aspects of his look and character - none of the silly shit people like Tim Burton and Nicholas Cage have come up with, but a serious attempt at bringing the character to life in a way that stays true to the character, but set in a new 'verse, so that we're not bogged down too much in past incarnations.

I mean, Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner did a fantastic job of realising Superman on the big screen, but do we really have to milk it forever?

Thoughts? Anyone agree? Disagree? Not care?
Donner only directed two films (Superman The Movie and Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut), but I don't think the Superman films should be beholden to what he did. There are a couple of things I would recommend keeping -- like the John Barry designed Fortress of Solitude and the John Williams Superman theme (which is pretty much all Superman Returns did to tie it into the "Donnerverse")...and keeping the character true to the comics.

In other words, no DARK SUPERMAN. Actually, I felt the Superman Returns script was too dark.

Other than that...I say go for it...as long as it's fun and remains true to the comics...

Oh...and for the love of Jeebus -- get rid of the kid!
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Old November 10 2009, 02:47 AM   #8
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
I don't think Returns' (which I liked) problems lie with being in the "Donner 'Verse." I mean, it's silly to think the look of Kryptonian technology/the FoS would've effected the movie, and the newest Superman movie certainly didn't need to be yet another retelling of Superman's origins.

I think the problems with Returns was that it was simply, well, slow and Superman wasn't well realized or potrayed. (I'm not a fan of Routh's Superman/Clark.)

I'm mean we've the morose series of scenes with Superman "staling" Lois, the revisit of the "Can You Hear My Thoughts" flying scene (though it was beautifuly done and scored) and little of Superman being, well, Superman.

Now, I don't think a "good" Superman movie should be Superman chucking tanks at some unstoppable foe but it's hard to "cheer" during a battle scene when all your hero is doing is stopping people from dying in a fall, stopping people from dying from falling things, and lifting boat-hulls out of the ocean.

There were no real "moments" in S:R of seing Superman being everything that He is. (Capitalization of "he" intentional there.)

I mean, the boat is sinking, we hear the thumps of him landing on the boar, then the score swells to the Superman theme to a angelic choir singing as Superman holds the boar in the air. Yeah, that's a great moment but that's all it is. But that scene along with the other "superman moment" scenes in the climax is alot like masturbating to a well-draw comic-cover. Yeah it looks awesome, but inside the story has Superman, yet again, being a dick to Jimmy to teach some-kind-of half-baked lesson.

Superman, also, in S:R is rarely used, amazingly enough. He's in it a lot, obviously, but he doesn't say a whole lot and we're not given much with him. S:R's problems weren't in using the Donner 'Verse it was in the film-maker being more in love with making grand scenes and moments than he was making a great Superman story.

If/When they use the next movie the use or non-use of the "Donner 'Verse" doesn't matter much to me. I may argue that the score (very much hard-tied to Superman) and presentation of the credits may be "requred" but the atmosphere/look of the movie and the history of the characters need-not necessairly be tied to Donner.

But, Superman Return's faults lie far, far, away from the Donner illusions.
For me, the best moment of Superman Returns was when he rescued the space shuttle and saved the plane with Lois on it...after that, the movie started to fall flat. Kate Bosworth was TERRIBLE as Lois. Hard to read Routh as Superman since -- as you say -- there was really very little opportunity for him to BE Superman in this script.
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Old November 10 2009, 03:08 AM   #9
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

I don't think Superman needs to be a period piece, but whoever makes the next superman film would be wise to take influence from the fleischer cartoons, especially in terms of how to do proper superman action scenes, and a masculine, bright version of clark kent.
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Old November 10 2009, 03:21 AM   #10
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Kirkman1987 wrote: View Post
I don't think Superman needs to be a period piece, but whoever makes the next superman film would be wise to take influence from the fleischer cartoons, especially in terms of how to do proper superman action scenes, and a masculine, bright version of clark kent.
I think a "presentday period peice" would be interesting. Clothing, sets the tone and look could be inspired by the 30s/40s but the movie still "set in the today" as far as technology goes.
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Old November 10 2009, 03:41 AM   #11
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

I think it's a given that the next movie will start fresh. I also believe it's a good idea to bring Brandon Routh back as Superman. These things don't have to be mutually exclusive.
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Old November 10 2009, 04:06 AM   #12
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Considering the only good thing from the Donner movies was the first half of the original movie (up until Clark got to Metropolis), yes. It's very much time to leave. Especially since every movie that followed just got worse and worse.

The only saving grace in the second movie, for instance, was General Zod. And only General Zod. The two baffoons he had for sidekicks were lame as was the actual storytelling of the movie itself. And that was the last decent thing to come out of those movies.

Even the great Gene Hackman couldn't redeem them, especially since they had Lex as a goofy supervillain. But he certainly did what he could with the role he was told to play, and while lame he somehow made Lex watchable. Which says more about Gene Hackman than it does the movies (and, to a lesser extent, the comics).

So, is it time to leave the Donner movies behind? Definitely. At least as far as I'm concerned. Superman has progressed a lot since those days and the animated series more than showed that it's possible to make Superman fun to watch again.
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Old November 10 2009, 09:19 AM   #13
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

The Donner films are not considered a 'cinematic holy grail' outside of the geek community. With every passing year, the number of Superman fans who have never even SEEN the film grows and grows.

These days, Superman is more about Smallville, Justice League cartoons, and DC animated cartoons
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Old November 10 2009, 10:50 AM   #14
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

I think it's time to introduce Daekseid in a live action film settng or at the very least Brainiac
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Old November 10 2009, 03:40 PM   #15
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Re: Is it time to leave the Donner-verse behind?

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
I don't think Returns' (which I liked) problems lie with being in the "Donner 'Verse." I mean, it's silly to think the look of Kryptonian technology/the FoS would've effected the movie, and the newest Superman movie certainly didn't need to be yet another retelling of Superman's origins.

I think the problems with Returns was that it was simply, well, slow and Superman wasn't well realized or potrayed. (I'm not a fan of Routh's Superman/Clark.)

I'm mean we've the morose series of scenes with Superman "staling" Lois, the revisit of the "Can You Hear My Thoughts" flying scene (though it was beautifuly done and scored) and little of Superman being, well, Superman.

Now, I don't think a "good" Superman movie should be Superman chucking tanks at some unstoppable foe but it's hard to "cheer" during a battle scene when all your hero is doing is stopping people from dying in a fall, stopping people from dying from falling things, and lifting boat-hulls out of the ocean.

There were no real "moments" in S:R of seing Superman being everything that He is. (Capitalization of "he" intentional there.)

I mean, the boat is sinking, we hear the thumps of him landing on the boar, then the score swells to the Superman theme to a angelic choir singing as Superman holds the boar in the air. Yeah, that's a great moment but that's all it is. But that scene along with the other "superman moment" scenes in the climax is alot like masturbating to a well-draw comic-cover. Yeah it looks awesome, but inside the story has Superman, yet again, being a dick to Jimmy to teach some-kind-of half-baked lesson.

Superman, also, in S:R is rarely used, amazingly enough. He's in it a lot, obviously, but he doesn't say a whole lot and we're not given much with him. S:R's problems weren't in using the Donner 'Verse it was in the film-maker being more in love with making grand scenes and moments than he was making a great Superman story.

If/When they use the next movie the use or non-use of the "Donner 'Verse" doesn't matter much to me. I may argue that the score (very much hard-tied to Superman) and presentation of the credits may be "requred" but the atmosphere/look of the movie and the history of the characters need-not necessairly be tied to Donner.

But, Superman Return's faults lie far, far, away from the Donner illusions.
Great post!! I agree 100%! And I've said that the only things that should be kept ARE the Kryptonian technology/Fortress of Solitude, the suit, and John Williams' Main Title. I don't know how anyone could consider those things creatively restrictive in any sort of way. And people tend to confuse Donner's films with S2 (theatrical release), S3 and S4 -- which were NOT directed by Richard Donner. It IS more accurate to call them the Salkind films...and trust me, S:The Movie and S2 were only as good as they were BECAUSE OF Richard Donner.

The Salkinds were HACKS. Witness how they treated Donner...and the results of Supergirl (a TERRIBLE film!).

The other thing I've consistently said is that I don't want to see a dark Superman film. I don't think it should be campy...but it should be FUN -- in an Indiana Jones sort of way. That's more in line with the predominant run of the comics across the decades.

Aside from the shuttle rescue, Superman Returns was NOT fun. It was somewhat dreary actually...

Oh -- and if anyone thinks Christopher Reeve is not THE definitive Superman they are kidding themselves. He is, at least for the modern age...I can't speak to George Reeves or any other actor to play the part since those pre-dated me.

But, to me, Christopher Reeve OWNED that part.

To dismiss the greatness of his performances is foolishness.

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