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AICN EXCLUSIVE! Moriarty's Review Of JJ ABRAMS SUPERMAN Script!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

You guys broke the story. And I don't mean you were first to report it... I mean you literally freakin' broke it. I don't think we've ever had a story hit as hard as this one was. I'm revising it a bit, though, to remove the other reviews from the column and to give them room to breathe on their own, and I'm also fixing the SUPERMAN story so it works again...

YOU’LL BELIEVE A FRANCHISE CAN SUCK!!

I can understand your curiosity. I know that when I opened the envelope that was on the doorstep of the Labs on Friday morning and I realized I was holding the JJ Abrams draft of the upcoming SUPERMAN film for Warner Bros, I was immediately forced to walk inside, sit down, and start reading. I took the script with me to a screening and kept reading until the lights went down, then started reading again in the car on the way home. I read the script twice, cover to cover, and then I started calling friends. Guys who are Superman freaks. We went over the details of the thing, and I ran certain story points by them to see if I was crazy. I think that, based on what I hear from certain inside sources, what I read is still very much a document in transition.

Good god, I hope so, because right now, it’s a disaster of nearly epic proportions.

Marvel seems to get it. Avi Arad didn’t even start in the film business, but he’s got the right idea. Hire people who have a real passion for the source material. Get out of their way creatively. Support them with the right technical teams. SPIDER-MAN and the BLADE films work incredibly well, in my opinion, and DAREDEVIL looks to me like another home run. I’m as open minded about HULK as I can be, and I’m greatly encouraged by what Michael France had to say about the film in an excellent recent interview by Steve Persall of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, because I trust France’s judgement. His FANTASTIC FOUR script remains one of the best superhero scripts never produced, and if he’s excited about what Ang Lee is doing with HULK, then I am, too.

Michael Chabon on SPIDER-MAN 2, the excellent script for X-MEN 2 and the great things I’m hearing from the set... all of this is incredibly encouraging. All of this makes me trust Kevin Feige more and more. Marvel is earning the sort of corporate trust that Pixar has, where no matter what I hear about a film ahead of time, I’m willing to stay open-minded. I’m willing to trust that they know how to bring these characters to life.

It doesn’t matter if it’s TV or if it’s features... Warner Bros. seems determined to micro-manage every property to death. They have no faith whatsoever in the people they hire, and it seems to be a problem at the executive level company-wide. BIRDS OF PREY has a hell of a producer in place in the form of Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote a great draft of TOMB RAIDER and who wrote an excellent high-tech SF version of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. From what I hear though, there have been some remarkable near-misses on the show so far, creative battles that boggle the mind. We all watched the way Paul Dini and Alan Burnett were treated, these remarkable TV producers who helped create some of the most enduring film images of Batman and Superman to date. And the feature division has been an endless Escher-style square dance, looping in and swallowing itself, endlessly developing variations on the characters. The entire DEATH OF SUPERMAN debacle which has people like Kevin Smith and Tim Burton and Jon Peters and Nicolas Cage and Roger Avery all caught up in it. There was the highly-publicized recent flirtation with BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN that had casting rumors in overdrive and had fan speculation running high. And now, as we mentioned in an article last week, a creative struggle between Alan Horn and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura has not only seen Lorenzo ousted from the studio, it’s also put JJ Abrams’s draft of the script in the lead as the film the studio wants to make.

One of the things discussed in that NEW YORK TIMES article is the idea that this is going to serve as the first film in a trilogy, and that it’s supposed to set up a grand story arc that JJ Abrams has plotted out. It was his pitch for the overall trilogy that some of the execs. They look at LORD OF THE RINGS or HARRY POTTER or the new STAR WARS films and they see how much revenue that creates for a studio over a decade or so, and they can’t help themselves. They picked the one they felt would make money.

And, hey, if I never read a Superman comic in my life... if I didn’t give a shit about any sort of history to the character... if all of my knowledge came from commercials for SMALLVILLE and vague memories of the Donner film, then maybe I’d look at this script and say, “Well, the scale of it is certainly amazing, and it’s an ambitious story. I can see how you’ve set things up for two other films, and there’s a lot to be done with these characters. Overall, the action is pretty intense, and there is a real energy to the piece. If it works, it’s really going to work. If audiences buy the story, we’ve got two more of these ready and waiting to go, and we can merchandise the living shit out of this.”

I’m not even a major Superman nut. I’m not going to pretend that I have some overriding passion about this particular character and what he means or his iconic value or anything. Superman is, I think, fairly potent pop mythology, and the best Superman stories are slight moral fables with some kick ass adventure and action thrown in. His origin is one of the most recognizable in all of Western literature. His planet explodes. He comes to Earth. He’s raised as human. The sun gives him powers. And he chooses to do good in this world. Pretty simple stuff. Pretty hard to screw up.

So, of course, first off, Krypton doesn’t explode.

That’s not where the film starts, though. The film starts with a news broadcast. The anchor on TV looks frazzled, panicked. He tells everyone to get underground, that the Pyramids have been destroyed, that Paris is burning, that most of South America is gone. He blames it all on Superman. There’s a terrible noise, and we whipcut to outside, to the streets of Gotham City (yes, I said Gotham), where a figure in body armor and a ninja’s cloak walks down the center of the street, using breath that is the “force of a thousand hurricanes” to blow buses and cars away, flattening five square blocks in the process.

There’s a WHOOSH in the distance, and the Kryptonian stops. This is TY-ZOR. He’s the same age as Superman, around 30 years old. As he hears the sound getting closer, he smiles, as if this is exactly what he wants.

BAM!

Two red boots hit the pavement in the foreground, “like an NBA MVP coming down from a slam dunk.” We move around the figure, up a very familiar costume, red and blue with a billowing cape. We see the “S” shaped icon. We finally see his face. He’s bruised. He’s bloodied. He’s winded. Whoever this Ty-Zor is... he’s kicking Superman’s ass.

They take off, start to chase each other through the sky. Predictably enough, they both are martial arts experts, and they have a high-speed super-powered martial arts fight in mid-air, kicking each other through buildings on a scale that SUPERMAN II could have never managed. At one point, we follow Superman in close-up as he flies backwards through a building, people scattering to get out of his way. It’s big action. It’s well written. Ty-Zor lures Superman into a NASA hangar that’s made largely of lead. Superman walks into the situation blind, not sure what’s going on. Ty-Zor taunts him over a speaker system, drawing him further in.

Superman finds a giant water testing tank and sees something off-camera that makes him stop. He’s terrified. He collapses in pain. He tries to crawl away but can’t. Ty-Zor taunts him again over the hidden speakers.

TY-ZOR

I want to hear you cry, Kal-El. Like your mother cried. Cry for me... Superman!

And as blisters erupt all over Superman and he cries out in pain, we SHOCK CUT TO:

Naboo.

Seriously. It’s Naboo. Oh, sure, they call it Krypton in the script, but it’s instantly recognizable as the Naboo of EPISODE I. Green fields. Forests nearby. Little girl playing. Everything peaceful.

And then the big war machines come rolling in.

Again, I’m picturing EPISODE I. Three-legged robot tanks. Mechanical soldiers taking a royal city. A civil war raging suddenly, ruining the peaceful green planet.

JOR-EL is a young man at this point, 39 years old, the leader of the Senate. As the attack gets underway and reports of key military failures roll in, Jor-El orders everyone to leave the War Room and go to their families, so at least they’ll be together at the end.

Jor-El’s got other plans, though. Seems there’s some prophecy, and he and Lara have a rocket shipt they’ve built for just this occasion, and Jor-El is determined that the only way to save their baby is to send him away. His rocket blasts off as the mechanical warriors come bursting in, and Jor-El sends his wife away at the last second with a creature called TAGA, described as a giant turtle with no shell. They take off, Jor-El goes outside to fight, and Jor-El ends up captured, beaten badly, taken before KATA-ZOR and his son TY-ZOR. Kata-Zor tells Jor-El that he knows about The Prophecy and he’s crazy, and he’s gonna track the baby down and kill him, and someone says that the pod could have gone any one of a thousand places, and Kata-Zor screams “THEN SEND A THOUSAND MEN!”

And it was about here that I had to check the cover of the script again. What the fuck? I mean, that opening with Superman and the Kryptonian dude in the streets... that was pretty cool. It’s silly that Superman has to do martial arts just because THE MATRIX made money, but I’ll learn to live with it, I suppose.

But what the hell is this nonsense about Krypton not exploding? What’s this Prophecy crap? Who’s Kata-Zor and why do I care? The last shot of this long Krypton prologue is of a thousand probe pods being sent out, away from the red sun of their home, all of them looking for the baby.

”Our MUSIC SWELLS – it’s EPIC – and then...”

Smallville. Martha and Jonathan Kent are eating breakfast. Okay. This is good. After all, you’d have to be genuinely retarded to screw up Smallville stuff by this point. Everything’s played big. For example, they’re not driving when the baby crashes. Instead, the pod lands in their field, heading straight for the house, and they have to run outside to get out of the way, only to see it come to rest an inch from the kitchen window when it finally slows down.

They take the baby in. His powers begin to manifest almost immediately. He tosses a couch. He flies. Even what he leaves in his diapers seems super-powered based on Jonathan’s weak-kneed reaction. The Kents are poor, struggling with their bills, but they are determined to provide for this strange orphaned baby, raising him as thei own, teaching him restraint above all else. Control. Basically, they make him so scared of what he can do that he’s afraid to do anything. A wicked landlord (drawn so broadly that he might as well have a mustache to twirl) tries to rape Martha Kent, and the six-year-old boy attacks, beats, and nearly kills the man. The guy freaks out and calls Clark the devil and a monster.

He’s a resolute outsider as he grows up, able to hear what his classmates say about him from miles away. When he’s 14, he finds a silver cannister hidden in his parents’ closet (he’s busy using his x-ray vision to see what’s in his Christmas presents). It’s not normal, and it slides open like liquid. Some sort of red substance is inside, neither liquid nor solid, and it suddenly SPRINGS out...

The Superman suit. The one you know.

Full-sized, standing by itself, as if worn by a grown man, cape waving.

And when Clark goes to touch it, it rips his clothes off and sucks him into the suit. He’s obviously too small for it, but that doesn’t stop him. He runs out and begins to experiment with it, running and leaping and finally taking off. Flying. In a suit that’s too big for him. And when he lands, it’s head-first, destroying a tractor right in front of Martha and Jonathan, who just came home.

This, of course, leads to the talk. Clark learns that he’s not their son naturally. That he’s not even from Earth naturally. And he takes the suit off and runs outside, confused and upset, and he looks up into the sky at the stars, wondering where he came from, and just as we really start to connect with Clark... just as they start to get to the heart of who he is...

... we cut back to Naboo.

More stuff with Taga the turtle creature and Lara, Superman’s decidedly not-dead mom. She’s captured. She’s tortured by Ty-Zor, who is about Clark’s age. He wants to know where Kal-El was sent, and when she won’t tell, she becomes Superman’s finally-dead mom.

And then it’s back to Earth. Clark’s 20. He’s in college. He’s an undeclared major, sort of drifting through school, not sure what he wants to do with his life. He meets LOIS LANE at a party. She’s annoyed, impatient, sorry she came. It’s a loud, obnoxious kegger, and it’s obvious neither one of them belongs there. This is the kind of stuff that Abrams can do in his sleep after FELICITY and the first season of ALIAS. Smart flirting. And even though it’s a total reinvention of how they meet, it’s okay. It’s decent character work. She totally rolls over him, of course. She wants to be a reporter. She wants to work at the DAILY PLANET. There’s a near-altercation where Clark gets pushed around, and it’s Lois who steps in and uses Krav Maga blows to knock the bully out. And just like that, she’s gone, and Clark is smitten.

And then we jump forward in time again, seven years, and we meet the character who is, in my opinion, going to cause the most controversy in the fan community.

CIA Special Agent DR. LEX LUTHOR.

He’s in his 50s with closely cropped hair. He’s brought in to Dust City, Arizona where police have cordoned off what appears to be a crash site. For a UFO.

Because that’s what CIA Special Agent Dr. Lex Luthor does. He’s the Director of the Special Operations Division of the CIA. Which basically means that he chases UFO activity and tries to either verify or debunk it.

The crash site turns out to be a hoax, though, set up by a couple of local kids. Luthor exposes the hoax, and is about to leave when he gets snapped by a photographer. We cut to a close-up of the DAILY PLANET, where there’s a headline splashed across the front page:

”CIA SPENDS MILLIONS ON LITTLE GREEN MEN.”

By Lois Lane.

Seems she paid the kids to set up the hoax. She’s chasing Luthor and his budget, determined to expose his work as ridiculous. Luthor pressures his bosses to let him go public with The Big Secret.

In Metropolis, Lois is getting bitched out by her editor, Perry White, for her techniques even as Jimmy Olsen gives Clark Kent a tour of the place. It’s Clark’s first day. And now he’s the age he was in the opening. Jimmy’s a little younger, and is described as “Brooklyn-born and somewhat effeminate.” Perry White makes jokes about Jimmy’s boyfriend later in the scene. It’s one of those bizarre choices that you hope you’re misreading. It’s suggested more than anything, but it is suggested. It certainly could be read that way. Did they just arbitrarily decide to suggest that Jimmy’s gay?

Can I ask what that adds to anything? Is it going to be a major subplot? If not, then did you really have to do it? Is this what you see as edgy, or as a hip way to update a character? I have no problem with seeing gay characters show up in mainstream films, but when it’s an arbitrary decision like this, one has to wonder what the point is. I remember that Kevin Smith once talked about how following screenings of CHASING AMY and STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE – THE SPECIAL EDITION, Jon Peters decided he wanted a gay robot in the SUPERMAN LIVES script that Smith was writing at the time. Is this another way for Peters to work the jones out?

Luthor goes public with a discovery that justifies his budget. He shows slides of a crash recovery site from nine years earlier. And this is twenty-nine years after the opening Krypton scenes, so... Luthor’s talking about a crash... came about twenty years after Clark first landed. The slides show a capsule almost exactly like Clark’s. Lex says the capsule is proof that there is an alien visitor hiding somewhere on Earth, and he intends to find him.

Clark has a big panic attack, of course, and calls home to talk to his mom and to verify that their capsule is still hidden in the barn, setting up the mystery of the film. Whose capsule is the second one?

Who is the second Kryptonian?

I started to get a really bad feeling when they introduced this plot thread, and I started hoping... actively praying... that they weren’t headed where I thought they were headed.

There’s more flirting. There’s no Superman yet. It’s just Clark following Lois around and Lois getting into trouble with her various stories. She gets assigned to a cover the President on Air Force One, a second chance from Perry to prove herself, and as they’re in the air, there is a sudden, unexpected mechanical failure, and the plane begins to fall. Clark hears the incident on the radio.

He rips open that cannister.

And now, for the first time, he’s the right size for the suit. And it climbs up onto him again and he takes off into the sky, flying for the first time since moving to the city.

And for this one sequence, JJ Abrams gets everything right. Every note is perfectly played. Superman’s debut to the world is remarkable. Breathtaking. A moment of perfectly played heroism.

And at the end of the scene, once the plane is on the ground, as everyone is freaking out over the mere idea of a man who can fly, the President tries to thank Clark, who walks right by him, worried, so he can check on Lois.

For some reason, though, she doesn’t recognize him.

No one does.

Lex sees him on TV, though, and he knows full well what it means. It means that the Visitor has finally revealed himself.

And Jonathan Kent hears him on the radio, and for a moment, he’s enormously proud of his son, and as he runs to tell his wife, he pulls a Glen Ford. Face down.

Exit Pa Kent.

Then it’s back to Naboo, for more crap we couldn’t care less about. I cannot stress this enough. Krypton is so powerfully uninteresting in the script that my eyes would glaze over at the mere sight of the word. We find Kata-Zor playing some kind of silly space chess with PREDIUS (a concentration camp prisoner who we don’t learn anything about, but who the script promises will be very important in the next film), and Ty-Zor comes in to tell his dad that they found Kal-El. Because I guess they were watching Earth TV just in case or something. But however they know, they decide to send some war machines to find and kill Kal-El. Ty-Zor begs for the gig.

I’ll give Abrams this: he sure does love to pile on the angst. This is the most tortured Superman I’ve ever read. He is so torn up over his father’s death that he vows never to put the suit on again. Luthor’s efforts to get more funding to find Superman result in Luthor’s being fired. He flips out and screams at the Senators who are pulling the plug on his program. He tells them that they’re all going to die. They don’t believe it. They think Superman is a hero. After all, he just saved The President. They’re not about to fund Lex’s effort to track him down and destroy him.

There’s another bizarre choice in here, one of those head-scratchers that just pull you out of the thing. Martha happens to find some metal thingies that she forgot to give Clark earlier. The metal thingies, if you put them together the right way, form the negative space from the “S” symbol from the costume. Turns out, these were given to the Kents before Kal-El ever arrived.

By Jor-El.

During his visit to Earth, when he picked the Kents to be Kal-El’s new parents.

For some reason, Martha never put all of this together, but suddenly we get this rush of exposition all at once. Each of the metal thingies means something different. Courage. Sacrifice. Wisdom. Faith. Love. Once she remembers this, she’s suddenly quite sure that he’s supposed to go save the world. From what, we’re not sure. There’s no major threat to speak of. But she decides that’s his mission, and because of the metal thingies and a photo of Jor-El, Clark decides she’s right.

The second best Superman sequence in the film is the montage that follows, as we see him slowly slip into this new role. He goes to a mountain top in the Andes and just... listens. There’s cries for help from all over the world, and at first, it seems to be too much. But he focuses in on one particular cry. Then another. Then another. And he begins to fly from place to place, fast as he can, never staying for thanks. And for this three or four pages, Abrams brings it all together again.

Look... I think JJ Abrams could well be the right guy for the job. I think he might have a great Superman script in him. The moments that are good are so good they make you woozy. This is the Superman that lives right alongside Santa Claus and Bugs Bunny and Luke Skywalker in the inner lives of American children from the last few generations, the simple force of good wrapped in red and blue. If there was an entire film of this stuff, I’d be weeping right now, telling you how we were in for this amazing love letter, this beautiful reintroduction to this classic character.

But of course that’s not what it is. No, Warner Bros. wants to recreate things that don’t need to be recreated. They want to distance themselves from what’s come before. I mean, never mind the fact that most of this script stands in direct opposition to what is established canon for the character over the years. What about the time and energy that fans are investing in SMALLVILLE? Again... it’s not really my thing. I’m not a big fan of the show. It seemed like every time I watched it last year, there was some sort of wackiness resulting from Kryptonite, and it started to get really old really quickly. But there are fans of the show... lots of them... and in an age of X-FILES and other shows making a quick transition to the bigscreen, it’s not unreasonable to think that Tom Welling was being groomed to step up at some point and play Superman at the end of the learning process that the TV show was going to show.

No chance of that. At this point, if Warner Bros. backs this Abrams draft (and what I read allegedly predates Ratner’s hiring this past week, meaning McG supposedly had a lot of input into it), then there’s no room for Welling or the Lex Luthor that fans seem so fond of or any of those elements in the bigscreen franchise.

Lois and Superman fall in love. There’s a nice tribute to Donner’s film in the way she interviews him and then they share a flight over the city at night. Luthor’s plan is revealed: he’s seen a vision of the Visitors coming to find the first Visitor, and he wants to help them take over the Earth in exchange for power. The warship arrives on Earth, landing in Washington D.C. Lois finds out about Luthor’s plan, which involves some sort of material stolen from the Smithsonian called “kryptonite,” and she rushes to warn Superman before his confrontation.

What unfolds for the next twenty pages or so is an enormous, ungodly fight between Superman and the various Kryptonians who have come to Earth to assist Ty-Zor. They battle through Washington, destroying much of it before Ty-Zor and the others retreat to regroup and hook up with Lex. The public turns on Superman and blames him for the bad guys coming to Earth.

Keep in mind that all of this is within days of Superman’s first appearance. The timetable is something ridiculous like a week. They’re working to pack so much into this script that it begins to smell desperate. There’s only so many pages of superbeings throwing each other through buildings that can be considered interesting, and I don’t know how much entertainment value audiences are going to find post 9/11 in watching beloved Washington landmarks be destroyed. Finally, as the Kryptonians and Luthor continue to bait Kal-El by destroying things around the world, the film comes full circle. We’re back to that fight between Ty-Zor and Superman. We go back into that NASA hangar. Only this time, we see what Superman sees. We see what terrifies him and what starts to hurt him.

Lois Lane, submerged in water, drowning, moored to the floor of a water tank next to a giant chunk of Kryptonite. Meaning if Superman goes in to save her, he’s going to die. And if he doesn’t, he’ll watch her die.

So... he does what Superman would do.

He goes in.

And he dies.

Ahhhh... didn’t see that coming, did you? You thought we were done with the Death of Superman, didn’t you?

Evidently not. Peters seems determined to shoehorn in the artificial emotion of a syrupy, lengthy, pointless funeral sequence. Lois gets to cry. Everyone gets to be very solemn.

But who the hell are they kidding? One of the fundamental problems with trying to kick off a franchise with a Death of Superman story is that WE KNOW HE CAN’T FUCKING DIE. I mean, have a little faith in the audience. Why would we want to invest fifteen minutes of sorrow into a storyline we know isn’t going to play out? This is part one of an announced trilogy. He’s not going to stay in the ground.

And the way they bring him back has got to be one of the dumbest, dippiest, New Age bullshit scenes in a major franchise picture that I can think of. It’s ri-goddamn-diculous. Jor-El “senses” the death of his son all the way from Krypton, so he slices his own stomach open and goes to Heaven where he explains to Jor-El that he CAN’T die. I halfway expected him to say, “Look, son, this is just the first film in the trilogy. You can’t be dead yet.” His excuse isn’t much better. He explains that The Prophecy says that the Son of Krypton will defeat a great trial on a distant planet before coming home to kick some ass. “And since I know you’re going to come save Krypton, you can’t die on Earth.”

Kal-El can’t really argue with such spotless logic, so he returns to his body and digs himself out of the grave where he was put to rest.

Seriously. Jor-El argues him out of being dead.

By this time, Luthor’s in the White House, and the Kryptonians are celebrating. They don’t know that Superman is back. They don’t suspect a thing as he goes to Lois, learns all about Kryptonite, then secretly organizes the entire United Nations for a plan to put the big hurtin’ on Ty-Zor and his boys. And girls. There’s a couple of Ursa wannabes in the group. Once everything’s in place, Superman goes to the White House and calls everyone out for the big final action sequence.

And when I say big, I mean B I G.

Air combat between five superpowered Kryptonians and fighter jets from 24 nations. Kryptonite missiles. Ass-kickin’ on a level we’ve never seen before on film.

It reads like it’ll cost $400 million. I’m predicting right now... there’s no way they’re going to be able to make something this big unless they’re willing to invest TITANIC sized money into the thing. And with a film that is going to infuriate fans as much as this one will, that’s not a sure-thing investment. In fact, it’s a pretty major risk.

And just in case you’re not infuriated yet, let me give you the last big spoiler in this thing. As Randy Newman once sang, “I just want you to hurt... like I do...”

Y’see, after all the Kryptonians are dead, Superman’s getting ready to go back home. He’s gonna go to Krypton because the Prophecy says so. Never mind the fact that he won’t have any superpowers back there. Never mind the fact that we DON’T FREAKING CARE about what happens on Krypton. That’s the set-up for part two, and Superman is in midst of his tearful farewell when Luthor shows up.

And that sinking feeling I got earlier came back. I knew it before it even happened. That thing I was so afraid of... Abrams is going to go for it, I thought... and I kept reading, almost peeking at the pages between my fingers...

Luthor tells Superman that he has come for him. And not in the way he thinks, either. He begins to rant about what a “goddamn spectacular job” he’s done, rambling like he’s lost his mind.

LUTHOR

The good soldier. The loyal. The dedicated. The tenacious. That’s me. When others would have quit – when others have. I kept up the charade. Following orders that made me sick! To impersonate the very thing I despise most in the universe.

(to Lois, with disdain)

Those like you.

And by now, I was practically screaming at the script. “NO! DON’T DO IT! DON’T DO WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO, YOU STUPID FREAKIN’...”

LUTHOR

I was hoping to do this on a slightly larger scale, SUPERMAN... but here we are. And the only way for me to be the good soldier is to tell you the truth.

(intense, evil beat)

No, that pod the CIA recovered... it wasn’t yours.

A long insane dramatic beat – and just as we get it:

LUTHOR

IT WAS MINE!

And then Luthor flies. Seriously.

And he and Superman have yet another superfight.

Because 30 pages of superfights wasn’t enough.

And because someone, somewhere, for some completely mystifying reason has decided that it would be a good idea to make Lex Luthor a superpowered 50 year old who knows better kung-fu than Superman.

In the long history of really stupid ideas in bringing superheroes to the bigscreen, this far surpasses the Amazing Hummingbird Man and Hot Guy from one of the lousy HULK drafts. I honestly think this is worse as an overall idea than Arnold’s Mr. Freeze and a bat credit card.

He’s Lex Luthor.

And he’s got superpowers. And he flies.

The end of the film sets up Clark to go home to Krypton. It sets up Lex as a prisoner, ripe to escape for the next movie.

And for all the world, it reads to me like Clark is going home to Naboo to study with Yoda so he can be the king of Krypton or some such nonsense.

And as his rocket blasts off from a cornfield and Ma Kent waves at him, I was left with my jaw hanging open, shocked.

I... I... sweet God, I hate this script.

Please, Brett Ratner. Don’t do this. JJ Abrams... you’re better than this. I know Jon Peters is involved, and I know he’s determined that any DC superhero film made has to be incredibly shitty and stupid, but DON’T LISTEN TO HIM!!

Please, Alan Horn... call Avi Arad. Ask him what the secret is. Learn from him. Hire someone who really loves this property and let them make a damn good Superman adventure film.

I’m begging you. I put all this detail into this column because I want you to read the reactions of the Talk Backers below. I want you to pay attention to the reaction across the entire Net. Listen to the fans. They’ll tell you if this is what they want.

And maybe it is. Maybe you want martial arts fights in mid-air. Maybe you want a superpowered Lex Luthor. Maybe you want a Krypton that didn’t explode and an ancient Prophecy and a second film that’s not set on Earth. Maybe that all sounds good to you, and you’re all going to tell me that I’m crazy, or that I’m overreacting, or that I’ve failed to grasp the conceptual brilliance of this thing.

Somehow, though... I doubt that.

I don’t want to hate SUPERMAN. I want to love SUPERMAN. Even if it’s not one of the things I hold dear as a fan, I have a respect for the character that stretches all the way back to the first time I read a comic book with the character in it, and the first time I sat in a theater as Donner’s film or the Fleisher cartoons played. I may not be nuts about Superman, but I know him when I see him.

And this ain’t him.

Okay. So. Gotta go. I know I said I was going to write about Sylvester Stallone in his new indie effort SHADE, but I’m out of time and I have deadlines to meet and I’ll be back later this week anyway. I’ll have it for you then, AB King... I promise. Until then...

"Moriarty" out.





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