Monday Morning Quarterback Part Two
By BOP Staff
July 4, 2006
We don't call this column Monday Morning Quarterback for nothing!Kim Hollis: In hindsight, what could Warner Bros. have done differently with regards to Superman?
David Mumpower: How much time have you got?
Tim Briody: See, I saw a decent amount of ads, and liked them. Kim said she didn't see enough. Should they have gone the complete and utter saturation route?
Dan Krovich: I think they could have tried to make Brandon Routh a star before the opening weekend. They seemed to hide him. In this front-loaded era, you don't have time for people to discover him opening weekend.
Joel Corcoran: Honestly, if I'd been in charge of marketing, I would've taken two strategies: (1) "Let's forget Superman IV ever happened"; and (2) hammer home - over and over again - the plot point about Superman returning after a five-year absence.
David Mumpower: The laundry list starts with the villain choice. I know that Lex Luthor is the iconic foe of Superman, but Smallville has been running this storyline into the ground for five years now. It's not fresh. How can an ordinary guy be a threat to a Superman anyway?
Tim Briody: He's really, really rich! *insert evil laughter*
BOP finds yet another way to compliment Kevin Smith.Kim Hollis: Kevin Smith had it right. Death of Superman was the way to go. That way I would have even wanted to see it! (And I hate Superman and think he's the dullest superhero ever).
Joel Corcoran: I'm with you there, Kim, on all points.
David Mumpower: Superman facing an ordinary man doesn't lend itself to what tentpole releases need these days: money shots. And Kim's absolutely right. Death of Superman is a new spin on the story.
Dan Krovich: Routh was generally good on the talk shows I saw him on - a little stiff perhaps, but very well spoken and charming enough. And he should have been on more magazines, etc. in the months leading up to release. I think they needed to make women want to see this guy in a movie.
Joel Corcoran: And I think David has it right, too. If you're going to bring back a movie franchise after 20 years, bring in something big and different. In sort of a meta-storytelling context, the story of the movie also should suggest to viewers the reasons for such a long delay.
Tim Briody: By some of the viewer reviews I've read, the movie is good, but Clark/Superman tends to come off as stalkerish and kind of a jerk. Could that hurt it, or was Singer trying to add some anti-hero aspects to the character?
Quality, starpower and sexualityJoel Corcoran: Well, appealing to women runs the risk of perpetuating the whole "Superman is gay" myth.
Kim Hollis: And he's right that there needs to be a money-shot aspect to the marketing. Sorry, but the bullet to the eyeball just did nothing for me. The film looked dreary and appeared to have little action, at least from the ads I did see.
David Mumpower: I'm unclear on what the intention was there, Tim. In fact, since (as was mentioned previously), the marketing largely hid this key aspect of the storyline, I wonder if anybody really knew what the plan was. If I'm Bryan Singer, I am incredibly frustrated right now. He did his job in delivering a good movie, but nobody knew how to back him up on it.
Dan Krovich: I actually think they made a pretty darn good movie. I liked it better than Spiderman or X-Men.
Joel Corcoran: I didn't see many ads either. In fact, it wasn't until I heard a movie review on the radio that I heard about the "Superman returns after being gone for five years" plot element. That seemed to be the most intriguing aspect of the movie.
David Mumpower: What I can't decide is whether a bigger name in the part of Superman would have helped or not. If this had wound up being Nicolas Cage instead of Routh, would that have mattered?
Reagen Sulewski: Specifically for Nicolas Cage, I have to say a resounding "Hell no." That promo still from a few years ago is burned into my nightmares. Of course, that's not to say that a different name actor wouldn't have worked.
Kim Hollis: The reviews do touch on his anti-hero aspects (at least in a number of the negative ones). Most audiences do not want to see a mopey, broody Superman. It's fine for Batman - it's what you expect of the character. And in Spider-Man 2, it was clever to have Peter go through some growing pains as he adjusts to the changes in his life. But for the first Superman in decades, you need to have some jubilance around it. It should be cause for excitement and joy, not a darker story.
David Mumpower: This again circles back to Fantastic Four. What that movie did brilliantly in its marketing was celebrate the nature of super-heroism. Superman Returns wasn't sold as having that sense of whimsy, and it needed that.
Joel Corcoran: I don't think star popularity would've mattered that much, David. It's Superman. The character just completely dwarfs every actor.
David Mumpower: That's a very good point, Joel. It's not like Christopher Reeve had a great resume prior to getting the job. His biggest claim to fame was a background player on a soap opera called Love of Life.