A recent piece in Variety delved into the future of Warners’ DC films, the studio having long learned their lesson from the failure of Justice League, emboldened by the success of Joker, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman.
But the future of Superman is murky, the studio reportedly unsure how to make the character “relevant to modern audiences.”
It’s interesting that Superman, a character instinctively associated with the word “superhero,” is proving difficult to adapt to film in the age of superhero saturation. Is the character’s godlike powers and righteous attitude really too alienating for modern audiences?
That’s usually the argument against Superman, but it doesn’t really explain his sudden absence from the big screen. After all, Wonder Woman, Shazam, and Captain America are incredibly popular, and all share that childlike earnestness, the boundless optimism that defines Superman. So, why isn’t the Man of Steel thriving among his fellow do-gooders?
Superman doesn’t offer anything unique. He feels like a relic from a bygone age, a time when a pair of glasses could be considered a disguise.
Superman has endured through the decades as an unchanging icon of hope, but that simplicity is proving an obstacle to cinematic success.
And standing amongst the diverse, interesting superheroes that fill the cinema, Superman feels more like an archetype than a fleshed-out character. Perhaps the Man of Tomorrow needs to take a decade away from the screen; the audience needs to miss him again.