Thursday, June 13, 2024

Superman: Cavill's problem that Reeve overcame

30 years before the existence of Man Of SteelChristopher Reeve's Superman faced the biggest problem with Zack Snyder's Superman

Superman actor Christopher Reeve once faced the same problem Zack Snyder had when making Man Of Steel. Considered by many to be the best live-action interpretation of the beloved DC superhero, Reeve first took on Superman's iconic tights and cape for Superman: The Movie 1978. He would reprise the role three more times, culminating in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Since then, actors Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill would follow in Reeve's footsteps in Superman Returns and Snyder's 2013 DCEU debut, Man of Steel. Superman James Gunn's will do the same and David Corenswet will now inherit the role.

During a recent panel at this year's C2E2 in Chicago, comics author and former director Richard Donner's intern Kyle Higgins explained how Reeve's plans for Superman IV They faced the same philosophical dilemma that Snyder used as the basis for his own approach to the character. Recalling a conversation he had with screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz about Reeve's intention for Superman IV to focus on nuclear disarmament, the writer explained that burdening Superman with real-world dilemmas destroyed the character's escapist appeal, and instead, he refocused attention on his role as a god among mortals.

For Christopher Reeve, this actor should have been SupermanFor Christopher Reeve, this actor should have been Superman
Christopher Reeve Superman

Kyle Higgins' statements about Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve agreed to make a fourth Superman movie that became The Quest For Peace, because Warner Bros. promised to greenlight a different movie he wanted to make if he came back and made one more Superman movie. Then he said, “I will do it, but I want to have full creative control and I want Donner and Mankiewicz to do this again.” And for a second, they considered doing it. In the end they passed. But Tom was telling me this story about going out to lunch with Christopher Reeve to give him some story ideas, and it was very important to Christopher Reeve that the film delve into nuclear disarmament and what it became.

Tom made a really interesting comment: I don't completely agree with this, but especially when it comes to the era, I do. He said you can't tell that story, because then what's to stop the public from thinking, 'Why can't he just blow up all these bundles of grain to feed all the children in Africa?' Why can't you go solve this problem, this problem, this problem…'. When you reflect too much of the world outside your window, you lose escapism. And it becomes something where the only story you can tell is, 'What if there's a god or a false prophet among us?' How is that bad?'

Ultimately, it's curious that thirty years later that was all Zack Snyder was interested in. That's a shot, you know, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that shot, but it's a specific shot. It's interesting to think back to the late '70s and early '80s, even in a mass market, the popular portrayal of Superman… You know, I wouldn't say The Quest For Peace is a successful Superman movie. I applaud the swing. But these were conversations they were having even then about how much the real world can be mirrored.

Christopher Reeve's Superman is undoubtedly one of the most important superheroes of the 80sChristopher Reeve's Superman is undoubtedly one of the most important superheroes of the 80s
Christopher Reeve Superman

Criticisms of Superman 4 by Reeve and the story of Superman by Zack Snyder

While Reeve's final outing as Superman is generally considered his most flawed, his interest in seeing the Superman character refocus his efforts on solving real-world problems is certainly not unique. Not only would Snyder try to build his version of the last son of Krypton around similar philosophical musings, but many other writers would have him struggle with mundane problems dating back to his earliest comic outings. From confronting racial inequalities to seeking to abolish cycles of poverty, Superman's adventures have seen him deal with countless social ills that humanity seems unwilling or unable to solve on its own.

Similar to what Snyder presented in Man Of Steelbefore continuing on Batman V Superman 2016, the question then is what right does a seemingly all-powerful being have to unilaterally impose its will on humanity, no matter how benevolent the intentions. Whether Reeve's Superman promises the United Nations that he would destroy all nuclear weapons, or Cavill inserts himself into an active war zone to save Lois Lane by delving too deeply into complex human affairs, the delineation between a benign protector and a potential tyrant suddenly begins to blur.

Henry Cavill's Superman ContractHenry Cavill's Superman Contract
Henry Cavill Superman