Now that Man of Steel has passed the $500 million mark in worldwide box office gross, Warner Bros. Pictures are naturally looking toward Superman’s next behemoth big screen adventure. The film has sparked some intense fan debate (not unusual, just look at last summer’s The Dark Knight Rises and every franchise blockbuster in general) and everyone will have their own ideas of what course they would like a Man of Steel sequel to take.
Here are some of the elements I would like to see tackled…
It’s nigh on essential that Lex Luthor is brought to the fore in the sequel, not solely on the basis of his existence being acknowledged in Man of Steel (via those LexCorp easter eggs) and not only as he is a key part of Superman mythology but the timing would also be right. Luthor perceives Superman as a threat to humanity as opposed to being its guardian and given the destruction wrought during Man of Steel it would be the perfect opportunity for Luthor to emerge from the shadows and plot to take action against the Last Son of Krypton.
I’m enthused by screenwriter David S. Goyer’s thoughts on approaching Luthor as more of a Bill Gates-esque character which lends itself to the (relatively) realistic and relatable tone that’s been established. Gene Hackman’s portrayal in the Christopher Reeve films is of course iconic and memorable but ultimately dated and Kevin Spacey’s turn in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns was certainly a step in the right direction but the Man of Steel sequel, given the right actor with a healthy measure of gravitas, could present us with the strongest screen version of Superman’s greatest foe and one worthy of his finest hours in the comic books.
However, whilst Luthor can stand toe to toe with our hero on an intellectual level there also needs to be a significant physical threat. Luthor’s exo-suit from the comics notwithstanding, perhaps there could be a second villain to increase the overall threat – although Fanboy passions would have me bellow out “Brainiac” and “Doomsday” they really deserve the spotlight in future films and galactic overlord Darkseid would most likely be reserved for Justice League. This taken into consideration, maybe the meta-human ‘Parasite’ could provide that physical threat without overshadowing the main antagonist (it worked reasonably well in the Secret Origin graphic novel after all)?
The path to Justice League must (and no doubt will) continue, although not rushed. Given the overwhelming success of Marvel Studios’ Avengers Assemble, Warner Bros. are obviously keen to team up the DC Comics ‘super friends’ (there’s one for you 70’s cartoon fans!) as soon as possible but some restraint needs to be applied. One of the reasons Avengers worked so well was that Marvel spent five films (released over a four year period) establishing the individual characters and their universe, thus clicking everything neatly into place instead of prematurely jumbling everything into the mix.
To this end there should of course be some JL set-up in MoS2 but with care taken not to weigh down the story with it (one of Iron Man 2’s perceived flaws). Given the appearance of a Wayne Enterprise’s satellite in Man of Steel, perhaps the corporation could feature more prominently in the sequel…or could Bruce Wayne himself make an appearance?
As well as clearing the way for the eventual Batman reboot this could also trigger a Superman/Batman cinematic team up that would provide a significant stepping stone to Justice League.
Much as Joss Whedon is to take a deeper and not ‘bigger’ approach with Avengers 2 so should MoS2. We’ve already had a lot of introspection amongst all the action in the current Man of Steel which is key to making Superman relatable to modern audiences and draws on the strongest aspects of the character via the ‘humanisation’ of Krypton’s Last Son.
Repeating the level of destruction in Man of Steel would just be silly, sure we still want to see Superman using his powers and plenty of physical conflict but it should be dialled back a little in the sequel without sacrificing the excitement of the first film, balancing it all out with more of what puts the “man” in Superman. It will be interesting to see how the Smallville Clark Kent/Daily Planet Clark Kent/Superman dynamics (together with his relationship with Lois Lane) play out further in the unfolding Man of Steel universe.
Jonathan and Martha Kent
Another essential element, provided it fits the story, should be the inclusion of further flashbacks from Clark’s formative years as the adoptive son of Jonathan and Martha Kent. Those scenes peppered throughout Man of Steel made you care about Clark’s troubled journey to donning the red cape and gave an insight into the events that instilled his sense of morality.
Now that Superman has arrived, the sequel should seek to broaden the mythology of the character and widen his universe including more revelations about Kryptonian culture, history and their connection to Earth, which surely could be brought forth via visits to the Fortress of Solitude? Perhaps establish the existence of Kara-El – Supergirl and cousin of Kal-El – and might there even be some of the deadly emerald green Kryptonite?
Whatever happens I have faith that the next Man of Steel will deliver the goods, given that the evolution of the DC cinematic universe rests on its shoulders there’s no reason for it not to succeed.
Read the GBUK spoiler free review of Man of Steel here.
What would you like to see in the next Man of Steel? Leave your thoughts below!