Aronofsky Paycheck?

Two days ago L.A. Times guy Steven Zeitchik reported that Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky has “had discussions” with Superman-reboot producer Chris Nolan, This is a terrible, terrible, terrible idea. If this story (if true) doesn’t represent a diseased equation — i.e., acclaim and success from the making of a brilliant psychological thriller puts you on the short list to direct a bloated franchise flick about a superhero character whose time has totally passed and who means nothing to everyone — I don’t know what does.

  • Krillian

    I don’t know. Memento was a brilliant psychological thriller and the Batman thing’s worked out great for Nolan.

  • Rich S.

    I get where they’re coming from, but the biggest problem to me is that Superman is not Batman. Singer tried to update the character with disappointing results. People don’t want the Man of Steel to be a deadbeat dad who stalks the ex-girlfriend he left in the lurch.

    I disagree that the Superman franchise can’t be revived, however. Superman was an outdated character when Donner took him on, and everyone involved at the time recognized it. The character just needs someone with a lighter touch who can successfully tread the line between action and camp, without crossing it. I’m not sure who that would be right now, Snyder, maybe? But Aronofsky and the Nolans seem all wrong for this type of project.

  • Versus

    Agreed. Unless they did a version of Kingdom Come– then Nolan and Aronofsky could create something exceptional.

  • Rich S.

    That’s not a comment on their skills, by the way. I just think they show more of an affinity for darker subjects.

  • Smedley

    Was Ang Lee unavailable?

  • crazynine

    a superhero character whose time has totally passed and who means nothing to everyone

    Apologies to the grand ego of the author, but “everyone” equals “you,” not “everyone.”

  • Tsuyoi

    Nothing to everyone? Smallville is one of the top rated shows on the CW.

  • Krillian

    And I hope they learn from the mistakes of Superman Returns. Supes should not be a broody bummer. No stepfather situation keeping Lois away. No miscasting of Lois…

  • Glenn Kenny

    Posts such as this one really make me hope it happens. Aronofsky doesn’t owe you, or anybody else in our line, a goddamn thing, and he’s entitled to make his living. His extravagant living, if he can, and if he likes. I’d daresay I’d enjoy seeing him walk your “diseased equation” to the bank.

  • actionman

    I have no doubt that Aronofsky could/would knock a Superman movie outta the park and all the way back to Krypton, but as I stated a few days earlier on another thread, the only director that should be considered for this job is Michael Bay. He almost got the job a few years ago; WB needs to pay the man his quote and get this film going with the most visually dynamic action filmmaker alive today.

  • Yuval

    If Aronofsky and Nolan create a good movie then that would be good. Singer created a boring movie, so that wasn’t so good. I couldn’t care less if they change the “man-of-steel” or create a darker image. To complain about this as a “bloated franchise” is the same as to complain about the lack of interest for a movie about Facebook. This is a possibility of Nolan and Aronofsky working together, and you’re worried about what? The Quest for Peace?

  • Carl Kolchak

    Maybe if Aronofsky and Noland are interested there is something good there, Creative types don’t necessarily see these things the way critics and journalists do….as in “this is a good project” and “this is a paycheck job”. Its kind of insulting to assume that just because you don’t see anything in a project it must be a paycheck job

  • Vaudezilla

    At one point, Aronofsky was one of the candidates to direct the reboot of the Batman franchise, which eventually went to Nolan. So it’s not as if Aronofsky hasn’t dipped his toe into these waters before. He also was circling the Robocop reboot as well, so there must be something he sees in these projects besides dollar signs.

  • buckzollo

    Did anyone meet with Davis Guggenheim?!

  • Sams

    If he makes a quality film why should the fact that it comes with a big paycheck be an issue. That it appeals to the ComicCon crowd doesn’t diminish he effort.

  • chicagodad

    Considering how much people going beyond the limits of “normal” humanity has been a theme in Aronofsky’s work, it doesn’t seem that unbelievable to me that he’d be interested in the material.

  • York “Budd” Durden

    A reboot, cool. Hope they re-do the origin story again.

  • But what if Aronofsky makes an absolutely superb Superman film that is better than his previous work?

    Just because you don’t like the subject matter doesn’t mean a great film cannot be made.

  • embling

    i’ve been waiting for someone to do a ‘superman as end of the print media era’ story. doubt that’ll be aronofsky’s angle, but there are definitely some relevant, interesting approaches to take to the character, and not all of them require superman to be dark or brooding.

    also, remember the holocaust-connection. clark jospeh kent. what if aronofsky decides to make a shoah movie, dressed up in red and blue tights. understand your apprehension, wells, but this has potential.

  • uncle_oswald

    It’s possible to imagine interesting Superman movies. The Superman plot arc from the Dark Knight Returns, for example, with Superman as a sort of psychotic emblem of the Reagan era.

    But it’s far easier to imagine a boring Superman movie. Superman is a fundamentally tedious character. Aside from all the obvious problems (visually boring, observes humans the way a child watches his ant farm), Superman is just way, way, way too powerful. Batman’s ass is on the line in every fistfight. Superman could take on entire armies without being in any real peril.

    But even though the material is problematic, I guess it’s pretty unlikely that Aronofsky will come up with something as dull as the last one.

  • Abbey Normal

    I don’t think the timing is at all right for a Superman remake…it’s just too soon. On the other hand, given his longevity and resilience, saying Superman is “a superhero character whose time has totally passed and who means nothing to everyone” is obviously incorrect and ridiculous.

    But then, you’re obviously trying to be incorrect and ridiculous for the sake of page views, so whatever.

  • chicagodad

    York, if they do re-do the origin, I hope they borrow heavily from “A Superman for All Seasons” by Jeph Loeb. The Kansas stuff in the beginning of it was great.

    There have been plenty of interesting Superman stories. The “he’s just too powerful to be interesting” argument doesn’t really hold up.

    And the key is going to be remembering that the movie shouldn’t be dark and brooding, or wishy-washy. That’s not who the character is. The idea that someone who has that level of power hasn’t become corrupted, or simply taken over the planet is a big part of what makes the character interesting. But doing that, making virtue interesting and compelling, isn’t easy.

    Going with dark, parodic treatments of the character is just lazy writing. It’s the easy hook.

  • Peterzee

    The problem is that the “flawed hero” trope has made everybody think it’s necessary to focus on your hero’s character and motivations, to a fault. That there need to be dark crannies of conflict. I think Superman’s interesting, especially if you resurrected the virile, cocksure vigilante of the very earliest issues of ACTION, a guy who knew reveled in his superhumanity…but that won’t happen.

    So get away from this fascination with exploring contrived depths of the character, and focus on a balls-out action-adventure movie. Popcorn, pure and simple. Think Indiana Jones, not Dark Knight.

  • DavidF

    I’m amazed it took 13 comments before someone informed Wells that Aranofsky came very close to doing the Batman reboot (from the Year One material, I think).

    There’s nothing particularly odd about him tackling Superman.Without rehashing all the same arguments with Wells about the value of comix, Superman is part of the American mythos (unlike, say, Iron Man) and has a lot of potential, especially if Nolan’s the idea man.

    It’s a hard property to tackle but we’d all rather someone skilled takes it than a hack.It’s time for Wells to accept that even auteurs sometimes LIKE to do this stuff and are NOT just doing it for a paycheque. It’s not like he’d be any happier if Michael Bay was announced as the director.

    And while we’re at it I’ll chip in and say that Superman Returns has a bunch of flaws but is far from a total loss. They’d be hardpressed to do better than Brandon Routh, though I’d argue though casting a Lois Lane who actually looks like she’s old enough to have a child (and a Pulitzer) would be wise.

    …come to think of it, Actionman might be right about this actually being a PERFECT film for Michael Bay, but then I thought the same thing about Transformers, until I saw the second one.

  • squealy

    Sorry, I’m with Jeff on this one. I don’t want to see another talented director get swallowed up by juvenile superhero bullshit…. excuse me “American mythos.”

  • The Winchester

    Sorry Buck, Davis Guggenheim is still waiting…

  • The Thing

    I’m sure that Aronofsky isn’t dark and brooding all the time – the man has to like some fun every once in a while. So if he wants to do Superman, then let him do Superman. Besides, acting for a paycheck and directing for a paycheck are 2 very different things. Directors dedicate a much more significant portion of their time to making the movie than an actor. It’s not like DA will be making a quick buck in between jobs. And with the buzz Black Swan is getting, I’m don’t think he’ll need the money.

    As for Superman in general, I’ll rehash what many have said – for this to work, Superman needs to be brightly colored, fun, and serious. It’s tough to do, but if it can be done, it’ll be great.

  • Aronofsky is still a relatively young director, what is wrong with him spending 2-3 years making a film about one of the most iconic characters of the last 100 years. I am not sure why Jeff continually equates superpowers with artistic death, but really its just the next logical step from westerns and action movies now that we have first rate effects. Are there terrible superhero movies? Yes. There are also terrible films in every genre. Are there giant logic jumps and absurd coincidences in superhero movies? Yes and they are prevalent in most movies. Quite a few of the Justice League episodes in season 2/3 demonstrated what an interesting character Supes can be in the right circumstances and more importantly with the right villain.

    I’m sure there won’t cease to be an endless stream of indie films about: “assassin’s last job”, “divorce ripping a family apart”, “how difficult it is to come out of the closet”, “unattractive quirky people falling in love”, “a group of friends growing up in their 20s” just because Aronofsky makes a movie about Superman.

    If you don’t want to see the Aronofsky film, just don’t go see it, but he can still resume making high grade art flicks during or after the franchise, his life will not end. Nolan has made Prestige and Inception and is now the top filmmaker for high concept, big budget projects. As a poster said in a previous thread, The Dark Knight will likely go down as one of the seminal films of the aughts, so it won’t hurt to give the reigns of the second most iconic superhero to a revered filmmaker. At the very least maybe we will get Rachel Weisz or Natalie Portman as Lois Lane.

  • Barnes78

    Jeff, it’s bad enough you’ve stopped pushing “Black Swan” and crew for any award consideration (in favor of massive, on your knees love for Fincher and crew). Now you’re throwing shit in the fan regarding a *potential* job for Aronofsky. What gives?

  • It’s funny. So many people in here are defending Aronofsky as a director who can make a Superman work in a way that would be better than Singer’s “boring” version … have any of you seen The Fountain? It can’t get any more ponderous than that.

    I want Superman to soar again, not be mired in darkness. I despise Bay, but I’m starting to see the insane logic of the idea.

  • Mr. F.

    Aronofsky was going to remake ROBOCOP, one of the great movies of the 80s… yet the idea of him doing a SUPERMAN movie is a “terrible idea”?

  • I’ve hear this “Superman is hard to do because he’s too powerful” thing for well on two decades now, and it STILL doesn’t hold water or make any damn sense… he’s a FICTIONAL character, he can be as powerful or not powerful as the guy making the movie wants him to be.

    This isn’t even like the engine-speed stuff in Star Trek, where there’s actually a made-up set of math for what such-and-such thing can do at such-and-such speed, he’s basically as strong as he needs to be for whatever the writer wants him to do. Sometimes he can punch the moon off it’s orbit, other times it looks like picking up a bus is a slight strain – and NOBODY cares.

    Hell, even if they DO decide to be “fanboy” about it… there’s at least couple dozen people/things in the “DC Universe” that can kick his ass or at least knock him around a bit, and Warner Bros. owns them ALL lock stock and barrel – if Nolan or whoever decides that the bad guy is Starro the Conqueror (giant evil starfish from space, not kidding) WB can snap their fingers and make it happen… though they won’t, because that would be too good of a movie.

  • dkaye

    There was recently a storyline in the comics about a long-vanished remnant of Kryptonian civilization resurfacing (I think they were being held hostage by Brainiac) and resettling on Earth (or on a satellite orbiting Earth), thus testing Superman’s loyalties. That seems like a pretty good starting point to me, and could get into all kinds of current political and social subtexts while having lots of Superman-style action.

  • Eloi Wrath

    Superman’s biggest flaw is the shit villains. Lex Luthor is the only one that your average joe has even heard of, and he’s just a rich man in a suit. Batman has at least five (Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler and Catwoman) that most people know.

  • Eloi Wrath

    … In general, though, I don’t mind another Superman film. It’s the second-tier superheroes I don’t need. It should be Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and nothing else ever again.

  • Dan Revill

    Los Bostonian – I don’t think there’s a more iconic superhero than Superman, and I say this while having a preference for Batman.

    If someone were to suggest that Spider-man is more iconic, I’d laugh my ass off.

    All Superman really needs at this point is a kick-ass film, that brings in all four quadrants (as they say). For all intents and purposes, Superman is still Americana.

    Batman is America’s dark psyche, getting rid of the trash and Spider-man is a kid taking his parents car out for a joyride.

  • LexG


  • DavidF

    I was totally going to say General Zod surely has some traction, if not quite at Luthor’s level.

    The four Batman villains listed above are really only so well-known because of the TV series (and their teaming up in that movie). Two-Face wasn’t so well-known before TDK.

    In 80 years of writing surely there is a decent villain to be pulled from somewhere in the Superman story. Braniac seems like the obvious non-Luthor guy to go to.

    you’ve gotta believe if anyone has a decent idea it’s Nolan and there’s no way he’s going to have a great idea, develop it and hand it off to Brett Ratner or McG. If Aranofsky steps up it will be because he wants to, not because of the paycheque.

  • Bob Violence

    Superman’s biggest flaw is the shit villains. Lex Luthor is the only one that your average joe has even heard of, and he’s just a rich man in a suit.

    the “rich man in a suit” Luthor is basically a modern (John Byrne) invention, although Hackman’s version fits the description too — the classic Luthor was a cackling palm-rubbing mad scientist type, which isn’t breathtakingly original either, but I think we could use more of them in movies these days.

  • Ray DeRousse

    Eloi’s argument about the villain problem is the same argument I make about Spiderman – the villains just aren’t psychologically interesting enough to have any resonance. Batman, thanks to his darkness, has villains who match him well.

    Why does a Superman movie need to have a villain ripped from the comics? Here’s an idea – come up with something original that can match up against Superman!

    Actually, I thought the Nuclear Man clone of Supes from Superman 4 was a pretty good idea. Poorly executed, of course, but still a good one.

  • Eloi Wrath

    Apparently Robert Zemeckis is keen on the film. If it was old Robert Zemeckis and not motion-capture loon Robert Zemeckis, that’d be a great choice.

  • Bobby Cooper Superior

    I always liked Darkseid from the ’90s cartoon – this force of darkness from across the cosmos driven by some funky S&M desire to see Superman cowed and broken — now that’s a villain!

    Grounding things in the real world may be the trend, but why not use all the game-changer technology out there and take this reboot to the edge of myth?

    Be like Wyler with BEN-HUR and vivify the material.

  • LexG

    Hey, non-mo cap Zemeckis would actually be a really, really AWESOME choice. Seriously, that’s about as perfect a name as has been bandied about.

  • chicagodad

    Brad Bird, using Zemeckis’ toys…

  • Dan Revill (formerly Aladdin Sane)

    Los Bostonian – I don’t think there’s a more iconic superhero than Superman, and I say this while having a preference for Batman.
    If someone were to suggest that Spider-man is more iconic, I’d laugh my ass off.
    All Superman really needs at this point is a kick-ass film, that brings in all four quadrants (as they say). For all intents and purposes, Superman is still Americana.
    Batman is America’s dark psyche, getting rid of the trash and Spider-man is a kid taking his parents car out for a joyride.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    This will happen no matter how much Jeff does his usual tantrum about all things geekdom. We should all be thankful that at least WB is trying to get someone with real style and visual panache do it.

    Because if you thought RETURNS wasn’t all that, imagine how much less it would have been had MacG not bailed…

  • polarbear2

    Bizarro – Braniac – Kryptonite. These are all made-up words that have entered the common language. Even the name Lex Luthor has become synonymous with archnemesis. Average Joes are very familiar with the Superman mythos.

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