Whilst working my way through the Batman and Superman movies recently, I’ve been thinking about some parallels between the two series. Especially when it comes to Superman 3, and the third Batman film – Batman Forever and their aftermath.
Let me explain…
* Firstly both films started off with clear approach by a director – Richard Donner for Superman, Tim Burton for Batman.
* Both sequels to these films (Superman 2 and Batman Returns) were largely influenced by that first director. Now I now Donner left #2 but he had filmed 75% of his film at the time and 25% of his filming is still in that release. Plus the plot etc was largely unchanged from the film he had begun to film. Clearly Burton fully influenced Batman Returns.
* For the third films in the series (Superman 3 and Batman Forever), new directors took over fully with different views of the direction of the films, and that there should be a lighter feel and more comedy in the films – Again Richard Lester began the transition to taking over during two but the third was his film entirely. Joel Schumacher stepped into the third from Tim Burton.
* Both ‘3rd films’ open start with a completely unnecessary attempt to get a laugh – Alfred offers Batman a sandwich as he is leaving the Batcave to which he replies – ‘I’ll get drive through’ in Batman Forever, and of course the ridiculous sequence with a mime artist, blind man and all of the slapstick chaos that ensues at the start of Superman 3.
* Both ‘3rds’ feel like attempts to make the series more family friendly in an attempt to ramp up box office takings – admittedly that’s my ‘feeling’ but Im going with it.
* Both ‘3rd’ saw significant changes to the underlying casts of the first two films – Batman Forever saw the replacement of everyone essentially except for Alfred and Commissioner Gordon, Superman 3– No Gene Hackman as Lex Luther and Margot Kidder as Lois is barely in it with big focus on Lana Lang.
* Both ‘3rds’ also turned to a comedic actor for a lead role – Batman – Jim Carrey, Superman – Richard Pryor.
* Both ‘3rds’ widely considered the worst of the first three films of each series and the follow up fourth films both recognised as even worse.
* In fact, both 4th films were so bad that in each case there were no further films in that series leading to reboots in later years – Christopher Nolan’s reboot for Batman and Brian Singer rebooting Superman nearly 20 years later.
* In both reboots, the new films were far more reminiscent of the original – Batman Begins had more of the dark edge that Batman had, and Superman Returns is far more aligned to Donner’s approach for Superman I.
There’s probably some coincidence and me trying to links at times in there, but it does seem like a set of interesting parallels doesn’t it?