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Superman Fans May Have Dodged a Bullet With Vaughn's Man of Steel 2

Superman Man of Steel Metropolis

Filmmaker Matthew Vaughn won over critics and audiences alike for his cinematic adaptations of several beloved comic book series, having made the Kingsman movies and 2011's X-Men: First Class, which reinvented Fox's X-Men franchise. Vaughn nearly directed a Superman film, with the British filmmaker proposing a trilogy in 2008 and pitching Man of Steel 2 in 2017, both of which were ultimately rejected by Warner Bros.

Details have since surfaced regarding Vaughn's pitch for Man of Steel 2, which drew from the 2008 trilogy he'd planned with longtime collaborator and comic book writer Mark Millar in 2008. The first film in the proposed trilogy starring the Man of Tomorrow focused primarily on Jor-El attempting in vain to avert Krypton's destruction. While the planet would still be destroyed, Vaughn and Millar had Jor-El's son, Kal-El, spend his formative years as a boy on Krypton before traveling to Earth. where he would familiarize himself with his new, adopted home as he matured into adulthood, his loyalty torn between the two planets.

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Putting aside issues with rebooting Superman cinematically so recently after 2013's Man of Steel and concerns about its canonicity with the DC Extended Universe, the cancellation of Vaughn's planned trilogy may be a bit of blessing in disguise. There are several glaring problems with the revealed details for the first installment of Vaughn and Millar's trilogy, even if executed well, that could strongly divide Superman fans due to the drastic departure from the source material.

Henry Cavill as Superman

The idea of a Superman movie starring Jor-El rather than the Last Son of Krypton himself is a jarring one; many audience members and critics were put off by Man of Steel's extended prologue of Jor-El's final moments on Krypton taking too much screen time. An entire film following Jor-El as he desperately tries to save his planet, with Kal-El relegated to a supporting role, is a questionable one, especially as audiences would go in already knowing Jor-El is destined to fail. An apocalyptic certainty despite its protagonist's best efforts would make for a particularly somber, grim superhero film.

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Additionally, the changes to Kal-El's backstory are radically unnecessary. Instead of the classic tale of Kal-El sent to Earth as an infant, an origin that has held up throughout the numerous revised origins and reboots of the character in across media and comic books, the idea of the future Clark Kent spending a significant portion of his boyhood on Krypton is the most head-scratching element of Vaughn's pitch. One of the core elements of the Superman mythos is that Kal-El would never get to know the planet he came from, a lingering mystery for the superhero as he attempts to learn more about his heritage while simultaneously embracing his role as humanity's defender. Vaughn's proposal instead saw Superman with torn loyalties.

Superman questioning whether he is more loyal to Krypton or Earth is a problematic concept. Fans were incensed in Superman Returns that the Man of Tomorrow had up and abandoned the planet he swore to protect to investigate claims if Krypton had survived. Man of Steel's central conflict revolved around whether Kal-El would side with General Zod to kill everyone on the planet and reshape Earth in Krypton's image, an offer Clark soundly and rightly rejects as he rescues Earth from his fellow Kryptonians. One of the constants about Superman is his unwavering dedication to protecting his adopted home.

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There is also the idea that Hollywood seems overly preoccupied with retelling Superman's origins. Marvel Studios wisely omitted retreading the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Spider-Man origin, with it having previously being shown cinematically in 2002 and 2012; audiences, at this point, know how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. Similarly, audiences know how Kal-El arrived on Earth from his doomed home of Krypton to be adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent and became the greatest superhero the world has ever known. Even with such a drastic departure, the origins of Superman have been played out on the big screen far too often and too recently to necessitate revisiting the last days of Krypton.

Henry Cavill as Superman

While Matthew Vaughn would likely do fantastic things helming a DCEU production for Warner Bros., his and Mark Millar's plans for a Superman trilogy are probably best left unproduced. Audiences are well-accustomed to the origins of the Man of Steel and don't need a retread any time soon. And with such radical departures in the classic story and characters, fans would have been strongly divided by the radical revisions if the proposed film had moved forward. While Superman's cinematic future has been unclear for years, a much more conventional film starring the Man of Tomorrow would be the best way to bring the character back to the big screen.

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