As most readers are aware, Zack Snyder's directing the next Superman film. The Superman franchise has had a rocky history, but there are certain pratfalls the film can avoid. Here's what we want to see from Snyder's Kryptonian blockbuster.
1.) DO Give Superman a superpowered threat.
Superman is the paragon of superheroic might. We want to see him duke it out with forces humanity could never surmount. We've seen Lex Luthor conspire against the hero for four films; let's see Clark battle someone in his weight class.
2.) DO NOT invent the villain for the film.
Historically, this has not gone well. Additionally, Superman has seen only a fraction of his rogues gallery on the big screen. There's a reason Zod and Gene Hackman's Lex are in the pantheon of great cinema villains, whereas the Nuclear Man and the she-borg from Superman III are punchlines.
3.) Similarly, DO NOT resort to Kryptonite for his Achilles' heel.
In Superman Returns, it was downright painful watching Lex's lackeys (Kumar!) kick the living crap out of him. We have the cinematic technology to watch him juggle nebulae using his earlobes. Please spare us the inevitable scene where Superman just didn't see the Kryptonite coming. Because everyone in the audience did.
4.) DON'T make up powers that no one knew Superman had prior to the film.
See: the memory-erasing kiss from Superman II, "throwing the S."
5.) DO give Superman some infinitely quotable lines.
All too often Clark is portrayed as the stoic, silent, 100% emotionally balanced protector of humankind. He's not known as a wordsmith, but Kal-El isn't Lennie from Of Mice and Men either. He deserves a galvanizing speech or two and a handful of zingers. He should also bark "Merciful Rao!" every now and again.
For example, in Alan Moore's famed story "For The Man Who Has Everything," Superman burns (literally) the alien overlord Mongul and then proceeds to ream him out for being an evil S.O.B. It's fantastic.
6.) Also, DO allow him to get annoyed.
Extraterrestrial dictators and bald megalomaniac tycoons hellbent on global domination are annoying. This is a fact. It's understandable that Clark would drop the Big Blue Boy Scout routine. In fact, it makes him seem more human. Just watch the clip, at left.
7.) DO NOT allow Clark to navel-gaze on how "alien" he feels vis-à-vis the rest of humanity.
He's the most powerful being on Earth. He's immortal, invincible, and has a haircut that never, ever becomes mussed. He can walk around in public wearing pajamas with impunity. Nobody feels sorry that you envy our ability not to breathe in the vacuum of space, Clark.
8.) Similarly, DO NOT allow him to lose his powers for most of the movie.
We're paying to see him soar, not marvel at the heretofore unknown joys of a Lazy Sunday.
9.) DO give him a scene where he's floating above the ground with his arms crossed.
C'mon, everyone loves that.
10.) DO NOT allow Superman to get wasted.
It's funny, but it's been done before.
11.) DO send Superbaby to a preschool in the Phantom Zone.
Because a Superman movie about past due child support payments would be depressing.
12.) DO give Jimmy Olsen something, anything to do.
Hanging out with a Dapper Dan demigod can be absolutely befuddling sometimes. Jimmy is our window to Superman's world — he allows us mere mortals to experience being best chums with a superhero. And if you were Silver Age Jimmy Olsen, it was frequently a demeaning, confusing, and hilarious experience.
13.) DO NOT make saving Lois the focus of the film.
Superman should be saving the planet — the audience's mind's eye should be bleary with terrible visions of Braniac, Zod, or Darkseid enslaving humanity. By limiting the crisis to Lois, we lose that cosmic sense of danger that makes Superman so intoxicating. Also, she's a savvy investigative reporter who's perfectly capable of taking care of herself. Give her some credit.
14.) DO use humor sparingly.
A Superman film should be pop but not bubblegum. Superman's a wry guy, and his humor is best used for the occasional bon mot. Jimmy should be occasionally hapless, but not slapstick. Unless he's marrying a gorilla, of course.
15.) DO NOT score Superman with pounding rock guitars.
Superman is many things, but he's not rock and roll. He already has a perfectly regal score. If anything, Superman's musical tastes should be 20 years behind the time. He's too busy fighting crime to keep up with musical trends. If anything, there should be a scene where Superman discovers rap music for the first time.
16.) DO NOT show Lois and Clark mid-coitus.
This is not Mallrats. This is not the Owl Ship. A discreet make-out session will suffice. "Hallelujah" should not be played.
17.) If Zod returns, DO something novel with him.
Indeed, that seems to be the direction things are going. Terrence Stamp made a terrific Zod. Let's see a new spin on him, rather than forcing those around him to do knee calisthenics under the threat of death.
18.) Similarly, DO NOT slavishly emulate Richard Donner.
300 and Watchmen were very much Snyder's tributes to Frank Miller and Alan Moore. We've already seen Richard Donner direct Superman. Let's see Snyder put his own imprimatur on the hero.
19.) Conversely, DO draw inspiration from fan favorite Superman tales.
There's so much great material to mine. How about Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman, Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen's Superman: Secret Identity, Max Fleischer's Superman serials, or John Byrne's 1980s run?
20.) DO NOT bring back Electric Superman.
His power was to control AOL with his mind or something.
Thanks to Alasdair Wilkins for the input.