A few weeks ago I checked out Superman from the library (the first Christopher Reeve movie) so I could watch it with the kids; it had been far too long since I last saw it, and the kids (naturally) needed an introduction to the best “Superman” movie, well, ever. And I have to say, even though it was made in 1978 and some of the effects are, well, 1978, it holds up.

I loved the Superman movies when I was a kid; considering the only previous “on screen” Superman adventures around were basically the old George Reeves ’50s television series and the Super Friends cartoons, those movies were like magic when they came out. They turned what I could imagine about a live adaption of the comic and turned it on its ear, they were that good. And Christopher Reeve was a genius bit of casting for that role—completely filled it out like nobody has before or since.

I’m thinking of the first two movies, primarily, since they hold together relatively well. I was pretty excited about Superman III when it came out, but even then I could tell it wasn’t up to par for the first two; they gave short shrift to Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane (completely ignoring the circumstances of the second movie, it seemed), for instance, and adding Richard Pryor as a campy, weird sort of villain just didn’t click.

And then Superman IV was just a mess, obvious even to me as a kid at the time.

I never have watched Superman Returns, which purports to ignore III and IV and operate as a sequel instead to II. Too many bad reviews and from what I read about the movie itself, too much of pretty much the same things they already did in the first two movies, and Brandon Routh just isn’t Superman. And I’m sorry, but the costume looked horrible.

I actually rather enjoyed the “Lois & Clark: New Adventure of Superman” show that was on during the 90s. Dean Cain was no Christopher Reeve, but he held up.

And I love the Animated Series that was out around that same timeframe (and which continued into the Justice League series); I haven’t seen all of the episodes but I think it’s probably the best TV series done for the character.

I haven’t watched “Smallville” though. No real reason, just missed the boat I guess.

Now, you can probably see where this is going.

So there’s this new Superman movie coming out, slated for December 2012… Man of Steel. I’m not sure what to make of it yet, but it’s got some pros and cons (in my mind) going for it.

The good:

  • It’s a reboot. No more sequels or trying to tie into the past movies, this is a case where a reboot is definitely needed. And frankly, I think they can reboot Superman while foregoing the origin story (which I’ve railed against before); everybody knows Superman’s origin. Give it a nod during the credits, or in the first few minutes of the movie in flashbacks or something.
  • Zack Snyder is directing, Christopher Nolan is producing. Snyder directed 300 and Watchmen; Nolan rebooted Batman (and did it right). These are the guys you want doing a Superman movie.
  • The effects. We’re finally in an era where the effects can be believable and amazing and done right; in this case (since I didn’t see Superman Returns, but have to assume the effects were good) I’m thinking of Hancock, which for me pretty well nailed it in the effects department.

The bad:

  • Well, I don’t know if this is bad, but I’m leery of the casting; I’m not against a Brit taking the role (Henry Cavill(?) has been confirmed as Superman), but Superman is such a tough role to cast properly. Doesn’t matter who they cast, I’ll be skeptical.
  • General Zod as the villain. Not again… General Zod was the main villain of Superman II (also featured in the beginning of the original movie), a thinly-veiled variant of Zod was in the Lois & Clark TV show (“Lord Nor”), and Zod cropped up again apparently on Smallville. (Not to mention, Zod has apparently been playing a prominent role in the recent comic books.) So, what, it was, I’ve got an idea! Let’s use General Zod as the villain in the Superman reboot! Seriously? No, it’s a tired idea. The smartest thing Batman Begins did was to not start with any of the usual villains; let’s see that here. Look, I know Superman is a hard character to pair with a challenging villain: He’s Superman. But it can be done. Frankly, learning that Zod was chosen as the villain again was disappointing as dampens any excitement I might have felt about the movie.
  • DC Comics really hasn’t had much success (with the exception of the last two Batman movies) with any of their franchised properties over the last, oh, dozen years or so. If the new Green Lantern movie coming out this year tanks, then that doesn’t bode very well for Man of Steel.

Okay, deep breath… Yes, I’m excited for this movie. I hope it’s as good as the original Superman. But… well, we’ll see, won’t we?