After the tremendous success he enjoyed with the first two X-Men films—and the lucrative revival of other comic book properties (Spider-Man, Batman) in the years after that series was launched—director Bryan Singer set his sights on one of the most iconic comic book characters: Superman. Hoping to revive the spirit of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie, Singer put together an ambitious continuation of the franchise that attempted to coexist with Donner’s film, rather than replace it. Clocking in at 154 minutes, Superman Returns struck some viewers as a bloated manifestation of the director’s unwieldy post-X ego. However, it received generally favourable reviews and performed respectably at the box office, earning $391 million worldwide.
Most observers believed that a sequel was inevitable. After all, the same studio (Warner Brothers) greenlit a hugely successful sequel to the previous year’s Batman Begins, even though it grossed less ($374 million) than Superman Returns. The crucial difference: Superman Returns cost an exorbitant $270 million to produce, whereas Batman Begins was delivered for comparatively modest $150 million. With those numbers in mind, it might not be altogether surprising that Warner Brothers elected to reset the franchise once again. Bringing in Christopher Nolan to produce and Zack Snyder to direct, the studio opted for a dark new approach with this summer’s Man of Steel.
Until now, Singer hasn’t offered any comment on these developments, but he recently opened up to Total Film—with an unexpected reaction. Explaining that he would have been disappointed if Snyder’s film had been made in the immediate aftermath of Superman Returns, Singer says it’s not especially painful now, as he has already moved on. In fact, the director claims that he is “genuinely looking forward to seeing” Man of Steel. “Now I get to go see a Superman movie and I don’t have to f*cking make it,” he said. “I got very nostalgic with my movie, but even if you take it in another direction, it’s very challenging. Inherently he’s such a good guy. What’s easier about X-Men is that they’re all so conflicted.”