Well, now we know! MAN OF STEEL was the biggest June opening ever—$113 million domestically for the three-day weekend and another $12 million from Thursday’s mysterious Walmart screenings. Worldwide it’s made $197.7 million. More importantly, the CinemaScore ratings—which polls people who have actually seen the movies—stood at A-, a very high rating which indicates good word of mouth and possible repeat business. Deadline had the running totals over the weekend, and Warner Bros. execs were clicking their heels. They were dancing jigs and tearing up pieces of paper and throwing them in the air to make like confetti. They were happy.
“We are having a big day!” one told Nikki Finke. “Movie’s working!” said another. “Off to a flying start!!!” enthused one. “In North America, Superman audiences thumbed their noses at the negative reviews from film critics and gave it an ‘A-’ CinemaScore. Man Of Steel beat all expectations. Interesting note that Superman’s Saturday gross is double the next ranking Top 4 films added together. That’s really dominating the marketplace,” said the one WB exec who spoke in more than one sentence. That’s movie speak for “cackling with glee.”
That’s the good news. Now the bad news is the movie is a hit so what to do next? Where’s that JLA movie? The earliest ideas floating around may cause many problems:
“It’s more than just a franchise for us, it really opens up the door to do combinations of the DC Comics characters,” said Dan Fellman, Warner’s president of domestic distribution. “We can build them up like Marvel did and benefit from the history of DC.”
Warner is already in development on a sequel to “Man of Steel” and is expected to fast track that for release as soon as 2014, said knowledgeable people close to the studio.
In addition, it has long been developing a “Justice League” team-up movie featuring characters such as the Flash and Wonder Woman that could come out as soon as 2015.
Uh oh. “Fast track.” That means a quickie script and no lead time. Is two years enough to put together a JLA movie? Den of Geek rounds up all the JLA rumors and factoids thus far and points out that filming for a new Superman flick would have to begin ASAP. Screenwriter David S. Goyer hinted in interviews that everyone has been thinking about all of this, but then everyone was shocked that people like superhero films. Our advice to WB: don’t rush things! The next few days will doubtless see a rush of speculation on whether this saved the current WB studio regime, and we’ll see much more opining on all of this.
Let me see, what else.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!!!!
Well, as you all know by now, writer Mark Waid viewed the film and didn’t care for it.
And as this moment was building, as Zod was out of control and Superman was (for the first time since the fishing boat 90 minutes ago) struggling to actually save innocent victims instead of casually catching them in mid-plummet, some crazy guy in front of us was muttering “Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…” and then Superman REDACTED and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, “THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,” and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out and that crazy guy was me. That crazy guy was me, and I barely even remember doing that, I had to be told afterward that I’d done that, that’s how caught up in betrayal I felt. And after the REDACTED, even though I stuck it out, I didn’t give a damn about the rest of the movie.
Waid spent much of the weekend being shit on by the internet for not liking the movie, but come on, it’s a free country and Waid wrote some of the best Superman stories in recent years—his BIRTHRIGHT contained many elements that seem to have influenced the finished movie. If you read the rest of Waid’s review, it’s full of insights into what makes Superman work and storytelling elements. I don’t disagree with anything he says. It’s a valid interpretation, even if I bought most of the elements that troubled him.
This movie has really polarized people! I saw MAN OF STEEL twice, the first time with the people who made the movie and they liked it generally speaking (and believe me that doesn’t always happen with the people who make movies). The next night I saw it with a crowd of comics/movie press types and they were to a person “Meh.” No one stood up and cheered. One of these press people suggested I needed to see the movie with “normal people” but the normies seem to have liked the movie a lot.
In other important MoS reviews, we’d dearly love to know what soccer super duper star Cristiano Ronaldo thought:
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 15, 2013
Wrestler and major comics fan CM Punk had some thoughts:
Went to see Man of Steel but walked in ten minutes late so I missed his origin story. Now I'll NEVER know…
— CM Punk (@CMPunk) June 15, 2013
I will say this about 'Man of Steel': if Superman knew jiu jitsu, a lot of needless destruction could've been avoided.
— CM Punk (@CMPunk) June 15, 2013
On of my bellweather reviewers, comics industry vet Steve Bunche, somewhat to my shock, liked it and put his finger on one of the successful reinventions:
This is a different, and in my humble opinion, better Lois than we’ve seen previously, and long before the end of the film I came to like her a great deal. Gone is the catty/bitchy/sneaky/suspicious Lois who, for a supposed great journalist, often struck me as shrewish and largely unprofessional. (Plus to say nothing of obsessed, stalker-ish, and occasionally more than a little bit mentally deranged.)Thankfully, the script ditches the sexist stereotypes that made Lois one of my least-favorite characters since childhood, and replaces those hoary tropes with a capable, tough, and smart reporter who is in her own way just as brave and heroic as Superman. I look forward to seeing more of her.
Bunche’s review also includes a nice anecdote about just how global Superman is as a character:
My friend argued that any reboot of the Superman franchise simply had to begin with the umpteenth telling of his origin story for those unfamiliar with the character, to which I countered that Superman is known everywhere by everyone, a state of affairs that goes back by generations, with parents explaining it all to their little ones even before those wee ones can read or see his adventures for themselves. To prove this, I told my friend to pick any person in the diner and I would bet that they knew Superman’s origin. He scanned the eatery and settled on our waitress, a nice middle-aged woman of foreign Hispanic origin whose English was a tad problematic. When we called her over, I asked her, “You know Superman, right? Can you tell me where he comes from?” She processed my question and one could clearly see the translation circuits in her brain wrestling with the query, but then her eyes lit up with full comprehension and she responded with, “Oh, yes! Soopairmon! He come from…” She cut off her English description and mimed a rocketship falling to Earth. That was enough for me to win the bet and to prove the universality of the knowledge of Superman’s origin.
Since more people have seen the movie now, I’ll throw in my two cents about Superman’s Dark Act at the end of the movie. It was troubling but it was meant to be troubling. And more important there was this dialogue earlier in the film:
Superman to Zod: Did you kill my father?
Zod: I did. And it has haunted me ever since.
So you know, I think this will be a major subtext of the second Man of Steel movie, or should be, anyway. They should also discovered that Superman permanently lost some powers while he was going through the core of the earth, because that would be interesting. Also: BRANIAC.
Finally and most important, here’s a video of Henry Cavill all sweaty and working out that you can watch over and over. Also, Antje Traue working out. But mostly, Henry Cavill all sweaty and working out.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.