'Comic book nerd' to direct new Superman adventure

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The Independent Culture

After Christopher Nolan's success at rejuvenating the Batman movies, fans of the Superman series reacted with understandable glee when it emerged that he was in line to produce a new film about the caped hero. Yesterday they discovered he will be joined by a director lauded for his comic book adaptations, Zach Snyder.

Having also directed the movie version of Frank Miller's Spartan graphic novel 300, as well as the superhero action film Watchmen, the 44-year-old forms what could be seen as the dream team to bring Man of Steel to the big screen with greater success than its 2006 predecessor, Superman Returns.

They are joined by writer David Goyer, who came up with the screenplays for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Snyder, a self-confessed comic book nerd, will be under no illusions as to the pressure of directing the next installment of what is already one of the most famous movie franchises in history. Despite taking more than $200m (£126m) at the US box office, Superman Returns was still considered a commercial disappointment.

The movie's plot remains a closely guarded secret, but will feature a reprisal of General Zod, the villain who was played by Terence Stamp in the original two movies, 1978's Superman and 1980's Superman II, which both starred Christopher Reeve in the title role.

Snyder was reportedly chosen ahead of Ben Affleck, Duncan Jones, Darren Aronofsky, Matt Reeves and Tony Scott, and was clearly thrilled to have made it to the top of the pile.

"I had always been a huge fan of the character, but this is out of the blue," he said. Expressing his love for the character, he said that he wanted to see him "treated right".

"The character deserves to be loved. It's his time," he said. "He's the king daddy, no two ways about it. But I think the first movies were so well done, he kind of got stuck. I think our challenge is to bring him to a modern audience that's still respectful of the character."

He also spoke of his excitement about working alongside Nolan. "In the initial meetings, he has been super-amazingly smart and also amazingly kind, filmmaker-to-filmmaker," said Snyder. "He provides that extra bit of wisdom to a process that sometimes lacks it. It's the best situation we could be in for this character."

As fans turned to their computers to mull over the choice of director, another revelation awaited them. In an interview with the industry newspaper Variety, Snyder said he thought it was "unlikely" that the star of Superman Returns, Brandon Routh, would step into the famous red and blue cape and underpants for a second time – a development which will be welcomed by some.

In his review of Superman Returns, American film critic Roger Ebert wrote that Routh "lacks charisma as Superman, and was probably cast in the role because he only physically resembles Christopher Reeve. Proof of this is the fact that Routh hardly speaks when donning the costume".

Preparations for filming are expected to begin soon, with Warner Bros. expecting the movie to be ready for the summer of 2012. The studio has to start production by next year if they are to avoid losing their copyrights over the work of Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel, the heirs of Superman's creators.