Superman: Red Son movie? What would that look like?
Will there ever be a Superman: Red Son movie? Who could play Superman in a Red Son movie? These are things I have wondered ever since I read the graphic novel all those.. days ago. Okay it took me a while to get round to reading it but it truly was worth the wait and since finishing the book I have been wondering if there will ever be a Superman: Red Son movie and what that would look like. So for this article I am going to dive in and figure out who I would like to bring this story to the screen. There will be spoilers for the Superman: Red Son comic aplenty so if you have not read it yet, go away now. Come back when you have had a chance to read it as you really do not want the story spoiled.
For those that have read the story you can skip the next couple of paragraphs but for anyone that hasn’t may want to continue reading to get some background information.
Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar is a DC Elseworlds tale. Using some classic DC comic book characters it cleverly explores the idea of politics and point of view. In Red Son, Superman’s ship crash lands in the Soviet Union instead of Kansas and by the time he reaches adulthood he has been drafted into the communist ideal by Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile in Metropolis, Lex Luthor marries Lois Lane while later becoming more and more obsessed with beating Superman. The story is told over decades and focuses on the two opposing ideologies of Superman and Lex Luthor who fight for communism and capitalism respectively.
It is well worth a read and is gripping from beginning to end. Mark Millar really did a great job with Red Son and even found a way to include many classic DC characters including Wonder Woman, Batman, Brainiac, Jimmy Olsen and Hal Jordan all living in an alternate reality. The story ends in an unexpected way but I won’t spoil it for those that have not read it. I’m not here to review the story but wanted to make sure I had laid some foundations for the real topic of discussion.
First off, I do not think for one second that we will see a live action Superman: Red Son movie in our lifetime but do I think we should get one? ABSOLUTELY. As it is an Elseworlds story I am going to use actors that have played the roles in the past to fancast a Superman: Red Son movie. I might cheat a little bit though so no whining….
Given that Lex Luthor, although clearly mad and kind of an a-hole is the one man who fights Superman (albeit for more selfish reasons, than for freedom) he would need to be a more charismatic Luthor than we have seen on screen. Forget the Gene Hackman portrayal, the 70’s and 80’s movies were fine for their day and I appreciate them, I don’t think I could sit through one now and part of the reason is the slimy portrayal of Luthor by Hackman. I am the worlds biggest Gene Hackman fan but I never really got on board with his Lex. Kevin Spacey was decent and did his best in Superman Returns, an ultimately flawed movie but I would have paid to watch Spacey in the role again. This leaves me to question, would I like to see Kevin Spacey and Brandon Routh in a Superman: Red Son movie? Sure I would definitely see that if it was a few years down the line. By the time the actors are old enough to play their old versions of the character in the story, the de-aging technology seen in Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War could be used to show the actors in their younger days as well. Think about it. Spacey has enough acting chops and flair to play the nefarious Lex but with charisma to win over the audience which you kind of need to do for this story for it to work on screen. As for Superman, Henry Cavill’s portrayal is too dark for this role. In Red Son, Superman is an idealist and believes what he is doing is right. Superman Returns was a sequel to Superman 2 and kept up the goody two shoes Superman from the original movies. I think this is essential for Red Son as although to certain readers Superman is more the villain in this story, he is still the same Superman that wants to help everybody, which, given his geographical location in the story, keeps him on the path of communism. Brandon Routh playing the original boy scout (but in Russian) would work for the story so that it would be more thought provoking for the audience.
It’s clear that I have decided pretty quickly that I would like to see Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor in a Superman: Red Son movie. I feel Brandon Routh should also get another shot as Superman. Who could return in the other roles?
Now hear me out on this one. I am going to write off Gal Gadot in Red Son and go all in with fancasting Adrianne Palicki. Some readers may know this but the actress played Wonder Woman in a TV pilot back in 2011. I never did manage to find the 45 minutes needed to sit through the apparent crap fest (check out the reviews) but I would prefer to see Palicki in the role than Gal Gadot. Having impressed with her part in Agents of Shield I definitely feel Palicki would suit the Wonder Woman portrayed in Red Son. The character is not really integral to the story and to be honest, it is probably the weakest part of the graphic novel so decision made, lets not waste anymore time on that one and lock in Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Women in a Superman: Red Son movie.
The Batman in Red Son is possibly the most interesting take on any of the characters in the graphic novel given the context of the story. This version of Batman sees the Dark Knight fighting for anarchy. It is interesting to reinforce the notion of Batman and Joker being two sides of the same coin when circumstances are changed. I would like to know what Joker was up to in this story? I digress. Given that Batman is an anarchist I honestly feel Ben Affleck would be better. Although he does fight for Justice in the DCEU, the same disregard for human safety is essential for Batman in Red Son. And we all know what disregard Affleck’s Batman had for human safety in BVS right? That’s another thread. Ben Affleck could easily bring the darkness and weight of the character to life in this Elseworlds tale which is why I am cementing Ben Affleck as Batman in a Superman: Red Son movie.
As for Hal Jordan we only have Ryan Reynolds. Given that the 2011 Green Lantern movie is the great unspoken and that Deadpool ended up being the polar opposite in terms of quality, I would rather see Ryan Reynolds placed firmly at Marvel so I am going to use my trump card and cast another actor. Two actors came to mind when thinking of the Hal Jordan in Red Son. Ryan Gosling and Daniel Craig. While initially leaning towards Gosling mainly because of his great turn in Drive showing the full emotional spectrum with very few words, I eventually convinced myself that Daniel Craig would be more suited. Hal Jordan in Red Son has been through a great deal and feel that an actor of Daniel Craig’s stature would be able to portray the gravity of his ordeal and the battle hardened nature of the character.
Featured less than some of the other characters is Jimmy Olsen. In this version he plays Lex Luthor’s right hand man and has an extremely important role in America’s political situation. Jimmy Olsen has never been represented in the way the character deserves on screen so I struggle with this one. I was considering Mehcad Brooks in Red Son as Jimmy Olsen but then I went away and watched a few episodes of Supergirl. No… Just no. On balance and after giving it some more consideration I have convinced myself that I would actually like to see Marc McClure back in the role. He certainly would suit the later stages of the story when Olsen has been battling Superman for years alongside Lex Luthor and again, we can employ the de-aging technology becoming ever more popular in movies.
As for Lois Lane, I first thought of Teri Hatcher but then almost immediately, I imagined Dean Cain in red pants and could not shake the image. This changed my mind and after a while thinking it over I landed on Amy Adams. The thing is, with this iteration of Lois Lane, we need an actress that can hold her own with Kevin Spacey and Adams proved that she has the acting chops to hold it down with imposing actors during her Oscar nominated performance in American Hustle.
As for director, there are so many skilled storytellers that could bring this tale to the screen. We could have Richard Donner, Bryan Singer, Zack Snyder or others but I am going to cheat on this one again. I realise I only had one get out of jail free card but as I am writing this I can change the rules whenever I like. This would be a Superman movie but as other major characters feature I would have to go for the obvious choice and settle on Christopher Nolan. The graphic novel needs a director that is focused on character development and plot as well as stunning visuals and for me, Nolan would be the man for the job. His results speak for themselves and I would opt for keeping with some of his regulars including Wally Pfister on cinematography and Hans Zimmer scoring the movie soundtrack. Pfister has imagined some great visuals and for the introduction of Batman to the story, wouldn’t it be magic to hear a subtle flavour of the Dark Knight score once again on the big screen. Back in the day Zimmer provided the score for the movie, The Peacemaker starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. The score had a kind of heavy hitting Soviet vibe which I think would work well.... for obvious reasons.
So clearly I am a fan of the graphic novel and with my dream cast and crew this version could truly be something special. An interesting and thought provoking tale which could be turned into the most mature comic book movie ever made while still using classic DC characters. Captain America: Civil War was a great movie and featured two characters with opposing ideologies which ultimately results in conflict, but a cinematic take on Red Son could take the notion a step further. The story delves much deeper into the socio economic implications of communism and a big brother state so this definitely has the potential to go down in history as a more adult comicbook movie.
If you made it this far give yourself a pat on the back. This was all just my opinion and sure, someone who has more knowledge, time, money, patience and skill than me would do an infinitely better job at working the whole thing out. So if you, like me, are passionate about seeing this particular story told in a live action format then let me know your thoughts. Who would you like to see play the characters in a movie version of Red Son? Maybe you are a purest and would prefer to see the Elseworlds tale left well alone? Or perhaps there are other graphic novels you think would be better suited to the live action treatment before Superman: Red Son? Let me know here in the comments or on Twitter.
To summarise all of the above in a short list of fan casting I would like to see Superman: Red Son with all of those below involved:
Superman - Brandon Routh
Lex Luthor - Kevin Spacey
Lois Lane - Amy Adams
Wonder Woman - Adrianne Palicki
Jimmy Olsen - Marc McClure
Hal Jordan - Daniel Craig
Director - Christopher Nolan
Cinematographer - Wally Pfister
Musical Score - Hans Zimmer