Two months ago, Warner Bros. honcho Jeff Rabinov announced his studio’s intentions to release eight franchise-stoking DC comics films by 2011 — among them, a movie "reintroducing" Superman. Since then, all’s been relatively on the Kryptonian front…until now. U.K.’s The Independent has reported, amid an interview with Kevin Spacey, that "producers…will be paying him big bucks to reprise his role as Lex Luthor next year" in 2011’s Superman: The Man of Steel. Neither Spacey nor producers commented on the project in the piece, though it’s debatable whether Spacey still demands a sizeable salary by A-list standards, given his lower profile of late. Regardless, the actor did turn out a potent performance in the last Supes movie, and it looks like he may very well face off once more against embattled, where-is-he-now lead Brandon Routh — who mentioned he’d be stepping up his work-out regime while Dan Harris, Mike Dougherty, and Superman Returns director Bryan Singer script what the latter promises to be certifiably action-packed.
But does Warners know what they want? One exec declared, “It might be better to start from scratch.” Meanwhile, Rabinov ominously noted that all the company’s spandex adventures will “try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it.” Fans, in turn, summarily freaked out, citing how Singer’s dark, thinky Superman Returns — though a noble endeavor exploring the doldrums of an alienated alien — was a bit of a bummer. (It’s worth noting that despite its reported runaway budget of $270 million, the movie’s worldwide gross reached nearly $400 million, so it wasn’t exactly a bust.) The participation of Singer, meanwhile, has itself been thrown into question after he sidelined Man of Steel to helm the Tom Cruise-starring Hitler-assassination thriller Valkyrie. Compounding this vaguery: Wanted and Kick-Ass comics scribe has claimed he’s been in talks with an unnamed director to drum up a new Man of Steel pitch, in the event that Singer drops or gets forced out. Depending on whom you listen to, Valkyrie — which has been entwined in a notoriously messy production process — could ultimately vindicate Singer and vault him back into Oscar-ville, which can only perk Warners' interest. So as Valkyrie’s December release approaches, we’re eager to see how all this real-life drama will play out.