A Brave New World
Despite playing Ray Palmer in the franchise as well, Brandon Routh took back up the role of Superman for “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. The Brandon Routh version of Superman previously appeared in the Bryan Singer directed Superman Returns.
The film was also a continuation of the previous cinematic version of Superman, played by Christopher Reeves in the Richard Donner Superman films. That little detail gives weight to his version of the character, making him a surprisingly consistent presence across four decades of film and television.
That version of Superman has also had a rough time of it, considering the place he’s at when he’s introduced in “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. This is a Superman who references both the Christopher Reeves period (having to fight against an evil aspect of himself, as he did in Superman 3) and Routh’s own time previously playing the character (referencing Jason, the son revealed to be his and Lois’ in Superman Returns), meaning he dealt with all those problems and probably countless more.
Beyond even that, he’s had to deal with a kind of loss that only a handful of heroes have ever had to go through. It’s revealed in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” that this Superman lost his version of Lois (along with Jimmy Olsen and Perry White) when the Joker decided to target the Daily Planet. Angry that he never received the right amount of coverage from the Metropolis Paper, Joker gassed the building, killing most of the staff inside.
There’s a major difference between here and the comic, however. Whereas in Kingdom Come Superman ended up abandoning the world, the actions of Magog don’t appear to have happened – or if they did, they had far less of an impact on Superman. Instead of working on a farm hidden away from the world at large, he’s taken over Perry White’s position as the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet. It can even be seen as a way for him to honor his wife in a more touching way than how he did in the comic.
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What Else Does DC Have To Lose?
DC has had an… interesting past decade when it comes to mass media. While the animated and television corners of the franchise have been largely successful in their own ways, the films have been a mixed bag. While many of them have been financially successful, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League have been more controversial than anything else.
The more recent unique material (such as Shazam!, Birds of Prey, Aquaman and Wonder Woman: 1984) has been met with optimism. So has the news (as reported by ScreenRant) that HBO Max will be producing new DC live-action series like Green Lantern and Strange Adventures. Coupled with Doom Patrol and Harley Quinn on DC Universe, it shows that Warner Bros. is becoming more ambitious and creative with their superhero offerings.
A modern take on Kingdom Come might fit perfectly into that wheelhouse, especially if it’s conceived as a miniseries with a specific beginning, middle, and end. It’s probably easier to attract other talents to the series if it was done that way, allowing the entire DC Universe to basically get their version of Logan. It can modernize elements of the new story while still drawing on the ideas of older ideals of good and justice still holding true in a world that gets increasingly more complicated.
The Brandon Routh version of Superman in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is also the right way to take it. His version of Kingdom Come Superman has a kind of weight no other version will have, while still retaining just enough humanity to make us root for him. It can be based on that version without being a direct adaptation of it.
Clark not separating himself completely from humanity is an interesting way to keep him slightly more likable, especially given how the events of Kingdom Come push him to the edge of his better intentions. It might be the best way to ever see this classic story brought to another medium, and Routh is the perfect person to center it around.