Superman Director Richard Donner Weighs in on State of Superhero Movies

While superhero movies have become a box office staple with both Marvel and DC bringing iconic superheroes from page to big screen with regularity for years now, this wasn't always the case. There was a time when the superhero movie as we know it today simply didn't exist, at least not until Richard Donner's Superman debuted in 1978. Widely considered the first modern superhero movie, the film would spawn multiple sequels and pave the way for everything we enjoy now, including the recently-released Wonder Woman 1984. However, even though we've come a long way with our superhero entertainment, not all films are the same with some taking a bright approach to heroes while others go a bit darker, grittier, and bleaker. It's an interesting variety and while Donner is amazed at how far things have come with the popularity of superhero films, he thinks the brighter version of things is the way to go.

Speaking with The Telegraph, Donner commented about how many superhero films are "dark and bleak" and that the world has had enough of that, noting that he thinks people crave the opposite.

"There are so many people that make superheroes so cynical it's depressing," Donner said. "When they're dark and bleak and angry with themselves and the world, I don't find it entertaining. I think there's enough reality going on for that. We just got over four years of that [under President Donald Trump]. I think we crave the opposite."

Donner also said that while it's staggering that there are so many superhero movies in theaters now, he's disappointed when they aren't "done right" by his standards.

"When you see it done right, by my standards, it's so fulfilling," Donner said. "I'm very happy and proud when I see them. When it's done wrong, it's such a disappointment."

Donner had some thoughts about Martin Scorsese's comments from 2019 about superhero films as well. One of the biggest pop culture stories last year, Scorsese now-infamously claimed that superhero films are "not cinema" and compared them to theme parks and for Donner, he thinks that solid stories can come from superhero films -- and he'd love to make one of the "theme park rides" himself.

"Well, I'd like to be able to make one of those theme park rides!" Donner said. "The problem is, a lot of times, we see in our industry that when the technical lens becomes readily available, it's totally misused. But at the same time, every once in a while you really see quite a wonderful story with one of those films."

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