The news that Natalie Portman might be in the running to play Lois Lane in the new Superman is a glimpse of hope for the franchise in a weary world. Sure, it would be fantastic. Portman can do just about anything and stands out as the rare movie star that can actually perform. The question is whether it’s worth it to get Darren Aronofsky to direct the film in order to make sure Portman takes on the role.

Of course it’s not.

In analyzing the possible directors, Aronofsky meets the dark criteria. However, he’s a talented but mercurial director who delivers movies that are only considered mainstream when compared to David Lynch, and he’s already proven that he can’t quite get a strong grip on an enormous scope or an enormous budget.

It’s unclear why he would be the factor the deal is hinging on. Yes, Black Swan has gotten some great critical response coming out of Toronto, and it will be tested again at the Austin Film Festival soon. However, it’s unclear whether that critical success will translate to 1) continued critical success or b) the kind of financial success that would prove he could handle a tent pole film.

There are some positive things to look forward to if he got the job:

  1. He’s an actor’s director and he works best with intimate character stories. Seeing something like that done for Superman would be an excellent path to take. One of the biggest problems in the Singer version is that Superman is completely alien. So, yeah, he’s an alien in the comic books, but there has to be a human element to connect to, and that was sorely lacking. Aronofsky would fix that.
  2. When he’s on, he’s truly on. That comes with the caveat that when he’s off, oh boy is he way off, but an Aronofsky-directed Superman at the top of his game would be an insanely entertaining movie.
  3. No matter what, the movie would look gorgeous.

Like anyone, he’s a gamble to some degree. Choosing him as director would mean Warners was swinging for the fences on rebooting a franchise that already had trouble getting off the ground. I’m all for innovation and unusual combinations, but Aronofsky seems far too NYU Film School for something that will need to sell more tickets than the Pope’s last appearance (which sold out in 5 seconds on Ticket Master).

The Wrestler is a beautiful film. Pi is unmistakable for its inherent talent and promise. Requiem is a muddled movie, and The Fountain is a large-scale mess. This is the track record – which is better than most directors, but doesn’t instill total confidence in handing over an expensive newborn that’s going to need to be nurtured to adulthood. I suppose the underlying question is whether or not Warners should gamble on an art house-style director for its franchise. What would happen if there was yet another failure at delivering a Superman that resonated a sense of excitement in audiences?

Portman would be a great Lois Lane. She’s unafraid, quick-witted, and could easily star in a remake of His Girl Friday (which is high, high praise), but if her involvement is really contingent on Aronofsky at the helm, Warners should think twice before signing on the dotted line.

What do you think?


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