Why Man of Steel Must Succeed
But even so, I still have reservations. Outside of Batman, DC has not had a successful film adaptation of one of its characters since Superman II. Green Lantern was a bust, (and rightly so) and Superman Returns, though a critical success, failed in the box office. The Man of Steel will be the first reboot since Batman Begins, and also the last DC adaptation until the Justice League film in 2015. Thus, It will be a test for Superman, for DC, and for the more fantastic side of superhero movies.
Firstly, The Man of Steel will test whether Superman will have a chance at hitting it big with a modern audience. The other big superheroes--Spider-Man, Batman, and the X-Men--have all found success, yet only Superman has struggled to conquer Hollywood of these superpowers among superheroes. The handcuff poster illustrates that this will still be Superman, but the realism will come with the world around him. It will be an exploration in the concept of how we in the Real World would react if someone that powerful could be accepted by a people like us, who traditionally fear a powerful change, like the inventions of the locomotive and the airplane to which Superman is so often compared. If The Man of Steel succeeds, Superman will most likely rebound, and will be once more seen as Batman's equal rather than an anachronism born of 1939. He may even have a shot at a half decent video game. If The Man of Steel fails, however, Superman risks falling into obscurity, much like when Disney threw out their hand drawn animators for a brief time following their consistent failures and PIXAR's consistent successes in the 2000's. They got the problem wrong--it was not the animation, but the story that caused their films to fail--yet until John Lasseter knocked some sense into them, they tossed traditional animation. Superman and the style of superhero he represents may be thrown out of cinema in favor of the "darker, grittier hero".
Secondly, The Man of Steel will test whether DC can do anything right without Batman. Green Lantern was a failure, both critically and financially, squandering a huge budget. Superman Returns, though successful with critics, failed to catch on like Batman Begins. If you ask me, Green Lantern squandered more than a budget, but also the characters and story of Green Lantern. They warped Parallax into some weird monster ink blot, and all the characters from Hal Jordan to Killowog to Thaal Sinestro and Abin Sur into bland, soulless special effects. Particularly with those gimmicky CG uniforms. Superman Returns, I haven't seen, but from what I've been told, it was less a terrible failure, and more just a disappointment because it was only a good film rather than a great one. The Man of Steel gives DC another chance, but if it fails to satisfy the studio folks, they may decide to shelve their current plans of Justice League, or perhaps decide not to give any of the DC characters besides Batman a shot at the big screen, instead restricting them to television shows like Smallville, Arrow, and Amazon or whatever they're calling the Wonder Woman show.
Lastly, the superhero film genre will suffer if The Man of Steel fails. Thanks to The Avengers, it wouldn't hurt quite as much as it could if The Avengers hadn't been a success, but it still poses a threat to restrict the genre to darker films like The Dark Knight. It's already evidenced in the darkening of Spider-man in The Amazing Spider-man, If The Man of Steel succeeds, however, it will solidify the base that has been built up by Marvel's more lighthearted films that a heroic hero like Superman or Captain America can still work in Hollywood.
Of course, this is all based upon speculation of how the movie industry would react to a failure, but then again, big companies have done silly and disappointing things before in response to failure. I suppose we'll have to wait and see until 2013.