Before Marvel’s Cinematic Universe kickstarted a flood of high-grossing superhero-centric films, Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman film was what many people knew as a true “superhero” film. And while Donner’s film certainly influenced the superhero films we see today, he’s not too pleased with the way that some filmmakers are taking on the source material.
“When you see it done right, by my standards, it’s so fulfilling,” Donner said in an interview with The Telegraph. “I’m very happy and proud when I see them. When it’s done wrong, it’s such a disappointment.”
Donner believes that superheroes have become too “cynical” and “depressing.” While he didn’t specifically mention which films he was referring to, there’s a clear difference in tone between his early Superman films and more recent films like Avengers: Endgame and Batman V Superman.
“When they’re dark and bleak and angry with themselves and the world, I don’t find it entertaining,” Donner added. “I think there’s enough reality going on for that. We just got over four years of that. I think we crave the opposite. 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 these films.”
The 90-year-old director also responded to Martin Scorsese’s comments from earlier this year that likened recent Marvel movies to theme park rides. Donner said, “well, I’d like to be able to make one of those theme park rides!”
Donner also recently confirmed that he’d be directing the 5th and final installment in the Lethal Weapon franchise, which he started back in 1987.