It looks like Warner Brothers has been trying to get an open world Superman game off the ground since 2013. Although other superheroes like Spider-Man have easily translated their properties to the world of video games, for one reason or another Superman has been unable to adequately make the jump, ironic for a character popularized by his ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Players who were around during the Nintendo 64 era remember none-too-fondly the title Superman 64, which has since gone down in history as one of the worst games of all time. Like Batman, the character has been featured in a number of side-scrolling brawlers and fighting games, such as 1994’s The Death and Return of Superman, but unlike Batman, whose continued success is due heavily in part to Rocksteady’s Arkham series, Superman was never properly able to make the transition into enjoyable three-dimensional gameplay.
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As announced on Twitter by prominent superhero games leaker James Sigfield, Warner Brothers has been trying to create a proper Superman adventure since 2013. Sigfield states Warner Bros. took multiple pitches from various producers and directors as they tried to define their vision, including one with a traversable open world Metropolis which would have been very similar to Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4. This game would have featured multiple villains from throughout “the DC pantheon” and had begun the prototyping phase before being canceled by Warner Bros. from unspecified reasons.
Later, a Superman game which had been planned to follow the plot of the comic and TV series was pitched to WB. The game would take place on Kandor, a shrunken Kryptonian city, and would have included the antagonists Brainiac and Doomsday. However, according to Sigfield, WB “had mandated that every game to use the Arkham engine. Getting Superman’s flight to work in that frame would’ve been near impossible… at the time.” Because of these difficulties, both the Superman project and an unreleased Suicide Squad game were cancelled, although Sigfield confirms Warner Brothers continued to hear pitches and may have even green lit one already.
One of the largest issues plaguing superhero games is how to make seemingly indestructible characters feel fun to play as while also giving players a challenge without diminishing the superhero’s powers. Superman, being one of the most overpowered comic book characters of all time, poses the biggest problem of all in this regard, as one of his main traits is being virtually indestructible. With the specter of Superman 64 hanging over the character’s head and nothing else to show in recent years except for a lackluster movie tie-in for Superman Returns in 2006, hopefully Warner Brothers will eventually decide to take their chances on a new next-gen Superman game, but right now players who want to step into the Kyptonian’s spandex are stuck replaying Injustice 2.
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