Superman may be more powerful than a locomotive, but there's one thing he can't seem to get off the ground these days: a satisfying hit movie.
As we argued last week, we may never see another great Superman film after all the false starts, missteps and shoddy creative decisions that have tarnished the soaring legacy of the franchise's heyday, when Christopher Reeve flew high and mighty.
But as the nation reels from the horrific shooting rampage that left 12 dead and 58 injured at a Denver-area screening of The Dark Knight Rises, many questions now linger about the future of Man of Steel, the ambitious Superman reboot that was supposed to have coasted on the Dark Knight Rises' momentum.
Has the flick fallen prey to a perceived Superman curse that has jinxed previous big-screen outings and their castmembers? And has Superman been grounded before he's even had the chance to take flight?
Indeed, the first big blowout was to have taken place last Friday, when the flick's teaser trailer was gearing up to make a splashy debut before screenings of Dark Knight Rises. That conversation has now been all but muted—the latest in a long line of setbacks as Man of Steel struggles to pick up after Dark Knight Rises now that Warner Bros, the studio behind both flicks, has brought Christopher Nolan's Caped Crusader trilogy to a close.
Box-office watchers and fanboys, however, say that one should never count out Superman.
"I don't see any reason to believe that there will be any sort of direct impact next summer because of what happened in Colorado," Box Office Guru's Gitesh Pandya tells E! News. "It's too early to say. We have to see what sort of conversations come out of this over the weeks and months ahead, and whether there's any impact on the film industry—the way they complete the film, the way they market the film."
Within the geekverse, the ruling sentiment seems to be that allowing the tragedy in Colorado to deter the one's enjoyment of films—including blockbuster hopefuls like Man of Steel—represents a victory for its instigator.
"By not going to see [Man of Steel], you're almost giving more credibility and power to this individual that caused this entire tragedy," says Neil A. Cole, editor and publisher of Superman fanboy hub SupermanSuperSite.com.
"You're basically taking a stand: 'I'm not gonna give you that power over me and give any credibility to you,'" he adds.
Still, this hasn't stopped some fans from rumbling about what they believe to be a gnarly Superman curse that has befallen its castmembers, supposedly leading to the untimely deaths of two leading men—George Reeves and Christopher Reeve—and the botched careers of others. (Neither Superman Returns' Brandon Routh nor Smallville's Tom Welling has scored a hit since donning Supe's blue tights.)
Even Lois Lane's had a tough run: Reeves' leading lady, Margot Kidder, famously suffered a public mental breakdown in 1996 and was found on the streets living in a cardboard box.
Speculation notwithstanding, Man of Steel has one thing going for it: It's still slated for release in June 2013, which means the film still has a chance to catch its footing, harness momentum and set itself up as a potential tentpole—on its own merits.
"It's super, super early now to be judging how it's gonna do next June," Pandya says. "There's an entire calendar of marketing activities that will happen over the next 11 months. So this is just the tip of the iceberg."
Now, all that Man of Steel needs to do is to deliver the goods. That—amid talk of curses or missed promotional opportunities—is what will ultimately enable the film to leap both tall buildings and high box-office expectations in a single bound.