As it happens, Wes Morris’s review of Superman for Grantland touches on some similar points to what I explored in my essay on franchise films:
“Whether it’s Batman or Star Trek or Star Wars, the audience has been there before and can’t wait to go again — to find the Easter eggs hidden for only them, to bask in the filmmakers’ adherence to sacred texts. This obviates any real expectation that a movie will work as a movie, that it will be a piece of commercial art that takes you to some emotional or visceral place. Certainly, a few of these movies have cleared that bar: Christopher Nolan’s second and third Batman films achieve this, as do Bryan Singer’s X-Men and its first sequel. J.J. Abrams’s maiden Star Trek do-over went for something audacious. It contorted the parameters of nostalgia, using the series’s relationship to the vagaries of time and space to attempt to free itself from the oppression of fandom. But its sequel gave in and enslaved itself to the original films.”
Check out his full review here.