Canister X Movie Review #84: Superman Returns (2006)
Written by Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
Directed by Bryan Singer
Runtime 154 min.
3 out of 5
The Man of Steel had vanished for five long years.
The world moved on.
So did the one person everyone thought never would: Lois Lane. She even wrote about it in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article entitled, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.”
But that’s not all that changed. Lex Luthor had swindled his way out of a double life-sentence with a new plan: create his own continent and wipe out all the others.
He just wasn’t prepared for one thing—Superman returns.
It’d been almost twenty years between Superman movies when this one came out, the last being Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Expectations were high, the hype was through the roof, a star director (Bryan Singer) was attached to it, huge names played some of the key roles . . .
The payoff: an embarrassing movie.
I remember feeling ashamed of my hero when I walked out of the theatre. Being a lifelong Superman fan, I thought Superman Returns would nail it and kick a certain red-and-blue wallcrawler off the box office charts.
I was wrong.
The story of Superman Returns is okay. It’s nothing new, pretty much a rehash of Superman: The Movie, just updated with a different spin.
There are also several terrible and nonsensical moments in the film: Superman’s son, Superman in the hospital, Superman lifting a massive island made of kryptonite and flying it into space even though just before that scene being around kryptonite made him virtually mortal.
It was tempting to give this movie two stars, but Brandon Routh’s portrayal of the Man of Steel saved the day. He did a stellar job as both Clark and Superman. Aside from Christopher Reeve, he’s my favorite boy in blue.
Kevin Spacey did an all right job as Lex Luthor—evil, funny, selfish, manipulative, king of understatement. But he wasn’t evil-evil, unlike Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville. Though I realize they’re different continuities/series, you’d think a grown-up Lex would be darker than his younger counterpart.
Warner Brothers et al. erred with this film because they didn’t remember the secret to Superman: people don’t want to relate to him. He’s an icon, an ideal. He’s not Spider-Man. We want to be amazed, put in a state of awe. People only want to relate to Clark Kent, not his cape-wearing alter ego. They blurred the line between the two when it should have been crisp and clear, and that is where this movie failed.
Hopefully the sequel will not be a drama, but a serious yet fun superhero movie, one filled with wonder, eye-popping action and a story worthy of the Man of Steel. I just hope they don’t use kryptonite as a weapon against Superman. If they do, they’re going to have to use a whole planet’s worth to make a dent seeing as how a kryptonite island didn’t stop him.