Superman Returns is a 2006 American superhero film directed and produced by Bryan Singer. It is based on the DC Comics character Superman and serves as a homage sequel to the motion pictures Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), ignoring the events of Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).
While his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, plots to destroy him once and for all, Superman returns to Earth after a five-year absence and finds that the world has drastically changed during his absence. Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and society has learned to survive without him. Superman must find a way to reconnect with her and find his place in a world that may no longer need him.
- It brought back the iconic Superman that we all know and love while reintroducing him with a new actor, Brandon Routh (who would later play Ray Palmer/The Atom on Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow and him again in the tv event adaptation of Crisis On Infinite Earths).
- The ensemble cast does a decent job replacing the cast from the original Superman films.
- Bryan Singer, the director of X-Men, did an amazing job handling a new, non-Marvel property.
- The iconic John Williams theme returns, remastered for the 21st century by John Ottman (who also did the opening theme for X2: X-Men United).
- The cinematic disasters that were Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace have been retconned out of existence by this film.
- The glorious recreation of the 'Superman catches a falling plane' scene.
- Marlon Brando's opening narration from the first movie is reused in the opening of the film. It even includes quotes that had previously been unused.
- On a related note, Marlon Brando posthumously reprising his role as Jor-El through the use of archive footage combined with CGI was quite an impressive feat at the time.
- Awesome visual effects.
- Decent cinematography.
- Good action scenes (although flawed below).
- Not enough action scenes, despite them being good.
- Kevin Smith complained that Superman doesn't throw a single punch in the whole movie.
- Kate Bosworth is badly miscast as Lois Lane.
- Misuse of Kal Penn, not to mention the fact that he has zero dialogue.
- Superman's suit from this movie hasn't aged too well despite it's meant to imitate his classic suit with the red shorts, the boots filled with "s" shields all over and his "s" shield belt feel too "comic booky".
- The runtime is a little too long.
- The pacing can drag at points.
Superman Returns received generally mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and audiences, who complimented its visual effects, story, musical score, and the performances of Routh and Spacey. However, it received criticism focusing on its runtime and lack of action sequences. It currently holds a 75% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 7/10 and a critic consensus that reads "Bryan Singer's reverent and visually decadent adaptation gives the Man of Steel welcome emotional complexity. The result: a satisfying stick-to-your-ribs adaptation." Metacritic scored the film a 72 out of 100 based on 40 critics, meaning "generally favorable reviews." Richard Roeper stated in his review "... while I can't call it a home run, I'll say it's a solid base hit."
The film opened up at #1 on its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $52,535,096. It would later make a domestic gross of $200,081,192. In overseas markets, the film made $191,000,000. Overall, the film made a worldwide gross of $391,081,192 against its $204 million budget. Despite getting praise from critics and audiences, the film was a box office disappointment.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and won six Saturn Awards, including Best Actor for Brandon Routh and Best Fantasy Film.
- Lex Luthor's infamous "WRONG!" became an Internet meme.
- 15 years later, Brandon Routh would return to play Superman again from his Earth-96 counterpart in the CW's tv event adaptation of "Crisis on Infinite Earths".
- The fifth Superman film has been in development hell for years, which some of the attempts include:
- A reboot titled Superman Lives as the title character dies at Doomsday's hands, while resurrected to stop Brainiac, while other drafts were to have Lex Luthor fusing with Brainiac that was used in Justice League Unlimited and Superman and Lois having a child.
- There was also a Superman and Batman crossover film titled Superman Vs. Batman where Lex Luthor, Joker, and Toyman are the main villains manipulating Batman’s life to fight Superman.
- Another reboot attempt was titled Superman Flyby, where Krypton was not destroyed and Superman needing to fight his evil cousin, Ty-Zor while changing Lex Luthor into a NASA agent.
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