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Starlog Archives: Superman Returns

It had been almost two decades since Superman had last appeared on the big screen.  During that time, Warner Brothers had repeatedly tried and failed to find ways to reboot the franchise.  Finally in 2006, Superman flew into theaters again in the aptly titled Superman Returns.  The studio thought they had scored a major victory when they successfully poached director Bryan Singer from Fox’s X-Men series.  Singer was a fan of the old Superman movies and he set out to pick up where Superman II had left off while ignoring the less-loved third and fourth Christopher Reeve entries.

There was reason to be optimistic.  But unfortunately, Superman Returns didn’t quite deliver the goods.  People have probably forgotten that critics mostly liked the new Superman.   It performed reasonably well at the box office, but not up to Warner Brothers’ expectations.  Ultimately, Singer’s take on Superman was scrapped in favor of Zach Snyder’s.  In retrospect, that was probably a mistake.  Ten years ago, Starlog Magazine was still excited about the upcoming return of the Man of Steel.

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Posted on June 29, 2016, in Movies, Starlog Archives, Super Heroes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I thought about this film again since there was a segment of the documentary “Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman” on the “Superman: The Animated Series” disc set I purchased last month (the packaging is horrible on that product though). I’d like to see the documentary in its entirety someday.
    Anyway, I think the film is okay, although Kate Bosworth does nothing for me as a performer (I was fine with her in 2003’s “Wonderland” though). I though Brandon Routh did a good job here (I haven’t seen him in anything other than this and 2008’s “Zach and Miri Make a Porno”, but I know he’s married to actress Courtney Ford, who played a reporter in season 4 of the awesome “Dexter”, which is a series that rejuvenated my interest in TV shows as a whole, much as the “Grand Theft Auto” series awakened my interest in video games that didn’t involve the four major American sports).

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  2. My sense of what went wrong with this was that Singer was too slavish to the Donner / Reeves Superman films. It was supposed to be a sequel but spent some time retelling the origin. Routh was good as Clark/Superman, though, in my opinion.

    The problem was Lex. Not that Kevin Spacey did a bad Lex, but he tried to copy the Gene Hackman Lex, based on the silver & bronze age mad-scientist Lex Luthor.

    I don’t know why Superman movie creators cannot get the post-Crisis Lex Luthor right.

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    • I can agree with a lot of that. I do think a Superman movie in the style of the Donner/Reeves films could have worked. But Singer was overly referential on the one hand and on the other he turned Superman into a deadbeat dad who stalks his ex. There’s a clash between Singer’s attempts at homage and modern day relevance. A pure throwback could have made for a fun movie. Or he could have made a darker Superman like Man of Steel. But Superman Returns is stuck in between those extreme.

      This is also true of Lex Luthor who was allowed to be menacing in some scenes, but a complete boob in others.

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