When Marvel was bringing properties such as Spider-Man and X-Men to the big screen with much box office and critical success, DC also wanted to do the same. However, characters like Superman and Batman get a little tricky because they already had movies done before. More specifically, Superman The Movie basically started the superhero genre and is hailed as one of the best. Now, Bryan Singer of X-Men 1 & 2 directs Superman Returns, the title referring to Superman’s long-awaited comeback to cinema, as well as his return to Earth in the story itself.
Bryan Singer brings a slow and moody feel to the Superman mythos, and he attempts to make the story and characters as realistic as possible. Unfortunately for him, this approach backfired because Superman isn’t supposed to be realistic in the first place. The “dark and gritty” approach worked fine in Batman Begins because the story and characters there were grounded in reality. Here in Superman Returns, where a man is flying around in blue spandex and red underwear, I don’t think “dark and gritty” is the first thing that comes to mind.
Brandon Routh as Clark Kent / Superman lacks all the charisma that other live action versions had. Maybe it was just a creative decision that the director made, but Brandon Routh could have used more emotion when he was donning the Superman costume. I was excited to see what this new Superman will do, but the dull story and uninspired script almost put me to sleep. There is a subplot regarding Clark’s jealousy that Lois is a mother, and it goes into some interesting places. Sadly, it didn’t go anywhere as epic as it seemed to be leading to, and ended up being one of the many things in this movie that was absolutely redundant.
Fans of the original Superman movie will be able to catch all the throwbacks like Lois smoking and the revolving door, among other references. Comic book fans will even pick up a Superman pose that is from the cover of Action Comics #1. It is ironic that the film makers want to reinvent Superman for the modern audience, yet at the same time they include so many references to the old movies, and the result is an awkward mixed bag. The scene where Superman meets Lois at the rooftop and they go flying together is way overdone and takes up too much time. If it was supposed to be romantic, I didn’t find it romantic in the least. In this day and age, surely we can think of something fresh and exciting?
Negative reaction from the fans and a less-than-impressive box office performance halted the planned crossover movie with Batman. Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) is going to helm a completely new version of Superman that is to be ‘godfathered’ by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight). Hopefully with this new team, the man of steel will get the update he deserves. But for now, the original Superman The Movie and Superman II is still the way to fly.