Superman Returns

Filed under: a group of folks,movies @ 15:28

I saw Superman Returns last night with Greg.

Superman’s character makes for a difficult movie. He fights for truth, justice, and (more controversially) the American way, he never lies, he’s essentially invincible, and he’s well loved by society. Other than his alter ego’s bumbling awkwardness, he has no character flaw and has only one weakness: kryptonite.

So how do you go about making a meaningful movie with such a two dimensional character? The only inner conflict at our disposal is Superman’s departure and return (implied by the movie title) and the possibility that he gets fed up saving the world every time Hollywood calls upon him to do so.

Below there be spoilers.

The typical plot arc is as follows, and I’m sick of it. Superman saves Lois, Lex Luthor thinks of a way to rule the world and keep Superman out of the picture, Superman almost dies, Lois saves Superman, Superman stops Lex. Everyone smiles.

So how do you make a meaningful Superman movie? Let me tell you how. You give Superman a son, but keep both Superman and Junior ignorant of the child’s heredity. Ideally, Junior would be a teenager with a bit of a dark side, but an innocent kid would work too. Superman leaves earth to search for his destroyed home world of Krypton, only to return years later despondent with the knowledge that the planet really is just a graveyard.

Junior begins to develop superpowers as he gets older. As the two interact (both via Clark and Superman himself), Junior starts to realize his true origins and what those origins might mean for his future. He rebels against this doom and, in so doing, inadvertently brings about conditions under which Superman must sacrifice himself in order to save the world. Superman dies.

We see Junior facing the death of his biological father and clinging to Superman’s memory and iconic superhero costume. In Junior’s newly held conviction to fight for all his father stood for, we discover the true meaning of the movie’s title: Superman Returns. The world in mourning sees a new champion.

Now that is an awesome concept for a Superman movie. And guess what? The movie Hollywood chose to make does something completely lame instead.

Superman Returns follows the standard plot arc and is devoid of any real self reflection by anyone but Lois Lane’s boyfriend. Lois Lane’s boyfriend, Cyclops.


Lame plot and static characters aside, the movie was reasonably entertaining. There were a couple great scenes, some awesome visuals, and an odd few Batman references. Brandon Routh did an admirable job playing Clark’s innocent dorkiness and Superman’s unrealistic goody-goodiness, though Kate Bosworth‘s Lois wasn’t great. Oh, and the score was a little uninspiring.

On the whole, I give it a “worth seeing”, but you might wait until it comes out on DVD.

It’s just sad to me that really good franchise movies can be made and can be made as blockbusters (witness X-Men, X-2, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), but Hollywood still decides to put out shallow, money-making crap (X-Men: The Last Stand, all the other Harry Potter Movies).


    Dixie 06.29.2006 @ 08:04

    I thought Kevin Spacey was brilliant as Luthor. His performance plus the really pretty effects (I know Miracle-Gro crystals are lame, but they’re nice to look at!) made it worth seeing for me.

    In the end, I just prefer my superheroes a little darker and my beefcake a little dirtier. (Superman looked almost airbrushed — did anyone else notice that?) It was fine for a Superman movie, but you’re right. Mostly lame.

    Lauren 07.06.2006 @ 20:39

    I thought Kate Bosworth did a really convincing job as Lois. She played the part well by making her character a little different than the previous Superman’s Lois. Because Superman left for five years, it kind of changed her in a way no one thought possible. I think that’s what Kate Bosworth was trying to portray. I thought Brandon Routh did an amazing job also.

    martyn 07.09.2006 @ 12:48

    can anyone tell me, does superman die in this film or not?

    marko 07.15.2006 @ 02:17

    Not sure whether he died or not.

    Movie goer 07.31.2006 @ 08:46

    What I found interesting was what a lousy mother Lois was made out to be. Can you imagine such a character (as she is made out to be in the movie) raising such a potentially powerful figure?

    Anna 08.01.2006 @ 23:01

    A couple of hours I’ll never get back, the film stank. Luthor was good, but overall the franchise didn’t improve on any of the originals.

    Chicken 02.08.2009 @ 16:45

    Superman died!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…….i think xD

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