ComicsAlliance Reviews ‘Superman Returns’ (2006), Part Two
As we continue our in-depth look at super-hero movies, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri take on the Superman film franchise.
Chris Sims: Welcome back to our painfully in-depth review of 2006’s Superman Returns! When we last left off, Superman had just finished metaphorically sexing up Lois Lane in mid-air over the Daily Planet, while her fiancee and son waited downstairs. Our Hero, ladies and gentlemen!
David Uzumeri: He totally understands that she has a child with an insanely solid dude named Richard, he just doesn’t care. I hear this was inspired by a 2001 Chuck Austen miniseries, Superman: Homewrecker.Chris: I find that hard to believe, if only because I doubt anything other than an angry message board post was ever inspired by a Chuck Austen mini-series. Either way, our story continues with Lois trying once again to pursue the blackout story, while Superman heads up to the Fortress of Solitude, where he finds that his collection of Kryptonian Betamax Crystals have been stolen.
David: Is each one preprogrammed to be a separate continent? Am I putting more thought into the mechanics of this story than Bryan Singer and company did? And why did Luthor take like eight of them, does he plan on making that many continents? And does Superman check up on his crib this infrequently?
Chris: Well remember, he left that junk laying around for five years in a giant crystal lean-to that has NO DOOR. Super-Foresight is not one of his powers, it seems. But you know, at the very least, this is a step in the right direction: You and I had a lot of complaints with both the Donner movies and Smallville that Superman wouldn’t do anything without going to consult the giant spectral head of Jor-El, and this kind of takes that off the table. Sadly, it does so without actually having Superman grow as a character, it just literally takes away the crystals.
David: It’s also far too little, far too late. It’s astounding to think that Singer actually thought this would lead off a series of further sequels; can you imagine the further adventures of Superman wishing he was Richard White? As bizarre as this was as a standalone movie, I can’t fathom it as a status quo.
Chris: I honestly can’t. Presumably future movies would all revolve around the Super-Deadbeat Dad from Krypton bonding with his son, and Richard quietly becoming subservient to the alien overlord who stole his girlfriend. Maybe Singer was actually trying to set it up so that we’d cheer for Luthor?
David: Maybe Luthor would start believing he was an alien because he was so far ahead of everyone else, and it’s a secret prequel to K-PAX.
Chris: Wow. The first and only K-PAX reference of the year 2012. Congratulations, Uzi.
David: Dude, Kevin Spacey loves movies with overbearing, unbearable Jesus metaphors.
Chris: Clearly. Anyway, Lois continues to track down the blackout story by using her Pulitzer Prize-winning journalistic skills to… call the power department and ask where it started, because apparently no one in the entire world thought to do this in the week since some mysterious force blacked out THE ENTIRE EAST COAST.
David: Well, look, Superman came back. With their predilection for jumping at shiny new things, apparently every single reporter in Metropolis, if not the world, is actually a cat. It takes Lois Lane’s hardnosed dedication to the obvious to unfurl Luthor’s grand scheme, and the best part is that the only reason she’s doggedly working this case is because she still has Feelings about Superman, not because she’s actually dedicated to the truth. Lois Lane is passive-aggressively investigating a supervillain plot.
Chris: Needless to say, she tracks the source down to Luthor’s mansion, and goes snooping. Three amazing things about this scene: One, she has brought her son with her to investigate. Not just in the car, but she takes him by the hand and goes tromping around someone’s boat. Two, she changed into her evening gown for the Pulitzer dinner not just before she went snooping, but before she picked Jason up from school at 3:15 in the afternoon.
David: Oh, AND she was late to pick him up in the first place!
Chris: Three, and the only thing that’s amazing because it’s actually good rather than just mystifying, she realizes that it’s Luthor’s boat when we get a dramatic close-up of his wig collection.
Chris: There’s an organ sting and everything. It’s hilarious.
David: The wig collection is legitimately fantastic, as well as Luthor’s like “well, this is kind of a bonus” expression as soon as she finds him brushing his teeth. That said, Lois Lane is absolutely Worst Mother of the Year territory for basically every choice she makes after this, especially since as far as I’m aware she has no idea Jason is Superman’s kid, and certainly has no idea that he’s inherited his powers. Which still makes no goddamn sense since Superman was completely human when he banged Lois, but whatever.
Chris: I can’t believe that of all the things about Superman having a kid to get hung up on, you’re focusing on whether the Molecule Chamber affected him on a genetic level.
David: I kind of get caught on the little things sometimes. And there’s a lot to get caught on in the next… hour and fifteen minutes or so.
Chris: I mean, don’t get me wrong: one of the worst things about this stupid movie is that it actually does force us to ask questions about something that happened in another movie from twenty-six years before and expects us to know the answers. So, you know, it’s not like Singer’s not asking for it with what he’s doing here.
David: Don’t make a movie expressly engineered for continuity nerds and then screw up the continuity. Also, don’t make a movie expressly engineered to appeal to the nostalgia of continuity nerds for a 100-million dollar budget. Just don’t make Superman Returns, really.
Chris: To Singer’s credit – as well as Spacey’s and Bosworth’s – the next scene has some genuinely great stuff. Luthor and his cronies are holding Lois hostage, and they have a really great exchange where they’re sniping at each other in a way that’s really kind of subtle and hateful. The back-and-forth between them is really good, especially with how Lex keeps shifting blame back to Superman.
David: The thing is, they can’t resist having the entire scene be a callback to Luthor’s villain plan exposition scene from the first Superman movie. There are some great moments in this scene, especially “WRONG!” (which was a big fan pleaser in the trailers if I recall correctly), but not only does he actually repeat what his father told him about land, he even displays a map of his continent broken up to nations for no reason (I’m surprised one wasn’t Kalpennopolis). You even get Kitty having a momentary “wait, really?” the same way Tessmacher did. He’s even showing off the same damn piece of Kryptonite.
Chris: Exactly. I really do love that even with the silliness of the wigs, Bosworth and Luthor really do sell the idea of Lex as this terrifying villain. He’s the man who fights Superman, and they do a great job of making you realize what that means for how dangerous he is – and I also love that he puts on a suit and tie before showing up to menace Lois and the kid. The exchange between Luthor and Kitty is really good too, with Parker Posey just dripping with sarcasm.
David: I like how they surrounded Luthor with sarcastic dicks instead of sycophants. I just wish Kal Penn had a chance to be one of them.
Chris: Good stuff. But it all falls apart when he explains his ridiculous plan.
David: Like, they go to all these lengths to establish this more menacing Luthor, but that “WRONG!” is the most intense he gets. And his plan is beyond stupid. Why would anybody want to buy property on the crystal continent when it’s sinking the United States?!
Chris: Right: Luthor’s going to dump his crystals into the ocean. This, by the way, is the extent of his plan. The rest of it is just waiting around for them to grow exponentially and make a new continent that he’ll then sell to people after he sinks half of America and kills “billions.”
Chris: This plan is f***ing stupid.
David: I can just imagine someone in the writers’ room thinking they were a genius for connecting the dumb crystal stuff with Lex Luthor’s land fetish. If movie Lex Luthor were a Batman villain, he’d be Land-Man, and kill his victims with electrified real estate signs.
Chris: It’s ridiculous. He says he’s also going to get “advanced alien technology,” but from where? Is he going to go on a 12-year crystal headtrip with Jor-El to learn about physics? Does he not think that the rest of the world will just cold nuke New Luthoria or whatever it is after he murders everyone? It’s complete and utter nonsense on the most basic level of “oh, he’s a bad guy.” He might as well be trying to poison the moon or blow up the sun.
David: I guess he’s just going to threaten to make more crystal continents? But if it’s a crystal and perfectly self-replicating, why does he even need the other master crystals? Is it because he’s diluting it with kryptonite? Is that why the fragments of the crystal continent don’t make other crystal continents when they drop into the ocean? Is it because nobody thought any of this through? It’s that, isn’t it?
Chris: This also implies that none of these crystals ever touched water in the years that they were sitting in the fortress, which has an open roof, in the arctic, surrounded by snow. Quick question, does anyone here know what snow is made of? I’ll wait if you need to look it up.
David: Coca leaf? Wait, wrong snow.
Chris: Also, let’s make sure we hit this point: The endgame here? Money. He wants to legally sell land to people. That’s it.
David: Money in a currency that will be worthless because the country that issued it will be underwater.
Chris: F***ing ridiculous.
David: This honestly makes even less sense than his plot in Superman I, because at least then theoretically nobody would know who launched the nuke. Or he could deny it. It’s kind of obvious here. The rest of the world is playing Risk and he’s playing Monopoly.
Chris: People. Listen: This movie actually came out. Like, they spent a lot of money on it. This was in theaters. It boggles the mind. Oh, and here’s the best part: As the special anti-Superman portion of his plan, the entire island continent is going to be made of Kryptonite, which means IT WILL ALSO BE RADIOACTIVE.
David: And yet, somehow, this continent being made of Kryptonite does not deter Superman from launching it into the sun, flanked by two gigantic Kryptonite stalactites. My God, this movie. But we’ve got some pianos to throw first.
Chris: Who wouldn’t want to live there? Paying rent to the guy who killed half the world to live on radioactive crystal that, and correct me if I’m wrong on this one, cannot actually support farming? So tempting! Hey, they got that Luthor is supposed to be a genius, right? Like, he’s not supposed to be dumb as all hell?
David: Maybe Otis killed Luthor in prison and took his identity.
Chris: Anyway, Luthor starts to wonder who Lois’s baby-daddy is, and even though he suspects that this kid might be half-Kryptonian, he elects to leave them with exactly one (1) guy watching out for them. Again: He is not supposed to be an idiot.
David: I still love how nobody picked up that Lois Lane had a kid nine months after publishing an article called “I Spent the Night With Superman.”
Chris: UM, ACTUALLY, that was the first article she wrote in Superman: The Movie, not after they got it on in the tinfoil love nest in Superman II. But while we’re on the subject, how hilarious is it that everyone gets bent out of shape in Superman IV when the Warfields show up and decide to sex up the Daily Planet, instead of keeping it as the bastion of integrity that published “I SPENT THE NIGHT WITH SUPERMAN”?
David: I wonder if that article is the basis for Perry’s assertion that Lois can’t write a damn about sex.
Chris: “How many Ws in ‘boner?'” – Movie Lois Lane
David: Isn’t it always so adorable when Lois can’t spell in comic books, just like the movies?
Chris: Back at the Planet, Clark and Richard are trying to find Lois by mousing around the linkfarm to leave a nastygram in her inbox — by which I mean, trying to guess her computer password. It turns out that Lois Lane’s password is “Superman,” because Lois is an idiot who gets hacked every other day. Then it’s back to the boat so that Little Jason can go play the piano with one of Luthor’s scary henchmen – and we know he’s scary because he has tattoos!!!
David: A clown tattoo, on the back of his head! Seriously, who the hell gets that? Is he an ex-Joker goon or something? There was that too-cute Gotham reference earlier. And don’t forget the look of disappointment on Richard’s face when he sees Lois’s password. God, Lois is seriously the worst to this guy.
Chris: I have always suspected that Luthor was down with the Dark Carnival, but now we know that he employs henchjuggalos. While Lackey 2 Dope plays “Heart and Soul” with Jason, we get to one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes of the movie, where Lois tries to rescue herself… with a FAX machine.
David: It’s 2006, everybody. And they previously showed Lois with a cellphone. I guess that Luthor probably took away all her crap, but come ON. Maybe part of the joke is that ol’ Gertrude was so aged her arctic love boat had a fax machine? Was there just an ongoing bet to try to make the most faux-intense fax machine sending scene ever?
Chris: So many amazingly hilarious things about this. One, she writes as big as possible in the middle of the page so that the whole thing needs to go through for anyone to get the message. Two, she signs it like she’s writing her autograph. Three, she faxes it to the Daily Planet, using the sound of the piano to cover the noise. Four, and my favorite, you know what else a fax machine is? It’s a phone! She could just call Richard!
David: I guess the idea is that she wants to try to do the whole thing silently and without having to move after starting the process, and talking on the phone is not especially silent. But it also doesn’t take as long as a damn fax machine. I also still have to question who, at what point, knew that Jason was Superman’s kid, since Lois’s parenting decisions are cast in a … well, a SOMEWHAT better light if she knew. Honestly, this is the part where Richard should go “Okay, you people are f***ing crazy” and move to L.A.
Chris: Dude: She still has to actually dial the numbers, and then the fax machine makes fax machine noises. She sits there worried that Juggahench is going to hear the static. Why not just call Richard, or the Planet, or Clark, and then try striking up a conversation with the guy about why Luthor chose to drop the thing here? Also, she’s doing all of this while the bad guy is sitting next to her child. She’s using her kid as a distraction! Like, the dude could literally reach over there and snap his asthmatic little neck!
David: And what was her plan if the henchman didn’t magically know how to play piano and have a weird desire to entertain this four-year-old child? He’d be pretty much standing over her.
Chris: No idea, man. I have to say, though, the fact that the the guy actually goes over to play piano with the kid and kind of break the tension makes him seem like a pretty solid dude. Up until he starts punching Lois in the face, I mean. Which, of course, is right before Superman’s son murders him with a piano.
David: Can I just say what a terrible decision it was to have Superman’s kid’s first use of powers being killing someone? Compounding all the other terrible decisions leading us to the point where that is a viable plot point? This movie made more bad decisions than a teenage alcoholic on prom night.
Chris: It’s one of the single dumbest, most point-missing things that could have possibly happened. I remember having a conversation with a guy I worked with back when this movie came out where I was talking about how wrongheaded it was, and he was justifying it by saying that it was a perfectly natural reaction of a kid protecting his mother, and – much like the conversations I had about Avengers – I had to explain that it wasn’t the character’s logic I was faulting, but the logic of the person who wrote that down in a script and thought it was a good idea.
David: Exactly. I mean, yeah, that’s what would happen, and the kid’s blameless. But having this as a plot point in a script for a Superman movie is just… why?! Especially when you explicitly juxtapose it with Superman just gleefully running through cornfields at the beginning.
Chris: On one level, it makes perfect sense, because Singer is deifying Donner’s movies, where Superman is perfectly happy to kick General Zod off a cliff to his death. With that in place, there’s no real point to having Superman and his family running around murdering people, which is a f***ing massive example of how bad they missed the point of Superman.
David: Actually, the original Donner cut that Singer is supposedly using as his canon ended in Superman redoing the time travel thing so that the Kryptonians were never released from the Phantom Zone in the first place, which also means he never slept with Lois and had the kid, and :psyduck:
Chris: Just like I can’t even begin to get my head around thinking “let’s make Superman a deadbeat space-dad” was a good idea, I just cannot understand “and then the kid flips his sh** and kills the bad guy” managing to make it out of the “write down whatever you want, there are no bad ideas” brainstorming bit of the scriptwriting process. And, spoiler warning, like father like son: When Superman throws Luthorville out into space, Kal Penn and the other henchman are still on it. The House of El is downright bloodthirsty in this stupid movies.
David: Didn’t Kal Penn already get crushed by a gigantic rock at that point, or was that another henchman? Jesus, this movie. We’re just going nonlinear and bitching about it at this point. And we’re about to hit the point where going “Jesus!” is going to be less an exclamation and more an explanation.
Chris: So Luthor drops his crystals (not a metaphor) and enough of Lois’s fax goes through that Superman and Richard know where she is, and they both fly off to save her – one of them does so in an airplane, you can probably figure out which. But Superman gets delayed by having to go save Metropolis from an earthquake, because this thing causes earthquakes now.
David: Keep in mind there’s a ton of dumb added tension to the fax-sending scene thanks to the EMP caused by Luthor throwing the crystal into the ocean, too. I guess a big continent forming like this causes a shockwave, apparently a bigger one than Superman landing in Central Park? If anything, I’d expect a damn tidal wave.
Chris: This scene is another one that’s like the entire movie in miniature. We get some really nice shots of Superman saving people and using his super-powers in fun, interesting ways, like stopping a gas explosion with his super-breath. Then the Daily Planet globe falls off the building and Superman catches it, we get a long shot that’s trying so hard to be majestic where he carries it like Atlas… and then he drops the globe on somebody’s car.
Chris: Why would he do that?! Why not just set it down somewhere else, or fly it back up to the roof?! It’s like they’re trying to make him look like an a**hole! There is absolutely no point to it. It doesn’t make Superman look any better or make the scene more exciting, it’s literally just Superman being a jerk and picking some dude’s car to wreck. I give up, man. I’m tapping out.
David: And it’s not like this globe can be too heavy for him when later in the movie, with Kryptonite shoved into his side, he’s able to lift a F***ING CONTINENT.
Chris: On the bright side, we only have… Jesus, forty-five minutes left to go. Okay, so everybody flies out to East Luthorton, including Richard, who rescues Lois from the sinking yacht. Because why wouldn’t he.
David: Of course, just as he gets there, a big crystal spike impales the boat, and then Superman shows up to save them, because he has to look like he’s doing something useful in this movie. This is all honestly super boring, except that once everyone’s up in Richard’s dopeass seaplane, Superman just goes “peace out, dudes” and runs back to confront Luthor on Kryptonite Island.
Chris: There’s one nice exchange between Richard and Lois where she asks him how he got there and he says “I flew,” but at this point, it’s impossible to buy what they’re trying to sell us about him being a legitimate romantic rival. We already know this dude has lost, so why is he even here? This role is actually worse for him than it was in X-Men 3, when Cyclops was dead for 45 minutes before I realized it.
David: But DOES he lose? I mean, yeah, longterm, probably, but we never see it in this movie! The sad thing is, I think he STILL gets more screen time in this movie than he did in X-Men 3.
Chris: Oh he gets plenty of screentime, but it’s all pretty useless, especially from here on out where he basically gives Lois the thumbs up on going off to bang Superman. Anyway, Superman goes and lands on the island to confront Luthor, and in yet another of this movie’s more laughably inept moments, does not notice that he’s standing on a giant chunk of Kryptonite.
David: But what’s amazing about Kryptonite Island is that it isn’t actually all Kryptonite, it just has some Kryptonite in it for some reason, which isn’t at all how crystallization works, but hey, whatever, nothing makes sense in this movie.
Chris: But it’s still enough to take away Superman’s powers, which he doesn’t notice until Lex throws him down some convenient stairs. I swear to God, it’s like Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff without realizing there’s no ground under him until it gets pointed out, except played 100% super-serious and dramatic.
David: To be fair, this does lead to the single best part of the entire movie, where Lex rolls the hell out of his Rs and proclaims he has “Krrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryptonite!” So yeah, the best part of this big-budget Superman movie is Lex Luthor doing a momentary Ali G impression. FYI. Lex so trill.
Chris: There actually is some good Lex stuff in this scene – Kevin Church mentioned to me that one of the few things he likes about this movie is that Lex totally prison shanks Superman with a Kryptonite shiv.
Chris: It’s a great little moment of brutal, dirty savagery that creeps through the exterior of this guy who is constantly seen in tailored suits. But the rest of it… the part where the henchmen are just beating Superman down goes on for-frigging-ever, with this fetishistic slow motion of Superman getting stomped on in a puddle of dirty water.
David: Oh, yeah. “Shanks.” In the side, natch. This is the most labored combination Caesar/Jesus metaphor of all time.
Chris: Aw jeez, I didn’t even think of that. Thanks for ruining one of the three things I liked about this movie, jerk.
David: I live to serve, my friend.
Chris: Chris: Lois and Richard fly back to save Superman – again, boring – and Lois pulls out some, but not all, of the Kryptonite.
David: Lois, Richard and Jason, I’d like to point out, and Richard still has no idea (and we don’t know if he ever finds out) that Jason is Kryptonian. He just goes “yeah, this is a totally fantastic decision: I am going to take my wife and son away from civilization in a seaplane that presumably has a limited amount of fuel to go save my girlfriend’s stalker ex-boyfriend who’s currently trying to win her back and may or may not be the actual father of who I thought was my son.” Sorry, girlfriend and son. It is amazing how much I really hate Superman in this movie. He’s just a terrible, clueless person. You know his major redeeming quality? He does not actively terrorize people.
Chris: Then Superman flies up to bask in the sun for a minute, and, hell if I know, believes in himself or gets the audience to clap or something to give him the power to lift a gigantic island made of Kryptonite out of the water and into space.
Chris: Keep in mind that this island has so much Kryptonite in it that even when there wasn’t any exposed, it still made Superman so weak that Kal Penn was able to beat the living hell out of him, and that this happened TEN MINUTES AGO. And also he has a chunk of it INSIDE HIS BODY. And yet, here he is, lifting it up and throwing it into space. No, that’s fine, Bryan Singer, we didn’t need internal logic or consistency, just make sure you throw in some more clips of Marlon Brando reading off cue cards and nobody’ll notice your movie doesn’t make any goddamn sense.
David: So, of course, once he’s thrown the continent into the sun, he has to fall back to earth with his arms outstretched. In a pose, like that dude. You know the one, with the wound in his side. Who sacrificed himself for humanity.
Chris: Ah yes. Batman.
David: Yes! Batman.
Chris: Well, Superman has defeated Lex Luthor, killed a few henchmen and otherwise saved the day, so you’ll be happy to know that we still have TWENTY MINUTES LEFT.
David: To be fair, I think at least ten of those are a hilariously overlong final credits sequence! Then he lands in Central Park while everyone stands around watching instead of running from the superstrong dude about to land from space in Central Park like a f***ing human meteor.
Chris: There’s a bunch of bullsh** with Superman in a hospital, but he gets better and then creeps into Jason’s room at night to, I swear to God, quote Jor-El from Superman: The Movie at him while he sleeps. Except that it’s just ridiculous. At one point he tells him “you will never be alone,” which is true. You know why? Because when Superman goes off to space for five years, Richard White will be there to actually raise him!
David: And then Superman flies off into space. We’re done, readers.
Chris: As awful as this movie is, it’s pretty easy to figure out a high point: The cast is great, especially Kevin Spacey.
David: I know I slammed Bosworth in part one, but after rewatching the movie there’s nothing really wrong with her performance, she just has a terrible role to play in the script. She’s not really Lois Lane, but she never gets a chance to be. And rushing headlong into danger for a story goes from charming to cruel and stupid when you have a four-year-old kid tagging along.
Chris: Seriously. Everyone does a great job with what they’re given, it’s just that they’re given a stack of nonsense that doesn’t work or make sense or cast them as likable characters at all – and that especially sucks for Routh, who did some genuinely good stuff here.
David: I wonder how much of a career setback for him this was; I really hope not at all, since in this as well as other movies he’s clearly a talented actor. I think he got picked up out of the soaps for this, and he’s been able to leverage it into some kind of a career. Maybe its failure prevented him from being typecast like Reeve got? Spacey is Spacey; much like Hackman in the first Superman flick, he’s the actual celebrity draw here, and he does a fantastic job as you’d expect him to do with any role. It’s Kevin Spacey. Parker Posey does really well with what she gets — I love her little apologetic smirk when Superman sees her with Lex on Kryptonite Island, since he’s only seen her before to save her life. Kal Penn looks pretty cool in a hoodie during all the scenes he stands around while Lex Luthor talks, I guess.
Chris: Also, to its credit, the action is really well done. Whenever the movie actually bothers to have Superman doing stuff, it looks good and it’s interesting. And by that I mean “doing stuff other than trying to seduce Lois and acting as a deus ex machina in his own stupid story.”
David: It’s a shame that all he does is lift things. He’s the world’s lamest bodybuilder.
Chris: Literally everything else.
David: Jason. Every other low point is a shockwave from Jason. Even Lex Luthor’s nonsensical plan is nothing compared to the absolute abyss of low points that is Jason White. I don’t know how to go into this more without reiterating our entire review, but Jason White was just an abominably, unbearably, mindbogglingly flabbergasting and stupid idea.
Chris: The plot makes no sense, the heroic characters are unappealing at best and disturbingly creepy at worst, the movie forgets its own logic right after things are introduced, there’s no reason for Superman to be gone for five years, the Christ imagery is heavy-handed and sloppy…
David: Superman gets better because Lois gives him a kiss or something, apparently? Also, how the Hell does Superman know that Jason is his son to deliver him that speech? Dude wasn’t there for his piano tantrum, which is his only use of superpowers in the movie.
Chris: I said when we started that it’s masturbatory, and that’s really the core problem. It gets bogged down into being what you could charitably call a tribute to the Donner movies at the expense of being a Superman movie. That’s why we have the Christ imagery, the father-and-son story, the retread plot, the annoying little fixations. I know I called you out for focusing on the molecule chamber, but cripes, this is a movie that actually does a slow zoom on a label of a museum exhibit so that you know it’s the same meteorite from Superman: The Movie. It’s a massive wank. It’s not like Bryan Singer can’t make a good movie, and it’s not like this cast couldn’t be great. It’s that this is exactly what they chose to spend two hundred million dollars on.
David: Twenty-eight years since Superman: The Movie. Twenty-eight. Maybe the studio was thinking that this could be like Phantom Menace, in terms of leveraging a sci-fi film franchise from the late ’70s with a John Williams score. Maybe everybody involved overestimated just how popular those original movies are.
Chris: Why couldn’t Singer have been a big Richard Lester fan? At least then it might be funny.
David: Oh my God, this movie is a black hole of humor. There are a few good chuckles in the first half with the Daily Planet crew and Kitty, but it just gets so damned serious and self-absorbed, and it doesn’t back any of it up with real content beyond the world’s most hilariously transparent Jesus imagery. This side of, like, Neon Genesis Evangelion, at least.
David: Well, you’ve got a low bar, Zach. Pretty much all Snyder has to do is competently direct a script that makes a base amount of sense to have the best serious Superman film ever made.
I have absolutely zero faith that this will occur. As much as I enjoyed Superman III, do I think the world basically needs Superman: Birthright onscreen? Well, yeah.
Chris: My writing partner, Chad Bowers, has always said that there’s a real easy way to tell whether or not someone “gets” Superman, and that’s to look at his hair. The curl is supposed to make an S – you know, for “Superman.” If you see Superman and he doesn’t have that S, and instead it’s going the wrong way so that it looks like a 2, then whoever’s behind what you’re looking at just doesn’t get it. Chad calls that version of Superman “2-Man,” and folks, 2-Man is all over this movie.
David: I think that might be simplifying it a little bit considering the artist/writer divide, but, well, yeah, the dude in this movie who says he is Superman — hell, the dude in this franchise who says that — just doesn’t fit the bill. In the first movie, it’s conceivable, but once you hit the Super-Kiss, this character becomes an unbelievable creep.
Chris: So yeah, I think we’re pretty unified on this point: Thumbs down to Superman Returns. Thankfully, that’s the end of the generally pretty awful Superman film franchise, at least until next year. But even though we’ve been through the Batman movies and the Blade films, there are still plenty of other super-hero movies to get through. That’s why we’ve made the pretty risky decision to let you, the reader, decide which ones ComicsAlliance goes for next. Cast your vote in the poll below, and when we’re back from San Diego, we’ll take on the franchise of your choice!
ComicsAlliance Reviews the Superman Films: