Thereís been talk of a new Superman movie at least since Tim Burtonís Batman in 1989. When that movie came out, suddenly everybody was developing a superhero movie. Since then there have been many treatments, many possibilities, and a whole lot of development hell. But lo and behold, all these years later, we finally have Superman Returns.
After all the rumors and all the different scenarios played out, eventually it was announced that Bryan Singer would leave his beloved X-Men series to direct the new Superman movie. People cheered, while worrying about the fate of the 3rd X flick, but that worked out OK.
Then it was announced that an almost unknown Brandon Routh would be taking the iconic role of Clark Kent / Superman. At first I was fine with it, but then some pictures were finally released of him in the outfit, I was worried. This guy seemed to look more like Superboy than Superman. He was kinda thin, and the changes to the costume, though slight, seemed too much. So I had a nervous hesitation. Was this movie gonna suck?
Iím very happy to report that NO, this movie does not suck!
Superman Returns is a great movie!
From the storyline, which involves a missing Superman returning after several years, to a vindictive and megalomaniacal, yet in control and creepy Lex Luthor, and a surprise that has never been part of the comics, yet I still found effective, to the casting, all around, this is a great movie. OK, maybe itís a little longer than it needed to be, but itís great.
Bryan Singer is an expert at making the outlandish seem almostÖhuman. From the mutant mayhem of the X flicks to Superman, with but a little suspension of disbelief, you believe what you see on screen. And with Superman being such an incredibly powerful being, thereís a lot to see. Thereís very little he canít do, and in Singerís capable hands, thatís just fine.
When Singer cast Patrick Stewart as Professor X in the X flicks, fan boys rejoiced. Perfect casting. When Singer cast Kevin Stacey as Lex Luthor in Superman Returns, those same fan boys passed out from excitement. Itís right up there with Jack Nicholson as The Joker. Itís perfect casting, and Spacey did his best to not let us down. His take on Luthor is awesome. Sly humor, creepy, possibly insane but probably genius. Great, great, great job!
Kate Bosworth is an unusual choice for Lois Lane. For some reason, I see Lois as a little older than Bosworth, a little moreÖexperienced. But I have to say Ms Bosworth, who has a major role and a lot of screen time, does a great job. I liked her almost immediately. She had great chemistry with both Routh, and James Marsden, who was very good in the surprisingly important role of Richard White.
Sam Huntington was pretty good as Jimmy Olsen, but Iím a little confused by the way that role was written, heís not the young kid he was originally in the comics, yet he still kinda comes off a little like a buffoon. Thatís right, I said buffoon. Perfectly acceptable word, really.
Frank Langella plays Daily Planet Editor in Chief Perry White with a smooth, almost subdued demeanor. Nice job, but relatively small role here.
Parker Posey looks kinda silly as Kitty Kowalski, but she was really good as Lex Luthorís, oh, I dunno what they do together. Maybe she loves him. Maybe she works for him. Probably both. Still, I liked her performance and her role.
Thereís also an adorable little boy playing Lois Laneís son, Jason. Heís played by Tristan Lake Leabu, and he is priceless.
As for Brandon Routh, the comparisons to the late, great Christopher Reeve are inevitable. And as the movie progresses, thereís a definite resemblance. I have to admit, I was too young to truly appreciate Reeveís immortal take as Superman in the 1978 classic. In fact, Iíve never been a huge fan of that movie. I have the DVD, but have never watched it. I think now I will. Me thinks Iím older now, and (hopefully) wiser, and possibly, more appreciative.
Routhís role isnít particularly verbose, but he definitely has a charm and charisma, and pulled off both parts of the role very well. Almost immediately I put aside my earlier reservations and just totally bought into this new Man of Steel.
I think most will.
Is Superman Returns flawed? Of course. Could it have been better? Yes. Should any of that matter right now? No.
See it for what it is. Enjoy it. And believe.
I saw this movie at night in a packed auditorium. (I usually see movies in the quieter, less packed with loud annoying people, daytime.) People were cheering. People were applauding. People were loving it. They were feeling it.
The question comes up, "does the world need a Superman?"
I say most definitely, yes.