Superman Returns (2006)

superman returns poster 2006 movie brandon routh
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great looking, good cast

Weak story, superkid

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Superman Returns

Studio:  Legendary Pictures

Genre(s):  Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  June 21, 2006 (Premiere)/June 28, 2006 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Elton John’s right! It is lonely out in space

After years in space while exploring the possibility that Krypton might have survived, Superman (Brandon Routh) returns to Earth to find it a very different place.  Over the years he was gone, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has had a child named Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu) and is engaged to Perry White’s nephew Richard (James Marsden).  Clark manages to get a job from Perry White (Frank Langella) and finds himself back at the Daily Planet working with Lois and Jimmy Olsen (Sam Huntington) again.  Unfortunately with Superman’s return, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is back and up to his old tricks to rule the world again…and this time he’s pulling no punches.  Superman is about to face his greatest challenge and this time he might not be able to succeed.


I can’t carry this movie by myself!!!

Directed by Bryan Singer, Superman Returns was one of DC’s big first forays into competition with Marvel’s rising film empire.  The film is proposed as a sequel to the Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Superman II, but ignored the sequels Superman III and Superman IV:  The Quest for Peace.  The movie was met with mixed to positive reviews but a tepid response from the audience.

I was excited about Superman Returns.  Seeing Superman II in the theater (and waiting eagerly to see Superman on TV in pre-VCR days) was a big event for me, and grew up with the Richard Donner era of Superman.  With the rise of Marvel, I hoped Superman and DC would be contenders…instead, I was sorely disappointed.


He’s got the whole Daily Planet in his hands!

The movie just doesn’t “fly” to use a pun.  It is a slow, dragging film that does feel a lot like Donner’s Superman but just lacks the fun.  The introduction of the “Superson” had to be one of the worst ideas in the film and with the idea being firmly cemented in the lexicon, any sequel was damned to use it (unless Superman turned back time again for 5 years or so).  The movie also works too hard to make Superman a Christ figure (which he has always been along with a Moses figure) and it hits you over the head with it.  You see the evil Lex even stabbing him in the side with a piece of Kryptonite like a modern day Spear of Destiny…it is just too preachy and not a good enough story to get past this.  The articles written by Lois might have as well been titled “Why do/don’t need God”.


Lex, just hit him in the head and end this horrible plotline…

I don’t think Brandon Routh was a very bad Superman.  The script however turned him into a creeper by having even spy on Lois Lane in her home…it was kind of disturbing.  They did have some fun playing with a modernized ’70s Lois Lane as played by Kate Bosworth which had to get around her being a heavy smoker and pairing her with a really nice boyfriend (played by James Marsden) that you actually liked was also a good thing.  Unfortunately, that dumb Superkid was linked to them.  Kevin Spacey was a good choice for Lex Luthor but he didn’t really fit the Gene Hackman Lex of the previous films by being outwardly violent, and I still don’t know why they didn’t just make Parker Posey into Ms. Teschmacher.  Both Frank Langella and Sam Huntington didn’t really get much screentime as Perry White and “Superman’s Pal” Jimmy Olsen.  The movie did have some fun by bringing back Eva Marie Saint as Ma Kent, TV’s Jimmy Olsen Jack Larson as a bartender, and the old Lois Lane played by Noel Neill.


I will force more symbolism into this movie!!!

I will say that the special effects for Superman Returns are quite strong.  They feel a bit like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man at points, but when compared to the ’70s and ’80s Superman, they are leaps and bounds ahead.  The flying and Superman’s powers really come to life and that is something that the movie got right.  Plus, it is great to have the classic Superman score back!

Superman Returns did not set the world on fire and problems with the plot doomed a planned sequel.  With the success of the Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, Superman was destined to fly again and another relaunch occurred in 2013 with Man of Steel which fared much better in the box office and ignored this film and the previous Superman films.

Related Links:

Superman:  The Movie (1978)

Superman II (1980)

Man of Steel (2013)

Batman v Superman:  Dawn of Justice (2016)

Supergirl (1984)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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