Comic property review: ‘Superman Returns’

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. | Brandon Routh stars as Clark Kent/Superman in "Superman Returns."

Attempted reboot of Superman franchise an admirable effort

Superman Returns
Warner Bros., 2006

The reboot of the Superman movie franchise was long in coming. Let’s face facts: Superman IV was a disgrace to the franchise’s name, Christopher Reeve was rolling over in his grave at the lasting legacy, and the movie had spent at least a decade in development hell with various directors and actors attached to the project. Superman, himself, needed a hero.

Set after the events of Superman II, Returns brings a measure of credibility back to the DC stalwart. Firstly, Kevin Spacey was a prime choice for Lex Luthor. That’s not to say that Gene Hackman wasn’t a good choice, but Spacey is Lex. Second, Brandon Routh had the look of Reeve as Superman and he handled the role well despite the inevitable comparisons. Kate Bosworth was rather throwaway as Lois Lane but she didn’t necessarily detract from the film; she just doesn’t necessarily add anything.

Plot-wise, it’s the same old fare from the comics: Lex throws his acquired money around, tries to kill Superman, Lois needs rescuing, wash, rinse, repeat. It’s nothing you haven’t already seen but at least no one stands around chewing scenery. And the addition of Lois’ son is an interesting twist even if you can see it coming from a mile away.

Spacey is appropriately melodramatic as Luthor should be and Routh does an excellent job with emoting Superman’s dislike of the former multi-billionaire. One of the better aspects of the movie is the costume design. Characters really look like they would have existed in the 1950s and the d├ęcor matches well. Whoever designed the movie should have won some accolades for their work.

So what’s there not to love about the reboot? While director Bryan Singer does excellent work (as he does with most of his properties), it’s a little too long for some of us in the GI crew. While its fans point out that all Superman movies are around this length, it’s a little too dry in some areas. The beginning starts slowly and there are some odd plot points such Lois trying to quit smoking. Where did that come from, we ask.

Overall, the movie isn’t bad. It’s got great casting, the plot works and it’s Superman. You can’t go wrong there, well, unless you’re Superman III or IV. We believe that, contrary to popular criticism of the film, Routh was not acting as Reeve acting as Superman. We’ve read that bit of information in multiple places, and we really don’t get that. He worked with what he had and he channeled his predecessor pretty well, in our opinion. It’s a shame that there hasn’t been another movie since 2006 because the world really does need Superman.

How we grade
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in the case of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of maximum of 10 per category, and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Casting: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Like the comics?: 7/10
Overall rating: 8

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