Starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Parker Posey, Frank Langella, Sam Huntington, Eva Marie Saint, Marlon Brando, Kal Penn, Tristan Lake Leabu
Directed by Bryan Singer
Expectations: I’m so excited.
There’s a point in Superman Returns when Lex Luthor looks upon his villainous creation and notes that it “lacks the human element.” This same thing could be said of the film overall. Superman Returns does its best to recapture the Donner magic, but instead of taking his lead and going forward with courage, Bryan Singer largely just trades on the built-up nostalgia for Donner’s classic film. But big-budget films are inherently different than they were in 1978, so while Superman Returns might replicate certain visuals and characters, it never recaptures the tone or the wonder that make Superman: The Movie a film that continually resonates with audiences. It is still enjoyable at times, though, even if millions of dollars in CG are in some ways less successful than the simple blue-screen FX of 1978 in making us believe that a man can fly.
By calling this a sequel to Superman and Superman II, Singer willfully puts his film up alongside one of the best and most successful superhero films of all time (and its troubled, but fun sequel). Singer’s film is nothing close to that level, and connecting it with things like Marlon Brando and the John Williams theme only shines a light directly on the film’s flaws. Any new Superman movie is already working against a huge amount of hype, but to say “This one is the true sequel to the great films you remember!” is really ballsy.