Why ‘Superman Returns’ Is More Faithful To Supes Than ‘Man Of Steel’

Superman Returns movie poster
Wow! What’s with all the destruction! I would never allow such violence to happen!

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone has enjoyed the holiday, hopefully with those that care for, and vice versa.

It goes without saying that the course that Bryan Singer charted with the 2006 film, “Superman Returns” was an unsustainable one. It cost $270 million to produce and earned $391 million in worldwide box office receipts.

Box office aside, I get the feeling that ‘Returns’ would have been more successful it it also borrowed the humorous tone that Donner brought to his film.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, which means that Singer’s Superman was tonally off compared to the material that inspired it.

And in an industry where good is never quite not good enough (though considering its budget, the fact is that ‘Returns’ just wasn’t profitable), it was readily apparent that Warner Bros. needed to change course.

Which is a pity in some ways, though not from a box office perspective, especially since “Man Of Steel” earned $662 million on a somewhat smaller budget of $235 million.

Unfortunately, it’s relatively apparent that that Zach Snyder doesn’t “get” Superman (which is odd when you think about it because “Man Of Steel” was co-written by David Goyer, who’s been Hollywood’s go-to-guy when it comes to superheroes for quite a few years now).
What Snyder and Goyer didn’t seem to get–or deliberately ignored–is that Superman is about the effort.  He may not always succeed, but he will always tries, no matter the cost to himself.

That being said, Singer’s “Superman Returns,” is by no means a great film — in fact the scenes where Superman spied on Lois and her family were a bit pervy — it, unlike “Man Of Steel” understood for the most part who the character of Superman actually was.

I should also mention that the impression I get of Bryan Singer is arrogance (bordering of douchiness) though that doesn’t — or shouldn’t — distract from the fact that he’s also a talented director.

Sure, I wish that he were more like Guillermo Del Toro, who seems to approach filmmaking less as an extension of his ego, but because he appears to really love what he does.

“Superman Returns” is essentially a love letter to Richard Donner’s original 1978 film, and works as a sequel of sorts to that film.

Sure, the whole Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey, who looks awesome) storyline is a bit daft — he’s essentially trying found a novel means to corner the real estate market. Did I mention it was a bit daft — but unlike Donner’s original, Bryan Singer appears to take the source of his film more serious than that film that inspired it.

But most importantly, the Superman that Singer shows us is a character that we are familiar with, which isn’t the case with Zach Snyder’s version.

As I have written in more places that I like to admit, Superman is all about the effort. Whether or not he’s successful is less important than that he always tries to do what’s best for us.

Not because he thinks less of humanity, but because he understands that for us to reach out potential, we occasionally need a little nudge in the right direction.

4 thoughts on “Why ‘Superman Returns’ Is More Faithful To Supes Than ‘Man Of Steel’

  1. Returns is boring with a dark visual style, but also mainly a homage to Richard Donner’s superman. Just seems like a pointless film 😦

    Prefer Man of steel because it opens a new universe for superman tales to be told 😀

  2. Loved the trailer for Man of Steel, thought it was going to be an epic origin story like Batman Begins, but it failed miserably.

    Totally agree with the pervy comment about Routh’s Superman. Also from a feminist perspective, the film promotes that cliche of men passing on their genes without having to actually raise a child, and, considering Lois replaces Superman with that Richard kid, it also suggests that women “need” a man. Kind of ruins the film.

    1. With “Superman Returns” you could see what Bryan Singer was trying to do, but the greatest problem was that he was hanging on so tightly to Richard Donner’s film as a template, that it didn’t give his room to breathe. And in reference to “Man of Steel,” it could have been epic, but the filmmakers decided to make their Superman into such an unlikeable character. And what really bothers me is that the way some people defend Snyder’s film by saying that he hasn’t “learned” to be Superman yet.

      As if you need to learn that innocent lives need to be saved, and that maybe letting my dad get killed by a tornado (if I recall) is a tad insane.

      As I have said before “Man of Steel” was a great action film, but a terrible Superman film; while “Superman Returns” was a decent action film, but a far superior Superman film.

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