It’s been 19 years since Superman has graced the silver screen and he is back and better than ever. In an age where our superheroes are conflicted and human, like Spider-Man or Batman, director Bryan Singer brings the human side out of the Man of Steel while brilliantly staying true to what made the character such a legend in the first place.
Taking place after the events of Richard Donner’s Superman II, Bryan Singer’s new movie Superman Returns has Superman coming back to Earth after leaving our planet for five years. He had heard a rumor that pieces of his home planet, Krypton, were sighted and went searching for his place of origin. The film is filled with breath-taking special effects and also serves as a loving tribute to the semi-campy Donner films of 1978 and 1980, including using John Williams’ iconic theme music. But those aren’t the reasons why this new film is an instant classic. It’s the feeling of hope that you get from watching it.
The character of Superman, who debuted in Action Comics #1 in June 1938, is single handedly credited for creating the superhero genre. I have a sense that what creators Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster were trying to create was safety from the continuing nightmare of the world in their time: the Nazis slowly taking control of Europe. Both Seigel and Shuster were confused Jewish men looking for a savior and found it in their imaginations with Superman. People needed a savior then and we need one now. The film takes place in modern day so when Superman left five years ago it was June 2001. Only three months later sick individuals hijacked two planes and rammed them into the World Trade Center. The security that we as Americans felt was shattered. It’s good to see a hero who stands for everything right and pure like Truth, Justice and the American Way.
Some people could make the connection between Superman and Jesus Christ. They were both sent down here for us with the powers of their fathers. He is a testimony to what all of humanity should stand for. Even Luthor refers to him as a God.
Brandon Routh, who plays Superman, does an excellent job filling in the huge shoes left by the late Christopher Reeve, whom this film is dedicated to along with his late wife Dana Reeve. Routh bears such a striking resemblance to Reeve and his mannerisms are so similar (the facial expression as he flies) that you immediately accept this man as the world famous icon. Also, Routh adds just the right feeling of awkwardness to Clark Kent. And when a character in the movie begins to see the connections but he shrugs it off as soon as Clark smiles at him and does a geeky wave.
Kate Bosworth is convincing as Lois Lane, who wants to leave her past with Superman. Singer has said many times in interviews that the film is half about what happens when someone who you loved and whom hurt you comes back into your life. You can see it in her eyes that she missed Superman so much, but also you can tell that she loves her new companion, Richard, very much. Academy Award Winner Kevin Spacey gives his usual best. He is pure evil as Lex and you can see that he has two things on his mind: To take over the world and to kill Superman. He is funny and exciting to watch especially when he interacts with Kitty Kowalski, his assistant played by Parker Posey.
Lex’s evil plan this time involves stolen Kryptonian technology—crystals from Superman’s lair, the Fortress of Solitude. These crystals, as explained by Jor-El, Superman’s father using stock footage of Marlon Brando from the first two Donner movies, can create almost any object. Luthor wants to make a new continent, eventually flooding most of the United States and putting everyone at his mercy.
The overall production is grade-A. There seems to be a sense of the 1930s, especially in Kitty’s costumes and the architecture of Metropolis, while still taking place in 2006. The Superman costume is nice and shiny. It stands out wherever it goes.
The special effects are awe-inspiring. It’s been a while since seeing a man fly on the silver screen really wowed audiences, but with the new technology the flying looks better than ever. I won’t spoil the other mouth-watering sequences. By paying tribute to the original films and the human spirit while still turning heads, Superman Returns is a summer blockbuster you’ll never forget.