Re: Bryan Singer: Why 'Superman Returns' Didn't Work
Considering how Singer took the X-Men to the big screen in such a successful way, it still bemuses me how many wrong turns he took with Superman Returns.
I enjoyed the film on first viewing. But I'll freely admit that was totally down to the excitement of seeing Superman on the big screen for the first time. I'd seen all the Superman movies many time of course, but only on TV/video.
Repeated viewings of Superman Returns simply do not hold up.
There are many problems with the film - the suit, the film style, scripts, effects, acting in places, story sequences, Lex Luthor once again being a real estate villain, etc. However, nearly all of these things could have been fixed in a sequel, if it had happened. A new suit, better scripts, better effects, more action, brighter colours, a new villain for Superman to square off against, etc.
What couldn't be fixed with a sequel - and what I consider the main underlying problem with Superman Returns, and what audiences found difficult - was the kid.
Superman has a child with Lois. Who, from what we can gather, has superpowers of his own, albeit at a very early and undeveloped stage. And this kid believes Richard is his father, and Richard believes it is his son. Does Lois know who the father is? We're not sure, but it seems like she starts to realise what's going on when junior fires a piano at one of Luthor's henchmen.
Now Superman is meant to be the very symbol of truth and honesty, but the film ends with him seemingly content to keep a watchful eye on his son from a distance whilst Lois/Richard/Junior carry on with their arrangement ......... with Richard still believing it's his child. This is a great deceit, and whilst it might be for the greater good, it seems totally at odds with the values we associate with Superman. And on that topic, let's not get started on Superman doing some superstalking and using his X-Ray vision to spy on Lois's happy home.
How could they have dealt with the kid in a sequel? Kill him? Kill Richard? Have him not be Superman's son via some intricate plot device? I doubt anything would have worked well enough for audiences to buy it - either too far fetched, too sad or too ...... well, 'wrong' for want of a better word. It was one big mistake for Singer ever to include him, right from the beginning. Perhaps he went into it thinking a modern approach - indicative of the modern dysfunctional family - would make the film very relateable for audiences. It didn't. Note to Singer - we go to the movies to escape from real-life for 2 hours, not to be confronted with it.
Asides from this, my other complaint with SR is that the film just lacks energy. I don't know if it's the pacing, the line deliveries or the effects - but asides from the airplane save (which was admittedly, a great scene), the film just feels like it's limping along at times. I can barely watch the full film anymore - I fast forward to the 'good bits'.
So again, I find it hard to believe that Bryan Singer did so much right with X-Men, then did so much wrong with this. And I'm surprised anyone at WB signed off on this, knowing elements of the story such as the kid and the main threat (Luthor getting more land yet again).
Last edited by elgaz; 04-21-2011 at 11:23 AM.