Maybe 'Superman Returns' Is Better Than We All Think

I found myself unexpectedly moved by this video essay on the virtues of Superman Returns. In fact, it moved me much more than the film itself, and forced me to re-consider my thoughts on the film (which have generally been lukewarm). Maybe we've gotten Superman Returns wrong this whole time?






(via Matt Zoller Seitz)

8 comments :: Maybe 'Superman Returns' Is Better Than We All Think

  1. Yes. Finally. Superman Returns has long been one of my favorite movies, and definitely within the superhero genre. I feel like this one deserved to get a sequel, as opposed to the zack snyder mess we're about to receive. It's not that I don't have hopes for it, but Brandon Routh and this film was so under appreciated I find myself more against the new film than for it.

  2. I love Superman Returns and always felt it was underrated because it didnt go in the crowd-pleasing direction every other superhero movie goes into (with different levels of success).

    Its certainly not perfect, but that it can exist in the way it does is quite an accomplishment and unless you get a strong director who gets to do what he wants with a character, I dont think we'll get a lot of movies like it.

    It always been interesting to me that people talk about Superman not being relatable or human but people complain when a movie shows him with very human qualities.

    There is something almost meta-textual about an audience dumping on Superman for having acted "selfish" for the first time in his life, the same way Metropolis and the world might have done.

  3. I'll agree this retrospective made me give SUPERMAN RETURNS a lot more credit for trying to do something different, and being ambitious. However, the money quote for me from this review:

    "It's slow and relatively quiet, more interested in atmosphere, relationships and feelings than plot and action."

    I can forgive a film for being deliberate and emotive and even lacking in action, but when they're not tied to a plot it falls apart for me.

    My problem with Returns wasn't that Superman wasn't relatable or interesting, but rather the story was convoluted and the emotional payoff non-existent. That and the whole Stalker-Superman/Daddy and island of Kryptonite ending just didn't work for me.

  4. Thanks for posting this! I've been one of the world's 14 Superman Returns fans since it came out. Not only did I never agree with the hate often lumped on the film, I genuinely didn't understand its origin.

    I honestly loved this movie better than any preceding Superman film. I loved that the setpieces were large and cumbersome and physical. I love how simultaneously bonkers and scary Spacey's Lex Luthor was. I love that it was reverent towards and yet not beholden to the preceding mythology and plot. I love the cinematography and the colors and the light and the music. I love that the love triangle is complex and real. I particularly love that Superman, despite being the Better man, surrenders his corner of the love triangle to the Right man. I really, genuinely enjoyed it. And I'm glad to see it getting some of the respect I honestly feels it deserves.

  5. Why is this movie always the one getting defended? Seriously, out of all the movies in the past decade, this is the one I ALWAYS see getting defended. Out of so many movies, defending Superman Returns is such a weird choice.

    Anywho, the man problem with Superman Returns isn't that it's slow, or thoughtful, or reverant to the original film. It just has a messy plot that does really nothing and feels fairly goofy.

  6. The problem with Superman Returns isn't its tone, its mood, or its diversion from standard superhero cinema archetypes. The problem is that all of Superman's emotions are hinged on a decision he made. He chose to leave Earth for five years without telling anyone other than his mother. Superman made that selfish and impulsive choice, yet is aghast that the world (and specifically Lois) had the gall, the NERVE to move on with their lives. This isn't The Dead Zone. Superman flew away without a word, yet the film is based around our sympathy for his inability to deal with the seemingly obvious consequences of that action.

    In the continuity of the film (either as a sequel to Superman II or merely Superman), Clark is basically a guy who comes back to his hometown and can't handle that his brief romantic fling found someone else and settled down. For all the talk of how 'adult' the picture is, Clark Kent is basically a bitter child who can't handle that his childhood sweetheart didn't spent five years patiently waiting for him to return from places unknown. Are we really suppose to sympathize with a guy who is directly responsible for his own emotional plight and yet never takes responsibility or even apologizes?

    Never-mind how poor the 'how serious should we be?' Lex Luthor subplot is (He kills a cop, is seen joining with genocidal space aliens, yet he is let out of jail because one witness didn't show up to testify?), the tonal problems, or the drawn-out and obnoxious Christ parable that takes up almost 30 minutes after the film has reached its natural conclusion, all of the good that it's Superman Returns (the mood, the measured pace, the score, the one or two solid action beats, Routh's fine performance) is rooted in a narrative that is fatally flawed.

  7. i have no idea about the superman comics. i have seen superman 1978 movie and i thought it is more of a classic than a great movie. i have seen nothing great about that movie. sure it is the first motion capture movie of superman which is widely recognized. it has some good moments. but i have no idea about the fan base for this movie. it is just a good movie. that's all.

    but on the other hand superman returns is a great movie(at least for me). it surpasses superman 1978. yes superman 1978 served as blueprint for this movie but this is one of the few movies which surpasses its original. i am completely astonished by returns movie. it made me to like superman. may be it has its weakness(but i have never seen one) but even 1978 movie had flaws more than returns. i mean 1978 movie has more of a comic sense than a action drama movie. but returns is both of a action drama movie. i am not reviewing returns movie as a comic movie but a movie by itself. i have no idea about comics.

    whoever says anything superman returns is better than i mean way better than superman 1978 and it made more sense to me. it is kind of a philosophical,action,drama movie. i have no hate on 1978 movie but saying its better than returns movie is just pushing the limit.

    in short superman 1978 is for older generations but returns movie is for current generation.

  8. i actually loved this movie, flaws and all. although the only REAL flaw for me was casting kate bosworth as lois lane. just didn't buy it.

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