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Feature: Superman Returns

He's back! (in 2006)

Superman returns…

Film Review goes behind the cape of the long-awaited return of Superman…

For many years the man the world had come to know as Superman has been missing from not only Metropolis, but the world. In his absence, the powers who diminished under the Man of Steel’s reign have flourished once more. Crime is up, disasters are more commonplace and one man seeks to assume control of it all. Even those who were close to the man in blue tights have moved on, in particular ace reporter Lois Lane who had previously enjoyed an on-off romantic relationship with Krypton’s last son. In short, the world has become a darker place… but now, finally, it is time for Superman to return.

While the plot for the long-awaited Superman sequel sounds intriguing, the denizens of Metropolis aren’t the only ones who have been waiting for Superman’s return. Since the mid-’90s, fans of Superman have been tapping their feet impatiently for the character’s screen revival, while a succession of directors have drifted in and out of the coveted project (some estimate to the tune of $50 million in pre-production costs). Among those who almost brought the superhero to screen were Tim Burton (in a project which progressed to the point of the creation of teaser posters), Brett Ratner (now helming X-Men 3) and Charlie’s Angels director McG (who reportedly had the entire film created in pre-viz before his departure).

In the end, however, it was Bryan Singer who was able to go the distance, both winning over the studio heads and the public thanks to his sterling work on the X-Men films and his devotion to the comic book genre in general. Due also to a newfound confidence in comic book movies – thanks to films such as Spider-Man and Batman Begins – Warner finally took a step back from the project which had never lived up to their expectations, and let the film-makers do what they do best. The result is expected to be everything that Superman fans had been hoping for since the titles rolled at the close of Superman II… and more.

Since Singer’s X-Men emerged in 2000 as a tour de force of marketing prowess and box office success (in turn springing a series of high profile comic book adaptations from development hell), many began wondering why the most famous of superheroes wasn’t marking a return. In the five years that followed audiences saw the likes of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk and the Fantastic Four arrive on the big screen… but nowhere was there any sign of red and blue. But for those who know the Hollywood game well, it was no surprise. The bigger the property the more people there are that feel the need to get involved and the harder it is to settle on the two key elements essential to Superman’s success; the right director and the right Superman.

To muddy the waters further, with the advent of the Internet came the chance for film fans, who had previously had to sit on the sidelines, to intervene in producer’s decision making process. Now, not only could they make their voices heard to other likeminded souls via online forums and fan sites but, sometimes unbeknownst to them, higher powers were paying attention too. A case in point would be Christian Bale’s casting as Batman in the recent reinvention of the franchise, a situation which famously arose due to the positive online fan reaction to his name. So in the years that have passed since a Superman movie has attempted to get off the ground, nobody was able to meet everybody’s expectations. Until now…

There's more on the movie in
Film Review Special #61

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Film Review Special #61
Yearbook 2006 2006
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