Forget Superman III and IV. Superman Returns is a sequel of sorts to the first two films, and ignores the events of the latter two movies completely. Five years have passed since Superman (Brandon Routh) left Earth to search for whats left of his home planet. The reason he didn't stick around to fight evil here on our planet isnt delved into to any real degree, and what he actually did during the five years away from Metropolis is never revealed. We just have to assume Superman felt an overwhelming need to search out his homeland and leave it at that.
Jimmy Olsen (Sam Huntington) welcomes Clark back into the fold, quickly falling back into their buddy relationship as though no time had passed at all. But poor Superman isnt quite as lucky at reconnecting with old friends as is his alter-ego. Even superheroes should know its necessary to say good-bye to those you love before taking off, something Superman didnt do before flying away to look for his real family. Now that he's back on Earth, Superman quickly learns the one-time love of his life, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth), has moved on. Can you blame her? Five years is a long time to wait, even if the guy in question can fly and looks good in tights. A Pulitzer Prize winner for her Why the World Doesnt Need Superman article, Lois is now the mother of a young boy and engaged to Richard White (James Marsden), a nice enough guy who happens to be the nephew of the editor of the Daily Planet.
There was really no need for an origin story with Superman as even potential ticket buyers with just a passing knowledge of the comic book hero are sure to grasp the basics of where Superman came from, how he got to Earth, and what powers he possesses. Thats about all you need to know about the Man of Steel prior to taking in the film, and just about all youll know about him after its finished. He fights for truth, justice, and the American way although in this film the American way part of that declarative statement isnt included in the dialogue.
Director Singer has called Superman Returns his first chick flick, and though Id argue with him over that label, hes correct in calling this his first film for both sexes and all age groups. Its not necessary to be a fan of comic book films or even Superman to become a little emotionally involved in Superman Returns.
Superman Returns isnt about a savior returning to Earth to protect us from evil (sound familiar?). No, this Superman film has as much to do with romance and self-discovery as it does with combating evil. Theres a lot of heart and soul in the story of Superman Returns, and the hero feels real pain and isolation in being the only one of his kind in existence.
Continued on Page 2: The Cast and Final Thoughts