In Defense Of Superman Returns: Three Things It Got Right

By Sean O'Connell 2013-06-10 06:37:35discussion comments
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Moviedom – or, the easily excitable comic-geek fan base – is lathered up for Man of Steel. Count me amongst their ranks. Everything we’ve heard about Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot has us trembling with anticipation for a brand-new, big-screen Superman adventure.

In fact, it’s starting to feel like 2006 all over again … and we all know how that worked out.

In 2006, Bryan Singer resurrected the Man of Steel for the wildly anticipated Superman Returns. It was going to be a return to the Golden Age of Richard Donner – a Superman movie that helped wash away the bitter aftertaste left by two lackluster Superman sequels and a rebirth for DC Comics’ classic hero. Truth, justice and the American Way were about to roar back into theaters.

Then we saw the movie, and it managed to disappoint (for various reasons). Singer himself has said in years since that he feels the movie – and its heavy-handed Christ analogies – caught the summer popcorn audience off guard.

“This was a story about Christ -- it's all about sacrifice: The world, I hear their cries. So what happens? He gets the knife in the side and later he falls to the earth in the shape of a crucifix,” Singer once told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was kind of nailing you on the head, but I enjoyed that, because I've always found the myth of Christ compelling and moving. So I hoped to do my own take, which is heavy s--- for a summer movie."

The movie, over time, has attracted more and more detractors, to the point that many now say Snyder’s film is meant to correct the mistakes of Singer … and that's a mistake in itself. Revisiting Superman Return in preparation for Snyder’s reboot, I found that there are three things this worthy chapter in Superman’s cinematic legacy absolutely nailed – and yes, three things it probably should have corrected in the rewrite stage.

1. Singer Kept Superman’s Trademark Theme Song
No one can say Singer’s Superman Returns got off to a slow start. John Ottman recreated John Williams’ signature Superman themes– arguably Williams’ best symphonic compositions – and played it at full blast over a soaring opening credit sequence that started with Marlon Brando’s Superman monologue, then carried audience members through the darkest corners of outer space as our hero returned to planet Earth.
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