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Neat Stuff Hall of Fame - Superman Returns

"Just pretend 3 and 4 never happened."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator



Superman Returns (2006) is based on the DC Comics character Superman and serves as a homage sequel to the motion pictures Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), ignoring the events of Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). The film stars Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, with James Marsden, Frank Langella, and Parker Posey. The film tells the story of the title character returning to Earth after a five-year absence. He finds that his love interest Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and that his archenemy Lex Luthor is plotting a scheme that will destroy Superman and the world.

After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Superman on the screen, Warner Bros. hired Bryan Singer to direct and develop Superman Returns in July 2004. Those unmade and abandoned projects were:

Superman V

Before the failure of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Cannon Films considered producing a fifth film with Albert Pyun as director. Cannon's bankruptcy resulted in the film rights reverting to Ilya and Alexander Salkind. Ilya Salkind wrote the story for Superman V (also known as Superman: The New Movie) with Superboy writers Cary Bates and Mark Jones in the early-1990s. The story had Superman dying and resurrecting in the shrunken, bottled Krypton city of Kandor. The premise of Superman's death and rebirth coincidentally predated the comic book story "The Death of Superman". Salkind, Bates and Jones developed two drafts of the script, with Christopher Reeve set to reprise the title role.

Superman Reborn

With the success of "The Death of Superman" comic book storyline, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights of Superman from the Salkinds in early 1993, handing the project to producer Jon Peters. The studio did not want to use Superman: The New Movie, and Peters hired Jonathan Lemkin to write a new script. Warner Bros. instructed Lemkin to write the new Superman film for mainstream audiences, a style for the MTV Generation of the 1990s. The additional family film approach would add to Superman's toyetic appeal, similar to Batman Forever. Major toy companies insisted on seeing Lemkin's screenplay before the deadline of the 1993 American International Toy Fair.

Lemkin's script, titled Superman Reborn, featured Lois Lane and Clark Kent with relationship troubles, and Superman's battle with Doomsday. When Superman professes his love to Lois, his life force jumps between them, just as he dies, giving Lois a virgin birth. Their child, who grows 21-years-old in three weeks, becomes the resurrected Superman and saves the world. Warner Bros. did not like the script because of the similar underlying themes with Bruce Wayne's obligations of heroism found in Batman Forever.

Peters hired Gregory Poirier to rewrite the script. Poirer's December 1995 script had Brainiac creating Doomsday, infused with "Kryptonite blood". Superman has romance problems with Lois Lane and visits a psychiatrist before he is killed by Doomsday. An alien named Cadmus, a victim of Brainiac, steals his corpse. Superman is resurrected and teams with Cadmus to defeat Brainiac. Powerless, Superman wears a robotic suit that mimics his old powers until he can learn to use his powers again on his own, which, according to the script, are a mental discipline called "Phin-yar", a concept similar to The Force. Other villains included Parasite and Silver Banshee. Poirier's script impressed Warner Bros., but Kevin Smith was hired to rewrite. Smith thought Poirier's script did not respect the Superman mythos properly, and referred to it in An Evening with Kevin Smith as being "like the Batman TV show version of a Superman movie; very campy."

Superman Lives

Kevin Smith pitched Peters his story outline in August 1996, and was allowed to write the screenplay under certain conditions: Peters wanted Superman to wear an all-black suit, and also did not want Superman to fly, arguing that Superman would "look like an overgrown Boy Scout." Smith wrote Superman flying as "a red-and-blue blur in flight, creating a sonic boom every time he flew." Peters also wanted Superman to fight a giant spider for the climactic showdown. Smith accepted the terms, realizing that he was being hired to execute a preordained idea. Smith was also forced to write a scene involving Brainiac fighting a polar bear at the Fortress of Solitude, as Peters felt there were not enough action scenes in the first draft. The Star Wars 20th anniversary re-release in theaters also prompted Peters to commission a "space dog" that Brainiac could present to Luthor purely for merchandising appeal and toy sales. Peters also insisted that Brainiac's robot assistant L-Ron was to be voiced by Dwight Ewell, calling the character, "a gay R2-D2 with attitude."

Smith's draft, now titled Superman Lives, had Brainiac sending Doomsday to kill Superman, as well as blocking out the sun to make Superman powerless, as Superman is fueled by sunlight. Brainiac teams up with Lex Luthor, but Superman is resurrected by a Kryptonian robot, the Eradicator. Brainiac wishes to possess the Eradicator and its technology. Powerless, the resurrected Superman is sheathed in a robotic suit formed from the Eradicator itself until his powers return, courtesy of sunbeams, and defeats Brainiac. Smith's casting choices included Ben Affleck as Clark Kent/Superman, Linda Fiorentino as Lois Lane, Jack Nicholson as Lex Luthor, Famke Janssen as Mercy, John Mahoney as Perry White, David Hyde Pierce as the Eradicator, Jason Lee as Brainiac and Jason Mewes as Jimmy Olsen.

Robert Rodriguez was offered the chance to direct, but turned down the offer due to his commitment on The Faculty, despite liking Smith's script. Smith originally suggested Tim Burton to direct his script, and Burton signed on with a pay-or-play contract of $5 million. Warner Bros. originally planned on a theatrical release date for summer 1998, the 60th anniversary of the character's debut in Action Comics. Nicolas Cage (left), a comic book fan, signed on as Superman with a $20 million pay-or-play contract, believing he could "re-conceive the character." Peters felt Cage could "convince audiences he [Superman] came from outer space." Burton explained Cage's casting would be "the first time you would believe that nobody could recognize Clark Kent as Superman, he [Cage] could physically change his persona." Kevin Spacey was approached for the role of Lex Luthor, while Christopher Walken was Burton's choice for Brainiac, a role also considered for Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman. Sandra Bullock, Courteney Cox and Julianne Moore had been approached for Lois Lane, while Chris Rock was cast as Jimmy Olsen. Michael Keaton confirmed his involvement, but when asked if he would be reprising his role as Batman from Burton's Batman films, he would only reply, "Not exactly." Industrial Light & Magic was set for work on special effects.

Filming of Superman Lives was originally set to begin in early 1998 and in June 1997 the movie entered pre-production, with an art department employed under production designer Rick Heinrichs. Tim Burton (right top) hired Wesley Strick to rewrite Smith's script. Kevin Smith (right botoom) was disappointed, stating, "The studio was happy with what I was doing. Then Tim Burton got involved, and when he signed his pay-or-play deal, he turned around and said he wanted to do his version of Superman. So who is Warner Bros. going back to? The guy who made Clerks, or the guy who made them half a billion dollars on Batman?" When Strick read Smith's script, he was annoyed with the fact that "Superman was accompanied/shadowed by someone/something called the Eradicator." He also felt that "Brainiac's evil plot of launching a disk in space to block out the sun and make Superman powerless was reminiscent of an episode of The Simpsons, with Mr. Burns doing the Brainiac role." However, after reading The Death and Return of Superman, Strick was able to understand some of the elements of Smith's script. Strick's rewrite featured Superman as an existentialist, thinking of himself to be an outsider on Earth. Superman is threatened by Brainiac and Lex Luthor, who later amalgamate into "Lexiac," described by Strick as "a schizo/scary mega-villain." Superman is later resurrected by the power of 'K,' a natural force representing the spirit of Krypton, as he defeats Lexiac.

Art designer Sylvain Despretz claimed the art department was assigned to create something that had little or nothing to do with the Superman comic book, and also explained that Peters "would bring kids in, who would rate the drawings on the wall as if they were evaluating the toy possibilities. It was basically a toy show!" Peters saw a cover of National Geographic, containing a picture of a skull, going to art department workers, telling them he wanted the design for Brainiac's space ship to have the same image. Burton gave Despretz a concept drawing for Brainiac, which Despretz claims was "a cone with a round ball on top, and something that looked like an emaciated skull inside. Imagine you take Merlin's hat, and you stick a fish bowl on top, with a skull in it." Concept artist Rolf Mohr said in an interview he designed a suit for the Eradicator for a planned scene in which it transforms into a flying vehicle.

Burton chose Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as his primary filming location for Metropolis, while sound stages were reserved but start dates for filming were pushed back. A minor piece of the Krypton set was constructed but then destroyed, and Cage had even attended a costume fitting. The studio was also considering changing the title Superman Lives back to Superman Reborn. Deeming Wesley Strick's script too expensive, Warner Bros. enlisted the help of Dan Gilroy to rewrite it into something more economically feasible. Gilroy lowered the $190 million budget set by Strick's draft to $100 million. However, the studio was still less willing to fast track production, due to financial reasons with other film properties, having Gilroy turn in two drafts. Ultimately, Warner Bros. chose to put the film on hold in April 1998, and Burton left to direct Sleepy Hollow. At this point in production, $30 million was spent, with nothing to show for it. Burton, citing various differences with Peters and the studio, said, "I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don't really want to be working with."

Disappointed by the lack of progress on the film's production, aspiring screenwriter/comic book fan Alex Ford was able to have a script of his (titled Superman: The Man of Steel) accepted at the studio's offices in September 1998. Ford pitched his idea for a film series consisting of seven installments, and his approach impressed Warner Bros. and Peters, though he was later given a farewell due to creative differences. Ford said, "I can tell you they don't know much about comics. Their audience isn't you and me who pay $7.00. It's for the parents who spend $60 on toys and lunchboxes. It is a business, and what's more important, the $150 million at the box office or the $600 million in merchandising?"

With Gilroy's script, Peters offered the director's position to Ralph Zondag, Michael Bay, Shekhar Kapur and Martin Campbell though they all turned down the offer. Brett Ratner turned down the option in favor of The Family Man. Simon West and Stephen Norrington were reportedly top contenders as well. In June 1999, William Wisher, Jr. was hired to write a new script, and Cage assisted on story elements. Cage dropped out of the project in June 2000, while Wisher turned in a new script in August 2000, reported to have contained similar elements with The Matrix. In October 2000, veteran comic book creator Keith Giffen pitched a 17-page story treatment with Lobo as the antagonist, but the studio did not proceed. Oliver Stone was then approached to direct Wisher's script, but declined, while in April 2001, Paul Attanasio was hired to start on a new script, earning a salary of $1.7 million. Peters offered Will Smith the role of Superman, but the actor turned it down over ethnicity concerns. The film's backstory was covered in the 2015 documentary film The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened?. Smith will direct an upcoming season 2 episode of Supergirl titled "Supergirl Lives".

Batman vs. Superman

Although it was widely reported that McG had become attached to Attanasio's script, in February 2002, J. J. Abrams was hired to write a new screenplay. It would ignore "The Death of Superman" storyline, and instead, it would reboot the film series with an origin story, going under the title of Superman: Flyby. The project had gone as far as being greenlit, but McG dropped out in favor of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. The studio approached Wolfgang Petersen to direct Abrams' script; however, in August 2001, Andrew Kevin Walker pitched Warner Bros. an idea titled Batman vs. Superman, attaching Petersen as director. Abrams' script was put on hold, while Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite Walker's draft which was codenamed Asylum.

Goldsman's draft, dated June 21st, 2002, introduced Bruce Wayne attempting to shake all of the demons in his life after his five-year retirement from crimefighting. Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth, and Commissioner Gordon are all dead. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is down on his luck and in despair after his divorce from Lois Lane. Clark serves as Bruce's best man at his wedding to the beautiful and lovely Elizabeth Miller. After Elizabeth is killed by the Joker at the honeymoon, Bruce is forced to don the Batsuit once more, tangling a plot which involves Lex Luthor, while Clark begins a romance with Lana Lang in Smallville and tries to pull Bruce back. In return, Bruce blames Clark for her death, and the two go against one another. Part of the script took place in Smallville, where Clark goes into exile with Lana Lang. However, Lex Luthor is held to be responsible for the entire plot of Batman and Superman destroying each other. The two decide to team up and stop Luthor. Christian Bale, who was being considered for the lead in Darren Aronofsky's Batman: Year one adaptation at the time, was simultaneously approached by Peterson for the Superman role. Peterson confirmed in a 2010 interview the only other actor he approached for Superman was Josh Hartnett. Warner Bros. canceled development to focus on individual Superman and Batman projects after Abrams submitted another draft for Superman: Flyby. Christopher Nolan would later cast Bale as Batman the following year in Batman Begins. In the opening scene of I Am Legend, a large banner displays the Superman symbol within the Batman symbol in Times Square (below). It is meant as an in-joke by writer Akiva Goldsman, who wrote scripts for Batman vs. Superman and I Am Legend.

Superman: Flyby

Turning in his script in July 2002, J. J. Abrams' Superman: Flyby was an origin story that included Krypton besieged by a civil war between Jor-El and his corrupt brother, Kata-Zor. Before Kata-Zor sentences Jor-El to prison, Kal-El is launched to Earth to fulfill a prophecy. Adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, he forms a romance with Lois Lane in the Daily Planet. However, Lois is more concerned with exposing Lex Luthor, written as a government agent obsessed with UFO phenomena. Clark reveals himself to the world as Superman, bringing Kata-Zor's son, Ty-Zor, and three other Kryptonians to Earth. Superman is defeated and killed, and visits Jor-El (who committed suicide on Krypton while in prison) in Kryptonian heaven. Resurrected, he returns to Earth and defeats the four Kryptonians. The script ends with Superman flying off to Krypton in a spaceship. (HOF staff note: this idea kind of sucks and we are glad they never made it.)

Brett Ratner was hired to direct in September 2002, originally expressing an interest in casting an unknown for the lead role, while filming was to start sometime in late 2003. Christopher Reeve joined as project consultant, citing Tom Welling, who portrayed the teenage Clark Kent in Smallville, as an ideal candidate. Reeve added "the character is more important than the actor who plays him, because it is an enduring mythology. It definitely should be an unknown." Ratner approached Josh Hartnett, Jude Law, Paul Walker and Brendan Fraser for Superman, but conceded that finding a famous actor for the title role had proven difficult because of contractual obligations to appear in sequels. "No star wants to sign that, but as much as I've told Jude and Josh my vision for the movie, I've warned them of the consequences of being Superman. They'll live this character for 10 years because I'm telling one story over three movies and plan to direct all three if the first is as successful as everyone suspects."

Hartnett in particular was offered $100 million for a three-picture deal. Walker explained that "I could have made a gazillion dollars on that franchise. I could probably have bought my own fleet of jets or my own island. You know what? I don't need it." Fraser turned it down out of fear of typecasting. David Boreanaz, Victor Webster and Ashton Kutcher auditioned, along with Keri Russell as Lois Lane, but Kutcher decided not to pursue the role, citing scheduling conflicts with That '70s Show, the Superman curse and fear of typecasting, while Boreanaz had to back out due to obligations with Angel. James Marsden stated in a 2006 interview that at one point he was approached by Ratner. Although it was never formally announced, Matt Bomer confirmed he was in the running for the lead role, being Ratner's preferred choice at the time. Bomer would later voice the character in the 2013 animated film Superman: Unbound. Amy Adams had also auditioned for Lois Lane, and would eventually win the role eight years later when she was cast in Man of Steel.

Superman: Flyby was being met with a budget exceeding $200 million, not including money spent on Superman Reborn, Superman Lives, and Batman vs. Superman, but Warner Bros. was still adamant for a summer 2004 release date. Christopher Walken was in negotiations for Perry White, while Ratner wanted to cast Anthony Hopkins as Jor-El, and Ralph Fiennes as Lex Luthor, two of his cast members in Red Dragon. Joel Edgerton turned down a chance to audition as Superman in favor of the villain Ty-Zor, before Ratner dropped out of the project in March 2003, blaming casting delays, and aggressive feuds with producer Jon Peters.

McG returned as director in 2003, while Fraser continued to express interest, but had fears of typecasting. ESC Entertainment was hired for visual effects work, with Kim Libreri as visual effects supervisor and Stan Winston designing a certain "prototype suit". McG approached Shia LaBeouf for Jimmy Olsen, with an interest to cast an unknown for Superman, Scarlett Johansson as Lois Lane and Johnny Depp for Lex Luthor. The director confirmed in a 2012 interview that Robert Downey, Jr. had been cast as Lex Luthor. Neal H. Moritz and Gilbert Adler were set to produce the film. McG also commissioned Josh Schwartz to rewrite the Abrams script. He wanted to shoot in Canada, which would have cost $25 million more than WB's preferred Australian locale. McG also shot test footage with several candidates, including Jason Behr, Henry Cavill, Jared Padalecki, and Michael Cassidy before leaving, blaming budgetary concerns and filming locations. He opted to shoot in New York City and Canada, but Warner Bros. wanted Sydney, Australia. McG felt "it was inappropriate to try to capture the heart of America on another continent." He later admitted it was his fear of flying. Abrams lobbied for the chance to direct his script, but Warner Bros. replaced McG with Bryan Singer in July 2004, resulting in Superman Returns.

In August 2013, Geoff Johns mentioned that Warner Bros was considering turning unproduced scripts and screenplays into original animated films and had expressed interest in making a animated adaptation of the Flyby screenplay.


Bowlingshirt.com - Bettie Page Gifts

Following the departure of Ratner and McG, Bryan Singer (above) was approached by Warner Bros. He accepted, abandoning two films already in pre-production, X-Men: The Last Stand (which, coincidentally, would come to be directed by Ratner) and a remake of Logan's Run. The film uses the events of Superman and, to less of a degree, Superman II as backstory, while completely ignoring the events of Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Singer conceived the storyline of Superman Returns during the filming of X2 (2003) with his X2 writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris. He presented the idea to Lauren Shuler Donner and her husband Richard Donner, director of Superman (1978). Donner greeted Singer's idea with positive feedback. Although he was not a comic book fan, Singer was most impressed with Donner's 1978 film, citing it as an influence of his, Dougherty and Harris's writing. By February 2005, Dougherty and Harris had written six drafts of the script. Early versions of the script contained references to the September 11 attacks before they were removed.

Singer chose to follow Donner's lead by casting relatively unknown Brandon Routh as Superman, who resembled Christopher Reeve somewhat, and more high profile actors in supporting roles, such as Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. Singer brought his entire crew from X2 to work on the film. Via digitally-enhanced archive footage, the late Marlon Brando appeared in the film as Jor-El. Superman Returns received positive reviews with critics praising its story, visual effects, musical score, and style and it grossed about $391 million worldwide. However, it received mixed reviews from audiences, who criticized the film for its length, the story, and lack of action sequences.

Originally budgeted at $184.5 million, Warner Bros. placed the production cost at $204 million, after factoring in tax rebates and incentives. Taking into account the development costs since the early 1990s, total expenditure is estimated to be around $263 million, with up to a further $100 million spent on worldwide marketing.

In February 2006, four months before the release of Superman Returns, Warner Bros. announced a summer 2009 theatrical release date for a sequel, with Bryan Singer returning as director. Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Sam Huntington, Frank Langella, and Tristan Lake Leabu were expected to reprise their roles, however, with the release of Superman Returns in July 2006, Warner Bros. became hesitant on moving forward with development. Warner Bros. President Alan F. Horn explained that Superman Returns was a very successful film, but that it "should have done $500 million worldwide. We should have had perhaps a little more action to satisfy the young male crowd." Singer reacted incredulously to the studio complaints, saying, "That movie made $400 million! I don't know what constitutes under-performing these days ..."

Filming of the sequel was supposed to start in March 2008, no screenplay was ever written, but Singer would have titled it Man of Steel, with an interest in Darkseid as the main villain. Singer stressed that it would have been more action-packed than Superman Returns. while writer Michael Dougherty was interested in using Brainiac. "In my mind, if the Kryptonians really were a space-faring race ... it would only make sense that there would've been colonies and off-planet missions ... other Kryptonians making their way to Earth seemed like a pretty big one. It wouldn't necessarily be evil right off the bat. That's too easy and cliché ... I think it'd be interesting to see how these other Kryptonians show up, land and have all these powers and [have to learn] how to adapt to them."

Warner Bros. commissioned husband and wife duo Michele and Kieran Mulroney to write a script for a Justice League film in February 2007, halting development for the Superman Returns sequel. The Justice League script was submitted to Warner Bros. the following June, which prompted the studio to immediately fast track production. Singer went on to film Valkyrie the following month, and George Miller signed to direct Justice League: Mortal in September 2007. The script would have featured a different Superman in a separate continuity from Singer's film; Routh was not approached to reprise his role for Justice League: Mortal, which ended up going to D. J. Cotrona. The film nearly went into production in March 2008, but the Australian Film Commission denied Warner Bros. their 40 percent tax rebate and Catrona's options eventually expired. With Justice League: Mortal canceled, Singer renewed his interest in the Superman sequel that same month, stating that it was in early development. Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics, still expected Routh to reprise the title role, but Routh's contract for a sequel expired in 2009, and the project was cancelled. The Superman film series was rebooted in 2013 with the film Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill as Superman.

Brandon Routh as Clark Kent / Superman

Director Singer believed only an unknown actor would be suitable for the part. Routh was chosen from thousands of candidates interviewed at casting calls in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. He had coincidentally auditioned for Clark Kent in the television series Smallville, but lost to Tom Welling. Routh had also met director Joseph "McG" Nichol for the role during pre-production of Superman: Flyby. Dana Reeve, wife of Christopher Reeve, believed Routh's physical resemblance to her late husband was striking. To obtain the muscular physique to play Superman convincingly, Routh underwent a strict bodybuilding exercise regimen. Prior to Routh's casting, Singer had X2 actor Daniel Cudmore audition. Eva Marie Saint played Clark Kent's adoptive mother Martha Kent and Stephan Bender portrays the teenage Clark Kent in a flashback scene.

Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane

Lois Lane is a reporter who works with Clark Kent at the Daily Planet, and former lover of Superman. Spacey recommended Singer to cast Bosworth in the role because she co-starred with Spacey in Beyond the Sea (2004) as Sandra Dee. Claire Danes and Keri Russell were reportedly considered for the role. Amy Adams, who would later be cast as Lois Lane in the 2013 reboot Man of Steel, confirmed in an interview that she had also auditioned for Lois in 2005. Adams had previously auditioned for Lois in 2003 when Brett Ratner was planning to direct Superman: Flyby. Bosworth studied Katharine Hepburn's acting for inspiration, particularly in The Philadelphia Story (1940) and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), as well as Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich (2000).

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor, an evil sociopath armed with vast resources and an extensive knowledge of science who is Superman's nemesis. Because of his Academy Award-winning performance in Singer's film The Usual Suspects (1995), and friendship with the director, Spacey was the only actor considered for Lex Luthor. The writers specifically had Spacey in mind for the part when writing the script. Spacey's version of Luthor has the same comically exaggerated vanity and pompous arrogance of the earlier Gene Hackman version as well as the same strong interest in real estate, but Spacey's version is far less campy and more serious. Spacey later said that director Singer told him to play the character as "darker and more bitter" compared to Hackman and not to use the earlier portrayal as an inspiration. Another of Luthor's henchmen (Riley) is played by former Australian Rugby League player Ian Roberts.

James Marsden as Richard White

Richard White is the nephew of the Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White and fiancee to Lois Lane. Marsden said Richard acts as an emotional challenge for Superman, since the hero comes back to find that "Lois Lane picks somebody who's very Supermanesque". Perry White was played by Frank Langella, a role originally attached to Hugh Laurie. Sam Huntington was Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen.

Parker Posey as Kitty Kowalski

Kitty Kowalski is Lex Luthor's henchwoman. She served as a prison nurse and would give Lex his examinations. The character is based on Eve Teschmacher from the 1978 film, portrayed by Valerie Perrine. Posey was the only actress considered for the role. Kal Penn plays one of Luthor's henchmen, Stanford, who only had one line, "What are we going to do?" Apparently there were others but they got cut.

Marlon Brando as Jor-El

Jor-El is Superman's biological father. Brando (who died in 2004) reprises his role from the 1978 film through the use of previous footage combined with computer-generated imagery. This required negotiations with Brando's estate for permission to have his footage used. Singer explained, "We had access to all of the Brando footage that was shot. There was unused footage that had Brando reciting poems, trailing off subject and swearing like a sailor."

Tristan Lake Leabu as Jason White

Jason White is the son of Lois Lane and Superman. The question of whether Superman or Richard is Jason's father is initially unclear. He suffers from asthma and other ailments, but it is later revealed that he is the son of Superman, when he displays superhuman strength and discomfort around Kryptonite.

Cameo performances include: Richard Branson as the engineer aboard the space shuttle. Jack Larson, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman, makes an appearance in a cameo role as "Bo the Bartender" (pictured above right with Superman Returns Jimmy Olsen, Sam Huntington). Larson's last role was on an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which aired on the NBC network on January 6th, 2010. He died on September 20, 2015 at the age of 87.

Noel Neill, who portrayed Lois Lane in the television series and the film serials Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), appears as Luthor's elderly wife Gertrude Vanderworth. It was her next to last film role, the last being the campy independent film, Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel (wich also featured Jack Larson's). Following an extended illness, Neill died in Tucson on July 3rd, 2016, at the of age 95.

Both Neill and Larson are pictured below at the at the Warner Bros. premiere of Superman Returns in June 2006.

Warner Bros. considered shooting Superman Returns at Warner Roadshow Studios in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. After filming, this could have been used as an attraction for the adjoining Warner Bros. Movie World theme park, but the idea was scrapped for being too expensive.

Set construction started in January 2005 at Fox Studios Australia for the film's 60 setpieces, while the start date was pushed back for two weeks. In an attempt to avoid public attention, Superman Returns carried the fake working title of Red Sun during filming. Starting in late March 2005, principal photography lasted until November. Filming of Superman Returns in New South Wales constituted hiring thousands of local workers, generating over $100 million into the local economy. 80% of filming took place at Fox Studios Australia, occupying all nine sound stages. Scenes set in Smallville were shot at Tamworth, while the Australian Museum doubled for the Metropolis Museum of Natural History.

Superman Returns was shot using Panavision's Genesis digital camera. Production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Headquarters for the design of the Daily Planet. ESC Entertainment was originally set to design the visual effects sequences, but Warner Bros. replaced them with the hiring of Mark Stetson from Sony Pictures Imageworks as the visual effects supervisor. A total of 1,400 visual effects shots were created. The script required a scene of Superman safely delivering a Boeing 777 in a baseball park where computer-generated imagery was used as it would have been impossible to assemble the number of extras for the shots. A second unit crew traveled to Dodger Stadium to photograph elements that were composited into the final images. The scenes of Metropolis was actually a modified version of the skyline of Manhattan. Using footage from the original Superman (1978) film as a reference point, Marlon Brando was re-created by Rhythm & Hues using CGI. The opening credits for Superman Returns are presented in an intended recreation of the style used for Superman, again to the accompaniment of John Williams's theme music.

Singer hired regular collaborator John Ottman as editor and film score composer months before the script was written. Ottman said in past interviews that John Williams, who composed the 1978 film, had influenced his decision to become a musician. He was both cautious and enthusiastic to work on Superman Returns. "Bryan [Singer] said he wouldn't even greenlight the movie if he couldn't use the John Williams music." Ottman continued, "it was important for me to preserve the Williams theme right down to every single note for the opening titles." Ottman referred to his work on Superman Returns as a homage to, not a ripoff of, Williams.

Warner Bros. promoted Superman Returns at 2005 San Diego Comic-Con International. Singer and screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris came up with the idea of publishing a prequel limited series, spanning four comic book issues. The stories were written by Jimmy Palmiotti, Marc Andreyko and Justin Gray, with artwork by Karl Kerschl and Matt Haley. During production, a series of "video diaries" on the Internet were released at BlueTights.net, showing behind-the-scenes work being done. After 27 installments, the video diaries stopped for a while shortly before the teaser trailer debuted on November 17th, 2005. The main theatrical trailer premiered online on May 2nd, 2006. The trailer appeared in theaters on May 5th, with prints of Mission: Impossible III, while the international trailer came with The Da Vinci Code and X-Men: The Last Stand. DC Comics published a comics adaptation by artist Matt Haley and writer Martin Pasko, Marv Wolfman wrote a novelization, and Electronic Arts developed a video game based on both the movie and the comics.

The estimated budget for Superman Returns marketing campaign was $45.5 million, the second highest of the year behind Disney's $53.5 million campaign for Cars. Warner Bros. made tie-in deals with General Mills, Burger King, Duracell, Pepsi, Doritos, Papa John's Pizza, 7-Eleven and Colgate. The film was also advertised with Red Bull Racing Formula One cars at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. David Coulthard managed to get the team's first top three finish that day; on the podium, he wore a Superman cape in celebration of his achievement. NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon also sported the "Man of Steel" look by promoting the movie on his #24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the 2006 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Troy Bayliss appeared in promotional "Superman" leathers and sported a cape on the podium following a win and a 2nd place at the 2006 Brands Hatch Superbike World Championship round on his way to winning that year's championship. The National Geographic Channel released The Science of Superman on June 29th, 2006: a television special that studied popular science analogies with the Superman mythos. Singer admitted at 2006 Comic-Con International that he was dissatisfied with the marketing and promotion. "A lot of people did their job, and a lot didn't".

Bryan Singer convinced Warner Bros. not to experiment with test screenings. In addition, Singer removed 15 minutes of footage from Superman Returns after showing it to some of his "trusted associates". The final theatrical time length ran at 154 minutes. Warner Bros. originally slated the movie for release on Friday, June 30th, but moved it up to Wednesday, June 28th. The film ranked at the top in its opening weekend, accumulating $52,535,096. Within five days, Superman Returns took in $84.2 million, a new record for Warner Bros., beating out The Matrix Revolutions (2003), which was later surpassed by The Dark Knight (2008).

Superman Returns: An IMAX 3D Experience was released simultaneously in 111 IMAX format theatres worldwide, which included 20 minutes of converted 3-D film material. It was the first Hollywood full-length live-action film to be released in this combined format. One of the key scenes Singer took out was "the Return to Krypton sequence". $10 million was spent on this sequence alone, but it was deleted. Singer noted that it could not be released as part of a DVD featurette because it was converted to IMAX 3D. He hoped it could have appeared in an IMAX reissue. The film's second week gross rapidly declined from the first week, due to the presence of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and The Devil Wears Prada. Superman Returns went on to gross $200,081,192 in North America and $191 million internationally, earning $391,081,192 worldwide. Domestically, the film was the sixth-highest grossing film of 2006. In worldwide totals, Superman Returns was ninth-highest.

Superman Returns received mixed to positive reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 76% score from reviewers who enjoyed the film. Metacritic gave the film a score of 72/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Richard Corliss of Time praised Superman Returns, calling it one of the best superhero films. He was mostly impressed with Singer's direction and the storyline. Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal also gave a positive review, but observed Routh's and Bosworth's acting was "somewhat dead or super average. Nothing special." Morgenstern believed Lex Luthor's characterization was "well written by the writers and well played by Kevin Spacey". He also praised Newton Thomas Sigel's cinematography and Guy Hendrix Dyas's production design.

Peter Travers, writing in Rolling Stone, felt the film "perfectly updates Superman for the modern audience". James Berardinelli reacted positively to the movie, comparing it favorably with Richard Donner's 1978 film. He felt Spacey was better than Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, describing him as "more cruel and less flippant" than Hackman. "There are no miscasts to be found in the supporting cast, either," Berardinelli said. "Superman Returns is near the top, if not at the top of the superhero movie pile. It offers nearly everything: romance, action, humor, and plenty of goose bumps."

However, Roger Ebert argued the film was a "glum, lackluster movie in which even the big effects sequences seem dutiful instead of exhilarating." He also felt that "Brandon Routh lacks charisma as Superman", surmising that he "may have been cast because he looks a little like Reeve". Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle felt that Warner Bros. should have rebooted the series along the lines of Batman Begins. He also felt Bosworth, at 22 years old, was too young to portray Lois Lane, and the climax did not "match the potential of the tiring 154 minute long film".

Superman Returns was nominated for both the Academy Award for Visual Effects and BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects, but lost to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The film was successful at the 33rd Saturn Awards, winning Best Fantasy Film, and categories for Direction (Bryan Singer), Best Actor (Brandon Routh), Writing (Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) and Music (John Ottman). Kate Bosworth, Tristan Lake Leabu, James Marsden, Parker Posey, and the visual effects department were nominated for categories. However, Bosworth was also nominated a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress.

On May 3nd, 2009, almost three years after the debut of Superman Returns, the Academy Award winning filmmaker and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino declared his appreciation for Bryan Singer's directorial work on Superman Returns.

On January 9, 2012, more than five years after the movie was released, the independent film community daily news site indieWire released a two-part video essay that probes the melancholic nature of Superman Returns. Produced by Matt Zoller Seitz and Ken Cancelosi, the critique was inspired by a review that Seitz wrote for the New York Press in 2006, in which he stated that "From the moment its hero returns to the sky to rescue Lois Lane from a plummeting jet, Superman Returns flirts with greatness."

In 2013, Singer stated that Superman Returns was made for "Perhaps more of a female audience. It wasn't what it needed to be, I guess." Singer stated that he would have cut about the first quarter off of the film and started it with "the jet disaster sequence or something. I could have grabbed the audience a little more quickly. I don't know what would have helped. Probably nothing. If I could go again, I would do an origin. I would reboot it."

Empire Magazine ranked the movie 496 on its "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time" list. Stating that "It may have been a slighter return than some people had hoped for, but Singer's vision of the Man Of Steel is an heroic effort. Plenty of spectacle and a lot of heart helps Kal-El soar."

When did Lois and Superman first kiss?

Action Comics #6
Superman #3
Superman #12
Action Comics #22



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