Superman Returns is another one of those movies that seemed to get a pretty good critical consensus, yet I can't find a lot of people who liked it as much as I did. Yeah, I know, the subplot about him having a kid is probably not the best idea. Let's get past that though. There are too many things that this movie gets right in order to just completely dismiss it.
First of all, let's just one thing out of the way. A potential sequel seems to be really up in the air as to where they're going to go with it. I say that no matter what they do, they need to bring Brandon Routh back as Superman. Yeah, maybe it's because he reminds me so much of Christopher Reeve (and I might just have to write about the original Superman: The Movie before this month is done.) Still, that's a good enough reason as far as I'm concerned.
Anyway, I once was at a panel at a comic book convention, and a couple of writers were discussing Superman, and how his real weakness wasn't so much kryptonite, but his heart. In other words, he suffers from the same sort of heartbreak that everybody else does. This is what the movie nails perfectly. Yeah, he's the most powerful being on the planet. People worship him. However, he feels terribly alone in this world.
The movie's director, Bryan Singer, was adopted, and he said that he always related to Superman because, let's face it, he was adopted as well. I think that really comes through in this movie as well. I love the fact that he tried to return to his home planet of Krypton in a vain effort to see if there was anything left there. Everybody wants to know who they are and who they came from, even a guy like Superman.
What I also love is that the movie gets across that Superman, at his best, can inspire people. His actions in the film inspires others to do the right thing. The Richard White character, who's Lois Lane's boyfriend, could have easily been made into a strawman that she can easily leave at the end of the film. However, he's a decent guy, and the movie doesn't take that sort of an easy route. Even better, by witnessing Superman's selflessness, it inspires him to be selfless as well as it eventually becomes his turn to help Superman - something he's willing to do despite the fact that he suspects that Lois is still in love with him.
While I would put this film a rung below the likes of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, and Iron Man, I still think that it ranks pretty high amongst the various superhero movies. It's a shame that it didn't do better at the box office, as I would have loved to see more Routh as the Man of Steel.