Superman Wiki
''Superman Returns''
General Information
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Produced by: Bryan Singer
Gilbert Adler
Jon Peters
Written by: Characters:
Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
Bryan Singer
Michael Dougherty
Dan Harris
Michael Dougherty
Dan Harris
Music by: John Ottman
John Williams (Themes)
Duration: 154 mins
Budget: $209,000,000
Gross Revenue: $391,080,000
Previous Film: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Next Film: None

Superman Returns is a loose continuation of Superman II. Brandon Routh appears in the role of Superman and Kevin Spacey takes over the role of Lex Luthor.


Superman had been missing for several years, having traveled to where astronomers believed they had discovered the remains of Krypton. During his absence, Lex Luthor was released from prison and married a rich widow to obtain her fortune upon her death. Superman returns to Earth, having failed in his hopes to find surviving Kryptonians, and, as Clark Kent, resumes his job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis, and learns that Lois Lane has won the Pulitzer Prize for her article “Why the World Doesn't Need Superman”. Meanwhile, Luthor travels to the Fortress of Solitude and steals Kryptonian crystals. During an experiment with the crystals, Lex causes a power outage on the east coast. The power loss interferes with the flight test of a space shuttle attached to a Boeing 777, occupied by Lois Lane who is covering the story. Clark flies into action as Superman and stops the plane from crashing onto a baseball stadium, which is full of spectators.

The world rejoices at Superman's return, but Lois is more concerned with the blackout. Lois Lane later meets her fiance Richard White, nephew of Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White, and their son, Jason. Clark is emotionally hurt when he overhears a conversation between Lois and Richard in which she says she never loved Superman. He then stops a bank heist, and saves Kitty Kowalski, Luthor's co-conspirator. With Superman distracted, Luthor steals Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum of Natural History. Perry assigns Lois to interview Superman while Clark investigates the blackout. That night, Superman arrives at the Daily Planet and takes Lois for a flight, during which he apologizes for leaving her and says "You said the world doesn't need a savior, but everyday, I hear people crying for one."

Lois focuses her attention on the blackout again and ascertains its origin. Lois and Jason inadvertently board Luthor's ship and are captured. Luthor reveals to them his grand scheme of using one of the stolen Kryptonian crystals to grow a new continental landmass in the Northern Atlantic Ocean that will destroy the United States, in the process killing billions of people and leaving him as the new landmass' owner. Seeing the effect of a Kryptonite sample on Jason, Luthor asks who Jason's father really is; after Lois asserts that the father is Richard, Luthor leaves to launch the crystal, which he has encased in green Kryptonite, into the sea. Under water, the crystal begins to create Luthor's new landmass. Lois faxes their co-ordinates to The Daily Planet and is attacked by a henchman. The henchman is crushed to death by a piano, which Jason shoves at him. Afterward, Lois and Jason are imprisoned in a kitchen galley. Luthor flies in his helicopter to the still forming continent. Meanwhile, Superman is attempting to minimize the destruction in Metropolis caused by the new landmass' growth when Richard arrives in a sea plane to rescue Lois and Jason. Superman soon arrives to help and then flies off to find Luthor.

Meeting Luthor, Superman discovers the landmass is filled with Kryptonite, which weakens him to the point that Luthor and his henchmen are able to beat him. Superman is stabbed by Luthor with a shard of Kryptonite and falls into the ocean. Lois makes Richard turn back to rescue Superman, whereupon she removes the Kryptonite from his back. Superman, after regaining his strength from the sun, lifts the landmass after putting layers of earth between him and the Kryptonite. Luthor and Kitty escape in their helicopter; Kitty, unwilling to let billions of people die, tosses away the crystals that Lex stole from the Fortress of Solitude. She and Luthor are stranded on a desert island when their helicopter runs out of fuel. Superman pushes the landmass into space, but is weakened by the Kryptonite and crashes back to Earth. Doctors remove more Kryptonite from Superman's wound, but after it is removed they cannot penetrate his skin with their surgical tools. While Superman remains in a coma, Lois and Jason visit him at the hospital where Lois whispers a secret into Superman's ear and then kisses him. Superman later awakens and flies to visit Jason, reciting Jor-El's last speech to Jason as he sleeps. Lois starts writing another article, titled “Why the World Needs Superman”. Superman reassures her that he is now back to stay, and flies off to low orbit, where he gazes down at the world once again.


  • Brandon Routh as Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El
  • Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor
  • Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane
  • Frank Langella as Perry White
  • Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen
  • James Marsden as Richard White
  • Tristan Lake Leabu as Jason White
  • Parker Posey as Kitty Kowalski


Based on 249 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 77% of the reviewers enjoyed the film, while the 40 critics in its "Top Critics" group gave a 74% approval rating. By comparison, Metacritic received an average score of 72/100, based on 40 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". J. Hoberman of The Village Voice called it "surprisingly well made. It's a summer blockbuster filled with mythology and sensitivity." James Berardinelli reacted positively to Singer's decision of setting the continuity after Superman II, and ignoring the critically-panned Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. He observed it was on par with Richard Donner's 1978 film, and felt Spacey was better than Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. "Spacey is sinister and villainous, while Hackman was campy and yesterday's news. As for the rest of the cast, everyone is spot on. There was no miscasting." 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. Brandon Routh lacks charisma as Superman, and was probably cast in the role because he only physically resembles Christopher Reeve. Proof of this is the fact that Routh hardly speaks when donning the costume." 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".

The movie was also criticized for its alteration of the traditional "truth, justice and the American way" slogan to "truth, justice and all that stuff," spoken in the film by actor Frank Langella. Director Bryan Singer and writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris wished to internationalize the hero by altering the slogan, however some felt it was changed to boost international appeal.

Superman Returns was nominated for both the Academy Award for Visual Effects and BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects, but lost the nominations 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. Superman Returns also appeared on Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time where it peaked at number 496.

Singer Film Series
Films:   Superman Returns