Bryan Singer Reflects On ‘Superman Returns’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated May 14th, 2014 at 12:45 pm,

brandon routh in superman returns Bryan Singer Reflects On Superman Returns

With Zack Snyder’s Superman: Man of Steel making headlines of late due to a combination of casting rumors and the director’s attention-grabbing comments, there’s been renewed discussion of Bryan Singer’s previous attempt to reboot the superhero franchise back in 2006 with Superman Returns.

For all the heat that Snyder has already gotten from fans who aren’t crazy about his plans to offer a fresh take on Superman, it ought to be remembered that Singer’s film featured a fairly traditional take on the character’s mythology (aside from his having a son), but is not usually referenced in a positive light.

 

Superman Returns managed to gross over $391 million worldwide in theaters and was actually given an overall positive critical reception. That it had a production budget of around $270 million and was not universally loved by fans was reason enough for Warner Bros. to scrap Singer’s Superman: The Man of Steel and instead develop yet another franchise reboot.

Singer spoke with Voices From Krypton about his film and had the following to say:

“It’s hard for me to assess it. My gut response is, “It didn’t do THAT bad.” You know, summer’s a tricky time – I know it’s hard to blame the time, but there’s a bit of an expectation for a summer movie. I think that ‘Superman Returns’ was a bit nostalgic and romantic, and I don’t think that was what people were expecting, especially in the summer.

“What I had noticed is that there weren’t a lot of women lining up to see a comic book movie, but they were going to line up to see [a film like] ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, which may have been something I wanted to address. But when you’re making a movie, you’re not thinking about that stuff, you’re thinking, “Wow, I want to make a romantic movie that harkens back to the Richard Donner movie that I loved so much.” And that’s what I did…”

Singer on the set of 'Superman Returns'.

Snyder expects Superman: Man of Steel to be (relatively speaking) his most realistic film to date. Given how hyper-stylized the director’s previous movies – 300, Watchmen, Legend of the Guardians, and Sucker Punch – have all been, most fans already have a pre-conceived notion of what to expect from Snyder’s Superman reboot.

Expectations of that nature can be both a blessing and curse for a filmmaker; they can encourage certain moviegoers to see a new movie, and others to avoid it, based off the same assumptions. When the final product is something that neither expects, the results aren’t always great either – and Singer feels that fact in part accounts for the general reaction to Superman Returns:

“… I was known for the ‘X-Men’ Pictures, which had been more realistic and edgier… That’s a tricky thing when you’ve built an audience that likes your comic book films and you deliver a certain tone, and then you bring this completely different tone to them…”

There’s been speculation that Snyder’s Man of Steel will feature hallmarks of his filmmaking style – namely, slow-motion cinematography, eye-popping visuals, and action that is often both intense and brutal in nature.That’s not to say the Superman reboot won’t be PG-13, but Snyder’s already described his version of the character as being “a physical cat” and hasn’t ruled out the idea of (gasp!) Superman punching an opponent in the face.

Do you like the direction which Snyder seems to be going in with Superman: Man of Steel? Or do you suspect the film will follow in the footsteps of Superman Returns – regardless of how good or bad it actually ends up being?

For more of Singer’s thoughts on Superman Returns, read the full interview over at Comic Book Movie.

TAGS: superman, superman man of steel

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  1. @ afan.

    I apologise for the mix up in dates. Initially I thought you were talking about the Thomas Jane / John Travolta version.

    But the Lundgren version?!?! seriously?? I remember than film as clear as day and the memories were not good. It’s a very dirty, grungy movie – in keeping with the character’s nature you may argue – but it was still cheap and poorly made. It makes me like Superman Returns a lot more now.

    As a fan of R rated violence, I’m guessing you liked Punisher War Zone – whilst generic and sub standard – is probably the best screen incarnation of the character so far.

    I do agree with your points on the Christopher Reeve and Batman films (two each by Nolan and Burton) being better than Superman Returns. Infact I still prefer Nicholson over Ledger as the Joker but just my opinion.

    And of course a film’s box office gross doesn’t determine on how good it is. After all Blade didn’t enjoy anything like the massive earnings of Spiderman or X-Men but is still vastly superior.

    The disappointment came from the fact that we didn’t get the epic Superman film we were hoping for. I’m all for story and characterization as those are very important, but a Superman film in this current time of effects and CGI – should’ve had a high quota of action sequences. Plane rescue aside, we just didn’t get that.

    Again I point to what Smallville has achieved for 10 years – on a pitiful budget in comparision – as to one of the main reasons for the disappointment in Superman Returns.

    • I like Comic Book movies or even animated adaptions when there made realistic.

      my point is R rated comic films or atleast comic films made for a adult audience always turn out better.

      the original superman was more mature then superman returns it had better subject matter and had a message aswell.

      thats why it was better.

      blade was successful because it was made for mature audiences and older teenagers.

      What Superman returns lacked was also a mature subject matter.

      what they need to do is have a message.

      comics when you were a kid were not just entertainment but they also had a message.

      X-men’s message was always about Racism and injustice. But instead of being white racism towards black people. it was people racism towards mutants.

      superman always had message too.

      THE INFORMATION I HAVE IS THAT SUPERMAN WILL BE A TRILOGY.
      ALL MOVIES WILL HAVE A MESSAGE JUST LIKE THE RECENT BATMAN MOVIES. THE NOLEN BROTHERS HAVE MAJOR INFLUENCES TO THE ORIGINAL PROJECT WHICH STILL ARE BEING USED IN THE UPCOMING TRILOGY.

      the first movie:

      THE MAN OF STEEL.

      Superman learning who he is. Deciding whether he is clark or kal el.
      showing superman as a vulnerable man and a reluctant hero.
      enemy being ZOD. who is also a alien and tries to persuade him that he better then humans and that he is a god.

      superman must choose between humans and Zod.

      he chooses Humans.

      message: Vulnerability, not knowing who he is. choice.

      these are all things we can relate too.

      Villian : ZOD and small cameo by LEX LUTHER

      The 2nd movies:

      DOOMSDAY.

      Superman is superman. He knows who he is but does not like being different. He is still vulnerable. he is still hesitant.
      but someone who is strong then he is will make him have confront his inner demons and become who he is destined to be.
      Doomsday the ultimate warrior by the end of the movie will fight superman.
      and win. superman will die.

      message: confrontation. make tough choices. become a man. will face death.
      will be defeated.

      things we all go through. choices. losing someone we love. etc

      villian: DOOMSDAY and small cameo by LEX LUTHER

      The 3rd Movie.

      SUPERMAN LIVES

      with the world hurting. after superman dies. the world moves on and slowly forgets about superman. and Lex Luther becomes more powerful. He controls alot of the country with greed and power.

      Superman returns alive. but does not come out. he stays hidden. he feels he failed when he was defeated. when violence starts to spread he returns and the world rejoices. Lex does not like it and wants to kill superman once and for all.

      message: greed. power. how the world needs hope. how the world easily forgets those who do good. how superman gives up and then finds the strength to be hero once more.

      villian : LEX LUTHER

      THATS WHAT I HEARD ARE THE TITLES OF THE THREE MOVIES.

      SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL.

      DOOMSDAY: THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN

      SUPERMAN LIVES:

      and rumours that if superman is successful they want a BATMAN VS SUPERMAN MOVIE. although i heard both parties do not want this to happen.

      • @”my point is R rated comic films or atleast comic films made for a adult audience always turn out better.”

        The Joker is a character that would have to get an R rating for a true depiction, but TDK had a PG-13, and it was just fine.

      • Try MAN OF Steel second movie Man of Tomorrow third: Last Son or something like that…..WB isnt going to even touch doomsday unless MOS does very well

  2. superman returns made how much? and there was no sequel, they knew it had run it’s course. a sequel would have bombed. the story was absurd. mild mannered clark kent was off in some jungle peace corp mission and returns the same day as superman..worst lois lane ever. over use of cgi..

  3. Might be beating a dead horse, but here’s my 2 cents:

    Was I the only one who thought that the plot of Superman Returns was utter nonsense? It was nonsense. Lex luther’s plan was nonsense. The son was nonsense. Lois lane winning a frickin’ Pulitzer Prize was nonsense.

    Kate bosworth was TERRIBLY miscast.

    And Superman is arguably the most powerful superhero period, and yet very few parts/aspects of the movie matched his potential for supreme epic action/grand scale that would be unparallelled by any other superhero movie ever.

    It was nice that singer wanted to revive the richard donner superman and forget that 3 and 4 ever happened, but it just seemed like he lacked the mindset to match donners’ focus/tone.

    And as for Snyder/Goyer…

    Snyder’s tendancy for visual bombast may actually fit well within the context of the superman universe. Plus the things he’s able to do in relation to the scale of his budgets is quite impressive. He will probably give the new movie some kick-ass visuals and maybe a truly earth-shattering Superman battle. Maybe.

    But while Snyder has potential to bring in the technical/visual aspects together, he hasn’t really shown that he has much of a deep mind and has yet to relate this effectively within any of his movies, and watchmen doesn’t count because 90% percent of the brains in that movie was directly transferred from moore’s writings/graphic novel.

    And Goyer is an even weaker link. Unless he directly adepts from a pre-existing great work (Blade, The Dark Knight), his screenplays and subseqent movies tend to suck. Unfortunately he seems to only be good at translating the work of other more thoughtful individuals, and since his new Superman script is apparently not based on pre-existing material that has already been proven to be solid, this leaves me worried.

    Best case scenario: Superman or Zod or whoever destroys a skyscraper in slo-mo, the movie moves along at a decent pace, and those rumored problems that destroy the third act get corrected by weeding out all of the unecessary lesser plot lines. Hopefully.

    This still can’t be any worse than Goyer’s script for Blade 3, right?

    • I get where your coming from and my feelings about SR are exactly the same but with Snyder leading the project even in the worst case scenario it’ll still be better then Singer’s version of Superman.

    • The plot of the superman trilogies i believe are:

      the first movie:

      THE MAN OF STEEL.

      Superman learning who he is. Deciding whether he is clark or kal el.
      showing superman as a vulnerable man and a reluctant hero.
      enemy being ZOD. who is also a alien and tries to persuade him that he better then humans and that he is a god.

      superman must choose between humans and Zod.
      he chooses Humans.

      message: Vulnerability, not knowing who he is. choice.

      Villian : ZOD and small cameo by LEX LUTHER

      The 2nd movies:

      DOOMSDAY.

      Superman is superman. He knows who he is but does not like being different. He is still vulnerable. he is still hesitant.
      but someone who is strong then he is will make him have confront his inner demons and become who he is destined to be.
      Doomsday the ultimate warrior by the end of the movie will fight superman.
      and win. superman will die.

      message: confrontation. make tough choices. become a man. will face death.
      will be defeated.

      things we all go through. choices. losing someone we love. etc

      villian: DOOMSDAY and small cameo by LEX LUTHER

      The 3rd Movie.

      SUPERMAN LIVES

      with the world hurting. after superman dies. the world moves on and slowly forgets about superman. and Lex Luther becomes more powerful. He controls alot of the country with greed and power.

      Superman returns alive. but does not come out. he stays hidden. he feels he failed when he was defeated. when violence starts to spread he returns and the world rejoices. Lex does not like it and wants to kill superman once and for all.

      message: greed. power. how the world needs hope. how the world easily forgets those who do good. how superman gives up and then finds the strength to be hero once more.

      villian : LEX LUTHER

      THATS WHAT I HEARD ARE THE TITLES OF THE THREE MOVIES.

      SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL.

      DOOMSDAY: THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN

      SUPERMAN LIVES:

      • Not bad. Though maybe instead of just Luthor as the villain of the third, they can use Brainiac and reveal that he engineered Doomsday to kill Superman.

        • yeah i know what your saying about lex luther. but i think the studios will force them to have him in there.

          all i know is that they want Superman to die in the second movie by the hands of Doomsday. and you will leave the cinema with superman dead. or with a glimpse of him probably being still alive. maybe a sign or after the credits you see him or something.

          so Brainiac would be interesting in the second movie alongside doomsday maybe???

          i know the third one will be titled something like superman lives.
          so it will be interesting whether he lives and kills doomsday early in the third movie or that they both kill each other in the second movie leaving a whole new storyline for the third movie possibly lex or another villian??

  4. Singers Superman was a metaphor for a gay man coming out of the closest after living the life of a straight man.

    • Really?? To each his own……….

  5. I think Superman Returns could have been a MASTERPIECE…Some say it was too long as is, i think it was not long enough; if Bryan Singer had chosen to add 15 to 25 minutes of Kal-el contemplating whether to or not to don the cape once more.It would have been phenomenal! A Superman as Hamlet if you will.Weighing all the pros and cons of it all.And perhaps deciding to try to use his powers in other ways to make a difference.You see, what i found dissappointing in Superman Returns, is how quickly Clark just jumped back into his old life, after being absent from planet Earth for Five Long Years…

    For all the benefits and perks that come with being the Man of Steel, the job has some pitfalls as well.Here Kal-el finds himself, with an opportunity to start over, or just try something different! At this point in the story, no one even knows that Superman has returned.I just think it would have been really compelling, if one of the major themes of the film was, “Is Clark Kent going to become Superman once more?” That would have been rich material for a character study! And its a whole lot more interesting than just seeing him pick back up where he left off, 5 years ago or for us, 1987-2006.

    So Zack Synder says, his version of Superman is “a physical cat.” Hmm, i like the sound of that ;) It sounds like he’s drawing inspiration from the Awe-Inspiring Animated Short Films by The Fleischers from the 1940′s.In those Oscar Nominated Films, Superman was described as a “Physical Marvel” Its about time that that is what we saw on the Big-Screen in Live Action!! Superman should be potrayed as his creators Jerry Seigel and Jerome Shuster described him, “A genuis in intellect.A Hercules in strength.A nemesis to evil-doers.”

  6. I hope that we do get a lot of action and we do get a good plot and storyline. I certainly hope that we stop getting shots and of Superman being reluctant and do not know what to do and what he stands for. That is all finished during smallville, 10 years we watched that. Superman is firm on what he is and his purpose. He takes the hard road and bends everything just to get everyone safe and if all possible no casualties. Just like on a smallville episode were the future heroes went back in time and wants to get rid of brainiac by killing chloe, Clark did not allowed it and up until the last second found another way. That is a big part of who Superman is, not reluctancy, no hesitation if he is good or evil, or if he will be a hero or not. I do not want to see Superman being hesitant just like what happened to Gouku on the dragon ball movie, which has this kind of issue, like i do not know if i can do it and i do know who i am attitude, nowhere in the dragon ball comics or animation you will see Gouku that way, he will face the enemy and fight even if he knows he is outmatched. With that being said, i personally want to see in the big screen a good battle between Superman and Darkseid, now that would be cool.

  7. I’m not impressed at the feeble excuses Singer gave for the relative failure of ‘Returns’. It wasn’t a bad movie; it just wasn’t great. There was nothing awe-inspiring. That and the main cast looked like awkward teens.

  8. Wow! I came on this site hoping to get a little insight/info on the upcoming “Superman” movie. What I get is a bunch of geeks throwing out unwanted views of past and (not available) future movies of a superhero. I think I can speak for Hollywood directors when I say, “Stop Whining”!!! Bryan Singer did a great job continuing the story arc from the original Superman & Superman II. Ok…was it the greatest…no, we all get that…but it didn’t suck. Everyone on this site wants what they want and if one hair is out of place, everyone condemns the Director etc…Bryan did NOTHING wrong…the cast wasn’t bad at all either…geez, one person says the actors stink and 10,000,000 people follow through with no mind of their own. What really kills me is half the reason no one likes Singer is because hes out and gay…who cares…you go to see his movies not his bedroom. Get over yourselves…if you think this next Superman picture is going to be any better…I truly feel sorry for ya. I can already see that the new logo stinks, the “S” costume is far worse than “SR” and Brandon Roth looked like a superman. So stop dissing Bryan Singer or the cast of SR because you think you have better ideas. Do yourselves a favor and drop the “Ego-God”, “Well I could have done it this way approach”. No one likes a know-it-all superhero fan boi!!!

    • Fireknight: I have to agree with you straight down the road. You nailed several points that ached to be written. The trouble with these blog sites is what you termed the “Ego God.” That’s a good way of phrasing it. Like you, I get extremely tired of enduring the conceit of some contributors.

      • @ Randal

        Thanks for the back-up. I was beginning to think I was all by myself. It’s funny I usually don’t even write blogs etc. on the internet because it’s overdone to the extreme but when I read how they were chewing up the director and the movie of “Superman Returns” it kind of angered me a little. I think Bryan Singer did a great job and I think his main focus was to continue the storyline after Superman I & II. I know from articles that he totally dismissed Superman III & IV (with good cause I might add lol). Bryan, I think, if he had the chance would have gone with more action in the second movie if he was to create it. The first is always hard because you have a great deal of explaining to do, not only with storyline, but generating all the characters so they are believable to the audience. I just thought that he tied Superman Returns with Superman I & II flawlessly. In this day and age I think we are so quick to judge movies because we always expect so much in special effects and action sequences…sometimes to the point where we see so many that they don’t even phase us anymore. I’m a HUGE Superman fan but I always kept it in check and didn’t blast every comic book or movie or TV show for trying to change an old story line. Some people just don’t welcome change very well. With that said, and as much as I liked Brandon Roth, I hope this new movie does succeed. If nothing else I can definitely appreciate someone trying a new avenue. I just hope people let up on Bryan as he did a great job!!! Thanks for replying to my post and Bryan if you ever happen to scroll down on this webpage one day, you did an awesome!!!

        Thanks!

  9. the problem with snyder is that he’s incoherent. the guy can hardly string an intelligent sentence together

    • To be honest with you all I thought it was better the second time I saw it which means that I went to see it again at the movies to give myself another chance to see if it was better than I thought or just horrible. I have been watching Superman since I was a kid & that was a long time but the one thing that killed this movie was the decision to have lois lane have Supermans child. As soon as I saw the kid show up in the movie I was like ahhhhh man a kid but then I was like please don’t let that kid be Supermans & low & behold he saves Lois by throwing the paino & then I’m like dammit they just killed the movie. The only consolation I got was when the kid was about to use his inhaler he was like man I’m super kid I don’t need this sh*t. Made me laugh & given my nephews name is Jason so he got a kick out of that but I was like they had the perfect superman & they just shot themselves in the foot with that story line. Even after a few months I was like great what are they going to do next & was hopeful but they decided to go in a new direction which I wasn’t all that upset about cause I was like. The kid doesn’t exsist thank god. Let’s do this right this time & was always wondering who read the script with the kid in it & was like what a great idea. Couldn’t believe with all the money that goes into these movies that no one who had read a comic said are you crazy. Movies looking good just change this one part & well be able to go forward & superman will be flying again. Oh well. Only the future holds what’s in store with this amazing character that we all love since we were children. Hoping for the best.

  10. Annoying diehard superman fans that say that they dislike this new man of steel is blasphemy!! Zach is modernizing Superman. Superman is known as man of tomorrow. Bryan singer gave you the superman you wanted people werent too fond of it. So stop your complaining and appreciate that they havent completely given up on the idea of superman. if you dont like this superman and chose not to go see it. Well youll just end up being one of the reason why they wont make another and wont make other dc movies. Think ahead

  11. I watched Man of Steel at the weekend and rewatched Superman Returns shortly afterwards.

    Superman Returns is a MUCH better movie than Man Of Steel, for all the silly plot points it still entertained. Man Of Steel was thoroughly boring. Boring non stop action sequences that got increasingly stupid and more dull. A film can commit many sins but once it hits boring it fails, pure and simple.

    I love Clark Kent, where was Clark Kent in this movie? Amy Adams was a good choice over Kate Bosworth but starting the series off again with General Zodd (The actor was good however) just took the magic out of it. It was like “here humans, aliens exists…now he’s s*** load of them invading”. Blah!

    • Cassia,

      I read your blog about Superman Returns and I have to say I totally agree with you 100%. Superman Returns stuck to the important heritage of Superman. In SR, when Superman was hurt, you actually cared when he was in the hospital or when he catches the plane in the baseball field…the way it was done made you feel good inside…YOU CARED etc. With the man of steel, you didn’t get time to care for anyone because in reality, you were just watching a new glorified version of the Transformers. Nothing really made sense in that movie. The director of Man Of Steel pushed for a villain that clearly should have not been in the first movie of a reboot. MOS was so busy pushing for action, you didn’t get any character bond to the movie. Earth never got to learn the good of Superman and get to take him in, all you received is a bunch of aliens (including Superman), and Earth didn’t know what the hell was going on!!! The actors DID do a great job, they were just directed with a “Flat-tire” syndrome. The whole movie was rebooted to a whole new level. Krypton now has flying animals that you command by a whistle…Really??? Zod is wearing a space suit mask so he can breathe…uhmm…hello, you have reached earth with the yellow sun, take off the damn thing and live a little…cuz, oh yeah, you’re now indestructible. They also killed so many humans while they were in all the “Transformer” fight scenes…A true “Superman” would have brought the fight away from people in order not to harm them…and what is up with all the space ships and futuristic machines, This is SUPERMAN, he doesn’t need any of that…save all that crap for TRON. I think Bryon Singer should get another shot to continue his vision. I think if Bryon worked his mojo like he did in the first one, and somehow thought of a reason to dismiss Superman’s son, focus on Clark, and add a good villain with action…it would be a HUGE success. If nothing else I value Bryon Singer because he took the time to continue right after Superman I & II. HE DID A WONDERFUL JOB WITH THAT!!!!! I also remember when I was a kid and watched, “Superman II” in the movies (I was about 12 years old at the time) and I left the movie theater, as did everyone else at the time, saying, “Wow, that was an awesome movie!!!” It was pretty big for it’s day and time. Now I see comments about comparing Man of Steel against a movie 20 years prior and it’s really not fair. Superman II is a little dated, sure…but had a great cast and an awesome storyline! Sorry to go on like this, but I’m a true fan of Superman. MOS was a disappointment for me as the story origins didn’t line up at all, but it wasn’t a total train wreak either. I think if they are going to continue wth MOS sequel, maybe a little of both, “Directors” would solve the problem and we would get a terrific movie of a well known superhero! In conclusion: Superman, Man of Steel just didn’t nail it like it should of :-/

  12. 2 things…

    1) Superman Returns was awful, Singers comments are like a teenagers excuse for getting a bad report card, not to mention how he still doesn’t get why it was a flop talking about how he tried to make a “romance” movie. The romance was always secondary, if present at all, never primary I mean … does this guy even read DC comics? It was awful because there was very little variety in the action, He catches a plain and lifts it, he catches a car, he catches the globe on the daily planet, he lifts a boat out of the water, grand finally he lifts an entire island! Coolest thing I saw him do was vaporize all that falling debris with his heat vision. Then there’s the Jerry Springer drama element Brian Singer introduced… Today on Springer “My fiance doesn’t know our child is actually the half alien love child of superman”, I mean really? Kate Bosworth gave the worst Lois Lane performance to date, and when held next to Teri Hatcher, that’s saying quite a lot. But the blame is not hers alone, it’s a 3 way split between her the writers and the director. Lois Lane is a sassy presumptuous witty intrepid bold tenacious rambunctious resourceful crusader w/ a strong moral compass. Bosworths performance was a hollowed out shell of the Lois Lane we have all come to expect. Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey were the only redeeming elements of this movie.

    2) I hope when they bring Lex Luthor back as the main villain in the latest storyline, that he (Lex) works with a couple of other villains concurrently such as metallo & brainiac.

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