Bryan Singer Reflects On ‘Superman Returns’

Published 4 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.

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  1. if theres one thing I want to see in a Supes flick, its some damn action. Superman returns was good, but he spent more time saving Lois than doing any actual fighting.

    keep it going, Snyder. Youve got my support.

  2. They should have fight scenes in the new movie like the amazing one between Clark and a Phantom Zoner named ‘Titan’ played by WWE superstar Kane in the Smallville episode ‘Combat’.

    • What we need to see is Superman fighting an opponent that he can punch accross city blocks, through skyscapers ect….the battle needs to be epic.

  3. I’m open to seeing what Snyder could do with the series, but I enjoyed Singer’s Superman film. Perhaps this has to do with me never touching a Superman comic book? But as a movie goer, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

  4. @Ojex

    Well said and absolutely 100% correct.

    I’ve posted on here many times my thoughts on Superma Returns so not a lot more needs to be said.

    All I will say that for all the films faults, there have been far worse comic book films around.

    If Singer had just tried to implement his own direction and style instead of practically remaking the original, we may have got a much better end result.

    He could’ve learnt a lot from the example set by Smallville over the years that’s for sure..

  5. I thought Superman Returns was brilliant. I’m hoping Snyder makes a good film, but his style just doesn’t fit the charaacter. People keep asking for an action-padked film, but that isn’t what Superman’s about. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be action (b/c there should), but there also needs to be a story to go along with it.

    • finally someone who watched the movie on an adult, intellectual level, not that of a 9 yr old, (punch, fly, yeeeaaahhh). pleased to hear i’m not the only one. no, snyder’s style doesn’t fit the character, and he’s is also one of the worst director’s working today. wish i was optmistic, but i can’t be. not looking forward to soulless, emotionless slooooo-mooooo man.

  6. In Christopher Nolan I trust!

    • Yep, it’s only a shame that he’s not attached anymore.

      • eye

      • When are people gonna realize Nolan isn’t involved anymore, it’s like big news to themwhen they find out he’s no longer attached to it lol.

        • Just the residue of wishful thinking, my friend…I’m wondering if the drubbing that Sucker Punch is taking in the reviews might skew the “producers” view of who should actually direct the Supes flick…
          I guess time will tell, yeah?

          • but the entire concept of the man of steel is from the mind of nolan. that is enough for me to see the movie.

            • An idea can be good, but it also needs to be executed good as well. There’s already rumors about the script having problems, and David Goyer’s track record isn’t inspiring much confidence in the poject.

  7. “… I was known for the ‘X-Men’ Pictures, which had been more realistic and edgier…” -LMAO Singer’s a HACK, those X-men movies were atrocious.

    • The first and second films were awesome, it’s the THIRD film directing by Bret Ratner which stunk. I think X-Men 2 is one of the greatest comic book films ever made.

  8. S.R. was a good movie except the kid part I hope Zack does a good job but I wanted Routh as superman we need a new superman like we need a new James Bond WE DON’T

  9. I can’t say I hated Superman Returns but I was let down. When I first heard that Synger wanted it to be seen as a sequal to the 2nd film I thought it was going to be a really cool way to go but it just didn’t work out. So much time was spent weaving the story in with the previous films and that didn’t leave much time to really get the new story going. I imagine that if it was a bigger hit we would have been able to see a part 4 so to speak but I understand the studios thoughts on going a different route. And as far as my thoughts on Snyder are concerned I go back and forth with each piece of news I hear. I love the cast so far but when he said this will be his most realistic movie yet I start to worry…

  10. I wouldn’t mind Superman having “slow-motion cinematography, eye-popping visuals, and action that is often both intense and brutal in nature” as long as it has a good story and interesting characters along with it.
    Imagine another comic book movie thats as good a Batman, except with Snyders look to it, now that would be a movie that I would love to see in theaters.

    • Well said, which is why I’m still optimistic about this Superman film. Chris Nolan has given his input on how the film should be made. If Snyder takes that input and applies it the to his own style of film making this could be the Superman Movie fans have been waiting for. Huge potential here, we can only hope Snyder doesn’t drop the ball.

  11. I liked Superman Returns but i didnt like CGI Superman. And i think Supermans love for humanity and the people has to be in every movie or it could just be any other comic movie.

  12. Coincidentally I talked about this one, and I had this to say;

    What the new Superman movies might need;

    #1 Better Villains
    First of all, better villains, please. As epic as Lex Luthor can be, Superman is one overpowered superhero and he needs some epic battle akin to the final showdown between Neo and Agent Smith. You know, to make Superman fun to watch again. Do we really need to see Superman stop muggers or rescue cats stuck on trees yet another time?

    #2 A little less Lois Lane
    Secondly, just how many more ways would they like to explore the interspecies romance between Kal-El and Lois Lane? Enough of it already because it’s starting to get a little creepy. Superman may look human, but he is an alien from outer space. So chew on that. Alright, I’m actually half joking about that. You can’t really take the romantic subplot out of the equation altogether, since that would also mean half of the Superman mythology will not be represented. All I’m saying is, take it down a few notches.

    #3 Learn something from the new Batman movies
    Both franchises went under for different reasons, but Superman could learn a thing or two from Christopher Nolan’s vision of the Batman universe. Prior to that, the Batman movies (after Batman Returns [1992]) were pretty much high-budgeted, glorified toy commercials.

    I can’t pinpoint exactly what at the moment, but what they could do is take out all the nonsense and focus on the story instead of all the cash to be made from the Happy Meal tie-in.

  13. i just cant stand superhero movies. always a standard romance plot. gotta save the girl always win at the end. i cant understand why anyone would watch it. you already know the ending. he comes out on top always. so boring. Unbreakable is the best superhero comic movie and that wasnt even really a super flick. Unbreakable is like 10x better than the dark knight.

  14. In response to Mr. Bronson. Your remarks about super hero movies are mostly true. However the formula listed above does not apply to Dark knight did you watch the movie 1. The love interest got blown up yep he really saved her 2. He takes the rap for murder and is hunted by the police in the end. Sounds like a win to me. Before you hate get the facts straight. I bet you thought Avatar was great too and there is nothing original about that movie.


    If this is more of a realistic approach like batman begins and the sequel then im all for it.

    first of singer. you didnt have Gambit or beast in the x-men movies. so technically you have never made an x-men movie. and you didnt use original costumes.

    and what was the reason you left Gambit out of the movie? because he’s too similar to wolverine. huh?? your a douche bag.

    but in saying that the usual suspects is one my favorite movies ever. so you are a great director.

    I agree with you mr. bronson that unbreakable was better then dark knight. but like you said that wasnt really a super flick.

    I wish Superman was R Rated. how cool would that be. especially if doomsday might be in the second sequel and you probably see superman die in it.

    We need more adult driven comic book movies.

    One of the greatest superhero movies of all time is The Punisher 1988 version.

    R Rated. very graphic and totally badass.

    its like when they made transformers? every person born in the 80s or 70s was burning to see it?? and what did they release? a movie about these weird robots that looked nothing like the cartoon.

    hollywood needs to stay true to comics and cartoons.

    im just glad singer used the proper costume for superman and not had him in black leather like x-men.

  16. my name says it all

  17. Romantic movie…? Who’s Singer kidding? His heterosexual love stories in all his films lack chemistry and zero interest for the opposite sex. Plus his take on Superman was a snooze fest.

    Dark Knight box office annihilated Superman Returns box office. No question Singer was the wrong man for the job.

  18. Superman Returns was great. It was a thoughtful and intelligent film, about a man who is essentially a god trying to work out he fits into the world. And it was about letting the woman you used to love go. I think we can associate with that.
    Plus, the plane sequence, better than anything in Nolan’s Batman movies!

    • I agree that SR is an underappreciated film. I’m disappointed we won’t ever see Singer’s vision for the completion of that storyline.

      Frankly, I would much rather watch SR over ANY of Snyder’s films.

  19. I actually feel that by saying that Superman may punch some one in the face, he’s really drawing inspiration from Superman 2 when he loses his powers and is beaten up. Superman 2 being the perfect movie to take inspiration from for this one. We need to feel that the indestructible man is vulnerable for it to be a smart/thrilling blockbuster.

  20. Superman Returns was a really good movie(aside from the kid). I am glad that “they” decided to look at Superman for what he is: 3 people in one. He is Kal-El the member of an extinct species, Superman the savior of Metropolis/the world and Clark Kent a regular average Joe. All three of his persona’s have major character issues. Kal-El is alone(or so he thinks) in the universe, Superman has too much on his plate usually(Lois, Saving the world) and Clark has to be sure that he is Clark all the time and not Superman(Lois, bills, staying normal etc.).

    I’m just wondering how much they are changing his story to fit into “modern times.” Maybe they will show the viewer he has problems just as everyone else has. If they just made Superman: Earth One into a film that would be fine with me.

    • If they used the Earth One story I would be fine with that too, but it didn’t have a good enough villain, plus Snyder has already said it isn’t based on any comic story because David Goyer knows better than 80 years of comic book stories.

      • Any comic book story, but this is a graphic novel. (Joke)

  21. Agree with a lot of comments, especially Justin Beaver and Mamu Vies, but The Punisher in 1998 one of the best comic book films ever???? Really??? To each their own I suppose.

    Superman Retruns was way better than that. What we most rememeber is that it actually actually outgrossed Batman Begins albeit by a small margin. Dark Knight’s success was partly built on the good reaction recived from the 1st film. Again if we look at all the epic battles Clark has in Smallvile, it’s clear to see what Returns lacked.

    I don’t quite see the comparision between Dark Knight and Unbreakable. Yes Bruce Willis’ character has superpowers but it had more of a supernatural drama feel to it than an out an out superhero movie, As good as it was, it was let down by a ridiculous ending.

    Ingredienst for a great Superman film = A powerful villian, less Lois, more heroic acts in realistic situations, great effects and Peter Jackson directing.

  22. Huh, would you look at that.

    Superman Returns $391 million

    Batman Begins $372 million

    Funny that no one ever mentions that.

    • I think they like to earn a lot more than it cost to make, something called profit is what I heard. How much did Begins cost in the first place?

      • BB budget was $150 million

        SR budget was rumoured to be somewhere between $200 and $250 million.

        I see your point. But SR wasn’t the failure people make it out to be.

        • @ Dr.SamBeckett

          I wouldn’t go as far to say Superman Returns sucked. I just wished/expected it to be better. I liked it enough that would rather have Singer bring a sequel.

          • id rather watch superman returns over x-men 3

            • Superman Returns or X3, tough call for me.

              • He was gonna put Brainiac and Bizarro in the sequel. The whole Kryponite island turning into a new Krypton was a pretty good idea. The only bad idea I heard about the sequel was Superman’s son rapidly aging into a man and Superman killing him. Other than that, I think Synger might’ve given us a good Superman movie. One where he actually punches somebody at least.

                • Come on, Returns had pacing issues.

                  X3 was just a bad film.

    • Its not about how much money it made worldwide. Superman is the most famous superhero in the world and the last time he was in the bigscreen was in 1987 so having his movie make more money then a batman movie wich already had over 5 movies in the 90s is a give-in. The key here is how much it grossed relative to its budget. Another words how much it actually made. Superman Returns’s budget was about 270mil while Batman begins was about 150. So it made much more money then the Superman movie wich shows you how terrible it did financially. Critically it did almost as bad. Just as an example Imdb rates Superman Returns 6.5/10 with over 100k votes while Batman Begins has a 8.3/10 with almost 3x more votes then Superman Returns. Superman Returns wouldn´t have been considered to be such a flop if it was a random superhero movie and it had a much lower budget. But the fact reamins its a movie about the most famous superhero ever wich one of the biggest budgets ever in the movie industry. So yes it did terribly.

    • I agree – people insist that SR wasn’t picked for a sequel was becuase it was a financial failure which I seriously doubt is true. WB spokespersons and Singer have each said that the production budget for SR on release was around $204mil, and another $40 to $50mil is added from preproduction of 8 years of false starts.

      My guess as to why WB didn’t back a sequel is because there was too much negative press from fans so WB probably thought that the gross on a sequel would be much lower than SR.

      Still, SR is a overall a really good film

  23. @ lebsta

    your probably too young to remember The Punisher. It came out in 1988 not 1998.

    It starred Dolph Lundgren and it was R Rated. TRAILER BELOW. (audio problems)

    Now that movie makes Superman returns seem like a power rangers movie.

    This is the movie the original Wolverine movie was suppose to be like. very dark lots of killings and R rated.


    who cares what or which movie grossed more???

    The fact is batman (both films) was better then superman returns.

    the fact is the original batman from 1989 is better then both new batmans.

    the fact is the original Superman with Christopher Reeves is better then all the movies i mentioned above.

    batman was brilliantly written. i personally think batman begins was a better story then the dark knight. but both were brilliant.

    THE PROBLEM WITH superman returns was it had terrible dialogue and was too cartoony. it was not dark enough.



    • I actually have the 88 Punisher movie – I liked it better than either of the 2004 or Warzone movies

    • @ afan: Right on every spot. If only those hollywood film maker got half of your insight. :(

  24. Singer ruined X-men and SR. He had his shots and blew it. Time to move on. Snyder is by far the best choice having had 2 comic book movies in his belt already both wich attained critical and financial sucess.

    • The problem I have with people comparing Snyder’s 300 and Watchmen to Superman is that 300 and Watchment were both based off the graphic novel, and were pretty much a transition from page to screen. Snyder has already said that Superman won’t be based off a particular storyline, and that David Goyer is making his own adaptation. And what was the problem many had with Sucker Punch? Ah yes, the story. Having action in a Superman film is what fans are calling for, but it’s nothing w/o a story to lift up the film.

      • Well since David goyer will be responsible for the story on the Superman reboot I wouldnt be too worried about that. Especially since he´s the same guy who brought us Batman begins, The Dark Knight and is also working on The Dark knight rises. So I guess he´s proved he´s got what it takes.

        • BB and TDK were mostly written by Nolan. Yes, Goyer did contribute, but it’s not entirely his work. Goyer is hit or miss with films like Ghost Rider and Blade 3. I did like his work on Blade and Blade 2, but like I said, he’s had more misses than hits. At least in my opinion.

          • Goyer is not a great writer and is just another example of the studios just recycling the same writers and directors for these type of movies and wondering why they keep getting the same results.

            The fact is aside from comic-book fans these movies aren’t going to automatically bring in a wide audience. Slapping one of these directors names on it really isn’t worth much more then the name value of the comics either.

  25. Well personally Superman Returns is my favourite film of all time.

    No, really.

    It’s not a “good” film, just one I could (and have) watch all day.

    Singer should absolutely not apolgise for his beautiful love-letter to our childhood.

  26. If I were Snyder, Nolan or whoever is writing this script, I’d have Superman actually kill someone. I’m talking actually killing a dude, preferably human, with his bare hands.

    • I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, but Superman doesn’t kill.

      • Ezee-T

        You obviously don’t know the character at all.

        Which is why you’re not and never will be allowed tto touch the script.

      • I’m just hoping for something different, something that’s gonna draw me back to watching another Superman movie. My problem with Superman has always been that he’s always doing the right thing, what if for once he does the wrong thing and takes it too far?

        • Well, I haven’t read any of the comics in a good while, but I do remember an episode of Justice League where Superman kills Luthor. The League then becomes a bunch of dictators, and is forced to fight an alternate version of themselves. Cool episodes.

        • I am assuming then that you haven’t watched Superman 3.

        • Great idea, the only issue with that approach is that it is similar to The Dark Knight. Not exactly, but in feeling.

  27. It’s a far stretch for Superman to kill anyone & even he does its not before he sees any other option can’t be done first.

  28. I liked it quite a bit but Kevin Spacey was the turd in the punchbowl
    He was awful.

  29. i just have a feeling that snyders superman will be pretty realistic as in superman is here on earth this real world that we all know but he wills past any boundries. it will be good. the action i know will be the best superman action we have seen. i liked superman returns for what it was. a nostalgic film and about the spectacle of superman. but some just dont see it and that sucks for them. :) i have a good feeling that snyder will be able to bring superman back to the big screen in a big way.