MovieChat Forums > Superman Returns (2006) Discussion > A great superhero flick; here's why...

A great superhero flick; here's why...

The film is an obvious retelling of the Christ story, albeit with a comic book "superhero":

- Jor-el gives his only son to protect (save) humankind.
- Superman repeatedly states that he's everywhere and will always be around (i.e. omnipresent).
- Luthor and his henchmen's beating of Supes is reminiscent of Christ's beating before his crucifixion.
- Superman sacrifices himself to save humanity from Luthor's new continent.
- When superman "dies" above the atmosphere of Earth he is shown in a posture similar to Christ on the cross.

I'm of course not saying that Superman is Jesus Christ, but rather that he's clearly a comic book type of Christ and especially in this movie.

Meanwhile Lois Lane is an obvious type of atheism. Although she once believed in and even loved Superman, she's now convinced the world doesn't really need him. She's obviously unhappy and bitter; she lacks the pizzazz she had when she believed.

Of course, all this heavy symbolism is useless if the story itself fails to capture the viewer's attention. This is especially vital when the picture is two and a half hours long. But, for me, it succeeds. While it could be argued that it's too long and should've been tightened up (and I partly agree with this), it could also be said that it has the ballsy conviction to tell its story with little concern for those suffering ADHD.

The film has an epic vibe and even more so than the first in the series (1978). It's more serious, i.e. less campy, especially where Luthor & his cronies are concerned. The film also possesses a reverent quality. Even though the Superman mythos is totally absurd, the film somehow enables the viewer to suspend disbelief. On top of all this there are numerous humorous parts, which are laugh-out-loud funny (watch out for the hilarious "It's a bird," "It's a plane" piece).

Other things worth commenting on:

- Some complain that Kate Bosworth lacks charisma as Lois Lane, but this all fits into the bitter "I no longer believe" subplot. Bosworth is fine in the role.
- Some complain about Superman's 5-year visit to Krypton. What's the problem? Part of my youth was spent in Minneapolis and I've gone back there numerous times to quell my curiosity. Why wouldn't Superman feel the same way? Why was he gone so long and why did he need a crystalized craft? Because he was potentially exposing himself to large amounts of Kryptonite (radioactive pieces of his homeworld) which would severely weaken him, not to mention he gets his powers from the Earth's sun.
- Some complain about Lois' fiancé and her son, who may or may not be the offspring of Supes. Wouldn't it be natural for Lois to move on after about two years waiting? Her "shacking up" before marriage can be attributed to her new "I no longer believe" mentality.
- Love is a strong theme here as is fitting for any retelling of the Christ story. Superman loves Lois and vice versa, even though Lois is initially in denial. Love gives life and saves from death.
- I liked the fact that Lois' fiancé, Richard (Marsden), isn't made out to be a villain. Interestingly, Lois picked a man who, as a pilot, could fly her around like Supes, albeit less spectacularly. I also like the fact that the film shows Lois being faithful to Richard even though she discovers she still loves Superman. The human heart is capable of loving more than one person, but can only be faithful or committed to one, if you know what I mean.
- Frank Langella is his usual charismatic self as Perry White.
- Kevin Spacey is excellent as Luthor and arguably superior to Hackman; this is especially evident as the story progresses. His larger-than-life lunatic scheme is fitting for Supe's main foe.
- There are numerous dramatic parts where the film confidently takes its time to tell its story; there's obviously no rush to get to the next CGI action scene. Those with ADD beware. Needless to say, this is a film for adults even though kids will enjoy many aspects.
- At the time "Superman Returns" was one of the most expensive films ever made at $209 million and made $200 million in North America while almost doubling it worldwide ($391 million). But studio heads were disappointed, claiming it should have made $500 million.

Personally, I was surprised at how good "Superman Returns" is. This is an epic and moving superhero film -- sci-fi/fantasy at it's best. Is it as good or better than the best superhero films? Not only is it at least as good, it's deeper.


I remember being unimpressed when I first saw this but your post has made me want to revisit it. Nice work thanks for the good read 👍




That's funny, I think "Batman & Robin" is easily the best of those four Batman flicks from 1989-97. Here's why...

- It has the best Batman/Bruce Wayne in George Clooney. Although Val Kilmer has the better Bruce Wayne demeanor (i.e. grimmer), Clooney just LOOKS like Wayne. In addition, he's charismatic and entertaining in the role from beginning to end.

- It has the best sense of family between the inhabitants of Wayne Manor. The love & camaraderie of Bruce, Dick/Robin (Chris O'Donnell), Alfred and Barbara/Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) is a pleasure to behold.

- It has Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl. Nuff said.

- It has Uma Thurman shining in the role of Poison Ivy. I usually don't find tall, thin women appealing (I'm more attracted to women akin to Silverstone), but I have to admit that Uma completely owns the over-the-top role of Poison Ivy and is truly alluring.

- Arnold Schwarzenegger is great as Mr. Freeze. Yes, every time he merely opens his mouth you know it's Schwarzenegger, but he's amusing and he has a great look and costume.

- The film has heart. Although Poison Ivy is truly ee-vil and gets her comeuppance, you can't help but sympathize with Freeze's love for his wife and desire to resurrect her. Batman is able to see under his icy veneer and see a warm heart that's willing to accept redemption and make restitution. Furthermore, as noted above, you really feel the love of Bruce and Alfred and the others at Wayne Manor.

- Lastly, the film is full of vibrant colors and goofy over-the-top thrills. It's just a fun movie, if you're in the mood for a half-serious/half-campy superhero flick.

I also like that Smashing Pumpkins song that plays over the end credits.




Thanks for the feedback. The first one is my least favorite of that surreal tetralogy, but it has some things to appreciate.


You forgot to mention how boring and derivative it is! That's the real problem, it's just dull.

As for all the Christ parallels, well, some people like that sort of thing but I don't. In fact, I resent it when people try to put religion in my mindless entertainment.


That's your prerogative, Otter, but the Christ parallel was there from the very beginning when Jerry Siegel created the character in the 30s. For instance, Supes' name is Kal-El and his father is Jor-El. El is the generic Hebrew term for “god” and is used in reference to Yahweh, the LORD. For example, El Shaddai means “God Almighty.” Other names of the LORD using ‘El’ are: El Elyon, which means the Most High God; El Olam, which means the Everlasting God; and El Roi, which means the God who sees.

In short...

- Superman, Kal-El, was sent by his father, Jor-El.
- Jesus, El, is the Son of God who was sent from Father God, also El, as humanity’s savior. ‘Jesus’ means "Yeshua is salvation."

You forgot to mention how boring and derivative it is! That's the real problem, it's just dull.

My take is different -- "Superman Returns" has the confidence to take its time and tells a daring, compelling, reverent, amusing and heavy cosmic superhero tale.

At the same time, though, I can see where you're coming from. Not everyone likes the peculiar tone of the movie; I do.


I'm not going to insist that you dislike this film the way I do, I think it's nice that someone likes and appreciates the film after all the trouble they went to to make it. And I'm not touching the religious aspect again!

I will ask you one thing, though: Are you bothered by how derivative it is? How the credits are basically a CGI-d update of the original "Superman" credits? How the Lex Luthor plot that was so much a retread of the Lex Luthor plot in the original "Superman"? With performances that tried for the same sort of lively borderline camp as Hackman and Perrine, and which fell so sadly short? Or can you accept that as "homage"?


Things like credits are just icing on the cake, so I don't take offense to their homage to the first film. Speaking of which, the first two films were greatly successful (I even like Part III; it has a lot to offer once you get used to the presence of Pryor), so why not pay tribute to tradition after almost 20 years absence from the big screen?

Luthor's mad scheme of creating a new continent and destroying North America & other areas is totally different from blowing up the San Andreas Fault in the '78 flick, not to mention worthy of the Superman mythos.

Being a sequel as well as a reboot, there are naturally some links to the first two films, but "Superman Returns" dared to be different and forged its own path.


I wish the people behind the film put as much thought into it as you did.


They did; you just didn't see it apparently.


I rewatched it and it is generally okay.

However, Superman isn't Jesus.

If you read his history it's easy to see. He is a response, just before WWII to Nietzsche's "Ubermensch" (Superior man) an idea the Nazis adopted. A Superior Man is one who is ruthless and takes what he wants and has no pity for weak people.

The creators were jews and in that set of ideas a "Mensch" is a great guy who helps in a communist fashion his community.

Alfred Adler was a popular psychologist at the time and believed good mental health came from using your "powers" to help other people. In turn, people would help you and you'd feel part of a community. Meanwhile, a crazy person was self-focused, selfish, and used their powers to help themselves. That causes others to turn against you and makes life miserable.

Nearly all the classic Superman villains are like that. Lex could be great but he's so focused on being great that he ruins it.

Anyway, Superman is about a regular nice guy and what a nice person would do if he could. Superman is like the main character from It's a Wonderful Life.

Also, I saw this film on opening night and the crowd was shocked by it and hated it.

I'll never forget when Superman uses his x-ray vision to spy on Lois in her house. The crowd gasped! And then when the kid turns out to be Superman's child and he does NOTHING to get his family together and flies away to do his thing like some ghetto dude, the crowd was dead silent and mumbling.

That stuff screwed up the movie. Lex and all that were very good although it was boring to have him back again.


I wasn't saying that Superman is Jesus Christ, but rather that Superman is a superhero type of Christ in light of the glaring parallels detailed. If you or anyone else wants to ignore those parallels that's your call.

Anyway, I liked your psychological commentary; good stuff.

Also, I saw this film on opening night and the crowd was shocked by it and hated it.

I first saw it a couple of years later on DVD (without the distraction of an audience) and was blown away by it -- a stunning superhero flick of both great entertainment and great depth. Can the viewer nitpick this or that due to personal preferences, e.g. the x-ray vision spying scene (which I had no problem with)? Sure, you can do the same with any movie.


Oh I agree that movies try to make him like Jesus, but they are wrong about what he is supposed to be.

You don't like or understand Superman if you don't mine the spying, etc.

It's not nitpicking. It has to do with a kind of plothole where a character does something out of character. But with Superman it was much worse than that.

It would be as if they wanted to show Superman as a "funny guy" and had him make a racist joke. He would never ever do that and if you don't know why, you don't understand the character.


You don't like or understand Superman if you don't mind the spying,

Wow, talk about a blanket statement (actually blanket judgment).

Superman needed to acquire information to make an important decision in regards to his relationship with Lois and used his powers to do so (but he screwed-up because he couldn't read her mind to see that she was lying to Richard). Whoppee. It's not like he used his x-ray vision to get his jollies by viewing Lois nude or having hot sex with Richard. And, besides, don't you think Supes used his x-ray vision on more than one occasion in the line of duty over the years wherein he saw something decidedly private and had to quickly avert his eyes?

Have you read every single comic book in which Supes appears? There must be a few thousand by this point. I'm pretty sure that a writer or three portrayed him doing something that certain devotees would consider "out of character."

My point is that you're nitpicking based on a too-rigid interpretation of the character.

I saw this film on opening night and the crowd was shocked by it and hated it.

Well, since I found it stunning (in a positive way) I know this isn't true, unless you're just using hyperbole to back up your feelings. Since the movie went on to make $400 million worldwide it's reasonable that around 60-70% of the crowd in your theater either liked it or loved it. Even if some people in attendance voiced their disapproval of this or that scene it wouldn't equal everybody hating the movie as a whole.

the crowd was dead silent and mumbling

How do you know they weren't in awe of witnessing cinematic excellence, like I was? And do you know exactly what they were mumbling about? Do you have the power to read minds (unlike Superman, who desperately needed that power when he used his x-ray vision to see inside of Lois' abode)?


You don't understand the character and why people like him.


Actually you're just making a pompous judgment about me. But I appreciate your feedback.


We both grasp Superman’s nobility. I suggested this by illustrating how he’s an obvious type of Christ. For me, Supes' nobility shines throughout this film.

The issue here is that you think Superman using his x-ray vision to acquire information in order to make an important decision about his relationship with Lois was grossly immoral. But he obviously justified using his x-ray vision to obtain info concerning someone he deeply loves.

While I can understand the argument that this might be morally dubious it’s not grossly immoral. And, actually, it showed respect for Lois & Richard and their relationship.

Interestingly, this ties into Superman being a type of Christ: God is omniscient and therefore knows what's going on behind closed doors. Using his x-ray vision, Superman also has this power, but to a much lesser degree (since he's not omnipresent).

To close, you’re honestly being too rigid in your (mis)interpretation of the x-ray vision scene and it’s preventing you from appreciating a quality Superman flick. It’s a nitpicky objection.


I like the fact that Brandon Routh smiles when he speaks with people in public. Christopher Reeve did this, which made Superman charming. It's not a big deal, but I like it.


Nice point, thanks. I haven't seen "Superman Returns" since 2013 and I largely remember it being reverent and brooding (with some amusing bits), but I'll look out for this particular element the next time I view it.


This thread triggered me to watch the 1978 Superman last night.

It has a lot of value to me as it's the only movie my mom was ever excited to see. She never went to the movies, I love movies, and she really wanted to go. I will never forget being there with her.

Anyway, Christopher Reeve, he certain had a great face for Superman! Also, he had the pleasant quality too. It was crazy watching the guy.