The Discount Spinner Rack: SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006)

Over the last few decades, comic book movies have reached heights of storytelling and spectacle that readers could never have DREAMED of. But for every triumphant high—The Dark Knight, The Avengers—there have always been a good number of stinkers… some bad enough to become punchlines or talking points, but most mediocre and ultimately forgotten…

Until they end up here.

The Discount Spinner Rack is where you’ll find the worst, the weirdest, and the most puzzling of comic book movie misfires. We’ll take a look at the things that actually work and the parts that absolutely don’t, and decide whether it’s worth your time and your dime. In the end, movies will be marked down on a scale from $1.00 (a surprise gem) to $0.05 (better used for kindling). To celebrate Brandon Routh’s recent return as the Man of Steel (and his sad, subsequent departure from the cast of Legends of Tomorrow), let’s turn back and take a look at his debut performance in Warner Bros. first-ever stab at producing their own Superman movie: Superman Returns!

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Superman seems to have the absolute worst luck at the movies. The Man of Steel’s troubled journey back to the big screen—after both the Salkinds and the Canon group ran the franchise into the ground in the ‘80s—was a legendary marathon of false starts, executive meddling, and studio jitters. It’s a story that has filled whole books and feature documentaries, and I can’t POSSIBLY cover it all here…

So I’m gonna keep this short.

Warner Bros. has never cared much for Superman. The studio was content to license out the film rights to the character to Alexander and Ilya Salkind for over a decade, allowing them to PRODUCE a series of movies while Warner Bros. simply distributed them1. It wasn’t until the massive success of the Death of Superman story in the comics that the studio finally made a move to buy back the live-action film rights to the character, with the intent to adapt the smash-hit storyline to the big screen. It’s almost poetic: from the very beginning, their sole ambition in bringing Superman back to the screen was so that they could kill him.

Because dead celebrities make more money!

To start with, they hired Jon Peters—a former hairdresser turned producer2 who’d worked on Batman with partner Peter Guber—to produce the film. Then they hired Kevin Smith to write the script, whose anecdotes about working with Peters range from the bizarre to the hysterical (Peters’ insistence that the final battle involve Superman fighting a giant spider is the stuff of legend). Tim Burton was brought on to direct (on Smith’s suggestion), and he promptly chucked out Smith’s draft and rewrote with Wesley Strick (Batman Returns), and then later with Dan Gilroy (writer/director of Nightcrawler).

The film’s BIG get, though, was hiring Nicolas Cage to play the part of Superman himself—a move similar to the unconventional casting of Michael Keaton as Batman in the 1989 film, and which stirred up a good deal of controversy and confusion. This film came very close to happening, coming within weeks of shooting for a summer 1998 release… but, thanks to a dismal box-office showing the year before (not helped by the spectacular failure of Joel Schumacher’s execrable Batman & Robin), Warner Bros. got cold feet and pulled the plug at the last second.

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At the very least, though, we have a few glorious glimpses of what COULD have been…

The next big swing at the Big Blue Boy Scout3 would come when Warner Bros. commissioned a new script for a Superman REBOOT in 2002 from J.J. Abrams, then primarily known as a TV producer and writer. Codenamed “Superman: Flyby”, the film would be a total reinvention of the Superman mythos—early drafts featuring a Krypton that never actually explodes, a prophecy that Kal-El will lead his people out of dictatorial oppression, Kryptonian kung-fu4, the “death” of Superman (and a subsequent resurrection when his spirit is sent back by Jor-El from the afterlife)5, and a final-act reveal that Lex Luthor (here a C.I.A. spook hunting for proof of alien life) is actually a Kryptonian sleeper agent tasked with killing Kal-El before he can return to Krypton6. It was a BIG and ambitious project… but it wasn’t meant to be.

Originally slated to be directed by Charlie’s Angels helmer McG7, the film ended up being handed off to Hollywood sleazeball Brett Ratner (of Rush Hour and Red Dragon fame). Ratner was adamant that he wanted an unknown to play the part of Supes8, but the studio insisted on signing a star to the role—forcing the director to court such names as Josh Hartnett, Jude Law, Brendan Fraser, Paul Walker, David Boreanaz, and Ashton-freaking-Kutcher, ALL of whom turned down the part. With a production deadline closing in and the studio refusing to budge on casting, Ratner eventually dropped out of the project entirely… opening the door for McG to return as director. Again, this version of the project came very, VERY close to actually getting made9, but the project fell apart because McG refused to shoot the film in Australia, as the studio wanted—initially claiming that it was because he found it “inappropriate to try to capture the heart of America on another continent“. Years later, however, McG would reveal that he dropped out of the project because of a paralyzing fear of FLYING that prevented him from making the trip to Sydney.

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Doesn’t he know that flying is, statistically speaking, the safest way to travel?

… And then along came Bryan Singer.


For the record, I am well aware of the fact that Bryan Singer is a wretched human being who has done monstrous things and is currently facing multiple sexual assault allegations. I’ve read through his Wikipedia page and the many articles referenced therein, and the effect is stomach-churning. His behavior had apparently been an open secret in Hollywood for a while, and his earliest lawsuit goes back to the shooting of Apt Pupil in 1997—so this was happening well within the purview of his work on this movie.

While I am as disturbed as anyone at his behavior and I find him below contempt as a person, I also don’t want discussion of his crimes to completely overwhelm the article—this is, after all, a comedy-oriented essay series about comic-book movies. So I felt it would be wise to include an acknowledgement of those crimes here, but to refrain from going into them in the body of the essay itself. Further discussion in the comments may be warranted, but I would strongly suggest spoiler tags and content warnings if you choose to do so.

Furthermore, this absolutely applies to Kevin Spacey as well. With fifteen alleged cases of sexual abuse from his time in Hollywood, and TWENTY from his time as artistic director of the Old Vic Theater in London, Spacey’s horrific behaviors have rightly made him into a pariah in Hollywood… though it’s a travesty that the man has managed to avoid jail time.

While I may make jokes and regard the movie itself lightly, I in no way mean to minimize the severity of these allegations, and I am in no way endorsing Spacey, nor Singer, as a person.


Hot off the success of X2: X-Men United, Singer’s career seemed primed to explode. His first X-Men film had jump-started a superhero-movie boom that was getting bigger with every subsequent year, and the sequel had seen an AMAZING leap in quality (and a similar spike in box office grosses). His next moves seemed clear: 20th Century Fox was champing at the bit for Singer to come back and shoot a third X-Men film, and he’d also lined up a remake of Logan’s Run as a passion project he’d wanted to pursue. But while he’d been shooting X2, Singer had also worked up a pitch for a new Superman movie: one set five years after the original Richard Donner Superman films, in which Superman would return from a long absence to find that the world had moved on without him. Singer, a huge fan of the first Superman movie, presented the concept to Donner and his wife (X-Men producer Lauren Schuler-Donner), asking for their blessing to pursue the project; with Donner’s positive feedback, Singer took the idea to Warner Bros. and pitched it with a treatment from X2 writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris.

With that, “Superman: Flyby” went on the trash heap… and Superman Returns was born.


Singer’s film opens with the Man of Steel returning from a five-year voyage into space—an attempt to locate his home planet of Krypton and discover whether there had been any survivors (spoiler alert: there weren’t). Once back on Earth, he’s dismayed to discover that his one-true-love Lois Lane has (gasp!) moved on with her life: she’s in a relationship with someone else, she has a five-year-old son named Jason, and she’s about to win the Pulitzer Prize for writing the article “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman”. But while Clark grapples with the changes in his world and his still-powerful feelings for Lois, his old enemy Lex Luthor sets into motion his newest master plan: using Kryptonian science and crystals stolen from the Fortress of Solitude in Superman’s absence, Lex plots to grow an entire new crystal continent off the coast of Metropolis… a continent laced with a certain green glowing mineral…

This was going to be a return-to-form for Superman, his grand reemergence as the biggest superhero on the big screen—washing away the sour taste of two cheapie duds and a decade-and-a-half stuck on television. To that end, the writers pointedly framed their film as a continuation of Superman: The Movie and Superman II, but NOT III or IV: The Quest For Peace—making it one of the largest-scale requels10 I’m aware of (they’re usually a product of the horror genre, where narrative consistency is more of a suggestion than a rule). And Warner Bros. went ALL IN on the production; initially budgeted at $184 million, the filmmakers ended up spending $223 million on the film (though tax incentives from Australia ended up dropping that number down to $204 million)—and that’s not counting marketing expenses or the accumulated costs of all those aborted Superman projects!

So this film NEEDED to be big. It needed to be huge. It needed to be a game-changer for the genre, something to earn Warner Bros. its prestige back and allow the studio to compete with the upstart Marvel films coming out of 20th Century Fox and Sony.

It was… okay!

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Like reheated leftover pizza! Or 7-11 coffee!

IN THIS ISSUE: Who wants to watch a beat-for-beat rehash of Superman: The Movie with all the fun sucked out of it?

Yes, it’s hard to break down Superman Returns without immediately noticing just how many of its concepts and set pieces are recycled from Richard Donner’s 1978 classic. There’s a quaint sequence in Smallville to open the film (which has no connection to ANYTHING happening in the main plot); Clark awkwardly trying to fit back in at the Daily Planet; an airplane rescue (though admittedly, this is the one place where Singer’s film outshines its predecessor); Lex scheming on the sidelines with his sarcastic girlfriend; a “Superman stops random crimes” sequence; a romantic flight with Lois Lane over Metropolis; and a main plot from Luthor to kill millions of people in what boils down to another land swindle scheme. And that’s to say nothing of recycled gags (Lois fainting after her first rescue) and lines of dialogue (“Statistically speaking, it’s still the safest way to travel.”). This film is more of a soft reboot than a sequel; it’s the Star Wars: The Force Awakens of the Superman franchise, but without the whiz-bang stylism of J.J. Abrams to distract from how derivative it all is.

They even resurrected Marlon Brando to play Zordon again!

But what’s really weird about the rehashing of the Donner film’s plot is that it flies directly in the face of one of this film’s main themes: the DANGERS of NOSTALGIA. The story of Superman Returns is about how looking backwards and trying to recapture the past can have disastrous results. Clark tries to rediscover his lost homeworld, but instead loses five years of his life and his closest relationships as a result. He tries to rekindle his old romance with Lois, but finds that she’s moved on and harbors bitterness over him leaving. And Lex Luthor’s master scheme? It’s to resurrect a long-dead world on Earth, using the relics of Kryptonian technology to amass power for himself and kill billions of people. The past, the film argues, is toxic; the only way to save the day is to move forward, let go, and embrace change—as embodied by Superman’s estranged son Jason, who comes to represent a renewed status quo and a hopeful future.

But if this is a film about letting go of the past… then why is every single aesthetic choice just OOZING with appeals to nostalgia?

The cinematography is steeped in golden hues and sepia tones. The lavish production design is retro and art-deco at every turn, giving the presumably modern-day Metropolis an anachronistic flavor. Costume designs by Louise Mingenbach skew towards ‘30s and ‘40s chic, with sharp suits and glamorous gowns as the default. This is a film that is trying DESPERATELY to evoke a sense of the good-old-days, its world a bustling urban fantasia that’s basically a heightened portrait of Depression-era New York (albeit with cell phones and fax machines and Audis). It’s a wistful gaze back at a past that’s forever out of reach, a melancholy dream of the unattainable comfort of yesterday… with a narrative moral that says that looking backwards is a grave folly that can only lead to disaster. Kind of a mixed message, isn’t it?

Nothing says “2006” like art deco, three-piece suits, and a freaking pearl necklace!

Speaking of mixed messages, we HAVE to talk about the casting choices in this movie.

Look… I like Brandon Routh, alright? He is a funny, charming guy. His Clark Kent doesn’t feel so much like a put-on as he seems a genuine nerd, awkward and clumsy but thoroughly (and I use this word under protest) ADORKABLE. And his Superman is pure warmth and confidence, understated but commanding—clearly an homage to Chris Reeve (I mean, this IS supposed to be a sequel to those films, after all). He’s great in the role! But in 2006… at just age 26… Brandon Routh looked like a KID on set11. He was all big eyes and gangly frame—easily the most youthful-looking Man of Steel we’ve ever gotten. And that would have been fine, if this had been the rebooted origin story of J.J. Abrams… but this film was set after a five-year absence, in which Superman has to cope with unexpected change and lost love. Its narrative is SATURATED with an older, melancholic viewpoint… yet its Superman is a fresh-faced goofball who struggles to bring gravitas to the film’s more somber moments (which presents a problem for the film’s back half, when “somber moments” are all the movie really HAS).

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That jawline, though… *swoon*

And as bad as this incongruity is for Supes… it is so, so much worse for Lois Lane.

Kate Bosworth is, without question, my absolute least favorite Lois Lane in all of media. She’s dismissive. She’s manipulative. Deceitful. Spiteful. Bitter. And she’s an absolutely godawful parent—bringing her son WITH her whilst trespassing on private property to investigate a story (which she KNOWS could potentially prove dangerous), and either losing track of him or forgetting to pick him up through the film. But making matters worse is the fact that Bosworth was only 22 years old when they shot the movie—four years younger than Routh, and SEVEN years younger than Margot Kidder was when she first played Lois Lane (y’know: the character that Bosworth was supposed to be playing an OLDER VERSION of)! 12 The youthful actress gets dressed up in slick pantsuits and elegant dresses in an effort to convey sophistication, but Bosworth never manages to shake the image of an out-of-her-depth college student interning for class credit. And when called upon to drudge up Lois’s deep wellspring of resentment and pain at her perceived abandonment by Superman, the most she can muster is petulance and snark. Nothing about this Lois feels authentic.

Pictured: a world-famous reporter, mother of a five-year-old, and winner of the goddamn Pulitzer Prize.

The movie gets surprisingly uncomfortable after Superman makes his grand re-entrance. The Superman/Lois relationship is the crux of the story (yet another recycled element from Superman: The Movie), but because Lois is now ENGAGED to another man (Richard White, Perry’s nephew, played by perpetual superhero cuckold James Marsden), the whole dynamic twists into some… distressing new forms.

For one thing, Superman’s first instinct upon reuniting with Lois and learning about her fiancée and child is to fly over to their home after work and use his x-ray vision and super-hearing to spy on them. It’s a shockingly matter-of-fact development; Supes even floats just beside a tree as if hiding in its branches. We’re clearly meant to sympathize with him as he listens in on Lois lying to Richard by telling him that no, she never loved Superman… but it’s hard to ignore that he’s actively stalking his ex-girlfriend. And his flagrant disregard for her privacy is never even addressed, let alone chided or dealt with13. Hiding in the trees, staring silently through the walls, watching, waiting… when did this Superman become Michael Myers?

Our hero spends much of the second act silently pining for his lost love… and when he finally decides to take action (taking her on a romantic flight over Metropolis), you start to get the bad, bad feeling that Superman is trying to break up a family so he can be with Lois again. Because it’s not enough for him to be a Super-Stalker; no, Singer had to make him a wannabe homewrecker, too14. Luckily, Lois remembers that she has a fiancée before they end up kissing, and their nighttime rendezvous ends up amounting to nothing (other than backing Lois off of her “Superman is a douchebag!” stance). But it just feels unseemly for the Big Blue Boy Scout to be making romantic overtures towards an engaged woman (even if they pointedly emphasize that she refuses to set a wedding date and make things official); it puts them in an awkward position wherein he’s trying to emotionally manipulate her, and she ends up lying to her fiancée repeatedly, so they BOTH come off as jerks.

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Made all the worse by the fact that James Marsden is playing the nicest, most upstanding guy in the WORLD.

… Then in act three, the movie suddenly gets ugly.

Lois (captured by Lex Luthor—ALONG WITH HER SON—when she stupidly climbs aboard a yacht to investigate the blackout that originated from his mansion) ends up in a tense, nerve-wracking situation when Lex leaves them alone, guarded by a single burly thug. The thug reveals a TRULY creepy tattoo on the back of his head…

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Courtesy of Todd McFarlane.

… and then sits menacingly next to her son at a piano, playing out a duet of “Heart and Soul” with the tyke as Lois desperately tries to send out an S.O.S by fax (how quaint!). But when she’s inevitably discovered… the thug ends up viciously attacking her, flinging her over the table, against the wall, and finally to the floor. We see him pick up a large, flat crystal geode and wind up to crush Lois’s skull with it… but thank goodness, little Jason manages to save the day by, uh, hurling the entire piano at the thug and killing him stone dead.

… Doesn’t this seem a little VIOLENT for a Superman movie? Especially one that’s supposed to be a continuation of the family-friendly Christopher Reeve films?

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... Okay, admittedly, the piano bit DOES play like something out of a Looney Tune.

And then it happens again! Superman confronts Luthor on his ill-gotten crystal island, only to discover that the entire landmass is laced with Kryptonite… and once he’s in a weakened state, Luthor’s thugs decide to violently assault the Man of Steel in a protracted sequence that still confounds me. They punch him, kick him, drag him across the floor, fling him into the jagged rock walls, kick him when he’s down, and hold his face down in a puddle of water. And as the coup de grâce? Lex comes up behind him and stabs him in the side with a Kryptonite shiv! I mean… Jesus Christ! WHY?!

(… Okay, actually, “Jesus Christ” is EXACTLY the reason for this scene. Singer’s take on Superman includes a tremendous amount of on-the-nose Biblical imagery and allegory—he assumes the crucifix position after “defeating” Lex’s island, and he rises from his comatose “death” after three days. It’s all extremely tedious, and this scene is the worst offender: this is Superman’s version of the Passion Play, wherein Supes is beaten and tormented by the humanity he was sent to save, and his shivving is pointedly *heh!* paralleled to the stabbing of Jesus on the cross with the Spear of Destiny. Because God knows that what we ALL wanted to see from Superman’s big return to the screen was The Passion of the Kryptonian.)

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Superman getting shanked: fun for the whole family!

So Superman gets a last-moment rescue from Lois and Richard in their seaplane, flies back after a quick recharge in the sunlight, hefts the entire crystal island up into space, and…

… wait, that’s it? THAT’S the big payoff of the movie?!?

Superman gets his rocks off (the planet).

Well… yeah. The antagonism in this film is weak, to say the least. To begin with, the writers decided to pitch Lex Luthor as the main villain of the film—AGAIN (he’d been the villain in three out of the four earlier movies). And while Lex makes his big speeches early in the film about technology as “fire from the Gods” and how we should imagine “cities, weapons, [and] vehicles” all being grown from crystals… in the end, all he actually wants to do is grow his own (lifeless, non-arable) crystal landmass and sell it off (to the very people whose homes he would be destroying with this scheme, presumably). It’s a remarkably asinine plan from a villain who plays more like a huckster than a mastermind15, and it’s not terribly dramatic to watch play out. Where is all the “advanced alien technology, thousands of years beyond what anyone could throw at [him]” that Lex is crowing about a few scenes before? Where are the crystalline missile turrets? The crystal tanks? Hover ships? Mech drones? Even a single bloody laser gun? How exactly was Lex planning to hold onto his landmass once the MILITARY showed up?

But see, Lex and his plan are really just a subplot—a generic, vaguely thematically-resonant obstacle for Superman to overcome at the end of the movie. Lex only has a single scene with the Man of Steel at the tail end of the movie; all of his screentime before that is spent goofing around with his entourage of goons and his new moll Kitty (Parker Posey, possibly the highlight of the whole film), and setting up plot details in the build-up to his big Krypto-island finale. He may be the “bad guy”, but he’s not actually the antagonist of Superman Returns.

… The antagonist is Lois Lane.

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LOIS is the character who most resents Superman for leaving, and who directly challenges the need for his return (“The world doesn’t need a savior, and neither do I!”). She’s the one whose new status quo Superman finds hardest to cope with16, and who ultimately drives him to let go of the past completely (finally finding the courage to say “goodbye” to her at the climax—the very thing she decried him for being unable to say before he left for Krypton). And in the end, SHE’S the one who has to decide that the world still needs a Superman before he can find his new place in it—a new role SHE gives him (with the knowledge that he’s a father), and with it a reason to go on that lifts him out of his coma and gives him a renewed lease on life.

But building the entire movie around this wistful examination of lost love… forcing Superman to admit that Lois no longer has room for him in her life, that things are more complicated and that he just doesn’t fit into the equation… it’s a premise that conveys a downer of a presupposition from the filmmakers: “SUPERMAN DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE.”

Because lifting a car over one’s head isn’t as impressive as it was in 1938…?

It’s a story clearly conceived by someone who sees Superman as a relic of the past—outdated, simplistic, too naïve and childish to make sense in a contemporary setting (hence his violent beating in act three17). It confronts him with a complicated and messy world (embodied by Lois) that has moved past him and doesn’t seem to NEED him anymore, and shades all the romantic and heroic beats of the earlier films with a pervasive sense of melancholy and loss. Hell, even the colors on Superman’s COSTUME are less strident and bold—the reds sinking down into a dark shade of rust, while the blues fade out into a pale sky color. We spend most of the film in mourning for the simpler, more adventurous and romantic days of yore, before Superman FINALLY finds his new role at the tail-end of the movie: as the father to his ex’s son, with partial visitation rights… still on good terms with the mom, and grudgingly respectful of his son’s stepdad. A complex and mature new status quo for a complex world!18

… And then the movie ends before we get to see that new status quo in action.

The overall effect is that the movie feels like a dirge—a funeral march for Superman, rather than his triumphant return19. Deconstructing superheroes was certainly nothing new in 2006, but this was Superman’s first feature film since 1987; audiences were PRIMED for a glorious return to form for the Man of Steel, just like they’d gotten for Batman the year before. But instead of a high-flying adventure full of color and energy like, say, Spider-Man, we were treated to a somber, meditative relationship drama peppered with unsettling moral ambiguity and disturbing violence, starring a brooding and moody Man of Steel. Even today, knowing just how far down the grim-‘n-gritty path Superman would be forced by Warner Bros., the majority of this film isn’t entertaining so much as it is depressing.

… And then Superman flies by the camera and smiles while the John Williams theme plays, and we all end up getting last-second tonal whiplash!

IS IT WORTH YOUR DIME?: Kinda? Maybe? It feels like a near-miss, with some good ideas and a few spectacular crescendos sprinkled throughout… heck, there are a lot of things to like in this movie! But the overall dour, mopey tone and the weak narrative thrust (along with some seriously unpleasant low points) can make it a tough sit.

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Though it might get easier to watch if they ever release a “Christopher Plummer” cut of the film. (*Thank you to Sheltie and Warmerdam for helping me make this dumb joke a reality!)



  1. That INCREDIBLE 777 Rescue Sequence: Say what you will about the rest of the film, but the scene where Superman struggles mightily to catch a full-size passenger plane that’s falling out of the sky is AMAZING. The build-up of suspense leading to the disaster is engrossing, the danger evolves and escalates with each passing moment, and the fact that Superman has to contend with believable physics (he tries to grab the wing to slow the plane’s uncontrolled spin, but ends up sheering it off by accident) adds an extra layer of palpable tension to the sequence. This is the undeniable high point of the film: a rollicking, high-stakes thrill-ride with a triumphant finish! It’s just a shame that the movie never manages to soar to these heights again…
  2. Jimmy Olsen, baby!: So it suddenly occurred to me watching this that, even though we’ve seen versions of “Jimmy Olsen” in Batman v. Superman and on Supergirl… this movie is actually the last time we’ve seen the classic interpretation of Jimmy on screen. Youthful! Enthusiastic! Luckless! Heck, he even wears a freakin’ bowtie—in 2006! Sam Huntington brings a lot of energy and humor to the part, and he ends up being one of the brightest spots in the movie20!
  3. Somebody Call Dr. House: One of the most striking and clever scenes in the film features the Man of Steel getting wheeled into the E.R. after falling back to Earth from chucking Luthor’s Kryptonite island into space. The doctors hustle around him, managing to get his shirt off so they can work… but their needles can’t get through his skin. They try to shock his heart back into rhythm, but the E.K.G. current just bounces back and nearly shorts out the room’s electricity. There’s the building sense of dread and inevitability as the problem becomes clear: how do you provide medical attention to someone with a completely invulnerable body?
  4. “The Son Becomes The Father…”: Perhaps the most genuinely affecting moment comes at the end of the film, when a recovered Superman flies to the White residence to see the child he now knows to be his son. After a moment of contemplating Jason as he sleeps, a look of pride and wonder on his face, Superman begins reciting the lines Jor-El spoke to him as a baby:

    You will make my strength your own.
    You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine.
    The son becomes the father, and the father… becomes the son.

    Not only does this provide a new context for the original dialogue (framing it with ceremonial reverence, suggesting a tradition passed down through generations from father to son), but it affirms the film’s messaging about moving forward and renewal: Superman finds new happiness in progressing from being a son to a father. It’s a sweet resolution to his story (even if it takes far too long to come into focus).

  5. Steely-Eyed: So when Superman decides to relieve some stress by stopping some random crimes at the beginning of act two, he runs across a bank robbery—the perps firing down on police cars with a frame-mounted MINIGUN while they prepare to escape by helicopter. Supes swoops in for the rescue, walking steadily towards the minigun as the gunner empties all his ammo on the Man of Steel’s chest. Cornered and enraged, the gunner steps forward and aims a handgun at Superman’s EYE, firing at point-blank range… and the result is the coolest single shot in the movie!

    Bullet Time
    This shot ALONE cost $2.3 million. God, no WONDER this movie was so expensive…
  6. BONUS! The Return to Krypton: Yes, one of my favorite bits from this film is something that isn’t even IN the film. The original opening scene of the movie was a spectacular sequence which saw Clark flying a full-sized crystalline spacecraft all the way back to Krypton, which he discovers to be a massive, lifeless husk floating in space… and which is teeming with Kryptonite. The scene cost $10 million by ITSELF, and would have opened the film with an epic sense of scope, a clear thematic hook, and a thrilling escape to draw viewers in… but Singer opted at the last moment to cut the entire sequence and replace it with an abbreviated C.G. recap of the destruction of Krypton. If you want to see what COULD have been, though, this is the sequence in its entirety (it’s the only version I could find where the poster didn’t pipe in John Williams music that isn’t supposed to be there):

NEXT ISSUE: After gobbling up a few stray minnows, the time has come to hunt down the great White Whale of bad comic book movies (and the beginning of the tragic downfall of George Lucas): Howard the Duck!