Why the world doesnt need Superman Returns.

A lot has been said about the new Supe, the man in the blue suit with a red cape and an underwear over ‘em all. A lot has also been said about how Supe Returns is an awesome movie; but I was pretty much disappointed.

First off the best things about the movie: the actors, actresses, villians, musicians, directors, musicians, sidekicks, thugs, gawkers, dogs, cats, whales and dinosaurs and all of them stay very true to original. They play the same role they played in the original. So no issues on that front.

Brandon Routh is definitely the new Supe. He has succeeded Reeve; but he just cannot replace him. Reeve had created such a believable Supe that Routh finds it hard to fit into the cape. But then Reeve was well… Supe. Anycase, Brandon makes a great Supe; almost a mimic of Reeve; but never quite the Reeve. You see, Superman’s hidden identity is Clark Kent i.e. Superman’s mask is Kent. And hence Clark Kent can be quite a intelligent bumbling dolt at times. He still can hide a smirk behind that bumbling self. And Routh misses that logic and hence you find him take to playing Clark very seriously.

And frankly if this movie was five years after the earlier series, he has got to look the part. I cannot have a adolescent guy play the man; when he’s still a kid out of college.

These are however my least of my worries.

The initial scenes of the movie set the tone for the rest of the movie. A weak hand reaching out to ask for support from his mother… Superman’s return itself is a sign of his internal struggle.

In the DC comic superhero universe, we already have hordes of superheroes who have a dark, vulnerable and deeply emotional side to them. There is the grumbling Hulk who is angry and wants to be left alone, a metaphor for an anger against the system. Batman in spite of his coolest gadgets is a brooding, dark guy; the stalker. Spidey is as yet the college guy still coming to terms with his responsibility that is thrust upon because of his powers and the love for this lady; and failing at managing both perfectly. In all this however, there was only one guy who was truly a superhero: Superman. And also please note that no one uses the word Superhero to describe Superman.Well, thats because, Superman is Superman. And I don’t need one more nostalgic, dark, brooding, vulnerable Superman. He is not a human!

And why did we need a kid for Superman anyway? Did the writers even think how extremely biologically impossible it would be for the SuperFoetus to stay in Lois’ womb? I mean, one kick from the foetus(kid) as is done by the infants and that would be the end of the Supe’s Love Story. Seriously, Superman and Lois Lane AND a kid?! Thanks but no thanks.

Not that it means anything to the fans; but IMO Supe was humanized too much. It was traumatic experience for me to see Superman’s cape being ripped off in the hospital to resusciate him. I definitely didn’t need to see that. The cape is not his second skin, it was him.

And why was the need for him to physically fall down so many times? And pushed about?

And if crystal were so dangerous to him, they did no damage even when he lifted the whole frigging land mass? And I bet it isnt even physically possible; a huge mountain mass the size of a country? Never mind that the biggest criminals he comes to stop in the movie are two bandits with a rail gun??! What ever happened to creative thinking?

The movie falters by trying to be very loyal to the original and then trying to convince me that Superman is now ready to move on from being a orphan son to a doting father?!Its a anachronism to me, the Supe movie.

I definitely don’t hate the movie;but neither do it love it as is already evident. Just that I’m now quite indifferent to it; and thats one territory I dont want any movie to be in.

And hence my world doesnt need a Superman Returns.

Bradley in the comments below is much more eloquent and clear that what I pointed out here.

14 thoughts on “Why the world doesnt need Superman Returns.

  1. Hmmm…haven’t seen the movie yet, but the trailers were enough for me to do a quick check and subsequently download loads of Brandon Routh pics :) He’s droolworthy!!

    You dont think Superman’s overdone?

    The character was never a fave, and (not) surprisingly, Batman was, for the simple reason that he was human and therefore more believable. And yeah, there’s a reason why Superman was meant to be ‘super’-hero – above human and all that…
    So maybe the character needed a popularity boost with some humanizing…assuming am not the only one rooting for Batman…

    Kinda funny in the sense that Brandon Routh alone with bring the female audiences to the theatres, and no need for the senti angle in that sense :P So yeah, from your point of view, it does seem like a huge let-down…

  2. @sabs
    batman is definitely a great character to look into; but the biggest tortured unwitting superhero is the Hulk to me! What intrigues me however is the point why is humanising such an important aspect; humanizing by giving them tender moments, vulnerable moments?

    And yep, routh is def droooolworthy. Lots of female friends do tell the new supe is more droolworthy :D ; which definitely isnt going to strike a great chord with us…

    yeah supe was Ok.

  3. Are u kidding me ppl. Sabitha with all due respect, superman has the greatest and the longest fan following of any ‘superhero’ in the world. None of the others can even hold a candle to that. Superman is who every other superhero can look upto Dependable and constant, he is like the bread and butter of super hero literature.

  4. @suman
    and prolly thats the reason why i really didnt like the downsizing of supe in the movie. he is just superman, and so potraying him like batman or a confused junior supe just wont do.

  5. @sabs :)

    hmmmmmmmmm… about your question, the problem is not with making him sentimental per se, but making him another angst ridden superhero, i guess. not to speak of this new superman was very disconnected. not to speak he is yet to look a man.

  6. t least, not the version that made it into theaters last week. But, conceptually speaking, we do need a “superman.” A hero who embodies the greatness of which we are capable of achieving in various areas – whether it be physical, mental, or spiritual. We needed our Hercules, our Beowulfs, our King Arthurs, and our Achilles further back in the timeline. We needed Captain America, Spiderman, Superman, and Batman in the more recent era. The human condition always craves these icons. But, the problem always goes back to relevancy.

    I spent a couple of hours last night watching the A&E documentary, “Look! Up in the Sky!” – a very nice presentation of the story (and history) of Superman. On a tangent, I heartily recommend this to anyone who is interested in Superman. Check it out. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Anyway, this documentary chronicled the 70-year ups and downs of the character, and it dawned on me precisely why it seems that Brian Singer’s incarnation of Superman doesn’t seem to be clicking.

    And it all boils down to timing. Timing and relevancy to that timing.

    Had this movie in its exact form come out in the early to mid-1990s, I think it’s reception would have been significantly more warm. And, I don’t mean because of the special effects being newer and more advanced for the early to mid-1990s – if one is onclined to believe that. No, I am referring to the story.

    First, I completely assert that Singer made a beautiful movie. The composition, the colors, the tone, the style… I’m not the first to say it, but I am happy to agree with the following statement and gladly reiterate it: Singer’s movie is as if Alex Ross’ artwork were brought to life. But, in the end, it’s not enough. The problem is that, at its core – as presented – the story of Superman Returns is simply a disconnect.

    First, as was made clear in “Look! Up in the Sky!”, Superman’s popularity changed within cycles of social adjustment. There were times when the character didn’t seem as relevant – when, in fact, he became a parody of himself. During the upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s, Superman as the Big Blue Boy Scout simply didn’t reflect what people needed or wanted. It took, apparently, the 1978 movie to reinvent Superman in a way that brought people back to the fold and made Superman “cool” again. It was a time where crime was running rampant, the economy was faltering, and the country was attempting to begin the process of healing and forgiving itself and each other for all the social problems of the previous decade and a half. A symbol was needed to crystallize what we once thought we were and what we hoped to be. Cue Christopher Reeve.

    Fast forward to now. While there are things going on today that mirror what was happening in the late 1970s, it’s still a different landscape and this is where we get to the heart of the problems with Singer’s Superman Returns.

    The first thing that went “wrong” with the release of this film was the decision to cut Superman’s arrival among the ruins of Krypton. From what I understand, there was an extended sequence shot where Kal-El travels among the graveyard – as he would refer to it later on when talking to Martha – of Krypton’s remains. This was critical to establishing the tone of what the film needed to be: That Kal-El/Superman becomes a somber, less optimistic (almost spiritually defeated) hero. This is why Clark isn’t the Clark we remember of old – he no longer has the same enthusiasm or what-have-you. The beginning of the film needed to be his spiritual “fall” – later to be mirrored but not one, not two, but three physical “falls” – where his last hopes for community with his native people are forever dashed so that everything else that happens in the film in terms of communion with family held more resonance.

    The next thing that went “wrong” was the decision to cut the scenes where Martha revealed her engagement to Ben Hubbard. Ater “losing” forever any hope of a Kryptonian connection, he comes back to earth… and finds out his mother has moved on. Then he finds out that Lois has moved on. Then, by virtue of seeing Lois’ article, he is given the impression that the world has moved on. All his ties – all his former “reasons for being” – are now seemingly severed. It’s as if all the alienation that he experienced growing up came back in full force. And, this should have all culiminated in the scene where he spies on Lois and her family and she professes not to have loved him. It is immediately afterward that Superman flies up to the atmosphere and goes back to the only thing he has left: Saving people. Essentially, emotionally, he has hit rock bottom. But we didn’t get a sense of the full weight of that because most of what was needed to build toward that was cut from the movie because of running time. All we get a sense of is Superman “stalking” – which is not what the scene was about, but because the proper context was not given, that’s how it came off. As such, all of this that I mentioned serve as a character disconnect for audiences.

    Then, the next thing that goes “wrong” for the movie is what happens immediately after Superman opens his eyes up there in the atmosphere and goes rocketing back to earth. And this is where the movie begins its social disconnect from audiences. Of all the situations of peril that he must have heard up there – of all the cries that must have wafted up asking for help – he opts to deal with a bank robbery? Really? And that’s the problem. Sure, the movie stacked the deck in the bank robbery’s favor by making the robbers have this awesome fixed machine gun that out-guns the police. Although, that’s a problem with the story in and of itself considering bank robbers usually plan to get in and get out very quickly and don’t bother to take the time to fortify a position with essentially seige weaponry. They had a helicoptor – which I buy – but couldn’t they have taken off in the time it took to set of the machine gun contraption? Or, at the very least, why wasn’t it affixed to the helicoptor itself – which would make perfect sense because such a thing would certainly discourage pursuit, no? But, that aside, I go back to the point: Of all the things going on in the world, he opts to help out in a bank robbery? Really?

    Doing this in the 1978 film made perfect sense. Catching thieves and etc. But, today, crime is actually down. That’s not what makes us worry – for ourselves and our families. We live in a world right now where we fear being abandoned by our government during a natural disaster. We live in a world where we fear our children will be taken by predators even when simply crossing the street. We live in a world where our churches get burned down and where our children get shot while attending school.

    We don’t need a hero who’s little more than a glorified policeman or firefighter. Those are important, to be sure,… but we have those. We don’t need a hero who’s going to protect our real estate needs. We need a Superman to do the things that we can’t. We need him to hold back the flood waters and to find our children before it’s too late. That’s what’s relevant in this day and age.

    So, the only thing worse than having a Superman disappear and not come back is to have a Superman leave and come back – and not get why we need him now. And that is exactly the mistake that Singers movie makes. Singer made a beautiful movie. He just didn’t tell us a beautiful story. And that’s a bit of a shame.

    Because I think we need Superman, and, despite the release of this film, are still waiting for him to return.

  7. @Bradley
    Absolutely.

    ‘Superman Returns’ goes into a comic book superhero territory that generally none of us have ever associated Superman with – that of a conflicted hero. Superman was and is just too perfect to be in anyway associated with the mundane everyday things that ever other superhero has to deal with – Batman with his conflicted childhood, Spidey with his growing up concerns, X-Men with their need to integrate into the society, Hulk with his obvious problem. But Superman? Just not there.

    Singer made an absolutely brilliant movie – visually, psychologically, a meditation into the mind of a conflicted superhero that generally never is in that state. Single point, Superman’s real self is Superman, his alterego is Clark Kent not the other way round as is with any other superheroes. The movie too never ever seemed to wander into that territory; atleast none of the trailers seemed to hint us that.

    And there I guess lies the problem. The vision of singer to showcase a new side to Superhero and the audience just wanting to get back to ‘Super’man.

    This I just add to your comment. Its a shame that I cannot link to your site from my site. If I could do that, please can you post me a link to yours?

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