Screenwriter: Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden, Kevin Spacey
Running time: 154 mins
Superman (Routh) returns to his adopted home of Earth after five years of absence (since the end of Superman II), to find his world changed. Former love interest Lois Lane (Bosworth), now with a partner (Marsden) and a son, has stroppily turned against Supes after he flew out of her life, even winning a Pulitzer for an article entitled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman". As well as trying to regain his relationship with her, our hero must stop Lex Luthor's (Spacey) plans for world domination, involving making a new continent from Kryptonian technology.
Newcomer Brandon Routh does a fine job of filling the boots of the definitive screen Superman, Christopher Reeve, with whom he shares more than a passing resemblance physically as well as carrying the mannerisms over perfectly. Kate Bosworth is functional as Lois, whilst a recording of Marlon Brando is an effective inclusion as our hero's late father. Kevin Spacey is particularly well cast as the villainous Lex Luthor, his effectiveness made all the more impressive by the fact that his air of menace certainly overshadows his threatening plot, which to be honest seems a little silly from the outset.
This is what Singer's film is really all about - the atmosphere and the characters' relationships are the captivating elements rather than special effects and superheroic deeds, which is testament to the strength of the former rather than any weakness in the latter. On this score, it really does make you wonder how the last X-Men could have turned out had Brett Ratner not taken over. It's also interesting to note the involvement of the X2 writers.
Not only does the movie reintroduce one of the world's most popular superheroes for a new cinema-going generation, it does so in a reverential way to the Richard Donner films. Routh hasn't made the role his own, and the filmmakers have been careful to stick to the same, sometimes downbeat, tone as the other movies.
Superman Returns does for the Man of Steel what Chris Nolan's Batman Begins did for the Dark Knight, if not more so. Not only was there the obstacle of a movie franchise which arguably carried on a little longer than it should have, but also the fact that Supes hasn't really been too prominent in the public consciousness in the past few years.
Now that he has returned so spectacularly, no doubt the world will want more of Superman, need him or not.