The Superman Movie That Time Forgot:
A Look Back on Superman Returns

By Felix Quinonez

March 30, 2016

He's great as everything except Superman. Pretty much.

New at BOP:
Share & Save
Digg Button  
Print this column
Over the years some details about the planned sequel have been released. And as the concept art showed, Brainiac would have been the main villain. But as we all know by now, the franchise was rebooted. And there’s no doubt that the movie’s underwhelming box office performance must have at least played some part in WB’s decision to pull the plug on Singer’s vision of Superman.

Heading into the summer of 2006, Superman Returns seemed to have a lot going for it. With a lock on a prime 4th of July release date, the doors were wide open for a big debut. And because the holiday fell on a Tuesday, the movie would essentially have a five day weekend. WB even took it a step further by releasing the movie on Wednesday to get a jumpstart on the weekend.

But even with a very advantageous release strategy, audience excitement never really materialized and the movie had a muted opening. It made $52 million on its opening weekend and $108 million during its first full week. While those numbers are solid, they are in no way spectacular. But what was even more troubling was the fact that the movie didn’t display any sort of staying power. It dropped almost 60% in its second weekend. This showed that the already tepid excitement surrounding the movie quickly evaporated.

After almost five months in theaters it managed to crawl past $200 million domestically. This was respectable but hardly awe-inspiring. That is also an apt way to describe not only the movie’s entire box office performance but also the general reaction to it.


So where, exactly, does that leave Superman Returns? And what—if any—is its legacy? It’s an odd little film for sure. Like the version of the character it portrays, the film is evocative of a more simple time. In this case it is a time before comic book movies split—almost entirely—into two different camps. On one hand are the movies living in Christopher Nolan’s shadows and on the other is the more fun Marvel Studios. And maybe if Superman Returns had come out a couple of years earlier it could have been a sort of endnote to the first stage of the current comic book movie craze. (The stage that Singer himself helped kick start with X-Men.) But instead it came out a bit too late and audiences had already moved on from the kind of story the movie was trying to tell.

But perhaps the movie’s biggest impact can be seen in the way the reboot, Man of Steel, was handled. Christopher Nolan produced that movie and co-wrote the story so it makes sense that his influence would be felt. But it’s not hard to believe that the studio saw the failure of Superman Returns as affirmation to take Superman in a much darker direction.

No doubt the biggest complaint about Superman Returns is that it lacks action. And Man of Steel bends over backwards to avoid suffering the same fate. As the third act of Snyder’s film begins it almost feels as if the movie is saying, “we got the boring stuff out of the way now let’s blow stuff up.” And it does just that. But the countless innocent bystanders aren’t the only casualties. It also seems to put a nail in the coffin of the Superman from Singer’s movie.

Continued:       1       2       3       4       5       6       7       8



Need to contact us? E-mail a Box Office Prophet.
Monday, August 13, 2018
© 2018 Box Office Prophets, a division of One Of Us, Inc.