Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth
What a difference a decade can make. Since shortly after its release in 2006, Superman Returns has seemed like a strange hybrid of success and failure. Overall, it was critically well-received with a 72 Metacritic score that puts it well ahead of Man of Steel's 52 score and Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice's 44, and it managed to take in $200 million at the domestic box office (albeit on a production budget of $270 million). Yet it is less than fondly remembered, having left little to no cultural mark, and plans for a sequel petered out fairly quickly, with Warner Bros. deciding in 2008 to simply reboot the character rather than try to carry on the series that had started in 1978, with the late Christopher Reeve in the title role. It's interesting to think how this film, which does the exact opposite of so many of the things that the DC comic book movies have been criticized for doing in the past few years, might have been received were it released in 2016 instead of 2006. Its an effort that would still pale in comparison to the complex work that the Marvel films have been consistently doing, but I wonder if the gap between Marvel and DC would seem less pronounced if this had been the film to set the shared universe's tone, rather than Man of Steel. Superman Returns is merely an okay movie, but it's a fascinating "what if?"