Skip to main contents
Darren says

Singer is very reverential to Donner's vision, serving up a modern sequel to Superman 1 and 2. It suffers for the very same reason and lacks enough conflict or emotion to make it truly meaningful, as much as we would like it to.

Tym says

This pefectly caps off the Donner films, and is excellent. Up yours, MAN OF KILL.

Ciaran says

Would have loved this more if Superman wasn't a deadbeat dad. Suffers from Singer being too close to the source material.

You have to know where you came from to know where to go.

In this triumphant return to form, director Bryan Singer sums the best of Superman's past while setting his course for a new future. We see reflections of the 30's origins with the art deco Daily Planet, the noble alien of Bates' and Maggin's '70s Superman, and most particularly the majestic sweep of the Donner films. Singer evokes the best qualities of Superman I and II so well that he literally erases the trauma of III and IV.

But anyone who dismisses this film as a retread of the Donner past misses all the new that Singer brings forward with it. The scope is bigger, Kal-El is deeper, and the villain darker. The camp asides fade and an intense urgency comes forward. The divine celestial with humane dignity we see here is the one from Alan Moore's '80s Superman and '90s Supreme stories, and Mark Waid and Alex Ross' "Kingdom Come" (1996), and Grant Morrison's "All-Star Superman" (2005); the soulful sentinel born in the beyond and tragedy, raised in dirt and ideals, radiant as the sun and hope. Lois Lane takes on a Katherine Hepburn slant, Perry White pensive dignity, and Kevin Spacey hinges Gene Hackman's car salesman into the real Luthor, a brilliant man eaten up by bitterness that makes him seriously dangerous. Even the color palette is tempered, with a muted suit and a haunted cast to Kal-El's heart.

Another advance is power. The main, unaddressed flaw in screen portrayals of Superman is that they hadn't conveyed how super he really is; he's not just the default Strongman with flight and vision. Much of this is either budget or ignorance. Under Weisinger and Schwartz's editorship during the Space Race, Superman and The Flash personified bold conceptual ideas with their powers to spark kids' interest in science: they used their intellect in their physicality to vibrate through matter, warp sound and air and temperature and and atoms, traverse time and dimension, and create technology. The screen Superman could throw thugs but the comics Superman could move planets. Besides the FX challenge, of course, the screen sometimes limits this near omnipotence for dramatic focus. But here we at least finally get to see some sense of how strong he can be, with the ship and the crystal island sequences.

But it's the lucent seraph behind those powers that lifts our spirit and this fine film.