Notes on *Superman Returns*

Superman seems to be on many genre-fans’ minds these days, especially with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice to be released in theaters 2+ weeks from now. Plus, an actor that previously played the Man of Steel, Brandon Routh, can be seen nowadays as an armored version of Ray Palmer, aka The Atom, in DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow” series. So, when I remembered that I had some notes from back when I saw Routh in Superman Returns (2006), I thought I may as well share them now….

Superman ReturnsGeneral

Overall, good and a nice ‘return’ for the franchise, but not what I’d hoped for. Decent casting, though the only one that really stands out is Spacey as Luthor. Bosworth as Lane was OK, but not great. Routh as Clark/Supes was pretty good, though he could stand to bulk up a bit more.

Somehow, I never got the thrill that I got with the first two Reeve films, though. But, the old music certainly helped get me close.

[I will add here that, as I recall, the plot was OK — fairly typical for such genre fare –, but it could/should have been much better. I can’t really remember any themes or moral lessons, unfortunately. No, wait,… I do remember somewhat of a messianic theme. I may need to watch it again.]

The Ship

Did Clark return in that crystal-ship (if that’s what it was), or did it somehow follow him? Was it the original ship, somehow restored? Is that how he managed to travel for several years… in space… w/o food or water… away from the yellow sun?  I hope so, because that needs explaining.

The Action

What was the timing for the climactic events? Lois picked up her son at 3:15pm, then enough time elapsed in which she didn’t show (presumably at the Daily Planet offices) for Perry et al. to be worried. And it was still daylight when Superman fell from the sky into the park. I can accept that the next scenes (i.e., crowds outside the hospital, Lois et al. at the Planet) took place the next day, but it seems like a LOT happened before that.

Let’s assume that Lex’s mansion was no more than 15 minutes away from Jason’s school, so they got there by 3:30pm. Let’s also assume that it is mid-summer and it doesn’t get dark until about 8pm. And, let’s then assume that it got dark very soon after Superman fell. (Btw, how did he manage to fall back into Metropolis, after flying into the outer atmosphere w/ the Earth rotating below him?) That gives roughly 4 1/2 hours for EVERYTHING to happen!

And that brings up another point. Based on Lex’s maps (who made those, anyway?), the center of the new landmass would be many, many miles off the coast. Yet, they seemed to get where they were going fairly quickly. It COULD have taken hours, but then there wouldn’t have been any daylight left for the rest of the crystal growth, resulting dangers & rescues in Metropolis, Superman finding and getting beaten by Luthor, Lois & others finding Superman, Superman returning and “excising” the crystal growth, etc.

Incidentally, where did that sliver of kryptonite come from that the doctor removed? Was it leftover from the shard he was stabbed with, and he still managed to recharge enough that he could lift/push that mass of crystal even with the kryptonite in him?! Or, did the sliver grow into him as he was pushing the crystal mass out of orbit?

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor

The Kid

How old is Jason White? Superman must have left Earth before Lois was showing — say, within 3 months of conception, so she gave birth roughly 6 months later. He was gone about 5 years, but let’s say anywhere from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 years. This makes Jason 5 years at the oldest and 4 years at the youngest. Yet, to my eyes, he looks at least 7.

Also, if Jason’s last name is really ‘White’, does that mean Richard legally adopted him, even though he and Lois aren’t married? I suppose Lois could have given Jason the name at birth, but that would mean she and Richard were already dating pretty seriously….

So, perhaps it wasn’t as bad as some have made it out to be in the nearly 10 years since it came out. But, the film was definitely a “mixed bag”. As usual, several of my observations/complaints could have been avoided or resolved with a bit more attention to detail on the part of the writers and director.

Next time you watch Superman Returns, keep a few of these things in mind, and then let me know if you had the same questions and/or if you thought of a good way to explain any of it. Cheers!

Fan-Cast: Bionic Reboot, part 2: Steve Austin

Six Million Dollar Man montageSteve Austin, the “world’s first bionic man”, was (along with Captain James T. Kirk) one of my favorite TV characters and heroes while growing up. Still is. Not surprisingly, that also meant that Lee Majors was (along with William Shatner) one of my favorite actors. (Loved him in “The Fall Guy”, too.) I personally haven’t seen much of Majors — at least, not in a regular, major role — since the late, lamented “The Raven” (1992/3) and the final bionic TV movie (“Bionic Ever After?” (1994)), though he does appear occasionally on current TV series.

Majors (6′,b.1939) was 33 when the first “The Six Million Dollar Man” TV movie aired in March 1973. As I explained in a previous post, that is roughly the age I would like him to be in my proposed reboot, too. He was also attractive, athletic, with a solid build, all of which make sense for the “Steve Austin” character. Having already attained the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force with experience as an astronaut, we know Steve Austin is a skilled pilot and dedicated to serving his country. He has a certain amount of drive and ambition. (Btw, if the actor chosen is somehow not believable as a Colonel, maybe due to youthful appearance, I figure he could be “demoted” to Major Lee Majors as Steve Austin - on one kneewithout it affecting the story much.)

As I recall from Martin Caidin’s book Cyborg, on which the TV series is based, Austin was somewhat arrogant and full of pride. Fortunately, they toned that down in the series, so that the character was more likable. Once he worked through the physical and psychological trauma of the accident and the subsequent acclimation to having bionic limbs (and an eye), which came with an obligation to work (at least part-time) as an O.S.I. operative, Austin became a good and reliable agent. He developed a respect for and friendship with both his boss, Oscar Goldman, and his “doctor”, Rudy Wells. I seem to remember he also had a decent sense of humor, a strong ethical code, and he could be depended on to fight for his country and bring down the bad guys.

I read something from a few years ago about Bryan Singer being set to direct a new movie version called “The Six Billion Dollar Man”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I cannot tell you how wrong that would be. I sincerely pray that it never gets beyond the planning stages.

So,… who do I think should be up for the part in a movie or (hopefully) new TV series?

Alex O'Loughlin on stool - jeans and brown leather jacketAlex O’Loughlin (6’0.75″,b.1976)

If you read my fan-cast post for Batman, you know that O’Loughlin was in the running for that role, too. But, I am even more in favor of him for this role. In fact, he was the first person I thought of. He has the right build, good looks, and is very fit, of course. He also plays an action-prone military officer on “Hawaii Five-O”, so I’m used to thinking of him in that context. My only reservations are a) he is already pushing my preferred age parameters and b) I don’t know if he could portray “Steve Austin” different enough from “Steve McGarrett”, while retaining the qualities I think work for both.



Tom Welling as Clark Kent on porch - tee-shirt and jacketTom Welling (6’2.75″,b.1977)

Welling pleased a lot of genre fans when he played young Clark Kent in “Smallville” for 10 seasons. (The finale was a bit disappointing, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.) Welling has proven he can play the “regular”, decent guy who struggles with having unusual abilities and the responsibilities that come with them, makes occasional mistakes but always ends up the hero. Regarding the Steve Austin role, I think it is different enough and can be played differently enough, so that the parallels with Clark Kent would remain only surface-deep. And, of course, he also has the look and build for it.

Brandon Routh - smiling with jacket collar upBrandon Routh (6’2.5″,b.1979)

Coincidentally, the third actor I recommend for the “Steve Austin” role is another former “Clark Kent”. Routh was, of course, the Man of Steel in the somewhat disappointing Superman Returns (2006) movie. He has since popped up here and there in various TV series, including 10 episodes of “Chuck” as Agent Daniel Shaw. Routh is tall, dark, & handsome, and I believe could do a great job as the Bionic Man. He is athletic, very likable, and, as the youngest of these three, he is the best age for the part. Plus, Routh needs a regular role like this to help him establish a new identity for himself as an actor. (Yes, that was a superhero/spy pun.)



Just for good measure, here are a few others to consider: Channing Tatum (6’1″,b.1980) has the physique, likability factor, and is just barely old enough. (But, he might be “too big” a star for a TV role.) Mike Vogel (5’10”,b.1979) is another possibility. While I usually prefer to stick to the original race/ethnicity of a character, I don’t see why Steve Austin couldn’t be Black, so… I think Lance Gross (6′,b.1981) and Jay Ellis (6’2.5″,b.1981) are potential candidates. They are a tad on the young side, as well, but not enough to make much difference; plus, they have the necessary physical qualities. (I assume they come across as likable guys, too, but I’m not familiar with their work.)

So? Do these guys have the right stuff? (Yes, that was an astronaut joke/reference.) Can you picture any of them as our bionic hero, “The Six Million (Billion?) Dollar Man”? Or, do you prefer someone else? Let’s hear it!

Finally, yes, I know I said last time that I would also fan-cast “Bigfoot” today, but I’ve decided to give the hairy son-of-a-gun his own post. ‘Til then…


* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2014.