Not as super as it should have been (warning: geekfest alert and spoilers)

I’m afraid I was somewhat underwhelmed by Superman Returns, which I saw on Saturday evening. In part, this may be because I built it up too much, being a fan of both the Richard Donner film and Bryan Singer. However, there are a number of ways in which I think the film took a wrong turn. So, Mr Singer, here’s my constructive feedback:

Play up the ultimate refugee angle: the thing about Superman is that on the one hand he is a Strange Visitor from Another Planet but on the other he is the quintassential Earthling. He grew up on Earth (well, the USA which is almost the same thing), brought up by human parents who taught him his values. His powers are sourced in our yellow sun. Yet in Superman Returns, all this is kept in the background in favour of emphasising his alien heritage. To be fair, I think the Donner film makes this mistake to a lesser extent as well.

Much more should have been made of his return to his mother and Smallville. And much more should have been made of the bit when he recharged himself with the sun’s rays – it should have looked much more like he was regenerating than having a quick refreshing sunbathe.

Don’t be ashamed of the American Way: being a British liberal, it is almost taken for granted that I must be a yankee-hating surrender-monkey. Not so – they are a great people, who only lack the light to show them the way. The whole “thou shalt not take part in human history” thing IS the same thing as “thou shalt not be a neo-con” – it is a shocking wasted opportunity to both avoid exploring this theme and to excise all references to the American Way.

Clark Kent, remember him? It was a mistake, in my view, to bring back Clark and Superman literally on the same day. The whole glasses thing is a stretch as it is, without expecting no-one to realise that both of them vanished and reappeared at the same time.

Much more should have been made of this. Clark shouldn’t have been brought back at the start – he should have originally rejected the idea of going back to playing the double life. Gradually, over time, he should have realised that he needed to embrace his human life and, at the end of the film, Clark should have made his comeback. That would have been far better than simply forgetting about the Clark persona for the last half of the film as it was.

As for the Lois-has-a-fiance-and-child thing, well, I still haven’t completely made up my mind about it, but it did strike me as one of those good-idea-at-the-time things that ended up getting them stuck in a corner with nowhere to go. In the end, they totally copped out by leaving the big resolution to the sequel (if at all). In the end, they seemed to lack the courage of their convictions.

Don’t get me wrong, I quite liked it as a film. It just didn’t sweep me off my feet.

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