Bryan Singer Explains What Went Wrong with Superman Returns
04.18.11 by Ryan
Director Bryan Singer has enjoyed plenty of success with comic book movie adaptations like X-Men and X2: X-Men United, but the prevailing perception of his last comic book directorial effort, Superman Returns, is that he failed, despite receiving decent reviews and earning more than $391 million in worldwide box office (on a $270 million budget).
In the intervening years, Singer has come to terms with his feelings about the movie. Now, with director Zack Snyder busy rebooting the franchise (Man of Steel) for Warner Bros., Singer told Comic Book Movie (via THR) what he thought might have lead to the movie's poor audience reaction.
I think that Superman Returns was a bit nostalgic and romantic, and I don't think that was what people were expecting, especially in the summer. What I had noticed is that there weren't a lot of women lining up to see a comic book movie, but they were going to line up to see The Devil Wears Prada, which may have been something I wanted to address. But when you're making a movie, you're not thinking about that stuff, you're thinking, "Wow, I want to make a romantic movie that harkens back to the Richard Donner movie that I loved so much." And that's what I did.
Besides the problem of trying to create a comic book movie that appeals to the Devil Wears Prada crowd, Singer thinks the movie's third act — Superman being stabbed with a shard of Kryptonite by Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) — may have been too "heavy" with religious allegory.
I've always felt that the origin of Superman is the story of Moses — the child sent on a ship to fulfill a destiny. And this was a story about Christ — it's all about sacrifice: The world, I hear their cries. So what happens? He gets the knife in the side and later he falls to the earth in the shape of a crucifix. It was kind of nailing you on the head, but I enjoyed that, because I've always found the myth of Christ compelling and moving. So I hoped to do my own take, which is heavy s**t for a summer movie.
Singer has gone on record to publicly endorse Snyder as the director of Man of Steel, and thinks Warners is correct to reboot the franchise. Singer admitted that if he was "to do another one, it would be a reboot" that would likely remake Donner's 1978 movie.
I would go back and redo the original, but I only thought of that recently. It would be a much less romantic, more balls-to-the-wall action movie. It would be a very different pace than Superman Returns, which I can say at this point because I have distance from it now.