Superman Returns is a 2006 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman. Directed by Bryan Singer, the film stars Brandon Routh as Superman, as well as Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden, Peta Wilson, and Parker Posey. Superman Returns is a loose continuation of Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), and ignores the events of Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). The film tells the story of the title character returning to Earth after several years of absence. He finds that Lois Lane has moved on with her life and that Lex Luthor is plotting a scheme that will destroy the United States.
After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Superman on the screen, Warner Bros. hired Bryan Singer to direct and develop Superman Returns in July 2004. The majority of principal photography took place at Fox Studios Australia, Sydney, while the visual effects sequences were created by Sony Pictures Imageworks; filming ended in November 2005. Preceded by an extensive marketing campaign at the cost of $44.5 million, Superman Returns was released to positive reviews and received many award nominations, but Warner Bros. was disappointed with the $391 million worldwide box office return and is planning to reboot the series, rather than doing a sequel. As a result, the studio has put the Superman franchise on hold.
Superman, having been missing for several years, traveled to where astronomers believed they had discovered the remains of Krypton. During his absence, Lex Luthor was released from prison and married a rich widow to obtain her fortune upon her death. Superman, having failed in his hopes to find surviving Kryptonians, returns to Earth and, as Clark Kent, resumes his job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. He subsequently learns that Lois Lane has won the Pulitzer Prize for her article "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." Meanwhile, Luthor travels to the Fortress of Solitude and steals Kryptonian crystals, which he uses for an experiment that causes a power outage on the East Coast. The power loss interferes with the flight test of a space shuttle to be launched into space from its piggy-back mounting on an airliner, occupied by Lois Lane who is covering the story. Clark flies into action as Superman and stops the plane from crashing onto a baseball stadium.
The world rejoices at Superman's return, but he has difficulty coping with Lois' fiance, Richard White, nephew of Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White, and their son, Jason. With Superman distracted by an out-of-control vehicle (a diversion involving Luthor's henchwoman, Kitty Kowalski), Luthor steals Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum of Natural History. Perry then assigns Lois to interview Superman while Clark investigates the blackout. Lois and Jason inadvertently board Luthor's ship and are captured after Lois decides to hold interest in the blackout story, which she connects to Luthor's experiment. He reveals to them his grand scheme of using one of the stolen Kryptonian crystals, which he has combined with the Kryptonite, to grow a new continental landmass in the Northern Atlantic Ocean that will destroy the United States, in the process killing millions of people.
Seeing the effect of a Kryptonite sample on Jason, Luthor asks who Jason's father really is; Lois asserts that the father is Richard. The crystal begins to create Luthor's new landmass, while Lois attempts to escape but is attacked by a henchman. He is crushed to death by a piano, which Jason shoves into him, thus proving that he really is Superman's son. Meanwhile, Superman is attempting to minimize the destruction in Metropolis caused by the new landmass' growth when Richard arrives in a sea plane to rescue Lois and Jason. Superman soon arrives to help and then flies off to find Luthor.
Meeting Luthor, Superman discovers the landmass is filled with Kryptonite, which weakens him to the point that Luthor and his henchmen are able to beat him. Superman is stabbed by Luthor with a shard of Kryptonite and falls into the ocean. Lois makes Richard turn back to rescue Superman, whereupon she removes the Kryptonite from his back. Superman, after regaining his strength from the sun, lifts the landmass after putting layers of earth between him and the Kryptonite. Luthor and Kitty escape in their helicopter; Kitty, unwilling to let millions of people die, tosses away the crystals that Lex stole from the Fortress of Solitude. She and Luthor are stranded on a desert island when their helicopter runs out of fuel. Superman pushes the landmass into space, but is weakened by the Kryptonite and crashes back to Earth. Doctors remove more Kryptonite from Superman's wound, but after it is removed they cannot penetrate his skin with their surgical tools. While Superman remains in a coma, Lois and Jason visit him at the hospital where Lois whispers a secret into Superman's ear and then kisses him. Superman later awakens and flies to visit Jason, reciting Jor-El's last speech to Jason as he sleeps. Lois starts writing another article, titled “Why the World Needs Superman”. Superman reassures her that he is now back to stay, and flies off to low orbit, where he gazes down at the world once again.
- Brandon Routh as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman
- Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor
- Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane
- James Marsden as Richard White
- Frank Lagella as Perry White
- Sam Huntington as James "Jimmy" Olsen
- Parker Posey as Kitty Wikolski
- Tristan Lake Leabu as Jason White
- Marlon Brando as Jor-El
- Eva Saint Marie as Martha Kent