“SUPERMAN RETURNS” VS “MAN OF STEEL” – VERDICT

Greetings all!!!

So, for a while, I’ve had this debate going on in my head and with my friends. The topic? Which was the better Superman movie? Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel? Or Bryan Singer’s 2006 film Superman Returns?

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The majority of people I know and the majority of film audiences preferred Man Of Steel, which is understandable, but I feel that Superman Returns is completely shat on for no absolute reason.

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If anything, I personally preferred Superman Returns. Especially after watching it again a few days ago.

And yes, while I preferred Singer’s film, I’m not gonna absolutely shit on Snyder’s picture based on bias or some sort of loyalty. As I said in my review, I did like Man Of Steel but I had some problems with it.

Also, I’m not going to be inhumanly supportive of Superman Returns and be worryingly blind to it’s faults.

One of the big areas that always comes up in this debate is who made the better Superman. Now, I am a big fan of both these portrayals.

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Brandon Routh played the dual roles of both Clark and Superman really well. Along with Tobey Maguire’s Spiderman, Routh’s incarnation is without a doubt the most under appreciated superhero portrayal. He portrayed the character with the grace and respect that is deserving of a character of such magnitude.

The way he delivered his lines as Clark and Superman had you believe that they really were two very different people being portrayed by two different actors.

As Clark he bumbled and spoke very softly, but as Superman he spoke with great confidence and authority. And I always love that scene when he speaks to Lois on the roof of the Daily Planet as Superman. This is where Routh really shines as Superman.

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Henry Cavill was also great. I was first skeptical when he was chosen for the role, but when you see Cavill out of the context of the film, when he is going about his everyday, you can’t help but only see him as Superman because he seems to have a lot in common with the character in terms of personality.

From what I’ve read, Cavill is a very nice and approachable and generous guy when it comes to the fans, so it does seem like there is a lot of that character in him. The scene I loved from Cavill was a very small and quick scene, but spoke so man volumes.

It’s when he tries to hitchhike a ride from a passing van after the confrontation in the bar he worked in. You could see the pain and internal anger felt by Clark, almost as if Cavill has, at some point in his life, been through that sort of angst. You believe that scene at the bar affected the actor more than the character.

But an interesting point I will make, whereas I can see Brandon Routh portraying both Singer’s and Snyder’s incarnation, I don’t think I could picture Cavill as Singer’s Superman. Does that mean Routh was better? You decide…

In terms of the films themselves, I can admit Singer’s film had it’s faults. Superman Returns wasn’t perfect, but it was the film that made me fall in love with the character of Superman, because Returns was the first Superman film I ever saw. I was 14 when it came out.

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Returns blew me away because all the cool things about Superman I ever wanted to see in a Superman movie was shown in the movie. Like the scene where he’s been shot at by a machine gun and the bullets are bouncing off his chest, or the scene where he caught the falling globe on top of the Daily Planet building, or especially the scene where he is saving the falling jumbo jet.

The scene where Superman is saving the damaged plane is by far, for me, the coolest scene I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie. And that’s saying something. It was such a well filmed, breath taking, edge of your seat scene. And the special effects were superb.

I’d happily take that jumbo jet scene over Superman vs Zod any day.

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I’m not claiming to be the number one Superman fan ever. I haven’t read every single issue that ever existed in the characters history. Hell, I’ve never even read the iconic Death and Return of Superman storyline.

But from the stuff I’ve learned about the character over the years, Superman Returns keeps more to the character than Man Of Steel does, especially in the action scenes.

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Think about it. In Man Of Steel, how many people did Superman try to save or even saved? Just a couple of soldiers…and Lois Lane…on several occassions. Most of the time, Superman was defending himself from taking a beating from nearly everyone who wanted to kick his ass.

But in Superman Returns, you can see Superman is trying to save everyone as much as he possibly can. Even putting personal issues to one side, particularly in the scene where he is heading away from Metropolis to save Lois.

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He has to make the choice as to whether he had to save the people of the city or save Lois. And in the end, in his true fashion, he goes to save the people, the innocent bystanders of Lex’s ever existing plan.

And it’s also the themes that both the films present to the table. Whilst Man Of Steel is a refreshing take on Kal-El’s origins, it tries too hard quite a lot of the time. It asks the questions: “Can you imagine how the world would react if they found out that someone like this was living among us?” 

It is trying to tackle a very realistic approach to Superman. How would the world react to an alien that has been living amongst us? But you never get the answer to that in the film. You don’t get that sense of awe and wonder. That theme is dismissed quite early.

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Man Of Steel also tries too hard to be iconic, to mean something. It asks so many other questions, like: “What if a child aspired to be something more than society intended?”

That is all well and good but it made no difference to the plot. And you can see the imagery used is deliberately set up to make Superman seem Christ like, but it seems at times more of a hindrance, as if you’re thinking, “Okay, we get it. Superman is symbolic. But can we just get on with the story?”

There is also such a huge emphasis on everything that is said and everything that happens regarding Clark’s parents. The film takes itself far too seriously that the thing that makes Superman such a lovable character seems missing.

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On the other hand Superman Returns tackles more mature themes regarding the character, moreover, it poses an interesting question. “What would happen if Superman came back to a world that no longer needed him? A world that moved on from him?” It’s a film that deals with loss, with moving on and with change.

It deals with Superman getting used to the change happening around him. That in a world in which he was once it’s beloved saviour, that world now needs him no more. What’s even more heart breaking is that the whole “the world doesn’t need Superman campaign” is being spear headed by the woman he loves most. His anchor to the Earth, Lois Lane.

Throughout the movie, Superman has to acclimatise to the world that is changing around him. Even though eventually the world does see that it still needs him, it’s a world that is so different to the one he left behind.

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And the scene where Superman goes to see Lois on top of the Daily Planet, is an emotionally moving scene. Why? Because Superman and Lois want to rekindle what has been lost.

Lois has been hurt by Superman, because she still loves him, and it is out of that love that she feel so much pain and hurt and anger that makes her decide to write the article Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman.

Superman is hurt that she wrote the article. That Lois has settled down and moved on. That she doesn’t depend on him like she used to. And for a fleeting moment, when they come back from their flight, they are about to kiss, and we get a glimpse of what was, and what could have been.

But Lois can’t forgive Superman, and she’ll never forgive herself for betraying Richard, her fiancé like that. Because in the end, Lois has truly moved on. She loves Richard, probably more than she realises. And that’s why she stops herself.

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Imagine it like this, we all have our exes. But there’s always that one that has such a huge impact on your life, that even seeing them has a profound effect on you. That when they enter and leave your life it’s like a tidal wave or a car crash of emotion.

The one the might have been. The one you still care a great deal about. But that person is the one that can still hurt you without being in a romantic relationship with you. The person who will always somehow find a way to let you down.

But the two of you have moved on and have to move on, because it’s for the better and you have someone else in your life who has a better hold on your life and is a better pillar of support in your life than your what-could-have-been.

And that’s what we have with the Superman, Lois and Richard triangle. Superman is Lois’ what could have been. But when Superman left for five years, he let Lois down. She felt like he had abandoned her.

And that’s where Richard comes in. He is always there for Lois. He is her constant and is with her even through the raising of her child. What’s more, Richard’s love for Lois is strongly demonstrated throughout the film. When Superman is in hospital she lets her go see him, even though he fears that there is a lot of history between Lois and Superman. But that demonstrates that he trusts her.

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But the scene that stands out with Richard is when he finds Lois and Jason on the plane. It’s basically telling us that Richard loves Lois so much he is willing to move heaven and Earth to save her, that he flies through hell on Earth to find her.

It’s themes like that, that made Superman Returns brilliant. Even Lex Luthor can’t seem to move on and get accustomed to change. Even he is angered by Superman’s departure. So when he stabs Superman, you can see that there is still some resentment towards Superman, but it’s resentment that transcends more than an age old rivalry.

But like I said earlier, Superman Returns did have it’s many flaws. And those flaws in my opinion, was about two characters. Lex Luthor and Jason White.

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Luthor’s master plan, while inventive, wasn’t the character I’ve come to know in the comics. Don’t get me wrong, Kevin Spacey is, without a doubt a great Lex Luthor, but what stops his incarnation being the greatest were his motives.

The Lex Luthor I know from the comics and come to understand is that it seems that all the actions he takes are done in order to preserve human progression. And he sees Superman as someone who gets in the way of that. He sees Superman as a threat. It’s the world’s most powerful man against one of the universe’s most powerful beings.

He wants to be the one who leads mankind to greatness. He doesn’t want that job taken from him by an outsider. An alien. And if people think I’m wrong, think again. If Luthor really wanted to bring mankind to it’s knees, he wouldn’t on several occasions, suit up to work alongside the Justice League to save the world.

But in Returns, Lex Luthor wants to commit mass genocide in order to turn a profit. That’s not Lex Luthor.

Jason White was another minor flaw but could be seen in both a positive or negative way. I don’t mind that he’s Lois’ kid, I just don’t like that Superman is the father. I feel that in order to have Lois completely absolved of Superman, she needs everything about him completely deleted from her life. Having Jason as Superman’s son changes all that.

But then, like I said, people might see that as a positivity, that Jason is the reason for Superman to always be around in Lois’ life.

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A lot of people tend to complain that Superman Returns “sucked” because it lacked action. That they wanted to see Superman punch something. So in that sense Man Of Steel succeeded where Returns failed. But then people complained that they wanted to see more of the heart in Man Of Steel and that there was too much action.

Which I guess brings me to the point that I guess it seems that it’s never going to be easy making a Superman movie, because which ever approach you take to the character, not everyone is going to be happy. But I’ll say this:

For those who mindlessly shit on Returns, watch it again and get back to me. I think the problem was Returns seemed more of a romance. I guess that’s how you should look at it.

But I think if Returns wasn’t a Superman movie. If it was about a completely different, made up character, and it was marketed as a romantic film with touches of the superhero element, it might have been better received.

But the fact that it’s got that big S attached to it, puts it under pressure and high levels of expectation, so maybe SInger’s approach may have been wrong. I can’t believe I’ve said that about Bryan Singer of all people.

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I also think that people are saying Returns is terrible because it seems like the right thing to say now. Hell, I read Empire magazine’s 5 star review of Returns but as the years went by they slowly tore that film a new one.

Man Of Steel I think was the Superman film people wanted to see, but it lacked the depth and heart that would put it in the same category as The Dark Knight and make it a masterpiece.

But to it’s credit, what made Snyder’s film great was, like I said in my review, that it brought forward themes about Superman no one considered before. That, like most of us, we are still looking for our place in the world, for a sense of purpose and belonging. And that like Clark in Man Of Steel, we all, at some point in our lives, know what it’s like to be an outsider.

At the end of the day, what I’m really saying is Man Of Steel is a likable movie. And it had so much potential. But right now it seems unpolished to me. Still rough around the edges. I feel it needed something more to give it more punch, or something taken away.

Whereas Singer’s Returns was much more tidy, much more polished, much more of a complete picture. It was an elegant picture that hit at the core of the character and hit at the hearts of audiences. How can you not cheer along with the crowd after Superman saves the plane from crashing into the baseball stadium?

So, what do you think? Do you agree? Or do you think this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever posted? And who do you think made the better Superman? In fact, list your top five Superman portrayals if you please. For me, based on the incarnations I’ve seen, from 1 to 5: Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, Henry Cavill, Tom Welling then Dean Cain.

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*Sighs* What could have been…

Comment below and I’ll see you on the next post!!!

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X-MEN: AND HISTORY REWRITES ITSELF…

Yes, I know, I’m a week late but I’ve finally seen X Men: Days Of Future Past

And before I give my view on it, I have but one word for what I saw: AMAZING!

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(***SPOILERS AHEAD, SO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET, YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED. DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE NO INTEREST IN THE MOVIE OR YOU DON’T CARE IF THE PLOT OF A FILM/SERIES IS RUINED FOR YOU***)

First off, the performances from every single actor or actress in this movie was on point. Every one of them who have ever been in one of the films from the X-Men franchise brought their “A” game.

And before I get to the original and current cast, I first have to give props to the newcomers. The new cast that played the future X-Men did well. And as per usual, Peter Dinklage pulls out another terrific performance.

To the regulars…

James McAvoy as young Xavier did really well, pulling off Charles’ transition from being a broken and isolated man to rediscovering the path he needs to take to become the Patrick Stewart incarnation of Xavier we all know and love.

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In terms of Magneto, once again, the Fassbender portrayal of the character is a lot more cooler than Sir Ian McKellen’s one, but that’s only because the older Erik Lensherr is more in tune with his abilities and wiser. Young Erik is still so full of rage, so when he uses his powers he does it in an aggressive manner, whereas older Erik is well resided in the place between peace and tranquility.

Jennifer Lawrence’s incarnation of Mystique is one that fans will love because she is a lot more like her comic book version than she was in the original films.

In the earlier portrayal by Rebecca Romijn, Mystique was definitely cold and calculated and yes she was pretty cool, but she was so robotic because she didn’t have a lot of dialogue. Everything she did was through action, so audiences could hardly empathize with her.

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But this edition of Mystique takes what was great about the previous display of the character and adds the emotion to her. This time, Mystique is part of the film’s soul. Like Charles, she has lost her way, but like Erik, she is filled internally with a lot of conflict.

There was a lot of emotion…

The events that took place between First Class and Days Of Future Past, which include historical events like the Vietnam war hit everyone hard, as losses were suffered from all sides.

As Hank mentioned, most of the students and teachers from the Xavier Institute were drafted in, and one by one they died, and it broke Charles.

It was sad to hear that some of the characters that, even though they were not incredibly relevant, from First Class, met tragic fates including Emma, Angel and Banshee.

Erik, Raven, Hank and even Alex have all been broken like Charles. What’s more is how they have all decided to take different approaches to get over the losses.

It’s no wonder why we find young Charles a damaged man to the point that he tells Logan that everyone dies some day.

And the film didn’t just deal with the emotional state of the characters, but also about their relationships with each other. About trying to repair what was broken or about characters trying to find their way. Especially the Young Charles/Erik/Mystique element.

The scene on the plane ride to Paris in which Erik and Charles argue about who abandoned who summed up a very delicate relationship.

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It’s clear that they both still care for each other, and it’s why Charles selfishly rages at Erik that he abandoned him and took Raven away. Taking away the things that mattered most to him. But Erik is not just angry about Charles’ abandonment but also at the fact that him abandoning Erik cost the lives of so many allies they hold dear.

Hugh Jackman as always, kills it as Wolverine. Even if people don’t like Logan’s stand out films, you can’t help go see it because of Jackman. The character is already the most popular of the X-Men, and Jackman’s portrayal of him keeps that favouritism in place.

Even though I don’t like the fact that Wolverine is always central to the plot of the Singer films, in Days Of Future Past I was glad he was the central character thread that kept both the timelines together. I felt Logan’s pain and impatience when he was trying to convince young Charles that he was telling the truth.

Especially when he grabs Charles and tells him that he has come a long way and has lost a lot of good friends who were good people. And what’s more he tells Charles that if he doesn’t listen to him he too will suffer the same losses and they hurt just as worse.

The scene with Logan that really got me was when he tells young Charles on the plane to Washington that even though when he saw tragic memories, there were also good ones and begs Charles to promise him that he find the X-Men. To find Storm, Jean, Scott.

I keep saying that the film is filled with emotion because that’s as best how I can describe it. Yes, the matters at hand and the action are important, but they weren’t the factors that stood out to me. It was the emotions that kept me locked into the film.

Alongside Wolverine, young Charles and Mystique were essentially the heart of the film, keeping it emotionally engaging. Even Hank, who you can see was still quite saddened by Raven’s departure added more to the tender serving.

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In fact, a lot of the characters brought so much emotional energy, but it’s the first three just mentioned that really stick out.

Heck, even that one scene that we saw Alex Summers in tugged at the heartstrings, especially when he gets onto the plane and asks a disguised Raven if she was coming home. I would have liked to have seen his character have a full stay in this movie and have a lot to do.

Will he make a possible appearance in Apocalypse? It would be interesting to see how they tackle his relation to young Scott. It’ll probably be like the Magneto/Quicksilver elevator scene.

It was also touching to see that the film wasn’t just about Charles finding hope again, but it reached out to audience members to tell them that no matter how dark things get, there’s always a bright side and that we have to keep hoping.

I think what a lot of the fans will take from this film is what happens at the end, and I’m not just talking post credits…

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The creation of the sentinel programme happened at the same time as the original trilogy, so while the films were taking place sentinels were being built and modified to be more adaptable in combat against mutants.

By putting an end to the Sentinel programme it means the X-Men aren’t going to meet the fate they end up in at the start of the film.

And with it comes changes to the current timeline.

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Logan didn’t join Charles’ team until the first film (I was going to say he didn’t meet Charles until the first film, but we all remember that scene from First Class). But by meeting him in 1973 that means (and this is me making an assumption), he will be a part of Charles’ X-team for the next installment, which was hinted at when after the events in the 70’s Hank asks Charles of Logan’s fate and when Logan meets Charles in his office in the new timeline, Charles tells him he’s got a lot of catching up to do from 1973.

It would only make sense…

Not to mention when Logan wakes up, all the beloved characters from the original movie reach a happier fate, and what’s more, like Logan, we feel such joy and relief and happiness when we find that both Jean and Scott (yes that Scott as in Scott Summers as in Cyclops), is still alive.

You’re not just happy to see that they’re alive but you’re happy to see that with all the pain and loss that Wolverine suffered, he’s finally got a peaceful and happier resolution to his story.

With Scott and Jean alive again, it now means X-Force is gonna be a go, because there’s no X-Force without Cable, and Cable is the son of Scott and (a clone of) Jean Grey. If they don’t exist, neither does he.

Up next, for those who didn’t see the post credits scene is Apocalypse. Rumour has it that it’ll be set in the 80’s and young Scott will be in the team, as well as Quicksilver. If that be the case I will be incredibly excited, especially on the Cyclops front.

My reason for this huge bias towards the Summers kid is that if you have a general knowledge of the X-Men comics, you’d know how vital and important of a character he is to the series.

And I’d say that that’s my only beef with Singer’s franchise. No one sees how important Scott is to the X-Men. When you think of some of the most important and iconic stories in the comics, from the Dark Phoenix saga to Age of Apocalypse, Scott is in some way connected to them.

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Scott is connected to Age of Apocalypse. How? Because his future child is fighting for survival in that timeline.

Scott is connected to the Dark Phoenix Saga. How? Simply because he and Jean are the love of each other’s lives and Jean being overcome with the Phoenix Force puts a strain on their marriage.

Not to mention, in recent events (Avengers Vs X-Men), Scott is at the centre of the story as he comes to understanding what Jean went through and kills Charles at his own hand.

The transition made by Scott from Charles’ prodigal son to having Magneto as a close ally is one that determines the fate of the entire X-team and it’s one of those issues that I feel should be brought to the fray.

Also, with the timeline changing, it now gives Singer the chance an attempt to make a Dark Phoenix movie, an opportunity tragically missed by The Last Stand.

It was clear that at the end of X2: X-Men United, Singer had plans to make a Phoenix movie, so changing the X-universe would probably allow him to make the Dark phoenix movie he probably planned since 2003.

There were so many things about this movie that I loved, from the story, to the action, to the characters and to the actors that played them. This film demonstrated why Bryan Singer was the right man to direct the X-Men films.

It’s as if the last few films in the X-Men franchise (with the exception of First Class) didn’t take place and that he picked up where he left off from the second film.

This film is like a hail to his return but also a sentimental last goodbye to the original cast.

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I believe Days Of Future Past is a film in the franchise that would rank highly amongst fans. For me, it’s the best one, and I loved the original movie from 14 years ago.

It’s very rare for me to say that the newest installment of a highly established franchise is the best addition.

5/5