Superman (Brandon Routh) had been missing for several years, having traveled to where astronomers believed they had discovered the remains of Krypton. During his absence, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) was released from prison and married a rich widow to obtain her fortune upon her death. Superman returns to Earth, having failed in his hopes to find surviving Kryptonians, and, as Clark Kent, resumes his job at the Daily Planet in Metropolis, and learns that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) 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. During an experiment with the crystals, Lex causes a power outage on the east coast. The power loss interferes with the flight test of a space shuttle attached to a Boeing 777, 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, which is full of spectators.
The world rejoices at Superman's return, but Lois is more concerned with the blackout. Lois Lane later meets her fiance Richard White (James Marsden), nephew of Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White (Frank Langella), and their son, Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu). Clark is emotionally hurt when he overhears a conversation between Lois and Richard in which she says she never loved Superman. He then stops a bank heist, and saves Kitty Kowalski (Parker Posey), Luthor's co-conspirator. With Superman distracted, Luthor steals Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum of Natural History. Perry assigns Lois to interview Superman while Clark investigates the blackout. That night, Superman arrives at the Daily Planet and takes Lois for a flight, during which he apologizes for leaving her and says "You said the world doesn't need a savior, but everyday, I hear people crying for one."
Lois focuses her attention on the blackout again and ascertains its origin. Lois and Jason inadvertently board Luthor's ship and are captured. Luthor reveals to them his grand scheme of using one of the stolen Kryptonian crystals to grow a new continental landmass in the Northern Atlantic Ocean that will destroy the United States, in the process killing billions of people and leaving him as the new landmass' owner. Seeing the effect of a Kryptonite sample on Jason, Luthor asks who Jason's father really is; after Lois asserts that the father is Richard, Luthor leaves to launch the crystal, which he has encased in green Kryptonite, into the sea. Under water, the crystal begins to create Luthor's new landmass. Lois faxes their co-ordinates to The Daily Planet and is attacked by a henchman. The henchman is crushed to death by a piano, which Jason shoves at him. Afterward, Lois and Jason are imprisoned in a kitchen galley. Luthor flies in his helicopter to the still forming continent. 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 billions 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.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman_Returns#Plot taken on Aug. 08 2009
'Superman Returns' to Save Mankind From Its Sins
By MANOHLA DARGIS
Jesus of Nazareth spent 40 days in the desert. By comparison, Superman of Hollywood languished almost 20 years in development hell. Those years apparently raised the bar fearsomely high. Last seen larking about on the big screen in the 1987 dud "Superman IV," the Man of Steel has been resurrected in a leaden new film not only to fight for truth, justice and the American way, but also to give Mel Gibson's passion a run for his box-office money. Where once the superhero flew up, up and away, he now flies down, down, down, sent from above to save mankind from its sins and what looked like another bummer summer.
The super-size (more than two and a half hours) "Superman Returns" was written by Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, working off a story hatched by them and the director, Bryan Singer, after what appears to have been repeat viewings of Richard Donner's "Superman." Released in 1978, that film ushered Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's original comic creation into the blockbuster age with frothy wit and a cast that included Marlon Brando in a creamy scoop of white hair and Gene Hackman in clover. Christopher Reeve, of course, wore the cape and tights, while Margot Kidder did a fine approximation of the young Katharine Hepburn at her most coltish. Valerie Perrine and Ned Beatty added some laughs, while Glenn Ford supplied a pinch of gravitas.
As nutritious as a box of Cracker Jack and just as yummy, "Superman" was at once a goof and a self-conscious bid at modern mythmaking. Years later, what resonates aren't Mr. Donner's action scenes, which look crude compared with what he would do later in the "Lethal Weapon" series, but how fluidly he changes tones from the iconic (as when the supertoddler lifts a truck off his Earth father) to the playful (as when the souped-up adult realizes that the closetlike phone booth is a thing of the past). Mr. Reeve worked the tonal changes with similar ease, delivering a superhero whose earnestness was strategically offset by his fumbling, bumbling, all-too-human twin, who was just the ticket for the post-Watergate, pre-Indiana Jones moment.
Mr. Singer's Superman, played by Brandon Routh, is a hero of rather different emotional colors, most muted. Like Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins," Mr. Singer's effort reworks the legend against a vaguely modern, timeless backdrop that blends the thematically old with the technologically new. The story opens with some necrophiliac wizardry and Brando newly arisen as Superman's extraterrestrial father. Well represented even from beyond, the dead actor receives billing for his spectral turn, squeezed between Eva Marie Saint, who plays Superman's earth mother, and Tristan Lake Leabu, who plays Lois Lane's young son. The Daily Planet's star reporter is in turn played by Kate Bosworth, whose glum mien and curtain of brown hair suggests that blondes really do have more fun.
Lois, however, doesn't enter the picture until after the filmmakers have laid the story's Oedipal foundation, which finds two men saying goodbye to the much older women who will, intentionally or not, shape their destinies. In one corner, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey taking up the role played by Mr. Hackman) bids cold adieu to the crone who will make him fantastically rich; in another, Superman again digs a fiery trough into the Kent family farm upon crash landing. This time, it's the grown man who brings tears to his mother's eyes and who stares at the sinking Kansas (actually Australian) sun, weighing his responsibility to humankind after a five-year hiatus crossing the galaxies to visit his original home.
It's too bad that Mr. Singer and his colleagues don't really do anything substantial with the good-guy-bad-guy routine. Superman may be a super-creation, but it's his villains rather than his dual identity that have usually given him a kick. Unlike his brooding and angst-ridden rivals in the superhero game, his alter ego is only as interesting as the comic book artist or the actor adding shades of gray to Clark Kent's business suit. Part of the charm of Mr. Reeve's interpretation was that a guy this impossibly handsome, who literally towers over everyone in the office, could hide behind a slouch and oversize eyeglasses. It was absurd, but then so too was the idea that a powerful extraterrestrial would hang around Earth to take the kind of abuse perennially heaped on his human half.
That identity allowed Superman to walk among us, but mostly it allowed him and, by proxy, generations of geeks both creating and consuming the character, to engage ritualistically in a sadomasochistic relationship with Lois Lane. A variation on the high school homecoming queen who sails past the shy guy in glasses on her way to a back-seat tumble with the captain of the football team, this trouble-seeking reporter has always brought out what is most human, vulnerable and identifiable in Superman. He gives her headlines; she gives him a broken, or at least bruised, heart. In "Superman II," which was directed by Richard Lester (and an uncredited Mr. Donner), she gave him a bit more, too, thereby transforming the world's most powerful virgin into a one-night stud.
Near the end of the second film, Superman, realizing that he and Lois have no future, wipes away their boudoir encounter with an amnesia-producing kiss. Mr. Singer expends much more time and many more resources to do pretty much the same, erasing part of the past to create what is essentially a new and considerably more sober sequel to the first two films, one that shakes the earthiness off Superman and returns him to the status of a savior. There's always been a hint of Jesus (and Moses) to the character, from the omnipotence of his father to a costume that, with its swaths of red and blue, evokes the colors worn by the Virgin Mary in numerous Renaissance paintings. It's a hint that proves impossible not to take.
Intentionally or not, the Jesus angle also helps deflect speculation about just how straight this Superman flies. Given how securely Lois remains out of the romantic picture in "Superman Returns," now saddled with both a kid and a fiancé (James Marsden), it's no surprise that some have speculated that Superman is gay. The speculation speaks more to our social panic than anything in the film, which, much like the overwhelming majority of American action movies produced since the 1980's, mostly involves what academics call homosocial relations. In other words, when it comes to Hollywood, boys will be boys and play with their toys, whether they're sleeping with one another or not, leaving women to weep, worry and wait to be rescued.
Every era gets the superhero it deserves, or at least the one filmmakers think we want. For Mr. Singer that means a Superman who fights his foes in a scene that visually echoes the garden betrayal in "The Passion of the Christ" and even hangs in the air much as Jesus did on the cross. It's hard to see what the point is beyond the usual grandiosity that comes whenever B-movie material is pumped up with ambition and money. As he proved with his first two installments of "The X-Men" franchise, Mr. Singer likes to make important pop entertainments that trumpet their seriousness as loudly as they deploy their bangs. It's hard not to think that Superman isn't the only one here with a savior complex.
Source: http://movies.nytimes.com/2006/06/27/movies/27supe.html?pagewanted=print taken on Aug. 08 2009
Memorable quotes for Superman Returns
Lois Lane: But millions of people will die!
Lex Luthor: Billions! Once again, the press underestimates me.
Kitty Kowalski: Wow, that's really something Lex.
Lex Luthor: Wait for it.
Kitty Kowalski: [long pause] Wow, that's really something Lex. It's freakin' Gone with the Wind.
Lex Luthor: [angrily throws coconut into the ocean]
Kitty Kowalski: Lex! We only have six of those!
Lex Luthor: Six?
Lex Luthor: [screaming] I would trade three hundred THOUSAND coconuts and every ounce of your blood for a QUART OF GASOLINE!
Kitty Kowalski: But what will we have to eat?
Lex Luthor: [eyes the dog in Kitty's arms maliciously]
Jor-El: You will travel far, my little Kal-El, but we will never leave you-even in the face of our deaths. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father. And the father, the son.
Lois Lane: How many "f's" in "catastrophic"?
Lois Lane: [gasps after Lex comes out of the bathroom] Lex Luthor!
Lex Luthor: [toothbrush in mouth] Lois Lane?
Jason White: You're bald!
Superman: I'm sorry I left you, Lois.
Lex Luthor: What do you know about crystals?
Lois Lane: They make great chandeliers.
Superman: [to Jason asleep in his bed] You will be different, sometimes you'll feel like an outcast, but you'll never be alone. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father and the father becomes the son.
Jor-El: [Superman is remembering Jor-El's last message to him from the first film] Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son.
Superman: Listen; what do you hear?
Lois Lane: Nothing.
Superman: I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.
Lex Luthor: This ordinary crystal is a seed, and all it needs is water.
Kitty Kowalski: Like Sea Monkeys?
Lex Luthor: [sighs] Exactly, Kitty. Like Sea Monkeys.
Lois Lane: [after being locked in the pantry on Lex's yacht and discovering that her son is Superman's] Could you help mommy open this door?
Jason White: Mommy, are we trespassing?
Lois Lane: No. Yes. Shh!
Lois Lane: Well you're back and everyone seems happy about it.
Superman: Not everyone.
Perry White: Great Caesar's ghost.
Superman: [Screams after being savagely beaten] I'm still Superman!
Kitty Kowalski: [Stomps into a room and slaps Lex across the face] I was going to pretend the brakes were out. Pretend! Like we talked about!
Kitty Kowalski: You didn't actually have to cut them!
Lex Luthor: Well of course I did. A man can always tell when a woman is pretending... especially Superman.
Kitty Kowalski: [Looking at a dog chewing on bones surrounded by dog fur] Weren't there two of those?
Jimmy Olsen: Look up in the sky, see?
[Points at a small figure of Superman in the picture]
Lois Lane: It's a bird
Perry White: It's a plane
Jimmy Olsen: No, it's...
[Is interrupted by the entrance of Clark]
Clark Kent: You wanted to see me?
Bo the Bartender: Must be tough coming back.
Clark Kent: Coming back?
Bo the Bartender: To work.
Clark Kent: Thanks for giving me my job back.
Perry White: Don't thank me. Thank Norm Parker for dying!
Jimmy Olsen: It was his time.
Kitty Kowalski: Your friends give me the creeps.
Lex Luthor: Prison is a creepy place, Kitty, and one needs to make creepy friends in order to survive. On the inside, even my talents were worth less than a carton of cigarettes and a sharp piece of metal in your pocket.
Superman: I know lots of people are asking questions now that I'm back, and I think it's only fair that I answer... those people.
Lois Lane: So... you're here for an interview?
Lois Lane: You know my um... Richard. He's a pilot. He takes me up all the time.
Superman: Not like this.
Jason White: I'm not supposed to talk to strangers.
Lex Luthor: Cute kid. And smart too. But we're not really strangers are we?
Clark Kent: Swell.
Lex Luthor: Do you know the story of Prometheus? No, of course you don't. Prometheus was a god who stole the power of fire from the other gods and gave control of it to the mortals. In essence, he gave us technology, he gave us power.
Kitty Kowalski: So we're stealing fire? In the Arctic?
Lex Luthor: Actually, sort of. You see whoever controls technology controls the world. The Roman empire ruled the world because they built roads. The British empire ruled the world because they built ships. America; the atom bomb. And so on and so forth. I just want what Prometheus wanted.
Kitty Kowalski: Sounds great Lex, but you're not a god.
Lex Luthor: [fixes Kitty with an icy stare] Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind. No, I don't want to be a *god*. I just want to bring fire to the people. And... I want my cut.
Kitty Kowalski: Sounds great, Lex, but you're not a god.
Lex Luthor: Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their powers with mankind.
Lex Luthor: [while kicking Superman] Didn't your dad ever teach you to *look* before you *leap*?
Jimmy Olsen: [leans over an unsuspecting Clark who is holding a family photo of Lois, Jason, and Richard] Ha, yea! He looks just like his mom. Already takes after her too, especially when it comes to getting into trouble.
Clark Kent: [obviously confused] Mother?
Jimmy Olsen: Oh yea, well I guess you've been gone. Fearless reporter Lois Lane is a mommy.
Clark Kent: [cracks the glass and winces] I'm sorry.
Jimmy Olsen: [takes the picture from Clark] It's okay. She's got more.
Perry White: [Explaining to Lois Lane why she must write an article on the return of Superman, rather than a massive power outage] Three things sell this newspaper: Tragedy, sex, and Superman. These people have had enough tragedy, and we all know you can't write worth a damn about sex.
Kitty Kowalski: [while in Superman's Fortress of Solitude] You act like you've been here before.
Perry White: [discussing headlines] Has he gained weight?
[Clark suddenly looks down]
Lois Lane: I don't know if you can hear me. They say that sometimes when people are... that they can hear you.
Lex Luthor: [chuckling] No, no, not that. The other thing. Come on, I know it's on the tip of your tongue.
Lois Lane: Superman will never...
Lex Luthor: WRONG!
Lex Luthor: [pulls off wig and tosses it to little girl] You can keep that.
[referring to his newly-inherited mansion]
Lex Luthor: The rest is mine.
Clark Kent: Yeah. Well, you know, things change. I mean, of course things change, but sometimes things that you didn't think would change
[struggles to find the right wording]
Clark Kent: - could - change. Take Lois. A woman like her, I never thought she'd settle down.
Jimmy Olsen: You know, if you ask me - 'cause she'll never tell you this - but, if you ask me, she's still in love with You-Know-Who.
[takes a swig of beer]
Clark Kent: [slowly turns to look disconcertedly at Jimmy, who burps obliviously]
Lois Lane: Richard's an assistant editor here who's basically saved our International section. He's also a pilot and he loves horror movies.
Clark Kent: [sighs theatrically, trying to appear impressed]
Lois Lane: [to Richard] Clark is...
Clark Kent: [smirks at her expectantly]
Lois Lane: Well...
Lois Lane: he's Clark.
Lex Luthor: [spots the van riddled with bullet-holes] Run into trouble?
Grant: You should see the other guy.
Kitty Kowalski: My heart, my palpitations, they're gone, what did you do?
Superman: I didn't do anything, Ma'am.
Kitty Kowalski: [breathlessly] Call me Catharine.
Lois Lane: But there are a dozen other stories out there.
Perry White: Yeah? Name one.
Lois Lane: Well, there was a museum robbery last night. Hmm? Even Superman missed that one... he was too busy saving this hooker.
[points at photo of Superman carrying Kitty]
Richard White: [referring to Superman] I love that he can see through anything. I'd have fun with that.
Lois Lane: [leans in to kiss Superman, but pulls back at the last moment]
Lois Lane: Richard's a good man... and you've been gone a long time.
Lex Luthor: But we're not really strangers, are we? This is kind of a little reunion, isn't it? Heck, I'm a fan. I love your writing... and your dress.
Lois Lane: I love your boat. How'd you get it? Swindle some old widow out of her money?
Lex Luthor: [gushes and chuckles mockingly] That's funny. Hey, didn't you win the Pulitzer Prize for my favorite article of all time, 'Why the World DOESN'T Need Superman'?
Lois Lane: Didn't you have a few more years to go on that DOUBLE life sentence?
Lex Luthor: [pause as he glares at her] Yes, well, we can thank the Man of Steel for that. I mean, he's really good at swooping in and catching the bad guys, but he's not so hot at the little things, like Miranda rights, due process,
[under his breath]
Lex Luthor: making your court date...
Lex Luthor: This crystal may seem unremarkable, but then so is the seed of a redwood tree. It's how our mutual friend in tights made his Arctic getaway spot. Cute, but a little small for my taste.
[Newspaper headline reads: "SUPERMAN IS DEAD"]
Richard White: It's a little morbid, Perry.
Perry White: Always be prepared.
Jason White: [Yells and waves from his window] GOOD NIGHT!
Lois Lane: [Lois is standing in the front yard thinking about Superman, she is then startled when she hears Jason, she sees Jason waving out to the sky, she then looks at the sky and sees Superman floating right above her] I... Will we see you... around?
Superman: I'm always around. Good night, Lois.
Lois Lane: [about Jason] He's a little fragile, but he's gonna grow up to be big and strong... just like his dad.
Jor-El: [Superman is flashing back to things his father told him] The human heart is still subject to monstrous deceits.
Lex Luthor: [notices Jason has a fixed stare on the kryptonite] Who is that boy's father?
Lois Lane: Richard.
Lex Luthor: Are you sure?
Lex Luthor: Bring it on!
Superman: I read the article, Lois.
Lois Lane: Yeah, so did a lot of people. Tomorrow night, they're giving me the Pulitzer...
Superman: Why did you write it?
Lois Lane: How could you leave us like that? I moved on. So did the rest of us. That's why I wrote it. The world doesn't need a savior. And neither do I.
Lois Lane: Chief, I've done Superman.
[Jimmy snickers. Lois, Clark, and Perry look at him]
Lois Lane: Covered him. You know what I mean.
Jimmy Olsen: Mr. Clark! I mean, Kent. Mr. Kent! Welcome back!
Lois Lane: I forgot how warm you are.
Superman: [after saving Lois Lane and other members of the media from a plane crash] Well, I hope this experience hasn't put any of you off flying. Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel.
Lex Luthor: Kitty, what did my father used to say to me?
Kitty Kowalski: You're losing your hair.
Lex Luthor: Before that.
Kitty Kowalski: Get out.
Lex Luthor: He said: You can print money, manufacture diamonds, and people are a dime a dozen, but they'll always need land. It's the one thing they're not making any more of.
Lois Lane: How did you get here?
Richard White: I flew.
Lex Luthor: You're not seeing the big picture here.
Lex Luthor: [after stabbing Superman] Now, fly.
Lex Luthor: See anything familiar?
Superman: I see an old man's sick joke.
Lex Luthor: Really? Because I see my new apartment. And a place for Kitty. One for my friends. And the place over there, I'll rent out. But, you know, maybe you're right. You know, maybe it - It is a little cold. It's, uh - Uh - What's the word I'm searching for? It's a little... alien. It lacks that human touch.
Clark Kent: How did Lex Luthor get out of prison?
Jimmy Olsen: When his appeals came up, they called Superman as a witness, and he never showed. How much do you think that pisses off Superman?
Clark Kent: A lot.
Lex Luthor: You took away five years of my life. I'm just returning the favor!
Jason White: Who are you?
Clark Kent: I'm Clark... Kent. An old friend of your mom's from before you were born.
Jason White: Really? She never mentioned you.
Clark Kent: [shocked slightly] Really?... Never?
Richard White: It's great to finally meet you, I've heard so much.
Clark Kent: [looks at Lois] Oh, you have?
Richard White: Yeah. Jimmy just won't shut up about you.
Clark Kent: [explaning to his mother about his journey to the remains of Krypton as Superman] That place was a graveyard... but I'm all that's left.
Kitty Kowalski: Lex?
Lex Luthor: [lighting a cigar] Uh-huh?
Kitty Kowalski: Are billions of people really going to die?
[beat; Luthor takes a puff from the cigar]
Lex Luthor: [indifferently] Yes.
Grant: Brutus is... dead. He got hit with the piano.