'Superman Returns' deleted opening scene: What the heck IS this?

Among geek cognoscenti, 2006’s Superman Returns may be one of the most divisive superhero films of the last decade. On the one hand, it was kinda slow, Kate Bosworth’s Lois Lane was about as feisty as a damp sponge, and the entire endeavor was oddly slavish to the Richard Donner-era Superman films — which many young theatergoers had never seen.

On the other hand, the Richard Donner-era Superman films are still among the very best superhero movies ever. More to the point, Superman Returns had soul. Director Bryan Singer dared to give the Man of Steel real pathos, and to make the film far more personal and idiosyncratic than your average cookie cutter comic book flick (coughhackGreenLanternhackingcough).

Now that Singer’s original opening for the film has hit the interwebs — it’s a deleted scene extra on the Superman Anthology Blu-ray edition — that debate is likely to get even louder. Because, you guys, this scene is just plain weird. It chronicles Supes’ trip back to the remains of his home planet of Krypton, and, well, check it out for yourself: 

Bizarre, right? Why is the erstwhile Kal-El in a grey unitard? Wouldn’t he want something a bit more roomy for an intergalactic journey? Why is there a Superman “S” carved into the rock face? Who left it there, Jor-El? Braniac? Mr. Mxyplyzyk? And why does Superman seem surprised that the remains of Krypton would be, you know, completely made of kryptonite? And yet, this original opening serves as an elegant set up for the final act of the movie, in which (SPOILER ALERT!) Superman nearly died lifting Lex Luthor’s kryptonite-infested island away from Earth and into space. The sequence’s brittle, quasi-Kubrickian beauty also, ironically, reminds me of the Dr. Manhattan-on-Mars sequences from 2009’s Watchmen — which was directed by Zack Snyder, who is currently hard at work on the Superman reboot Man of Steel.

So is it a good thing that Singer cut it, or should he have just let Superman Returns‘ freak flag fly proudly? Probably the former, but my goodness, would that have been an interesting moviegoing experience if it’d been the latter. What do you make of it?

Follow Adam on Twitter @adambvary

Read more:
‘Man of Steel’ flies to 2013
Why Hollywood’s new Superman needs to change — and how to do it.
The new ‘Superman’ speaks! An exclusive interview with Henry Cavill


Comments (155 total) Add your comment
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  • Matt

    I would have welcomed it, with a bit of editing. Like you said, Superman Returns seemed content in Donner’s shadow; this would have made the movie a little more unique, and it would have explained the bizarre crash landing scene when Supes returns home.
    I’m nervous about Zack Snyder’s take on this; he has a great visual mind, but I don’t think he appreciates the nuances of story and character. Sucker Punch was bizarre, and awful.

    • somet

      Adam doesn’t know much about superman, does he? Why is the superman S on Krypton, because it is not an S, it is the El family seal, and Jor El and his family lived there.

      • Tom Brazelton

        So what you’re saying is that Superman’s Dad was like the Donald Trump of Krypton? Seriously – why would he carve his family crest 50 feet wide into rock?

      • Stephen Hawking

        Tom–why do countries have flags? Why do some folks here on Earth display their own family crest? It’s not *that* hard to make some reasonable guesses.

      • Dan

        i think the scene would have helped the rock lifting scene in the end.

        but i agree with you, Tom. this is a large fragment of a destroyed fragment. did Jor-El carve the symbol into the rock after it exploded? was this his house? quite the real estate. the carved S was a bit much.

      • Dan

        *destroyed planet

      • William

        Depending on which interpretation of the Krypton stories you go with, the house of El is one of the ruling families of Krypton, as well as the plalnet’s preeminent scientists, so the crest was prominently displayed throughout the planet as well as on the family’s “real estate”. As for the size of the fragment, it could easily have been Argo city (which survives the initial destruction only to be destroyed over time anyways), or even just a large intact fragment. It is too bad that the sequence was cut, it does make a nice parallel with the ending.

    • reel_deal

      Good thing Snyder will have like zero creative control on Man of Steel, Nolan and Goyer took care of that

      • ilovefelton

        I think Snyder will still have a lot of creative control. That’s what directing is; Nolan and Goyer are producing and screenwriting. But I think now that he has good producers this movie won’t be a style over substance film, hopefully it turns out alright.

        Also, sucker punch sucked, but I thought Watchmen had a pretty good story and solid characters. I think Snyder is more of a stylistic visual director; he needs someone else for a story and the characters.

      • Jose

        Zero creative control, are you serious? Right, the director of the movie will not have any in this movie.

        You do realize though that Nolan isn’t really involved in this movie right? In an interview he stated that he’ll be so busy with TDKR that he would not be able to spent a lot of time on this film, WB is just dropping his name to get fanboys attention and from your comment its working.

    • Mark

      Weird and pointless. Just like the movie.

    • Frank

      Christopher Nolan won’t let Snyder screw this up! I’m banking on Nolan’s track record that suggests a great re-introduction to The Man of Steel.

      • Tom

        Um, you do know that it is NOT Chris Nolan who’s involved in this, right? It’s his brother, Christophan, who as far as I know, has no track record to speak of, yet.

      • Jason C.

        I hope you’re joking Tom. Christopher’s brother is Jonathan and he helped write The Dark Knight, he wrote the story Memento was based on, and he’s currently working with JJ Abrams on Alcatraz. Man of Steel though is being co-produced by Christopher Nolan though.

      • Jose

        Frank, Nolan’s style is dark and gritty, the complete opposite of Superman, thus he does not get the character at all and even as a producer he already made a bad choice: choosing Zack Snyder to direct the new Superman movie.

    • derek

      I had my problems with the movie, but considering the crap that had been in development over the years, I count myself lucky that we got a Superman movie that was this good. Nicholas Cage had signed on to play Superman at one point, and Will Smith was seriously considered! Jon Peters didn’t want Superman to fly or wear the costume, he also wanted Superman to fight a giant spider. JJ Abrams took a pass at a script that had Superman doing kung fu, Matrix style against a Lex Luthor that turned out to be super powered too!
      Considering what might have been, at least we got a Superman movie that at least resembled the character we all grew up with.

      • Kelson

        It’s very good!The only thing I didn’t get was during the sneces when the Phantom Zone villains were storming the White House why Zod decided to use a machine gun!My thinking was Wtf,why do you need that Zod?With your powers,you really don’t need it!

      • Ana

        do you guys find it a bit blurry on skin trxtuee when you watch Superman Returns?like no topic which scene your in the image quality is rather slightly blurry and not as sharp as it should be.You guys having that problem with blurry blu ray around the world by any chance?

  • Eric

    Nicely executed, but would not have helped out the movie much at all. Returns never gave any adequate explanation why he would leave Earth for 5+ years. The movie has very little “soul” in my opinion- it turned Superman into the Ultimate Dead Beat Dad- get Lois pregnant, leave without saying a word, then get mopey and stalkerish when Lois ends up with someone else. Oh, and THEN leave the new guy to raise YOUR kid. Yikes.

    • UGH

      As weird as this sounds, I thought I read somewhere that they had to tell the story of why Superman was absent during 9/11.

      • MJ

        Ohh, Yeah…for the controlled demolition, Right lolzzz

    • kremzeek!

      here’s what i could never figure out…at the end of superman 2,he kisses lois and makes her forget…so how does she know the kid’s his AND superman was powerless when they did it so how does the kid develope powers?

      • RihannaNavy

        kremzeek- Bryan Singer explained that the kiss in Superman II only made Lois forget that Clark and Superman are the same person, not that she slept with Superman. It is confusing, and Singer did have to explain it…As for the second question, I don’t know, I guess because the kid was still half-Kryptonian? And his powers are latent/not developed properly either.

      • Jane

        As far as the forgetting things go, I believe in the last Christoper Reeve sequel movie there is a scene when Lois goes to a sick Clark and tells him she remembers everything. So I guess the amnesia kiss from film 2 didn’t last. As for the powers, no idea. Clark got his back using the green crystal. Perhaps they are coded into his DNA and can be deactivated and reactivated given the right tools and circumstances.

      • RihannaNavy

        Jane- Singer said Returns was a “loose sequel” to the first and second movies and he ignored III and IV. If you remember, by III Martha Kent was dead but she is alive in Returns.

      • Buddy

        Singer’s full of s–t. Is it really a sequel when you lift 50% of Lex Luthor’s dialogue AND the whole real-estate plot from the first movie? I watched the movie with my nephew and he wondered why I was ablr to recite the dialogue along with the actors. I told him, “Because I saw this movie back in 1978.” This was a confused muddle of a sequel/remake. The reason why this didn’t work is because Singer got overwhelmed by the legend of Superman to the point that he didn’t know what he wanted. That and of course Kate Bosworth sucking the fun out of that film.

      • jay

        Actually kremzeek!, in Superman II (Donner version) Superman and Lois “do it” before he gets his powers taken away. This would make sense to the kid having powers.

    • Chris

      Wow, harsh aren’t we? And a little offbeat. I would think the five year absense could be explained by the trip to Krypton. Not like it is a couple planets over. And as for the dead-beat dad rap, I’m sure Superman had no idea he could impregnate a human. As for leaving the new guy to raise his kid, he is a SUPERHERO. Not like he can take him to little league practice or give him a ride to school. The kid knows, he knows, I’m sure they would have had some relationship.

    • Lyle

      Chris, I totally agree.

      • Lyle

        Oops. I meant “Eric” I totally agree…lol. Chris, if Superman can make time for Lois, he can make time for Little League.

    • dan

      There’s actually another deleted scene in Superman Returns that says Luthor planted a fake story in the news about finding remnants of Krypton so Superman would leave and wouldn’t be able to testify at Luthor’s trial.

    • superman returns was awesome

      The reason superman was gone for 5 years is because Krypton was light years away – it takes time to get there and back. This scene was incredible and should have been put in the movie without a doubt. Brandon Routh was born to play Superman

  • Jay

    I think this movie gets a bad rap.

    I’ll agree that Bosworth was awful as Lois Lane, but overall I enjoyed the movie.
    I was always a fan of the Reeve Superman movies, and I thought this was a nice continuation. and Brandon Routh did fine playing the role as Reeve did

    • Elizabeth

      I agree… I kind of wanted to know why he left, but I don’t.

    • den

      I agree … I thought Brandon Routh was wonderful, just as I always thought Christopher Reeve was!

    • KM

      I loved the movie with the exception of the Bosworth casting. That was the downfall of the film as far as I’m concerned. Routh was perfect Superman.

    • nunnya

      Agreed.

      • Vinod

        would have to say, hands down, to view the Richard Donner cut; it is not too far removed from the oraignil theatrical version of the film, as far as story. However, the Donner cut reflects the fact that both films were filmed back-to-back, and maintain a definate sense of continuation, from one film to the next. The only story conceptual problem with the Donner cut .Lois’ attempt to unmask’ Clark Kent as Superman, is considerably less spectacular.

    • Brett

      OVERRULED. Contary to the writer’s opinion, this movie was soul-LESS. Poor Kevin Spacey was tasked with playing the Gene Hackman Luthor without any of the humor, AND he was saddled with the annoying Parker Posey to boot! Beating your audience over the head with a “Christ” metaphor does not imbue your movie with soul, it just makes you look like you tried to make an “artsy” Superman film and failed. The special effects were good, Routh did one of hte best Chris Reeve impressions out there (poor guy; instead of being allowed to do his OWN take on the character), and Kate Bosworth gets an undeserved rap for a poorly written part.

    • Lura

      While Superman Returns is not a perfect movie (I blame Kate B) it is still a very good one that pays tribute to the Donner/Reeves pictures but still as its own vision.

    • Mike

      I definitely enjoyed this movie more than I did any other superhero movie this summer. Superhero movies just feel like one really long ad for The Avengers these days.

  • Michael Bauser

    Flying a glass spaceship into an asteroid field? Plans like this are why Batman makes fun of Superman behind his back.

    • kremzeek!

      LOL nice!

    • Will J

      Ooh…sick burn, good sir.

  • BrandonK

    I like the movie, and I think this is a cool scene, but it’s definitely extraneous.

  • UGH

    Brandon Routh was probably the best thing that came out of the movie. I wish he was cast for the new one.

    • MikeyNYC

      I agree, UGH! Christopher Reeve will always be the first image I see when thinking of Superman, but Brandon Routh did a terrific job in the role! Its just unfortunate that the story, the writing and sub-par casting of other actors took so much away from Brandon’s performance. As for the new film, how could they cast a British actor in the role of Superman???? I like Henry Cavill, but Superman is wholly American. Casting a Brit in this role in just as offensive as if they had cast an American actor to play Harry Potter.

      • Lauren

        You realize Christian Bale is British, right?

      • Javadude54

        Because Superman was born in Kansas, right?

      • Brett

        You dolt, it’s called “acting.” Do you realize how many Brits and Aussies have played Americans? Pull your head out of the sand.

      • Kat

        LOL I agree that Routh did a great job, but I think it’s going a bit far to think it’s “offensive” to have a British person playing any quintessentially American character.

      • Terry

        Superman is NOT American. He was created by Americans, but he is from Krypton, an imaginary place.

      • Dave

        Superman was created by a Canadian and an American and he’s an alien so I think we can let the british actor thing slide

  • markinnyc

    I didn’t think this movie could get any more boring…..well played deleted scene, well played

    • And I Never Laugh

      Lmao

    • Chris

      Agreed. Glad this wasn’t in the movie.

      • superman returns was awesome

        you all have no taste, go back to watching 300 and Jersey Shore

  • JJ

    It gives reason to why he left Earth/where he was and ties nicely to the Donner films…but I’d have to see it as part of the whole film/in context to decide.

    Singer’s Superman did so many things wrong (ie Super Son) that the things it did right (using Williams theme, the Fleischer homage to bullets deflecting off of him) that it was such an imbalanced bore of a film.

    Let’s not forget Luthor’s “genius” plan to create charcoal like ‘real estate’ to rule the world. Um, no.

    I’d like to see Singer go back and do a second cut now that he has added perspective.

  • Laura

    What the hell was that? I mean, other than a complete snooze-fest. I actually liked Superman Returns for the most part, but that’s about as far as you can get from an attention-grabbing opening scene.

  • ChrisV

    I am continuously perplexed that anyone would praise Brandon Routh’s absolutely lifeless, wooden, performance. He’s a terrible actor. Face it Routh-supporters — he headlined a $200 million movie, and hasn’t been cast to headline a major movie since! He’s been awful in supporting roles in movies like “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.” He’s TERRIBLE! Of course, one of the major problems here is that Lois Lane apparently hopped in bed with a new guy so quickly after Superman left that she wasn’t even sure who’s the father of her child… way to make Lois Lane a slut, writers! Epically awful movie.

    • Jay

      Why the Brandon Routh hate? He’s not that bad, and I liked his “vegan” role in S.P. vs The World.

      • nunnya

        Agree with this too. He was hilarious in Scott Pilgrim.

      • Megan

        I concur. There’s a reason his Superman gig hasn’t led to any major roles in a big budget films. Compare his career post-SR versus Bale’s post-Batman Begins. Even Reeves had some major roles and acclaim after the original Supes film. Routh is ridiculously bad at emoting.

      • Cassie

        “Gelato isn’t vegan?”
        “It’s milk and eggs b****”

    • Will J

      To be honest, I thought Brandon did a fine job as The Man Of Steel, but as much as I hate to admit this, I found Kevin Spacey’s performance as Lex Luthor a tad bit like a cynical Gene Hackman impression.

    • Brett

      Routh haters should see him in “Hot Time in Cracktown.” No, I’m not kidding. The movie’s depressing as hell, but he’s pretty good in it.

  • Shiny

    So he travels by Twinkle Star in a unitard that shows off his fine ass? I’m more shocked that they cut the scene where they run through the Chompers.

    • Edna

      That scene was badly written

  • McProphet

    This movie was terrible. It was slow, boring, and had wooden actors to bring absolute zero life to the screen. Not to mention Superman became a deadbeat dad and somehow in his absence the costume became more dull in color to match its new wearer.

  • ?

    I am just disappointed the deleted scene was not included in the original DVD release. I just find it interesting but not very insightful regarding Superman.

  • Jeff

    We still never got an explanation for the Super kid.

  • mage?!

    Literally, can I have my 5:42 of time back? That was lame and made no real sense. Contrary to logic. Goes well with the rest of the movie.

    • superman returns was awesome

      how was that contrary to logic – furthermore its a movie about a super powered alien – logic is checked at the door.

      • Shaun

        It doesn’t mean the movie should be completely moronic in how it tells its story… Was it a sequel to Supermans 1 & 2 or not? If it was, why did Supes leave Earth after telling the Prez he would never leave? He had to left within days or weeks after saying it, if he didn’t know Lois was preggers. Of course, Superman should be able to tell sooner than most (x-ray vision, super-hearing, etc.) so even that doesn’t hold water. Also, if it’s a sequel, shouldn’t Lois be really curious/concerned about how Superman got her pregnant? Her memory was wiped at the end of Supes 2. If the movie’s not a sequel, then having Lois mother Supes’ kid is just ridiculous in the first place.

        Also, having a mopey, dour Superman who’s more concerned with stalking his old girlfriend than keeping tabs on his arch-enemy, who freed from prison and suddenly some bad things are happening, is the height of stupidity. What’s so “super” about watching a movie about an embittered ex?

        And casting a Lois who seemed like she was barely out of her teens was crazy. How old was she when she had the kid? Did I mention the kid was a bad idea?

      • Stuporman Redux

        Your defense about how “awesome” SR was is pretty weak… Plenty of good/great superhero movies follow a logical trail WITHIN THE RULES laid out by the story. Batman Begins, for instance, showed how Bruce Wayne gets all those “wonderful toys” he uses to fight crime, how the Batcave and Batmobile came to be, and how it all happened. It followed a logical course. In Iron Man, Tony Stark’s idea in becoming IM, and the reasons for it and his change of heart about building weapons, follows a logical course.

        Internal logic makes a story work. Superman Returns follows NO internal logic whatsoever. Superman pouts, stalks, and ignores crime going on right under his nose. Shaun is right in pointing out how the “Is it a sequel or not?” question makes the movie even worse.

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