We went to a screening of SUPERMAN RETURNS courtesy of Shelton Drum last night, and had a great time discussing it afterwards on the van ride back to the hotel with Mike Oeming, Colleen Doran, Craig Hamilton, Neil Volkes and Steve and Dana Saffel. If that isn’t a wide ranging panel, we don’t know what is. Steve and Dana had the same objections to it that I did, while others looked on it more favorably. The evening was also the occasion of The Beat‘s most embarrassing moment EVER, one involving — and we are NOT MAKING THIS UP — baby canola oil, camouflage underwear and Rosario Dawson.

All of our problems with SUPERMAN RETURNS were magnified upon a second viewing. In fact, here’s Things We Learned While Watching SUPERMAN RETURNS (SPOILERS!!!):

Ma Kent plays scrabble with either herself or her dog. Okay about a 1000 people have written to say that when we see the farm someone says “Goodnight, Martha” and drives off, that someone being a boyfriend for Martha Kent that got left on the cutting room floor.

• When her son is dying, Ma Kent will hastily don unflattering orange lipstick.

• The Daily Planet has by far the most lenient child care policy on earth, with employees being encouraged to bring their pre-school children to the newsroom for indefinite periods.

• Kindergartners are apparently given grades in both science and gym.

• When held aloft by its nose by Superman, a plane will not break in two. A giant yacht, however, will break in two, when held vertically.

• When rescuing people from drowning, it’s better to lift a whole ship than open a hatch door.

• A sea plane is a very handy thing to have parked in your backyard.

• The effects of Kryptonite on Superman are such that one moment he will be writhing in pain from being pwned by Kumar. Yet he will still be able to lift an entire continent even with a shard of Kryptonite lodged in his kidneys. UPDATE: several people have written to say that Lois removed most of the shard, but we still say Kryptonite is POISON, and even a teeny bit in Superman’s system would have caused problems. It’s also been pointed out that he goes up to store solar power prior to his big feat — which would also have caused tidal waves and tsunamis all over the Atlantic seaboard, probably destroying Metropolis and New York. We can buy the solar rationalization, but the truth is that EVEN HIS KRYPTONITE DOESN’T STOP SUPERMAN ANY MORE.


  1. Also, people flying on a plane, soley to learn about the plane’s capability to carry the space shuttle, will store luggage in the overhead compartments.

    And Superman is now a deadbeat dad who will “be around” every other weekend.

  2. Speaking as someone who actually works in a newsroom, I didn’t have a problem with the kid running around. There are kids in and out of here all the time. My own daughter’s been in the office for hours at a time in the past. As long as they’re not here every single day and they aren’t causing a distraction, it’s usually OK. Same at the paper I worked at before this one.

    Plus: A) if you have a reporter who’s just won the Pulitzer, you’re going to go out of your way to keep her happy – ven if that means letting her kid hang out in the newsroom – ’cause every paper in the country would kill to have her; and B) when the kid’s “father” is both a managing editor at the paper and the nephew of the very powerful editor-in-chief, a lot of leeway is going to be given.

    We only see the kid there on two occasions, and he’s only there for an extended amount of time on one of those, when both his parents are there working. Something like that is not unusual. Not encouraged, mind you, but it happens.

    But then, there’s no reason to believe that Lois and Richard were “encouraged” to bring in their kid, either. “Allowed,” perhaps, but you never see Perry telling everyone to bring the kiddies.

  3. Technically the first event would have caused the Tidal Waves and Tsunamis too. I already suspended my belief enough to believe a man can fly so I can suspend it just a bit more to look over all that other stuff.

  4. Oh, and as the parent of a kid who just got out of kindergarten: yes, she got a grade in gym. I don’t remember a science grade (and I don’t have her report card in front of me), but she did get grades in English (reading and writing skills), basic math, civics, art, music and yes, gym. They teach a lot more in kindergarten these days than they used to – my daughter’s learned stuff that I don’t remember covering until first and second grade, and I’m not even two decades out of high school.

  5. But enough about Superman: any story that involves oil, underwear and Rosario Dawson sounds like a story I want to hear!

  6. Hm, Julio, thanks for the insight. Personally, I think giving a kindergartner a grade in ANYTHING is a bit harsh but…whaddaya know, these kids gotta learn how to get ahead in the world.

  7. OK, thanks for confirming my (and my wife’s) first impressions. When you have a Superman movie whose standards of plot consistency would make Mort Weisinger cringe, you’ve got some problems.

  8. Actually, that whole lifting of the entire boat over opening the door was something I liked a lot about the movie. I was cringing at the bad science possibility of him opening the door – the pressure change combined with the sheer force of the water would have smashed the three puny humans dead. Instead, he moved the boat to an equal pressure zone, then opened the door.
    Now, lifting them a whole ‘nother 500 yards out into the air, that was just showing off. But then again, the guy that’s been tagging his girl was there, and he needed to establish himself in front of the other male.

  9. Just curious… are the people assailing the logic of Superman Returns defending the logic of other superhero movies (Spider-Man, Batman, X-Man)… or even the originals?

    Or even the comic books?

  10. By that rational (worrying about aeronautical mistakes and the lack of concern for invading armies), you mustn’t like many good movies.

    or decent ones.

    … and I do continue to find the Superman Returns-bashing among comics’ fans amusing. If it does bomb, if everyone does hate it… it’s the last Warner Bros. superhero movie for 15 years, except Batman… which is exactly what happened when Superman IV bombed.

    Oh, except Swamp Thing. There might be another swamp thing to look forward to… except Louis Jordan is dead, isn’t he?

  11. i think peter david had my favorite objection to the film–that upon confronted with the deadbeat dad of her young son, who now apparently has SUPER powers, as the film closes, lois seems content to simply purr in awe, “will we see you?”

    no “how about some child support, asshole?” or “if you think you’re taking him to kandor next weekend, you’ve got another thing coming.” just “homina homina homina bye.”

    lois lane: the most aggressive reporter on the planet, yet desperate and spineless in love.

  12. Didn’t Lois have her memory wiped at the end of Superman II? Shouldn’t she be wondering how she could even have Superman’s baby? Or did they sleep together again after that?

  13. See here’s the thing. Clark had sex with Lois when he was powerless in II. This being the only way her “fallopian tubes could handle the sperm” (see Mallrats discussion on how Lois could never have Superman’s baby). I’m not sure how a powerless dude can pass on a powered gene but whatever. T the end of the film (II) Lois is made to forget who Superman is and that she has just had sex with him. In Returns when it becomes apparent that Lois is Superman Jr.’s mother, the logical question for her to ask is, “Uhhhh… when did we have sex?” And how can a human carry Superman’s child if “When Lois gets a tan the kid could kick right through her stomach.” (see same Mallrats discussion). Total nit-picks but fun to talk about. I thought the film was beautiful and found it’s imagery to be surprisingly emotially affecting even with plot holes and there are a few.

  14. All you people who ant superman fans should not really say nothing about
    superman study up and play all his games before you say anything about and superman will hurt anybody who stops him from keeping us safe.
    I am 13 and I love the heck out of superman and thats that. And that green rock can kill him slowly dumb specktacters.