THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Anne Thompson looks at the summer’s superhero bockbusters and concludes that although X-MEN: THE LAST STAND may look like more of a box office hit that SUPERMAN RETURNS, Warners scored the ultimate win by luring Bryan Singer over to their team.

Singer was the creative force behind the “X-Men” franchise, and now he’s gone. Ratner is not in the picture; the sense in Hollywood is that Fox scored with “Last Stand” despite the director, not because of him. With its “X-Men” actors now too expensive to reassemble, Fox is proceeding with development on two “X-Men” spinoffs, starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (David Benioff and David Ayer have written drafts) and Ian McKellen as Magneto. The bloom is definitely off the “X-Men” rose. One could argue that in the long term, the studio would have been better off paying Singer to keep him or waiting to get him back.
But what really mattered to Warners was the successful relaunch of its franchise, and to that end they wanted to keep their director happy — even if it meant letting him deliver a two-hour, 40-minute movie. “If Warners goes ahead with the ‘Superman Returns’ sequel,” says producer Don Murphy (“From Hell”), “then they’ve ended up well because they’ve gone from having a wannabe franchise to a real franchise.”

The lengthy piece is well worth reading in its entirety as a snap-shot of Hollywood’s superhero industry.