Funny games to play with your girlfriend: Superman returns, but he forgot to bring the action and the fun back with him

There were a whole lot of versions of the big Superman reboot. Tim Burton was going to direct the movie, and Nicolas Cage was going to play Superman, a combination so bizarre that I kind of have to sit down when I think about it. McG and Brett Ratner were also on board to direct Superman movies. Akiva Goldsman and J.J. Abrams wrote scripts. There was going to be a Batman-fighting-Superman movie. There were going to be violent versions and kid-friendly versions. At one point, Robert Downey Jr. was going to play Lex Luthor. At another point, Chris Rock was going to be Jimmy Olsen. Warner poured millions into developing all these different versions of Superman movies before ultimately shutting all of them down. So maybe, even in all its puffed-up absurdity, Bryan Singer’s take on the character was the back-to-basics version—the pure and undiluted version of Superman, the same way Batman Begins was the pure and undiluted take on Batman. Or maybe that was the idea, anyway. It’s all I can do to explain how a big-budget superhero movie as paralyzingly boring as Superman Returns could exist.

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