Superman Returns was one of cinema’s greatest missed potential. With a new star helming the iconic IP, this was the first live-action return of Superman since the Christopher Reeve saga of the late 70s and 80s began to dwindle commercially with each sequel. As such, Brandon Routh already had a lot to live up to, and even though the film wasn’t able to bring back the magic that Richard Donner had served in 1978, Returns was still great in its own right. However, a sequel to the ’06 film was not exactly in the cards for DC and Warner Bros., although Routh did come close to securing his well-deserved follow-up to the debut soon after.
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Brandon Routh’s Plans to Return as Superman in MoS
The story of Superman Returns was just as great as the first two Christopher Reeve-Superman films. In a sense, Returns was fated to be an extension of the Richard Donner stories and not only feature a comeback of the Kryptonian god-hero to Earth after a lengthy absence but the same in the live-action silver screen after the final Reeve film, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987. Bryan Singer was tapped in as the director and with his skill for CBM films already evident by then, the film proved to be a stellar success.
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Brandon Routh was iconic in his red-caped, trunks-equipped suit and as symbolic of hope as Superman can be. Paired against an equally great Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, the film brought back the nostalgic and wholesome air that always cloaked a Man of Steel film. Within four months of the release of Returns, a sequel slated for ’09 was greenlit with the Singer-Routh-Spacey trio signed to reprise their duties.
But the project fell through due to a lot of factors juxtaposing at the wrong time and through no fault of his own, Routh’s Superman was left to scour the planet for a likely home to harbor him. Rumors say he found one with Zack Snyder in the then-projected 2013 film, Man of Steel, before ultimately losing out to Henry Cavill for the role. And understandably so.
Factors Why Brandon Routh’s Superman Sequel Fell Apart
Primarily, the Superman Returns sequel slated for 2009 had begun to gather dust within a few months of its announcement. Singer’s reputation was increasingly under fire and Brandon Routh later commented –
“At the end of the day, the studio, Warner Brothers, decided it was too much of a gamble for them to do a sequel. The creative entities, the writers, and the directors were on to other things. Certain people at the studio who were excited about Superman had left to go on to other projects at other studios. So, it was both the passion and the interest in Superman [that] dissipated…”
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Routh’s lookout for the next big Superman project then took him to the gates of Snyder’s massive DCEU and already being the Superman that he was, this version of Kal-El would not fit in with the world-building that Snyder had in mind. An invocation of the events that now replaced Henry Cavill as Superman in DCU then happened a decade ago when Snyder cast a new actor instead of bringing back Routh into his new universe – the arc would be too confusing if he did the latter.
However, Routh’s optimism – sometimes even emulating his onscreen alter ego – continued to see him return time and again in his red and blues throughout the DC television projects, including Crisis on Infinite Earths and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Source: Geek House Show