2006 marked the end of nearly two lengthy decades of Superman’s disappearance off the face of Earth; after portraying the iconic superhero across four different films, Christopher Reeve had had his fill with saving the world and for the longest time after that (as long as 19 years), the mighty Man of Steel simply vanished from the silver screen.
That was until Bryan Singer introduced fans to perhaps one of the lousiest, if not the worst, Superman entries ever starring Brandon Routh. And had it not been for WB’s insatiable hunger for monetary profit then Zack Snyder wouldn’t have an army for a fanbase today because the unrivaled force that Snyderverse is (or used to be), probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day, to begin with.
Why A Superman Returns Sequel Was Never Greenlit
For the most part, Superman Returns was subjected to a rather moderate fate characterized by generally positive critical reviews and even an Oscar nomination at the 79th Academy Awards. But the Bryan Singer-helmed movie’s good luck came to a swift end then and there, what with it practically obliterating the box office despite being one of the most expensive Superman projects ever made.
Built on an extortionate production budget of $223 million, the Brandon Routh starrer barely managed to cross the finish line after churning a desolate figure of merely $391 million worldwide. Even so, the 43-year-old actor strived to get the prospect of a sequel off the ground, trying everything that he possibly could to don the fabled cape once again.
“It was a very slow fizzle out of the possibility of a sequel over the next two, three years, and I did everything that I could do, that I thought, in my world to help make it happen.”
“The movie didn’t, I guess for them, bring back enough monetary success for them to actually pull the trigger on it.”
As Routh himself remarked, however, a paltry box-office run coupled with tepid reviews wasn’t going to cut it; it wasn’t enough for Warner Bros. to greenlight an entire sequel and gamble its success despite already having failed with the first part. One thing led to another and doubts brewed more and more uncertainty until the idea of a second movie seemed so preposterous that it was scrapped altogether.
It Worked Out for the Best Though, Especially for the Snyderverse
Sure, James Gunn and Peter Safran are busy mapping an entirely new future for the DCU which will mark the dawn of a fresh beginning for not only the studio but for the fandom as well. But the goldmine of a legacy that Zack Snyder left, in the form of the beloved Snyderverse, most definitely left an indelible imprint on fans all across the globe, one which is unforgettable, to say the least.
If it would’ve been for Routh, however, none of that would’ve happened.
Back in 2013, Henry Cavill‘s brooding and somber superhero came into existence to revive the entirety of the Superman film series whilst simultaneously marking the first entry in Snyder’s DCEU. That, however, would simply not have been conceivable had a Superman Returns sequel beat Man of Steel to it, mainly because the studio wouldn’t have splurged on yet another Clark Kent-led project after that, but also since the need to reboot the Superman universe would’ve then technically been fulfilled.
So, while WB ultimately ended up nixing the possibility of a Superman Returns 2, had it decided to go ahead with it instead, then the sensation that was the Snyderverse, wouldn’t have seen the light of day, at least not for a long, long time.
Both Superman Returns and Man of Steel can be streamed on Max or can be rented/purchased on Apple Tv+.
Source: Inside of You podcast [via SlashFilm]