As far as Superman films go, 2006’s Superman Returns is often overlooked and underrated. While it may not be the best Superman movie to exist, the film was able to successfully revive the iconic superhero on the big screen after what felt like a long hiatus, and Brandon Routh was even hoping for a sequel.
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Following on the heels of the critically acclaimed Christopher Reeve films from the 1970s and 1980s, Superman Returns was set to launch a new era for the Man of Steel. Unfortunately, things did not pan out as expected, and the film, which was once set to have multiple sequels starring Brandon Routh, ended up being a standalone entry in the Superman franchise.
One can only imagine how disappointed fans were to learn that the story would not be continued, but even more so for Brandon Routh, who had put so much heart and dedication into portraying the beloved character, even going so far as to strive to “uphold an image” of Superman in his work outside of the comic book adaptation.
Brandon Routh previously expressed his sadness at seeing the chances of a Superman Returns sequel dwindle; however, the actor recently provided more context for why the sequel was cancelled when he appeared on Michael Rosenbaum’s Inside of You podcast.
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According to the 43-year-old actor, the first movie received positive reviews and was well-liked by audiences, earning an impressive $400 million globally. However, despite its success, more was needed to greenlight a sequel.
“The [first] movie was widely well-reviewed, people liked the movie, but it, you know, made almost $400 million worldwide, but that wasn’t enough. And 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,” he said.
Despite Brandon Rouths best efforts, the Superman Returns sequel never materialized. The studio seemed hesitant to invest in a follow-up, and the director and writers, who had poured their creative energy into the project, were drawn to other endeavours, leaving Superman’s future uncertain.
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“The director and the writers kind of were on to other things, and certain people at the studio who were excited about Superman had left to go on to other projects and other studios. And so it was both the passion and interest in Superman dissipated, and also the movie didn’t, I guess for them, bring back enough monetary success for them to actually pull the trigger on it.” Routh continued.
Despite the initial excitement and buzz surrounding the film, circumstances beyond his control ultimately shelved any plans for a sequel. As a result, both the passion and interest in continuing Superman’s story gradually faded away. Adding to this setback was the movie’s perceived lack of financial success, which failed to meet the studio’s expectations and ultimately deterred them from greenlighting a sequel.
You see, money talks in Hollywood, and unfortunately for Superman, the numbers didn’t add up in his favour. The film’s production budget of $270 million was already a massive investment, and with marketing costs added on top, the studio needed a blockbuster hit to justify such a hefty expenditure. Despite the critical acclaim and loyal fanbase, circumstances conspired against Superman’s “return” to the big screen. Even the Man of Steel couldn’t escape the harsh realities of Hollywood economics.
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As disappointing as it may be for fans, it’s important to remember that show business is ultimately a business, and financial considerations often drive decisions. In this case, Superman’s box office performance fell short of expectations, leaving Warner Bros executives hesitant to greenlight another instalment in the franchise. It’s a tough pill to swallow for those hoping for more adventures with the iconic superhero, but sometimes even superheroes can’t overcome the power of money in Tinseltown.
Thankfully, Routh eventually had the opportunity to redeem his version of the beloved hero in a different capacity. He reprised his role as Superman in the Arrowverse crossover event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. This five-part series brought together characters from various DC Comics shows, including Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl.
While it may not have been the full-length feature film that fans had hoped for, Routh’s appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths served as a satisfying continuation of his Superman journey. It also opened up new possibilities for future crossovers and potential spin-offs centred around his version of the character. And with the multiverse now established in the DC Extended Universe, who knows, we might just see more of Routh’s Superman in the future.
Would you like to see Brandon Routh return as Superman in a sequel?