Superman Returns

Superman Returns... the best Superman movie ever!
 
Superman Returns was an excellent movie. Period. No further discussion needed unless its to offer more praise. I thought everything about this film was perfect: Bryan Singer's direction and vision, the story, the acting, the casting, the look of the film, the costuming, the sound and the music.... and without question Brandon Routh as Superman was perfect! In fact, of all the actors who have portrayed Superman in movies or on TV, Routh is easily my favourite Superman ever! Christopher Reeve is a close second but Mr. Routh, I find, is the best.
 
Brandon Routh as Superman in Superman Returns
 
I'm quite disappointed that Warner Brothers won't be making a sequel to this awesome film, despite that it was a huge worldwide success at the box office and undoubtedly generated millions more in merchandizing, home video/DVD sales, TV broadcasting, and other licencing rights. Unfortunately it seems that the greedy folks in charge at Warner feel that it didn't make enough money for them in theatres, and so they've foolishly and unfairly cancelled plans for a sequel. They have also gone on record saying, essentially, that this wasn't the type of Superman "reboot" they were looking for, which is not only unfortunate, it's astonishing.

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor in Superman Returns

According to Wikipedia the movie made 400 million worldwide making it the sixth highest grossing film of 2006, but the folks at Warner wanted 500 million so they weren't happy and considered the movie a failure! Director Bryan Singer was quoted in the Wiki article as saying "That movie made 400 million! I don't know what constitutes under-performing these days..."


Why any movie production studio would publicly diminish their own film in any way is certainly a head scratcher. If money is all Warner is after, their own comments didn't help. Regardless of what the studio brass actually thought, it would have been more logical (and therefore lucrative) to spin things differently. Their response should have been to heap praise on their new picture as a fitting homage to Christopher Reeve's Superman, and a film that carries on the legacy of their own classic Superman films. Had they gone this route, not only would they have preserved the integrity of the picture, they also would have been correct.

In the very least, for the sake of posterity, Warner Brothers should have stood behind Superman Returns for being a truly entertaining, engaging, and expertly crafted film.

Instead, due to Warner's carelessness, this film now and for all time will undeservedly have a cloud of ineptitude hanging over it. It will forever be regarded as the Superman film that didn't measure up. Regretfully it seems that due to all of the unjustified negativity, Bryan Singer is now second guessing himself and his vision for this film, one which he brought to life with flawless perfection. He has been quoted in various online articles over the years criticising his own film, and choices that he made to go the direction that he did with the movie. If I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Singer I would totally get on his case for letting the naysayers get to him. There have been many artists who's contemporaries failed to see the genius of their work, and many films that performed poorly at the box office for a number of reasons, but are in fact among the greatest cinematic works of their time.


It's also worth mentioning that there are many films that don't do the required business while in theatres, yet go on to develop a huge following. Jim Henson's Labyrinth is one example. Who in their right mind wouldn't want to see a sequel to that film today? The Mike Myers film Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery initially did modest box office but developed such a following on home video that two additional films were produced. Other films that either failed or did lukewarm sales at the box office include Blade Runner, Fight Club, Detroit Rock City, Dazed and Confused, Rocky Horror Picture Show, It's a Wonderful Life, and Wizard of Oz. That's not bad company.


Unfortunately, we live in a society in which people like to tear things down because it makes them feel powerful. It gives them that momentary rush of self-perceived greatness. And when it becomes trendy to tear something down, others, who want to feel like they're part of the group and see an easy target, join in. Facts become irrelevant at this point, no matter how skillfully the film was produced. Add to this the allure of tearing down Superman himself, well, its not unlike attracting insects to a light bulb. Spend half a minute searching for Superman Returns reviews online and this all becomes evident.


What I also don't understand, again coming from a perspective in which making money is the sole motivator, is why does there have to be only one Superman movie franchise at a time? Is there some golden movie rulebook that expressly forbids such a thing, or does the brass at Warner lack the creativity and guts to give it a try? When Superman Returns was in theatres the Superman themed TV series Smallville was still in production with it's fourth season currently being broadcast (the show would continue for 11 seasons),  so technically there were already two Superman franchises overlapping each other.

As such was the case, it's already proven that fans don't mind having two actors portraying the same character at the same time in different productions. So, why not proceed with both the Superman Returns sequel and the new "Man of Steel" film reboot? Fans want more Superman, so just give it to them! Make as many movies, TV shows, video games, and comic books as possible! Time is money after all. The more Warner can add to it's Superman library, the more opportunities they have to sell DVDs and related merchandise. It all just compounds and adds to the bank account. After 40 years of Superman, I don't think anyone needs to worry about over exposure of the character or audience fatigue. Superman is one of those characters that people will never get tired of. He will be in demand, appearing in numerous incarnations, for all of eternity.


In any case, I'm just glad that Bryan Singer, Brandon Routh and company made such a remarkable film. Just as with Jim Henson's The Muppet Movie, Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans, the original Star Wars trilogy, and Brandon Lee's The Crow, Bryan Singer's Superman Returns will always, forever and ever, remain a favourite of mine.

That other Superman movie

The sequel to Superman Returns was something that I was looking forward to, as I consider this movie to be one of my favourite films. If Warner had gone ahead with the sequel I have no doubt that Bryan Singer would have created another masterpiece.

As for the movie that was made instead, Man of Steel, I saw it in the theatres and it didn't interest me at all, just like the last Batman trilogy. I just found it boring watching Superman and the villain crash through buildings over and over again. Almost every scene had something crashing or burning or smashing and it went on for two and a half hours, which was far too long.

To date I've watched Superman Returns dozens of times. In comparison, I have no interest in watching Man of Steel ever again. For me, Man of Steel was not a memorable movie. There were no magical movie moments that make me want to revisit the film, unlike in Superman Returns when Superman lifts the boat out of the water to rescue Lois and her family, or a few scenes later when the airplane won't take off. I was on the edge of my seat for that.

For Man of Steel, I honestly found myself tired of watching the film and checking my watch. I was simply waiting for that movie to end. Rarely do I "fall out" of a movie like that, loosing my suspension of belief in what is happening on screen. Unfortunately though the trend with superhero movies these days is dark, violent and "too serious", which may sell tickets but doesn't necessarily make for a good movie.

In my view, Superman Returns had far more charm than Man of Steel.
 
I got to meet Brandon Routh!
On Sunday, November 23, 2014 one of the things on my "wish list" happened. I got to meet Brandon Routh. He came to Ottawa as a guest for Ottawa Pop Expo. This is a similar event to Ottawa Comiccon which is typically held in May, and organized by the same company.
 
Routh was in town for both days of the Expo, Nov 22 and 23, and I attended the second day as his Question and Answer session was scheduled for that day. Prior to the Q&A event, I went to meet him and get his signature. I still can't believe how down to earth he was, and extremely kind to everyone whom he spoke with. There wasn't the slightest sign of "I'm a famous person" type of arrogance. He was genuinely interested in listening and talking with people. He didn't rush anyone, it was honestly as if he had come to the Expo to me us, rather than the opposite! A class act all the way.
 
This is the photo of Brandon Routh that the Ottawa Pop Expo used to promote him at the event.
 
After standing in line for a while it was finally my turn to go meet him. I told him how much I liked Superman Returns and that I was really bummed when they didn't make the sequel. He smiled and said "Ya, so was I". Then I told him that out of all the actors to play Superman he was my favourite, to which he seemed genuinely appreciative and a bit surprised, responding with an inquiring tone "Really?" As he was signing the picture that I had picked out (shown below), I jokingly told him that if ever I happened to come across two million dollars, I'd give him a call to do the sequel. He laughed, throwing his head back, and then quickly replied, "I'll hold you to that!" (Anybody have two million I can borrow!!!!? Brandon Routh wants to do another Superman movie!!!) Then I thanked him for the signature, and looked at it a moment in awe. At that point it dawned on me that I was actually talking with Brandon Routh, and whatever reserve of "guts" I had to go over to meet him in the first place was suddenly used up. So I smiled and motioned to the signed picture, saying "This is awesome, thanks" and he nodded and smiled. That was it! I had met Brandon Routh, awesomeness!
 
 Brandon Routh's autograph from Ottawa Pop Expo, Nov. 23, 2014
 
Afterward, during the Q&A, I was too chicken to go up to the microphone and ask a question. I had several for him, but oh well. Still, I enjoyed listening to him answer everyone's questions and learned a lot about other projects that he's done since Superman Returns. What impressed me the most about him was how kind and patient he was with everyone. He really seemed so "normal", like just any another guy, very casual.  It was very much like "...Oh, and I played Superman in a movie once", as though it was some ordinary accomplishment. He joked about it too. Knowing what a kind person he is and how he treats his fans has more than doubled my respect for him. He truly deserves all his success! 
 
Here are two more pictures of Brandon Routh that were used to promote him at Ottawa Pop Expo.
 
 
The Atom and Supergirl
When I met Brandon Routh at Ottawa Pop Expo in Nov 2014 the news that he would be joining DC Comic's TV franchise as Ray Palmer was major buzz among his fans. During his Q and A session at the conference a good portion of time was spent discussing speculation that he would eventually appear in costume as his character's super hero identity the Atom. For fans of both Brandon Routh and Superman Returns, the fact that Warner was teaming up with their former Superman star was welcome news. After the way the studio dismissed Superman Returns in spite of it's success, it seemed to me that the studio owed him a huge apology, not to mention gainful employment. So it seemed at the time that all fences had been mended with Routh back in the Warner superhero family where he belonged.

Be that as it may, for me, this still felt wrong. Brandon Routh working for Warner as a character in the DC Comics universe, not as Superman but instead as a minor B-character!?! Excuse me? Well, after giving this some thought I accepted that it was a compromise. If they were going to keep Brandon Routh employed then I'll go along with it. Since then Routh has indeed appeared in costume as the Atom and the character has been spun off onto a new TV show "Legends of Tomorrow". So Brandon Routh has had and will have plenty of work to do... that's good!

However in Oct 2015, less than a year after the Ottawa Pop Expo Q and A session, a Supergirl TV series made it's debut with a certain superhero... yes, Superman! ...in a guest staring role for the first two episodes. And who did they get to play Superman? ...Who? Who the heck is that?!? What....?!?

I just spent about 15 minutes trying to find out the actor's name, Tyler Hoechlin, who is the new superman for DC's TV series universe. So now we have an actor that is not as well known as Brandon Routh, and looks less like Superman than Brandon Routh, playing DC Comic's most iconic superhero, Superman, while Brandon Routh is playing a considerably lesser known superhero in the same TV franchise. This seems a tad insulting and poorly thought out, is it not?

Clearly they were working on Supergirl in 2014 when they were also planning to introduce the Ray Palmer character, so why not get Brandon Routh to play Superman instead? It's awesome that Warner has kept Brandon Routh employed, that's a big deal and the right thing to do! But the character Routh is meant to play is Superman. Why arrange to have him at the Warner studio to record him in the Atom role while someone else plays Superman? If this is being done to keep the movie and the TV show separate because a Superman Returns sequel is being planned, I'll happily watch Brandon Routh as the Atom on TV. Otherwise, somebody please switch his costume! Give him the blue and red one!

The studio doesn't even have to spend money on the costume, just get it out of storage! In addition, Kevin Spacey is doing television now too, so if Brandon Routh appeared on the Supergirl TV show as Superman perhaps Mr. Spacey would be willing to do an appearance as Lex Luthor? I wonder if anyone at Warner is thinking about this stuff? Or is it more lucrative to sweep a 200 million dollar movie under the rug and forget about it?!?!

A collage that I made showing various storybook covers, a painting set, a calendar, a newspaper that was given out as a free promotional item, and a life-sized statue based on Brandon Routh from Superman Returns. This is just a sample of the hundreds of items that were made featuring Brandon Routh as Superman! Below are a few more from my collection...

Superman Returns, by Mattel, 2006

Mattel acquired the licence to produce Superman Returns action figures and went all out on their new toy line, which was awesome to see. In addition to offering a wide assortment of smaller 4 inch figures they made several different sizes of larger action figures. Shown above are 10 inch, 11 inch, and 14 inch figures. Mattel even produced a giant sized 30 inch (two and a half feet tall) figure of Superman which started a very unique trend in action figure collecting. Since 2006, I've seen Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, Wrestling and Power Rangers characters being offered in the 3 foot size and larger! I have also seen a 30 inch Superman figure based on the "Man of Steel" movie that followed, as well as a 30 inch Batman.
 
Unfortunately however, Mattel used the exact same head sculpt for their entire line of Superman Returns figures. I'm saying "unfortunately" because the face they used does not look a thing like Brandon Routh...not even close! Above are some pictures for comparison. (Click the photo for a larger view) As you can see the lower half of the Mattel Superman head is much too wide to be a reasonable likeness of Brandon Routh, plus the eyes, nose, mouth and chin are not proportioned as they should be. At the time, I was quite bummed about how bad the likeness was... and I guess I still am!!! LOL :)
 
It's very odd that such an off model head sculpt was used. I would think that if a company is going to spend millions of dollars producing so many different action figures they would be darn sure that the likeness of the main character was at least passable! Better toy companies even go as far as to issue a new head sculpt to correct this concern, which is what Kenner did with the original Han Solo figure back in the 1970s and again later on with their Robin Hood Prince of Thieves figure in the early 1990's. Hasbro addressed likeness issues with their 12 inch Star Wars series in the mid to late 1990s by offering re-sculpts for several key characters. It was also well known by 2006 that such variations actually help sell the different figures, such as in 2003 when Toy Biz created two different heads for their 13 inch Hulk figure and sold the figures side by side on store shelves, so it's quite strange indeed that Mattel committed so strictly to that one specific head sculpt.
 
Here is the Superman Returns 10 inch action figure by Mattel in the original box. I really like the artwork of Brandon Routh as Superman that they used for this line of toys, and the packaging designs are awesome. I removed this figure from the box before I took the picture so I tried to pose Superman to look more or less how the figure was packaged. This is my favourite of the Mattel Superman Returns figures as it's the one that's the closet to scale with the 1970's Mego superhero dolls that I like so much! The elbows of this figure don't bend, but the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and head are poseable.
 
A closer view of the 10 inch Superman Returns action figure. I liked that Mattel gave the costume the textured detail, but then they slapped on a very cheep looking cape. It's just a piece of fabric that has been cut out with no finished edges. The cape is attached onto the figure at the neck so there isn't any way to remove it. Many of the large sized figures were made this way including the 14 inch Superman, below.
 
This is the 14 inch "Hyperposeable Superman" figure by Mattel. In Canada this toy retailed for $24.92 at Wal-Mart. The box is shown below. Once again, I had removed the figure before I took the photo, so this is approximately how the toy looked in the package.


The back of the box says "35 pivot points" and shows a diagram of the figure counting all of them. There's also a picture showing two non-poseable flying Superman figures, but there's no text to explain what each of them are, not even the title or name of the toy. One looks like a remote controlled flying toy, and the other looks like it might be a flying toy controlled with an air pump. The website address on the box (www.supermanreturnstoys.com) no longer works.
 
In addition, Mattel made a 12 inch "Ultimate Powers Superman" action figure that is very similar to the 10 inch and 14 inch action figures. It plays one of 26 different sounds when the chest emblem is pressed. This is essentially a "Talking Superman" action figure, which has a plastic cape and a red button on the right side of the torso.
 
While there were many different sized action figures made for Superman Returns, at first it was a challenge to find a "doll" version of Superman that had a cloth outfit (like the 1970's Mego dolls). Mattel made a version of their 12 inch Ken doll based on Superman Returns using the standard Ken body, but I found it looked much too skinny to be Superman so I didn't bother with it. Unfortunately, the Ken Superman Returns doll was the one exception that Mattel made regarding the head sculpt!!! It has a unique head which I like better than the head used for all of the action figures, even though it still doesn't look very much like Brandon Routh. In 2006 Ken seemed to be the only option for a "doll" of Superman, so I found it somewhat frustrating that there wasn't a well made Superman doll available. 
 
Eventually, I found the 11 inch "Epic Powers Superman" doll by Mattel on e-bay, shown above, and was quite glad to discover it. Released in 2007, it still uses the action figure style head but at least it has a fabric costume! However, like Hasbro's 12 inch Batman and Robin dolls from 1997, the costume is not removable as the boots are attached as the feet over top of the fabric. The plastic, sculpted Superman "S" logo on the doll's chest is also permanently attached onto the doll, so the costume is definitely not meant to be removed. The costume looks awesome though, so I could live with not being able to remove it, however, it's difficult to accept the pigeon toed feet that Mattel gave this Superman doll! Clearly an error was made when the boots were designed as they are attached as the doll's feet yet are turned inward and cannot be repositioned any other way. The only solution is to pose Superman in a running position, as this makes the direction of his feet less noticeable. It's very interesting that the packaging for this toy covers up the doll's feet.

Despite that major flaw, this is a nice Superman doll with a nifty "steel bending" action feature. A lever on the doll's back operates the arms to move inward and "bend" the steel bar, which is actually made out of soft rubber... I found that quite funny! Superman is so tough that he can bend soft rubber!!! Above is the open arms "before" picture, then the lever on the doll's back is pulled and, below, the arms close to "bend" the bar.


This picture shows the lever on the doll's back, and how the costume and cape were adjusted to allow for the opening. This doll also has a "heat vision" feature with a small window on the back of its head, seen above, that allows kids (and adults!) to look through Superman's eyes. I found that this didn't work very well as the openings left where the eyes would have been are so small that it's difficult to see anything... but I guess that's what an imagination is for! A similar feature was previously used in the mid 1970's as the "bionic eye" for Kenner's Six Million Dollar Man doll.
 
Here is a closer view to show the gaping holes where the doll's eyes should be, which is kind of creepy!!! I like the textured fabric that Mattel used for Superman's briefs, and that they actually finished the seam around the edge of the cape, something they didn't bother doing for the 10 inch and 14 inch action figures.
 

It's interesting that the design for the "Epic Powers Superman" package features both of the names "Epic Powers" and "Man of Steel" with large attention grabbing letters, while the Superman Returns title is so small. Brandon Routh's Superman image is also no longer featured, but is instead reduced to a small black and white graphic. As this toy was released in 2007, it makes me wonder if Mattel was actually trying to distance itself from the 2006 movie due to Warner Bros. foolish public announcement that they weren't satisfied with box office revenues (400 million) and that the movie itself didn't reach the audience they wanted. That move by Warner was an "epic" failure (see what I did there!) that unnecessarily, and unfairly placed this awesome film in a negative light. It's also very interesting that Mattel rebranded their line of Superman action figures in 2007 using new packaging graphics that featured the "Man of Steel" title, as this later became the title for the next Superman movie, released in 2013.

Here's the back of the box for "Epic Powers Superman". It has instructions for how the doll works and lists three non-articulated flying superman toys which are titled as: Solar Thrower Figure, Air Attack Figure, and Disc Attack Figure.

Much later I learned that several other toy companies had produced Superman Returns 12 inch dolls, and am quite happy to know they are all available. I have yet to own any of them as they were quite pricey, but eventually I hope to add at least one of them to my collection. My favourite of the assortment is the 12 inch doll made by Hot Toys, a company that specializes in making awesome, skillfully crafted, detailed dolls of famous characters from pop culture, yet has an aversion to using the word "doll" in any of their marketing... which I find hilarious!!! In denial much Hot Toys?  In any case, I find their Superman Returns doll is the best one available to date.

My next favourite is the Brandon Routh Clark Kent 12 inch doll by Real Action Heroes/Medicom. This same company also made a Brandon Routh Superman doll but I find the shoulders look more than a little wonky, especially when compared with the Hot Toys version. It's a very well made doll otherwise, but I'd rather have the Hot Toys version of Superman, and the Medicom Clark Kent doll. DC Direct also released a 13 inch Superman Returns doll, but I find that it's too bulky to be the Brandon Routh Superman... so it has the opposite problem from Mattel's Superman Returns Ken doll!

Smaller Sized Superman Returns Action Figures by Mattel

As mentioned above, Mattel went to town producing Superman figures, which they offered in 2006 and 2007. Below is a list that I compiled from photos of action figures in original packaging that I found online. Initially these action figures were released in batches of four figures at a time. Packaging was updated three times, resulting in four styles of carded figures. As such, there are four divisions of the collection. A very limited number of the figures were reissued with slight variations toward the end of the series, otherwise they are all original first run figures. A few things that I'm not certain about are: 1) the order in which the batches of figures were released, as such the numbering used here is just for the sake of organizing this list 2) weather or not this list is complete, but if not it is certainly close 3) the size of the figures, as I do not yet own any. They may have been 4 or 5 inches, though some of them may have been taller. I've put a description of each figure in brackets.

Series 1, Superman Returns - original packaging, each batch has the same four figures shown on back of cards

Batch 1 - 2006

Solar Force Superman (flying with red "flames", upper torso of figure is red)
Kryptonite Smash Superman (large piece of kryptonite that "breaks")
Super Breath Superman (face is in blowing position with cheeks puffed out)
Wall Busting Superman (holding a grey statue that "breaks")

Batch 2 - 2006

Bullet Proof Superman (comes with spring loaded weapon, blue outfit, this figure was reissued with a grey outfit in the 2007 "Man of Steel" batch listed below)
Clark to Superman (with fabric Clark Kent outfit that has white pants with thin grey stripes, this figure was reissued twice: in the 2007 "Man of Steel" batch and in the 3 pack boxed set, each time with slightly different striped fabric creating three variations)
Crystal Escape Superman (with three pieces of Kryptonite)
Up, Up and Away Superman (in flying position, this figure was also included in the 3 pack boxed set)

Batch 3 - 2006

Heat Vision Superman (with grey rock-like thing and red heat missile firing head gear)
Missile Launching Lex Luthor (wearing large grey coat, this figure was also included in the 3 pack boxed set)
Kryptonite Armor Lex Luthor (blue shirt with tie, black pants, green see-through armor pieces)
Mach Speed Superman (press button on belt to hear "fast flying" sound effect)

Batch 4 - 2006

Flying Attack Superman (plastic cape, flying position, has a section in the chest that opens)
X-Ray Alert Superman (with a grey box)
? - not certain if there are other figures in series 4

Assorted figures (look like they may have been from 2006)

Truck Lifting Superman (with a grey truck that "breaks" apart, sold in an open style box)
3 pack boxed set, all three figures were previously released on a card: 1) Clark to Superman, fabric pants are black with very thin white stripes, 2) Up, Up and Away Superman 3) Missile Launching Lex Luthor

Series 2, Superman Returns - Packaging has been revised for this series with taller cards, an illustration of Superman flying is shown on the back of all cards rather than showing the action figures

Batch 5 (look like they may have been from 2006)

Hologram Jor-El (white figure with fabric jacket, head is white)
Space Suit Kal-El (figure's outfit is grey, hands and face are skin tone, no cape, no logo base)
Superman Man of Steel (figure is painted to look like steel including head and plastic cape, comes with a steel coloured logo base)
2 pack boxed set, 1) Jor-El, skin tone face and hands, silver outfit 2) Kal-El, skin tone face and hands, silver outfit, both of these come with silver fabric jackets and are are the same figures (moulds) as the above figures in Batch 5 but painted differently

Series 3, Superman Returns: Ultra - Packaging has been revised again, this time with a red band across the top of the card with the word "Ultra" in it. These figures might be a tad larger than the others (hard to tell from online photos)

Batch 6 (look like they may have been from 2006)

Mega Punch Superman (has a grey handle attached to his backside, figure turns at the waist)
Flight Force Superman (has a superman logo on his side that you pull to activate the action feature)
Heat Vision Superman (press chest logo to activate action feature)

Series 4, Superman Returns: Man of Steel - Packaging was revised one last time in 2007 to feature the Man of Steel logo, but is unrelated to the 2013 movie. All seven figures are shown on the back of all the cards. Two of them, Metallo and Mongul, are original characters from the DC comics universe but have nothing to do with the 2006 movie. This set includes two Superman figures that are reissues of previously released figures, but have colour variations. Similar packaging graphics were used for the 11 inch "Epic Powers Superman" doll shown above, as it is also from 2007.

Batch 7 - 2007

Bullet Proof Superman (reissue of the figure from Batch 1 but with a grey outfit instead of blue)
Clark to Superman (reissue of the figure from Batch 2 and the 3 pack box set, has different striped fabric pants, the black and white stripes are more even in size)
Crystal Zipline Superman (with star shaped kryptonite, plastic cape, outfit is greyish silver-blue)
Turbo Tornado Superman (grey outfit, dark red trunks)
Daily Planet Superman (with grey plastic Daily Planet globe that "breaks")
Kryptonite Power Lex Luthor (black outfit with separate grey armor that has green kryptonite circles and large shards on the shoulders - a very cool looking design, has a weapon that fires missiles)
Metallo (solid grey alien/robot villain with a blaster than fires missiles)
Mongul (villain creature wearing purple outfit with grey design, Caucasian skin tone face, yellow hair, the commonly available figure has purple pants, I've also seen a photo of this figure with blue pants - without the package, this blue variation may have just been a prototype)

Other Mattel Superman Toys

Select Sculpt Statues
These are slightly larger than the Mattel action figures and came packaged on cards. Technically these aren't toys but I'm including them here because they were made by Mattel.

Metropolis Rising Superman (posed flying upwards)
Invulnerable Superman (bullets bouncing off chest)

Outdoor Toys These are all non-poseable figures of Superman that fly or shoot or launch.
Solar Thrower Figure
Air Attack Figure
Disc Attack Figure (figure in flying position shoots red discs from his chest, sold on a card in a box-like plastic bubble)
Sky Strike Superman (plastic cape shaped like airplane wings, figure fires into air from a hand held launcher, sold on a card inside a formed plastic bubble)
Superman Swingshot (stuffed doll with plastic head and hands, in a flying position, has a thin extra long cape to use for swinging the doll and launching it through the air - hours of fun! Sold on a card without a plastic bubble.)
Rocket Launch Superman (figure in a flying position with a plastic cape, comes with a small model of the Daily Planet which serves as a pump-launcher for the figure, sold in an open style box)

Children's Costume Sets
Fight N' Fly FX Cape ("S" logo with plastic cape collar and fabric cape, with sound FX, sold in a window box)
Punch N Crunch (blue plastic Superman forearms with red half-gloves, make sound FX, comes with "steel" bar to bend, sold in window box)
Value Pack, Fight N' Fly FX Cape and Punch N Crunch packaged together in window box)
Heat Vision Headset (blue head band with small flash lights on the side and an "S" logo!, sold on a card with a formed bubble)
Superman Hero Gear (plastic "S" logo, fabric cape and plastic chain, sold in a window box)
Superman Inflato-Suit (superman shirt that inflates with a fan to make "muscles", sold in a box)

Miscellaneous Items
Krazy Kryptonite (green silly putty, sold on a bubble card)


More Superman Returns Stuff

Here is an awesome softcover book that I stumbled upon in Aug 2015 (nine years after the fact!) called "Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide". I'm so glad to have found this book. It has several photos from the movie as well as photos showing behind the scenes while making the film. It's quite a large book too, measuring 11 inches high by 9 inches wide, with 143 pages. Published by Time Inc. Home Entertainment in 2006.

The above Superman doll was offered in 2015.
 
In 2013 the Figures Toy Company (FTC) began reissuing several DC Comics superhero dolls that were originally produced by Mego in the 1970s!!! FTC also made several variations of these 8 inch dolls that Mego never offered, and also slightly altered the Mego head sculpts to make them different from the originals. While the above Superman is not intended to be the Brandon Routh version of Superman, I find that the way FTC altered and then painted the Mego head makes this doll look more like Routh than any of the official Superman Returns toys offered by Mattel in 2006. It's also interesting as the original Superman Mego head doesn't look very much like Brandon Routh either! However, since FTC softened some of the features and painted the eyebrows differently from the Mego version, this new Superman head has become an excellent likeness of Brandon Routh!!! I've shown a comparison below...

This discovery of the FTC Superman 8 inch doll's likeness to Brandon Routh is quite ironic as Superman Returns was created as a continuation of the first two 1970's Superman films, which were in theatres when Mego's original 8 inch Superman doll was being sold in stores. At the time, the Mego Superman dolls were considered by kids to be the Christopher Reeve Superman since he was the only actor in the role of the character at the time. These Mego dolls also became part of the Superman marketing phenomenon that the films generated. Mego even created a new head sculpt for their 12 inch doll that looked more like Christopher Reeve than their comic book inspired head sculpt! Fast forward and we have Routh portraying the Christopher Reeve Superman while also resembling the same 8 inch Mego doll that kids played with in the 70's, which has been reissued! Mind boggling!

Here is the back of the packaging for the FTC Superman doll.
 
Life-size Superman Statue!
Here's a very unique collectable that I don't have but would someday like to own... a life-size statue of Brandon Routh as Superman! I would put it in the hallway at the front entrance to my house. How's that for a home security system!!! :)
 
It would also be a great way to welcome visitors... "Welcome to my humble home, may Superman take your hat?"
 
This is such a cool collectors item! It's also extremely well sculpted and looks a lot like Brandon Routh! The likeness is certainly a lot better than the one Mattel used for their series of action figures. This statue is the ultimate action figure!
 
Oddly enough this isn't the only Superman Returns life-size statue that was made. When I searched online for the photos to make the above collage with, I discovered two more statues in addition to this one as well as a life sized bust. So there are three life-size statues available!
 
However, I find the likenesses for the other two were not as well done as the one shown above. Curiously, all three statues are in the exact same pose, so it can be tricky identifying each of them. The information that I came across online was quite limited so I wasn't able to confirm 100% who the manufacturer for the above statue was. It may have been sculpted by Oxmox Studios, or is a customized piece based on the Oxmox sculpt. I've found online images of it in the Philippines, Thailand, the United States and in Ontario Canada, so it seems to have been distributed quite widely.
 
The second best of the three statues (in my humble opinion) is perfect except for the mouth, which I find makes Superman look like he's frowning. I was able to confirm that it was Sculpted by Oxmox Studios and produced by Muckle Mannequins in 2006. This one is the most widely distributed of the three life size statues, so it's also may have been the only one that was officially licensed. It also comes with a large grey metallic looking base that says "Man of Steel". For some reason they painted the belt incorrectly by filling in the areas around the "S" with blue rather than red.
 
The last statue is nearly identical to the one pictured above but the sculpting is slightly different with much less muscular detail. The way it's painted is less detailed as well, especially the hair which has very little detail compared to the above. The face is also very different on this third version as it looks somewhat like a standard mannequin, such as the mouth being painted pink in the shape of lips, and the neck is longer. I seriously suspect this one is a custom, home-made piece.
 
These life-size statues sell for around $1000 or more, and that's not including the shipping! As such, I'm not expecting that I'll own one anytime soon, but it certainly was a surprise to learn that such a thing was made!
 
Superman meets Captain Crunch
I've always thought it was fun when two things from pop culture that have nothing to do with the other end up coming together, forming a twisted mix of merchandizing and marketing. Here is a perfect example, a Superman Returns Captain Crunch cereal box!
 
 This "Limited Edition" Captain Crunch cereal was offered in 2006 when the Superman Returns movie was in theatres. I've liked Captain Crunch, both the cereal and the character, since I was a kid so I found this team up quite interesting. The taste of this Superman/Captain Crunch cereal, not so much! Those red Superman shaped cereal pieces had some kind of potent fruit flavouring added, so this didn't taste like the usual Captain Crunch cereal at all! Yucka!!! I dumped the rest of the cereal and just kept the box! :)

Had they added green kryptonite cereal shapes flavoured like green Froot Loops, that would have been different! :) Below is the back view.
 
Rubies Superman Returns costumes!
As with every other major movie or licensed character, many, many different Superman Returns costumes were marketed. Rubies Costume Company offered two variations of Superman, one with a muscular formed chest piece and one without, as well as a Clark Kent to Superman costume. All three were available in adult or child sizes. A toddler sized costume was also offered.
 
 
Here is a Superman Returns mask and cape set sold on a card. The mask is a very well done likeness of Brandon Routh, once again far better than the Mattel action figures! Shrink this down and it would have been perfect for action figures. (Sigh!) In any case, I wonder what Brandon Routh thinks about having replicas of his face out there on masks like this? It must be quite weird, but now he can put on a mask of his own face and be himself for Halloween! :)
 
Rubies repackaged this mask and cape as part of an "Accessory Set" that came with a Superman logo T-shirt, a fabric belt and a piece of kryptonite that lights up. The Accessory Set was sold packaged in two different ways: on a card behind a shaped, formed bubble and in a large shrink wrapped box.
 
Superman Returns 2007 Calendar
 
As the Superman Returns movie was in theatres in 2006 the calendars that were sold that year were all for 2007. Many different Superman Returns calendars were available, with a variety of artwork and photos used. I really like the artwork that was created to licence Superman Returns, so I was quite happy to find the above calendar. Most of the pages in it have an awesome oversized version of this Superman artwork. Below is the first page as an example.

 
 
 
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Original text and photos copyright Mike Artelle, 2006, 2015

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