Superman Returns is a 2006 American superhero film directed and produced by Bryan Singer. It is based on the DC Comics character Superman and serves as a homage sequel to the motion pictures Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), ignoring the events of Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). The film stars Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, with James Marsden, Frank Langella, and Parker Posey. The film tells the story of the title character returning to Earth after a five-year absence. He finds that his love interest Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and that his archenemy Lex Luthor is plotting a scheme that will destroy Superman and the world.
After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Superman on the screen, Warner Bros. hired Bryan Singer to direct and develop Superman Returns in July 2004. The majority of principal photography took place at Fox Studios Australia, Sydney, while the visual effects sequences were created by a number of studios, including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rhythm & Hues, Framestore, Rising Sun Pictures, and The Orphanage; filming ended in November 2005.
Superman Returns received positive reviews, with critics praising its story, visual effects, musical score, and style. However, it received mixed reviews from audiences, who criticized the film for its length, the story, and lack of action sequences. Warner Bros. was also disappointed with the worldwide box office return. A sequel was planned for a summer 2009 release, but the project was later canceled. The Superman film series was rebooted in 2013 with the film Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill as Superman.