Superman Returned - A Tomahawk Re-Edit
In STM, the world we are introduced to is unveiled to us in a way that is focused and engaging (for the time) by introducing us to, and remaining with, the characters that matter to us. They matter to us because they set up who Superman will become and where he came from. By the time we have arrived in Metropolis we believe and are invested in Clark Kent and how this character is going to make his way in a world that is, for all intents and purposes, our own.
In Superman Returns, that 40 minutes of investment conveyed to us in STM is instead written for us on a text card. The introduction to Kal-El’s origins is a voiceover and the opening shot is of a Gothic mansion with manic characters. We are simultaneously being asked to believe in the film as a continuation of the world introduced to us in STM whilst in the first 6 minutes of the film we are told in no uncertain terms that this world is most definitely not that one, and we still have no character to attach to. When Superman does finally appear we have no idea where he has been and really, do we care?
My Re-Edit seeks to address this.
Requiem For Krypton: Making Superman Returns (2006)
Superman Cinema Message Board
- NTSC DVD-9
- Blu-Ray (BD-25)
- Insert Jor-El and Lara farewell scene from STM
- Revert to original krypton opening with replaced score and colour correction minus Jor-El voiceover
- Unchanged credits
- Reframed Space Newspapers edited together from doco, with Krypton Theme
- Return to krypton scene with replaced score (Credit to Julian Francis Adderley’s cut for music choice. Kicked the arse of my original choice except for one little addition)
- Cut to “farewell Martha” Lex at mansion removed completely
- Jump cut removed when Martha hops out of truck
- Straight to clark waking
- Family photos deleted scene added
- Young Clark removed completely
- Finding Newspapers added slightly shortened with Ship and Shovel moved to the other side of this scene with slight score addition
- cut to Clark watching tv with added dog and ball
- Mr Hubbard deleted scene added straight after, transitioning to Daily Planet
- Jimmy’s Cake removed completely as well as “Still looking for a place to Live”
- “Have you seen Lois” transitions straight into Clark looking over Lois’s desk with slight score addition. Lois on TV removed completely.
- Shot of newspaper removed
- Cut to putting bags in closet straight after “She hates That question”
- Clark overlooking everyone working stolen from earlier “place to live” scene that was shortened.
- cut straight to Jason “Hello” with added score (moved from later on, now all Planet introductions happen at once) Scene continues all the way to “nice to finally meet you” with all references to Supeman and Plane removed.
No further mentions of the Pulitzer from hereon
- Cut to Lex’s boat with added score
- Lex and Kitty deleted scene added
- Prometheus speech slightly shortened
- Jor_el appearance shortened
- “Starting with Crystals” removed/ added score/ transitions to Lex’s Party entering mansion.
- Most of Kitty’s lines deleted with the two dogs joke removed
- scene ends on “all they need is water” with added score
- cut straight to plane with hostess talking
- Lois’s question removed
- New score added over Stanford splitting crystal
- Kitty dialogue removed, “I think I did something wrong” removed
- train set destruction cut straight to the end “eruption”
- Jimmy and clark bar scene cut
- Insert of Clark looking at TV with news report voicover. Now Clark appears to be leaving the Daily Planet
- Cut floating pen scene
- Insert reversed crowd scene where original Jimmy in bar scene was
- cut Lois Feinting
- Shorten Lex seeing big crystal scene
- Cut straight from Perry meeting scene to lex and Kitty outside
- Cut straight from reading gem article to elevator
- Cut goofy wave
- Lois’s dialogue trimmed
- Cut man on street
- cut Superman flying over Metropolis at Sunset
- Cut eavesdropping, now we just go straight to the conversation between Richard and Lois
- Transition to City shot then to Superman flying up above the city
- Lex stealing Gem removed, now we just stick with Kitty in car
- Cut dropping Kitty at Hospital
- Insert lex and Kitty. “I did” Move Kryptonite shard creation scene to later
- Cut superman around the world on tv
- Remove Lois’s “relationship?” comment
- Further Dialogue shortened
- Cut straight to evening
- cut any talk of suspicion of Clark
- superman and Lois dialogue trimmed for the sake of Lois’s character
- cut dinner scene
-cut lois and perry
- Insert shortend Lex and Kryptonite shard creation scene just after Superman at fortress
- Shortened Lois on Phone
- Shortened Jason Pick up
- 1st scene inside yacht removed
- “Lex Luthor’ “Lois Lane” dialogue removed
- Lex out of Jail explanation removed (we get it!)
- “How bout that interview” removed
- Rearrangement of crystals hit water and Lois,Jason and thug scene
- Interweaving of Metropolis rescue and crystal smashing boat scenes
- removal of ER scene
And so many minor subtractions, rearrangements, colour corrections and score cut/extensions/replacements and removals to mention.
I decided to watch this after finishing Tomahawk's Incredible Hulk edit which I absolutely LOVED.
I have nothing to say technically- everything seemed to work very well.
Reinserting the deleted scenes made a lot of elements from the original make more sense- ie, where has Superman been, why does he greet his mother so creepily in the field, etc.
Like Billy, I am a fan of the original movie. The bold colors have always been one of the main things that I think gives the film the kind of unrealistically polished and ideal look that I think fits well with the Superman franchise. In this edited version, the colors have been greatly muted, due in part, I think, to make them fit with the Superman The Movie scenes that were added to the film. Though I understand why the change was made, ultimately I don't think it was the right choice.
The new opening fits way better. Removing as much unnecessary Lex scenes as possible is a huge plus, in my opinion. Little clippings here and there to extra characters were equally welcome.
Also like Billy, I think the cut to the rooftop scene was also a mistake. This was one of the best character moments in the entire film, and anytime we get to see Superman showing his true character (not just heroics), I can't help but feel we should see as much as possible. On that note, I also disagree with the removal of the ER scene. I think it was a pretty emotional scene because it lets the viewer see just what Superman *means* to humanity and how hard they want to save him. Also, I genuinely think it was a pretty- emotionally and otherwise- scene.
Again, I agree with Billy that cutting Superman taking Parker Posey to the hospital was also unnecessary. I understand that Tomahawk was probably trying to make the movie shorter, but cutting any Superman scenes just doesn't seem like the place to do that.
Overall, I can't recommend this edit to anyone who enjoyed the original Superman Returns. I actually am really sorry to say that because I can see how incredibly hard this was worked on, but I think the cuts to some of the emotional scenes take too much away and that the muted colors upset some of the magic that I felt from this film.
First, the good:
The technical editing on this cut is superb, and the work on the soundtrack is staggering. I can't even imagine how I might replicate much of what's been done here.
Now, the nits:
I'm quite fond of SUPERMAN RETURNS, but I realize that it has its failings. One of its biggest problems is the film's pace, and much has been done here to improve that. Unfortunately, I don't think all of it works to the story's benefit.
Tomahawk has done a fine job incorporating footage of Jor-El and Lara from STM in the pre-credits bit, but I think it was a mistake to keep this sequence. It doesn't really add much to the movie. A much better choice, in my opinion, would have been to substitute his masterful restoration of Superman's cut visit to Krypton as the pre-credits scene and toss the Jor-El stuff. That way, the scenes behind the opening credits would have played as the narrative of Superman's actual return to Earth, which would be much more effective than how the credits material is used in the release version or Tomahawk's edit.
I like the idea of adding some of the cut material at the beginning, especially the restoration of one of genre veteran James Karen's scenes, but I think too much has been added that isn't necessary. Personally, I would have added the scene of James Karen's character playing Scrabble with Ma Kent (which Tomahawk doesn't include) and omitted the rest. For a movie that's already too long, drawing out the beginning seems like a mistake to me.
I miss the cameos by Noel Neill and Jack Larson, but that's just because I'm old enough to fondly remember the original series. Younger viewers probably have no idea who they are and wouldn't care less about the cuts, though I would note that cutting the bar scene does introduce a minor continuity error. As re-cut, Clark is wearing a suit jacket in the Daily Planet office, but must have somehow lost it in his trip down stairs as he appears in the street in his vest.
I've never thought of Superman listening in on Lois and family at home as being creepy. Lois has been sending conflicting signals on her feelings for Superman and he just wants to know where he stands. As soon as he hears her tell Richard that she doesn't love Superman he accepts it and leaves. But I don't have a problem with how Tomahawk handles this scene and the cuts work very well. The only problem I have here is that shortly afterwards we see Superman flying upward with a very angry look on his face (was this footage taken from after Superman learned that he had been robbed?). Since there's no reason for Superman to be angry at this point, this scene doesn't really work for me.
I don't mind the cuts to the model train set scene, but it does make it a bit confusing when Kitty refers to it later. And I think it was a mistake to cut the magnetic pulse after Lex shot the crystal into the sea, since we still see a rather catastrophic MP event following the tiny sliver of crystal being dropped in the train set pond earlier in the picture. It doesn't make a lot of sense when an entire crystal is dropped into the ocean and no similar event occurs.
I miss the scene of Superman being rushed into the ER. One could easily see this as clichéd, but it feels iconic to me. The edit works okay without it, but personally I would have kept it.
As mentioned above, I am in awe of the technical wizardry on display with this cut, and I like many of the cuts Tomahawk has made to streamline the story. But there are just too many nits for me here. I think the narrative suffers because of some of the editing choices and I enjoyed this re-edit less than I liked Warner's original release version. I'm still recommending the edit, but more for its technical merits than story improvements.
I didn't care much for Superman Returns when I saw it in the theaters. Man of Steel was considerably worse, as the batmanization of supes seemed both unnecessary and tonally wrong.
The latter film was so disappointing that it revised my opinion of Superman Returns. Underneath the crappy crap, Returns has strengths—some channeling of Christopher Reeve's charm, set design with an art deco flavor, a sense of awe here and there.
Tomahawk flushed away some of the crap, thereby creating a very watchable version. The first half of the fanedit was masterful in pulling me into an alternate-reality version of Superman '78. I fucking felt the magic. I wish the second half could have been like that, but it felt too similar to the theatrical product, could have used some streamlining. (Digression/for example—never did like the scene of Lois pulling supes out of the depths, since the guy weighs a ton or so.)
Still, I like this fanedit, as it gives me a really nice way to enjoy the C. Reeve + J. Williams vibe outside of actually watching a C. Reeve film. And now that we know it's possible to suck all charm out of a supes blockbuster, I appreciate even more the work Tomahawk put into recovering what turns out to be a much better film than the studio put out.
Enjoyjoy: 8+ pelvic aerothrusts
View all my reviews (1)
I'll say it; Superman Returns is my favourite Superhero film ever made. Yes, its slow and much more cerebral than the norm would be for superhero fare but theres something about it that I'm just drawn to. That being said, I know it's not perfect, and no amount of editing is going to fix all the problems that are in the script itself.
That being said...
This edit is a fantastic alternative take on Returns. You've made a lot of wise choices; here's some notes I jotted down when I was watching, good and bad.
I found the flurry of newspapers retelling Supermans disappearance a little strange. Aside from being visually out of tone, it's a little jarring since we go from Krypton, to a fast zoom into Earth seeing news headlines and nothing else, just to return to a now destroyed Krypton. And considering you've added the scene of Clark finding the newspapers in the barn later, it feels a little strange why you'd add it at all.
The sound editing you did in the Krypton sequence was fantastic. I loved it, though the heartbeat I found was a little overdone and audibly too loud. But I really liked how you returned to the heartbeat once again as Superman lifts New Krypton into space. Nice touch.
Removing Clark from the window was surprisingly harmless. I know alot of people hate that scene and found it stalker-ish, but I thought it really played to the Gatsby nature of Superman in this film. But you've removed him from the scene and thought it played rather nicely. And because of this, you're not scratching your head when Superman decides to fly Lois right by Richards house as they're holding hands since its never revealed he knows thats where they live in the first place.
Removing Lex's swindling the old woman out of her money was an obvious "Thank GOD!" kind of cut. In fact, most of your editing around Lex has improved his menacing nature yet while at the same time keeping him more in tone with his Donner counterpart. His "reveal" shot in the mirror even serves as a better reveal than coming out of an dead woman's room and taking off his wig. Imagine that.
It's a completely superfluous scene, and I completely understand why you cut it, but I really missed seeing when Superman drops off Katherine at the Hospital. Brandon's performance is at his best there, and gives a little extra depth to Parker Posey's character.
I didn't really like how you trimmed the Lois and Clark rooftop scene. This was the one scene I felt played beautifully and didn't need any cutting. Removing "The world doesn't need a saviour, and neither do I" kind of lessens the impact of when Superman throws the words back in her face a few minutes later. And removing the "So will I see you around?/I'm always around" beat kind of makes Superman look like a bit of a dick. He goes in for a kiss, gets rejected, takes a step back and goes "Goodnight, Lois!" and flies off. When it's Lois giving him the out, as in the original, it shows more care for maintaining their friendship.
I loved how you cut from Lois lighting a cigarette outside to her being wide eyed looking up at Superman; just played a lot better and added a nice surprising beat.
I was actually surprised that you left in the scene of Superman returning to his fortress to find that he's been robbed. That scene, even in the original, felt completely pointless. He looks pissed, flies away, and then...? Nothing. He doesn't go looking for it or anything. Just a little strange. If the scene were placed earlier in the film it might make a bit more sense, as he's trying to reach out to familiar things now that he's back, but when its after he's done so much it just seems strange and unnecessary.
Anyways, overall, this edit was exactly what I was hoping it would be. The longer, almost dialogue-free first 20 minutes gives a lot more weight to Superman's isolation and personal issues about returning. And when Superman arrives at New Krypton at the end of the film, we now have visual connecting tissue from the beginning of the movie. The movie works a lot better this way. Congratulations, sir. You've made my favourite superhero movie even better :)