Why for One Brief Shining Moment, Superman Returns was Worth Watching

For reasons too stupid to go into detail, I have rewatched Superman Returns (2006). I will give this to Superman Returns– usually a movie like this is too bland to even remember. For example, all I can say about 10000 BC is that I’m pretty sure I saw it and there were wooly mammoths running around but I can’t be certain. Maybe I just assumed there were wooly mammoths because what else would a caveman movie be about? Maybe there’s only sabertooth tigers and they didn’t have enough CGI leftover to make mammoths which would be a shame but what does it matter no one was going to remember 10000 BC. Anyways, Superman Returns contain a scene I’ll probably take to the grave which is sad in its own way but I don’t care. What happens is a collision of unneeded crazy and film technique that pushes the boundaries of how much camp is acceptable in drab little comic book movies.

To set the scene, Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is snooping around on Lex Luthor’s (Kevin Spacey) yacht, I think in-universe Lois Lane has won the Pulitzer five times merely for snooping around the correct Luthor vehicle, and stumbles upon Luthor’s secret wig room (This is why Lex Luthor is actually the greatest comic book villain of all time not that anyone has developed Luthor’s baldness into a fullblown pathos before this moment. Think how emotional a scene of Lex crying while trying to comb his bald head, continuing even after he started beeding. That’s a scene that wins you an Oscar or the comic book version of Oscars) And it’s shot, edited, and acted the same way you would if Lois Lane stumbled upon Lex Luthor’s secret murder room where instead of toupees, there are different mutilated corpses. In the most imaginative use of the camera in the whole film (thanks Bryan Singer), we get scare cuts to each wig at odd angles intercut with images Katie Holmes terrified face. They’re WIGS lady! You’ve seen one everyday on the who-is-he-trying-to-fool head of Perry White. To completely underline how insane this scene is what happens directly after. Lane is trying to escape the yacht before… the wigs eat her I guess and runs into Lex in a bathrobe brushing his teeth. Nothing could better state how stupid Lane’s near existential dread of wigs can be than how harmless their owner is, it could only have been better if Lex called the police (Lane is trespassing on his property). But instead he kidnaps her because that’s just what he does and we enter the bland third act. A brief shining moment though, just a twinkle in Kevin Spacey’s eye, it looked like the movie was going to make the most stirring statement against toupees ever put on film. And I’ll always regret what could have been and celebrate what we got.

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