Five things you need to know about ''Superman Returns'' -- EW goes on the set in Australia to investigate the costume, the leading lady, and why the director chose Down Under instead of the Big Apple

By Jeff Jensen
Updated June 17, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
Superman returns: David James/ Warner Bros. Entertainment

1. The Suit Is TIGHT And we don’t mean ”cool” — though it is cool, a nifty riff on the ’40s Max Fleischer cartoon/’30s Joe Shuster-drawn Supes. Insanely detailed, too: That S on Superman’s chest is composed of hundreds of tiny diamond-encrusted S’s that no one will ever see. Nifty. But tight. ”Very confining,” says Brandon Routh, who’s playing the Man of Steel. On days when he’s wearing the flight harness underneath, it’s a real pain in the butt. And back. Thighs and hips, too. ”But once you get past that — which is sometimes hard — it’s also very empowering,” says Routh. ”First time I put it on, I felt…stronger. Like a different level of who I am. It makes playing the character much easier.” (P.S.: In case of emergency, yes, there is a zipper in the shorts.)

2. ‘Superman Returns’ Should Have Been ‘Superman 3’ While technically not a sequel, director Bryan Singer’s film picks up five years after the events of Superman 2. (Consider those embarrassing Supermans 3 and 4 forgotten.) ”It puts the first two films in a vague sense of history,” says Singer, whose respect for the first Superman film is such, he sought director Richard Donner’s blessing before taking the job of relaunching the franchise. He even plans to incorporate unused footage of Marlon Brando’s performance as Jor-El, Superman’s Kryptonian daddy. His movie opens with Superman spiritually lost — and in space. His inevitable return to Earth elicits surprising reactions, especially from his old flame and a certain bald archenemy. ”It’s a story about what happens when messiahs come back and how we embrace them — or not,” says Singer. ”On a personal level, it’s a story about what happens when old boyfriends come back into your life.”

3. Superman Has a Superman Coach Clark Kent comes easy to Routh. ”Or so my family and friends say. I do tend to be clumsy,” he says. (The real-life black-framed eyeglasses are the clincher.) But to bring Superman to life, Routh sought counsel from a movement coach to nail the character’s subtleties: ”We worked on posture. Spine straight, hips forward, neck in line — just a clean motion moving through the world.” There have been take-home benefits. ”I slouch less,” he laughs.

4. Lois Lane Has a Coach Too Her name is Katharine Hepburn. ”I watched a lot of Hepburn to prepare for Lois, particularly The Philadelphia Story and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” says Kate Bosworth, who is said to have edged out Claire Danes and Keri Russell for the role of Lois, which has her wearing a brown wig over her natural blond locks. ”Hepburn is a great model for how I see Lois — strong but fragile.”

5. Superman’s Metropolis Isn’t the Big Apple The Reeve Superman films used New York as their Metropolis; the fictitious city even had a Statue of Liberty. Not here. A peek within the film’s art department revealed a gleaming neo-Deco city that will be built mostly out of pixels. Mixing vintage and modern elements, Singer hopes to make a movie that’s timeless. ”I want to make a movie that in the future, someone can pop in a disc — or a crystal or something — and not go, ‘Wow! This must have been really interesting back in the early aughts!”’

Superman Returns

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 157 minutes
  • Bryan Singer