April 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Superman Returns
STARRING Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey, Eva Marie Saint WRITTEN BY Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris DIRECTED BY Bryan Singer

Bryan Singer likes to remember the movie Superman as he was — and even then, not quite all of him. Like most good Americans, he was no big fan of the Richard Pryor funny buddy of Superman III, or the nuke-hating activist of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. No, for Singer, the Superman franchise stopped with Superman II in 1981. And actually, in his book you don’t get more super than Christopher Reeve’s first Superman, which, along with Jaws, inspired Singer to become a filmmaker. The helmer even used Richard Donner’s 1978 film as his bible while shooting the first X-Men. ”It informed my entire approach to superhero movies,” says Singer.

During a 2004 vacation in Hawaii with X2 writers Dougherty and Harris, Singer caught wind that Warner Bros. was searching for a director to restart the franchise, following the departure of McG from the project (reportedly, ironically due in part to McG’s fear of flying). Singer and the scribes quickly generated an outline. Their Big Idea? Treat the first two Reeve movies as canon and preserve the Superman of cultural myth. ”We wanted to explore the idea of Superman’s relevancy to the world, but we felt you did that not by changing Superman but everything around him,” says Harris.

Soon after returning from Hawaii, Singer was pitching to Warner Bros. president Alan Horn. Two months later, he was in Australia, prepping to shoot. The plot of the $180 million-plus film is still secret, but here are the basics: Returning to Earth after five years in space, Superman/Clark Kent (Routh) finds that Lois Lane (Bosworth) is a single mother and Lex Luthor (Spacey) is — surprise! — up to no good. But here’s a spoiler from Superman’s widowed mom, Martha Kent. ”I have a boyfriend,” says screen legend Saint. ”They probably don’t want me to say that, but to heck with ’em!” Nobody messes with Superman’s mom. (June 30)

Nacho Libre
STARRING Jack Black, Héctor Jiménez, Ana de la Reguera, Peter Stormare WRITTEN BY Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess, Mike White DIRECTED BY Jared Hess

On paper, this fable set in the bizarro world of Mexican wrestling (Lucha Libre) may look out of place competing with the big dogs of summer. Lucha doesn’t quite have the fan base of, say, NASCAR. But that may change once the world lays eyes on the topless splendor that is Jack Black in spandex pants, from which his ample belly spilleth over. ”This movie’s been all about digging down, exposing myself in ways I never have before,” says Black. Or in ways that any actor has, for that matter: Black plays a Mexican cook who hits the wrestling circuit to funnel his prize money to needy orphans. Think School of Rock with body slams instead of slammin’ solos.

While shooting on location in Oaxaca, Mexico, the filmmakers soon discovered that, to the locals, wrestling was no laughing matter. The challenge was to find the funny without being offensive. ”Wrestlers are their superheroes, their icons, their movie stars,” says co-writer/producer White (School of Rock) . ”You see their world at a weird angle, but at the same time you want to live inside that world. You want [the film] to be a celebration as much as it is funny and absurd.”

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