Superman Returns

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Superman Returns Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Thrilling but violent, tense return for the Man of Steel.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 154 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 45 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Superman saves the day unselfishly.


Superman's return to earth occurs in a fiery crash; a plane catches fire and plummets through the sky; Superman rescues victims in other violent scenes (explosion caused by cigarette butt lighting gas, bank robbery, earthquake, woman falling off building, car out of control); Lex beats, kicks, and stabs Superman with kryptonite shard; a little dog is shown eating its fellow little dog; Superman stops thieves with major automatic weapons, deflects a shot at his bullet-proof eye..


Lois and Superman share lingering looks and a chastely romantic flight over Metropolis; Kitty wears some tight, campy costumes.


One "damn," one s-word.


Tie-in to vast quantities of related merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Clark and Jimmy go to a bar; Jimmy drinks beer; Lois starts to smoke a cigarette and Superman convinces her she should not.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the movie features some violent images, beginning with the fiery crash of Superman's return vehicle, along with lots of explosions, earth-shakings, giant waves, and an especially harrowing sequence in which a plane almost crashes. There's an earthquake, a bank robbery, and a near-drowning. And lots of bloodless violence: The villain stabs Superman repeatedly, and in a long scene, Superman is kicked and beaten. Someone is crushed by a piano. Some younger kids could be upset by the fact that both mothers and sons are in jeopardy, and some scenes are very sad (Superman grieves for his lost father and his changed relationship with Lois; when he's in the hospital, people worry). Finally, it wouldn't be summer without smoking in a movie (every year it happens in kids' films...) -- Lois carries cigarettes; one scene in a bar shows beer drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byfanfilmcritic April 19, 2021

He’s Always Around

Superman Returns is the best Superman film. And yes, I mean better than Superman: The Movie and Superman II. Casting Brandon Routh might be the smartest decisio... Continue reading
Adult Written bySuperiorEvan101 September 3, 2018
Teen, 14 years old Written byPrequelHater878 January 3, 2015

Sleeping pills not working for you, time to bring out the big guns!

This movie is SO BORING. For a good half of the movie, nothing happens, I'm not kidding. The story goes no where for half of the movie, so what are we left... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySpider2003 February 10, 2021

Superman Returns movie review by Logan Strohl

Superman Returns is no where near as good as Superman the movie, Superman II or even Superman III for that matter but it is better then Superman IV The Quest... Continue reading

What's the story?

After a five-year absence, Superman returns to Earth. Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) now lives with her fiancé, Richard White (James Marsden) and her young son. Paroled from prison, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) starts an electromagnetic pulse that cripples a NASA plane, and Superman shows up just in time to save the frightened passengers (mostly reporters, including Lois). Before Superman travels to the Fortress of Solitude to commune with Jor-El (an archived Marlon Brando), Lex gets there, thrilled and renewed when he finds Jor-El for himself: "I'm his son," gasps Lex, as Jor-El starts dispensing wisdom: "The son becomes the father, the father, the son." To make space for his new self-concept, Lex decides to build his own continent, literally. Accompanied by his moll Kitty (Parker Posey), Lex combines crystals and kryptonite to grow a land mass to serve as his empire's base and to kill Superman. It's a brilliant scheme, nation-building a its most extreme, unnamed and insidious.

Is it any good?

Bryan Singer pays loving homage here to Richard Donner's 1978 Superman: The Movie, but this film features a saddened, more experienced Superman. He's seen the aftermath of world destruction, and so comes with a perspective not quite so boldly idealistic or pompously ideological. Yes, he still means to save this world, but the triumph is less complete now, the costs more visible. Superman's return in this film actually raises the question of why "we" need him. In a post-9/11 world, superheroes might seem idealistic and quaint concepts, even, as Lois has written in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article, "irrelevant."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of family connections and reconciliations, even following separations. They can also discuss how Superman faces his fear and vulnerability and still serves others generously.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love superheroes

Themes & Topics

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