So with that in mind, here's a look at a few of the scenes from Superman's history that won't be making it to the big screen anytime soon. (Until Joel Schumacher gets the franchise, anyway.)
Instead of starting fresh like Christopher Nolan did with last year's Batman Begins, Singer opted to make Superman Returns a sequel to the classic Superman II. In case you haven't seen it lately, Superman II is a movie that features Superman turning his logo into some kind of fast-dissolving plastic net to foil one of the Phantom Zone criminals, because apparently he didn't have enough powers already. It's one of the weirdest non-Lynchian moments in cinema history, but it pales in comparison to the new power Superman gained back in 1958:
Yes, on a routine visit to the center of the Earth, Superman gets caught in the explosion of a "midget space ship" and gains the strange ability to shoot a miniature version of himself, complete with all of his powers, out of his hand. Needless to say, every single criminal in this story looks absolutely terrified to be dealing with a tiny Superman, which immediately becomes the toast of the town, giving it the additional power to make Superman totally emo: "Don't they understand how I feel... playing second fiddle to a miniature duplicate of myself?"
Superman immediately decides that the best way to deal with the situation is to murder the Super-Imp at his earliest opportunity, even though he suspects it's actually alive. Fortunately--if you're Superman, anyway--the incredibly creepy Fun Size Superman sacrifices itself to save him from a basketball-sized chunk of kryptonite launched from a catapult by some local gangsters. So pretty much just another Tuesday in Metropolis.
Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #59
Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane from Superman Returns has become the mother of a little boy in the time Superman's been gone, but back in the comics of 1965, Lois's interest in children veered into slightly less maternal territory.
In one of her many--yes, many--attempts to use the science of time travel to score with Superman, Lois hops into the time bubble for a jaunt back to pre-explosion Krypton for the allegedly humane purpose of keeping it from exploding (Surprise! It doesn't work!).
Once that's done, however, she immediately sets her sights on luring hunky scientist and Superman's future father Jor-El away from his girlfriend, but after getting smacked around and called a hussy by Superman's future Mom, Lois gets the idea that maybe the Kryptonian singles scene isn't quite right for her, and heads back to the future...
...But not before she stops off a few years later when Superman's a toddler, hops the fence to where he's playing in the front yard, and starts making out with him hardcore. Which, considering Superman's "total recall" powers of memory, explains a lot about why he spent fifty years dodging her proposals of marriage.
Action Comics #243
In a sequence of events too complicated to relate without a flowchart involving Greek mythology, space aliens, black magic, and at least one scene of good old-fashioned animal wrestling, Superman pisses off Circe--of The Odyssey fame--and ends up kicking it Mufasa-style as a bipedal lion with a red cape.
If this happened today, he'd probably just set up a website about how he's always felt like a lion inside and feels more kinship with the animal kingdom than other humans -- maybe posting the occasional aneurysm-inducing piece of allegedly "erotic" Rescue Rangers fan-fiction. Luckily for everyone concerned, that little fetish was still about forty years away from poking its head out of the darker regions of the internet.
Instead, he hangs out with Lois a lot before using some tenuous science to cook up an antidote. The whole thing ends up being pretty sweet, actually, in a Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton sort of way. Except a little creepier.
World's Finest #238
...Yeah, that one probably speaks for itself.
Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #127
Ever since the fine folks at Warner Brothers' marketing department took an airbrush to Brandon Routh's crotch for the promotional photos last year, there's been an ungodly amount of speculation about how "gay" the new Superman movie's going to be. But if he really wanted to outdo the subtext of a story like "When There Was No Clark Kent" -- wherein Superman gets tired of always running off to phone booths to change from straightlaced Clark Kent -- he'd probably have to add four musical numbers and the cast of Rent.
After literally blowing a totem pole into space, Superman decides to fake Clark Kent's death in a bottle factory explosion and spends two panels comforting Lois before sauntering over to Jimmy and asking if he wants to move in together, explaining that he used to live with Clark. Jimmy is, of course, pretty excited about this; but it's the next panel, where Superman reaches over and gives Jimmy a soft-touch on the shoulder, saying "Since we're such good friends, this time I won't keep it a secret! We'll let the world know that Jimmy Olsen and his pal Superman are living together in the same apartment!" that really seals the deal.
Or maybe the panel after, where Jimmy's defiantly putting Superman's name on the door and talking about how much it's going to freak out his neighbors. Regardless, they get hounded everywhere by paparazzi and Superman ends up doing street-corner hula-hoop shows, which sends him flying back into the secret identity closet as he resurrects Kent and writes a completely false story in a major newspaper about how he was living on the ocean in a giant bottle for a few weeks.
Chris Sims is a professional humorist who also works at a comic book store. He is the author of the popular comics blog Chris's Invincible Super-Blog.