Every time the subject of my least favorite Superman movie comes up (which happens surprisingly often), I always immediately and without reservation respond: Superman Returns. Why this one? In this movie, Superman is a rapist.
I know what you're thinking...
... but bear with me.
In Superman Returns, Lois Lane has a son. That son has super powers. It is heavily implied that the boy is Superman's son. Superman even hopes the boy has a better life than he had (he had a bad life?). Lois Lane does not know Clark Kent is Superman.
This leads to one of two possibilities.
The director claimed this movie was a direct sequel to Superman II, in which Superman revealed his identity to Lois and the two of them hooked up. She was so freaked out by his life, however, that he erased her memory with a super kiss. Whether that act was justified or not, the end result is that Lois ended up pregnant with no memory of how she got that way. Essentially, that kiss was a super-roofie.
Superman and Lois are implied to have been very close prior to this movie, so maybe they hooked up and she remembers them hooking up. Fine. But if she doesn't know Clark Kent is Superman, that means he essentially lied through omission - and a pretty big one too considering Clark is one of her closest friends. In many countries, this would be considered "rape by deception." Even if this were not legal rape, I think everyone can agree, this is a pretty douchy thing to do.
Are there other options?
Sure. If a sequel to this travesty had ever been made, I'm sure a plausible explanation could have been included.
Maybe after Superman's disappearance, some government agency cloned Superman from his hair or something (this is essentially the origin of Reign of Supermen Superboy Conner Kent), then Lois investigated them and discovered the boy, adopting him as her own.
Or maybe with Superman gone, some altruistic scientist opted to create a baby for Superman by mixing his DNA with that of a donor human, allowing the human mother (i.e. Lois Lane) to carry the child to term (this is essentially what was presented in All-Star Superman).
Those options are decent, sure, but they are also completely made up by me with zero evidence from the film itself.
So where does that leave this film?
Based on the facts as presented in the film, the Superman of Superman Returns is a rapist.
That movie is the worst.
This is how Superman should be portrayed on film:
For the record, how would I rank the Superman theatrical films, best-to-worst?
- Superman II
- Superman IV
- Superman and the Mole Men
- Superman III
- Man of Steel
- Superman Returns
Of course, if you want the best Superman film that should've been made: