Superman Returns is a 2006 American superhero film directed by Bryan Singer and written by Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris from a story by Singer, Dougherty and Harris based on the DC Comics character Superman. It is the sixth and final installment in the original Superman film series and serves as an homage sequel to Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), while ignoring the events of Superman III (1983), Supergirl (1984), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). The film stars Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman, Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, with James Marsden, Frank Langella, and Parker Posey. The film tells the story of the title character returning to Earth after a five-year absence. He finds that his love interest Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and that his archenemy Lex Luthor is plotting a scheme to kill Superman and reshape North America.
After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Superman on screen following the critical and financial failure of The Quest for Peace, Warner Bros. Pictures hired Bryan Singer to direct and develop Superman Returns in July 2004. The majority of principal photography took place at Fox Studios Australia, Sydney, while the visual effects sequences were created by a number of studios, including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Rhythm & Hues, Framestore, Rising Sun Pictures, and The Orphanage; filming began in March 2005 and ended in November.
Upon release, the film received generally positive reviews from critics, who complimented its visual effects, story, and Singer's direction. However, it received criticism focusing on its runtime and lack of action sequences. Even though it was the ninth highest-grossing film of 2006, Warner Bros. was disappointed with the worldwide box office return of the film, cancelling a sequel planned for 2009 as a result. The Superman film series was completely rebooted in 2013 with Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder, starring Henry Cavill as Superman, and launching the DC Extended Universe. Routh later reprised his role as Superman in the 2019 Arrowverse crossover "Crisis on Infinite Earths".