James Marsden Explains Why 'Superman Returns' Didn't Fly

Given the recent news that Warner Brothers was adamant about completely rebooting the “Superman” franchise, doing away with director Bryan Singer’s recent work and pushing the iconic Man of Steel into a darker direction it’s somewhat ironic, perhaps, that DC Direct recently chose Christopher Reeve to be the latest in their line of celebrity figurines.

Why? Because nobody really cares about that version of the character anymore, certainly not in any real way beyond base nostalgia, “Superman Returns” star James Marsden insisted.

“One of my favorite films growing up was the Christopher Reeve ‘Superman,' Marsden told MTV News. "Obviously, it was Bryan Singer's as well. He had great affection for Richard Donner's movie. [Given 'Returns' debt to that classic film] I was actually baffled by [the fact that it didn’t do that well]. The movie did okay. It did well, but it's Superman. This is the ultimate superhero. It made $400 million worldwide. It didn't do bad but it's Superman, so you think it should blow off the map. Nobody beats Superman - he's the tops.”

Of course, a lot of people did beat Superman when the character returned to theaters in 2005 under Singer’s direction: fans, critics, executives who were troubled by the fact that it didn’t make as much money as they had hoped… ("Batman Begins" not only made more money in its domestic run than “Returns,” but shortly spawned a very successful sequel you might have heard a thing or two about.)

Marsden, who starred in the film as Richard White alongside Brandon Routh as Supes and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, thinks it’s precisely because they stayed true to the spirit of the Reeve and Donner films, however, that their attempt at a reboot ultimately failed. Is it possible that the classic Superman, the Christopher Reeve Superman of the newly minted figurine, just isn’t relevant anymore?

“Honestly, my theory is that the white bread element of Superman or the virtuous element of Superman wasn't that exciting to young people, the videogame generation. You've got to have some edgy, kick-ass dark side to the character to make people want to be him,” Marsden said. “There was something old school, virtuous -- which I actually loved -- and white bread about Superman that didn't resonate so much. I loved the movie that Brian made. But maybe I'm the anomaly and I don't represent what young fans want to see.”

In the end, Marsden doesn’t think that Warner’s decision to go darker is a good one -– but a necessary one, he said.

“[Audiences] want to see darkness and Superman doesn't represent that. I like that about him, but honestly that's the reason why,” Marsden continued. “Look at ‘The Dark Knight’ and Christian Bale. He's the hero but there's a kick-ass darkness to him. Or Wolverine and ‘X-Men.’ Superman was virtuous and the reluctant superhero. He never told a lie. He eats apple pie. I don't know if that's something the young kids want to aspire to. It's kind of sad to me.”

What do you think? Do you even care about Superman anymore? Does he have anything relevant or interesting to say about life in the 21st Century? Sound off below.

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