A few years ago I read an interview with filmmaker Terry Gilliam where he was talking about a sequence he had to cut from his 2005 movie The Brothers Grimm that was so costly to shoot and with the amount of money that had to be spent on CGI the scene would be, in Gilliam’s words, “the most expensive deleted scene ever made.” It’s true that many films have to go through extensive reshooting and reediting before they’re released to theaters, often the result of unenthusiastic audience responses at test screenings or the will of studio executives far from happy with the final product. But in the case of Superman Returns — Bryan Singer‘s much hyped and ultimately disappointing 2006 attempt to relaunch the film franchise starring the iconic DC Comics superhero that first began with 1978’s classic Superman: The Movie — the decision to remove a costly scene integral to the narrative was the decision of the director alone. The long talked about “Return to Krypton” scene is now available for viewing online after recently being released as an extra in the Superman: The Motion Picture AnthologyBlu-ray box set [you can read review of the set here].
You can watch the over 5-minute deleted opening sequence here below.
The scene was intended to open the film and shows in great detail the reason for Superman (Brandon Routh) leaving Earth and his eventual return that sets the events of the film in motion. Reportedly costing $10 million to create, the scene was cut from the film even though brief glimpses of it had been inserted into the teaser and theatrical trailers, particularly shots of Superman in a crystal ship built specifically for his journey to explore the remains of his long-destroyed homeworld, Krypton. There’s no music in this scene but the sound effects work exceptionally well in establishing the mystery and escalating the tension when Superman makes an unfortunate discovery among the Kryptonian remains. It also provides a better explanation for why he ended up back on Earth in the wreckage of the crystal ship, and better still how he coincidentally landed in Smallville just outside the Kent family farm. Of all the scenes that could have been deleted from Superman Returns without harming the central narrative, the “Return to Krypton” sequence was hardly one of them. Because of the severe lack of action and excitement in the movie (there’s that airplane rescue and little else), this sequence would have given the audience something to remember in between the multiple scenes of Superman looking depressed and Lex Luthor doing idiotic experiments with crystals.
Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1978-2006) is available now on Blu-Ray and you can order it from Amazon by clicking here.