"Superman Returns" leaps to $21 million opening day

Superman beat Batman at the box office. But he was only half as strong as Spider-Man.

"Superman Returns" took in $21.04 million ( Ђ 16.79 million) on opening day, making it No. 8 on the all-time list of movies that debuted on a Wednesday, according to distributor Warner Bros.

The No. 1 Wednesday premiere was for "Spider-Man 2," which took in $40.4 million in its first day just before the Fourth of July holiday in 2004. "Superman Returns" came in just behind the No. 7 movie, last year's Fourth of July offering "War of the Worlds," which took in $21.3 million.

Last year's "Batman Begins" ranks 13th among Wednesday debuts with $15.1 million, reports AP.

According to Wired News, Superman 's reported budget is north of $260 million. That rates the movie as perhaps the most expensive ever made (and it's probably enough to put the world's comic-book writers on permanent retainer).

Of course, if any icon deserves Hollywood's blockbuster treatment, it's Superman. He remains the most familiar and beloved of our heroes.

And he loves us, too. In one scene, he perches above the planet and tunes his ears into our suffering. "Humans have the capacity for greatness," his father's voice tells him as he hears the wails and cries. "They only lack the light."

Making a sequel to a movie that debuted more than 25 years ago is a tall order, and "Superman Returns" stumbles out of the gate as Singer tries to bring the audience up to date on the main players without spending too much time on any one.

A few sentences at the start of the movie explain Superman’s been off the planet for five years. Suddenly, he’s back, and we get bite size versions of Ma Kent, Clark Kent and Lex Luthor before a jarring, much too quick transition to Metropolis.

Have you seen the "Superman Returns" prequel comics? Of course not. You’ve been doing things with your life. I, however, have been reading.

The four stand-alone books have caught readers up on what Ma Kent, Luthor and Lois Lane have been doing in Superman’s absence. It’s an extra layer that gives some reason to the characters’ actions in the film, and it helps suspend disbelief.

For instance: Superman and Clark leave and come back at the same time, and no one notices? Lame. But, the comic shows that Ma Kent’s been writing postcards to Lois made to look like they are from Clark. Even though Superman’s gone, Clark is still around, informs Columbia Daily Tribune.

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