Superman Reborn is a 2008 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman. It is a reboot of the Superman film series and stars Jake Gyllenhaal in the lead role alongside Michelle Monoghan as Lois Lane and Bendict Cumberbatch as the villain General Zod, with Jon Hamm, Harrison Ford and Meryl Streep appearing in supporting roles. This reboot was directed by James Cameron and scored by Danny Elfman. It is also the first film in the DC Movie Universe.
The planet Krypton is in danger of destruction due to it's unstable core and pressure rising beneath the surface. Lara (Julia Roberts), the wife of scientist Jor-El (Jon Hamm), gives birth to a son; Kal-El. Jor-El, meanwhile, learns of the danger that Krypton faces and consults the artificially intelligent supercomputer Brainiac (voiced by Lance Henriksen). Brainiac tells Jor-El that he is better off fleeing Krypton with Lara and Kal in a ship that Brainiac has prepared. With only hours left, Jor-El decides to ignore Brainiac's advice and tries to warn the Kryptonian High Council. However, his plea is interrupted by rogue military commander General Dru-Zod (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his army, who are attempting to depose the council in a coup d'etat. Jor-El fights Zod off however and imprisons him and his followers in the Phantom Zone, an inter dimensional prison. Jor-El then returns to his wife's side and convinces her to place Kal in the escape pod and launch him into space to save him. The two watch him depart moments before Krytpon explodes, killing everyone on the planet.
On Earth, farmer Johnathan Kent (Harrison Ford) and his wife Martha (Meryl Streep) are driving home from the hospital, where they have been told that Martha cannot conceive children. They spot what appears to be a meteorite nearby and go to investigate, only to find that it is actually Kal's craft. They decide to adopt and raise him as their own son, giving him the name Clark. Clark (Asa Butterifield) goes on to grow up in a small Kansas town named Smallville.
However, Clark doesn't fit in at school and finds that he possesses various superhuman abilities, such a speed, strength and heightened senses among other things. One day, Johnathan brings Clark into the barn, where he reveals the space craft to him and explains that Clark is an alien from an unknown world. Clark is scared and confused, and Johnathan convinces him not to use his powers in public so as to keep his identity a secret.
Over the next few years, Clark continues to struggle with his identity and what to do with his abilities. On his twenty-first birthday, the Kents go for a road trip to the bustling city of Metropolis, where Clark (Jake Gyllenhaal) is amazed by what city life is like, and the family also encounter a man named Perry White (Tommy Lee Jones), who is trying desperately to get his newspaper, the Daily Planet, up and running by selling it from a street corner. Clark kindly buys a paper to help him out.
On the drive back to Smallville, a highway accident occurs. Clark is thrown out of the car but manages to pull Martha out with him, saving her. However, the car is left dangling over the edge of a bridge, with Johnathan trapped inside. Clark is ready to save him, but Johnathan sees him and waves him off, knowing that the world isn't ready to learn about what he can do. Heartbroken, Clark watches in stunned silence as the car plummets from the bridge.
Clark is left in a slump of depression and sits in the barn, finicking with the pod which brought him to Earth and pondering what to do. He eventually decides to take up a nomadic lifestyle and travels, hoping to find a meaning to his life. He also bounces from job to job, eventually winding up on an oil rig. One day, a fire breaks out mysteriously, and the other workers escape while Clark holds the rig together to prevent collapse. The rig finally explodes and Clark falls into the ocean, being presumed dead by his workmates.
Clark makes his way to Metropolis, surprised to find that the Daily Bugle is now a huge national paper run by Perry White. Clark learns about a job opening at the paper and decides to take it up, winning the job after an awkward interview with White. Clark is then introduced to Lois Lane (Hayley Atwell), a beautiful reporter with whom he is smitten. He also meets Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cera), a teenage photographer who is usually at Lois' side.
The pair are tasked with travelling to the Arctic, where the US Army have uncovered a mysterious alien spaceship. When the two arrive, Clark recognizes the ship's design as it is similar to the pod that brought him to Earth. At night, when everyone else is asleep, Clark sneaks out and infiltrates the ship. Unknown to Clark, Lois witnesses this and follows him.
Inside the ship, Clark meets the preserved consciousness of his father, who explains to Clark his origin and the destruction of his planet. Lois is then attacked by the ship's A.I. Security, but Clark rescues her and takes her back to the camp. The following morning, Lois finds that Clark is missing, and becomes worried. Clark has in the mean time returned to the ship, where Jor-El councioness gives him a suit of Kryptonian armor and teaches him how to fly.
Lois begins to investigate Clark's history and travels to all the places he had been before coming to Metropolis, learning about things such as the oil rig incident, and eventually traces him back to Smallville. When she arrives, Clark has also returned home to inform Martha that he has finally found out what he is supposed to do on Earth. Clark takes Lois to the Johnathan's grave and explains his history to her. Lois had been planning to write an expose, but after hearing his story, decides not to. Clark then invites her to dinner with him and Martha.
That night, while Martha is asleep, Clark wakes up to find that Lois cannot sleep, and she explains that she now wonders about what else is out there in the universe. Clark takes her to the barn, where he shows her the spacecraft. Unknown to them, they accidentally activate a Kryptonian distress signal in the pod, which emits into deep space, where it is received by the unseen crew of a spaceship.
The following morning, during breakfast, the house is visited by a woman and a man wearing Kryptonian armour, who takes Clark up to their spaceship. The woman says her name as Faora (Milla Jovovich), while man reveals himself to be Jax-Ur (Christopher Eccleston), one of those who serve General Zod. Faora introduces Clark to Zod, who tells him that he is overjoyed to have found that there are more Kryptonians in the universe. However, it is isn't long before Zod figures out that Clark is the son o his jailer, Jor-El, and wants revenge. The two briefly fight, but Clark is easily overwhelmed and imprisoned.
Zod reveals to Clark that he wants him to suffer slowly, and will torture him using a mysterious element he refers to as Kryptonite. Zod explains to Clark that when Krypton exploded, shock waves hit the Phantom Zone and released him and his followers. They collected the pieces of what remained of their planet, which they found to be radioactive and weakened them. Zod also tells Clark that he is planning to colonize Earth and terraform it into a new Krypton.
Clark is visited by his father, who frees him and tells him that he must stop Zod. Clark returns to Earth and changes into the Kryptonian armor. When Zod learns that Clark escaped, he traces Lois, who he senses that Clark loves, back to Metropolis and pursues her. Clark realizes where Zod is headed and flies there to stop him. A battle ensues between Zod's henchman, Jax-Ur, Non (Derek Mears) and Faora, and Clark in the street in front of the Daily Planet building. Zod's forces retreat, while the US military surround Clark. Even though he knows that he can easily escape, he wishes to avoid further confrontation and willingly goes with them.
Clark states that he will only talk to Lois, so she too is brought in, and Clark explains to her what is happening with Zod. Back on Zod's ship, Jax-Ur encounters Jor-El and the two argue back and forth about the nature of Zod's plan, as Jor-El believes that there is still good in his old friend.
Clark, determined to save Earth, decides to return to Zod's ship and face him. Meanwhile, Zod alongside Faora prepares to use the terraforming device on Metropolis. As he moves into position in Earth's atmosphere, Zod sees Clark flying straight for them. Clark infiltrates the ship and does battle with the other Kryptonians. He then meets Jor-El again, who tells Clark about a portal into the Phantom Zone which could be the key to defeating Zod.
Clark and Zod then do battle throughout the ship, while Jor-El tries one last time to convince Jax-Ur to switch sides. During their battle, Zod exposes Clark and himself to Kryptonite, severely weakening them both. However, Zod gains the upper hand and throws Clark out of the ship. As he drifts through space, Clark passes by the sun, and is given a power boost by it's rays.
Clark flies straight back into the ship and attacks Zod. Zod once again gets the chance to finish Clark, preparing to stab him with a chunk of Kryptonite, when Jax-Ur strikes him with a large piece of Kryptonite. Zod, weakened yet enraged, stabs Jax-Ur to death with the Kryptonite shard. Clark uses the distraction to activate the gateway into the Phantom Zone, sucking all of the other Kryptonians back into it. As Clark prepares to escape, Zod reappears and pleads with Clark, asking him if he would turn his back on his own people. Clark replies that mankind are his people and blasts Zod with his heat vision, causing Zod to fly into the Phantom Zone. Clark then dives from the ship as the portal collapses, but it then begins to plummet straight towards Earth. Clark races after it and manages to prevent it from crashing into the White House, saving the US President and others. Clark then secretly dumps the ship in the Laurentian Abyss to prevent the military from weaponizing it.
In the aftermath, Clark is now a global hero, but his true identity remains unknown to the public. Lois writes a different article about the mysterious alien hero and dubs him Superman. Clark returns to the scout ship found in the Arctic, where Jor-El transforms it into the Fortress of Solitude, where Clark can train and hone his skills. The film ends with Clark calling Martha from a payphone, where suddenly control of a construction crane is lost by it's operator. Clark tells Martha that he has to go and opens his shirt to reveal the famous S logo.
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El
- Asa Butterfield as Clark Kent/Kal-El age 10
- Benedict Cumberbatch as General Dru-Zod
- Hayley Atwell as Lois Lane
- Meryl Streep as Martha Kent
- Harrison Ford as Jonathan Kent
- Jon Hamm as Jor-El
- Christopher Eccleston as Jax-Ur
- Milla Jovovich as Faora Hu-Ul
- Derek Mears as Non
- Michael Cera as Jimmy Olsen
- Tommy Lee Jones as Perry White
- Julia Roberts as Lara Lor-Van
Additionally, Lance Henriksen voices the Kryptonian A.I. Brainiac.
When the Superman reboot was announced in late 2006, Warner Bros. and DC confirmed that they would be creating a cinematic universe based on their characters in hopes of creating a Justice League movie. The universe would begin with the Superman film, and the second film announced to be a part of the universe was a Batman reboot.
A reboot of the Superman film series was announced in late 2006, and with it came the announcement that Warner Bros. and DC would be creating a cinematic universe based on their characters which would lead up to a Justice League film. The Superman film, later confirmed to be titled Superman Reborn, would be the first in this series of films.
James Cameron was chosen to be the director based on his work on films such as Avatar and Aliens. Cameron and his frequent collaborator Jon Landau wrote the script together, and stated that they were delighted to have been tasked with reinventing Superman in a modern age.
Jake Gyllenhaal was chosen from a range of actors such as Matt Bomer, Michael Trucco, D.J. Cotrona, James Marsden, Josh Pence and Joe Magnellio to play Superman. Magnellio would later go on to portray Hawkman in Justice League: The Brave and the Bold. In 2007, Gyllenhaal was set to play Batman in the cancelled film Justice League: Mortal in which Superman was to be played by D.J. Cotrona. Cotrona said that he would have liked to have the chance to finally play the role, but was too busy with other commitments to take on the role.
Originally, Julia Roberts was considered for Lois Lane, but was deemed "too old" by the studio. Roberts was chosen to play Lara Vor-An, Superman's birth mother. Jamie Alexander was also considered, but dropped out when she learned that a Wonder Woman film was also going to be made and she was more interested in the lead role in that film. She was successful in landing the role and played the part in 2009's Wonder Woman. Other actresses considered Anne Hathaway, Stana Katic, Emmy Rossum and Liv Tyler. However, it was ultimately Canadian actress Hayley Atwell who was cast. According to Vaughn, Atwell simply gave the best performance during her audition.
There were rumours that Christopher Eccleston had been cast as Jor-El, further fueled by Eccleston himself made on comment during an interview about working on the Superman film. However, it was then announced that Jon Hamm would be playing Jor-El, causing much confusion amongst fans, although they welcomed the decision to cast Hamm. Eccleston was subsequently revealed to be playing Jax-Ur. His casting was announced alongside the Benedict Cumberbatch as Zod. Others reportedly considered for the role were Joaquin Phoenix, James Franco and Mark Hamill. On April Fools Day, Matthew Vaughn jokingly tweeted that Gyllenhaal had been fired from the role and replaced by Will Smith, and also "announced" that Zod would be played by David Hasselhoff. In some fan circles, people were unaware that it was a joke and serious backlash ensued. Soon enough, they realized their mistake and settled back down.
Superman Reborn had two direct sequels in Superman II: Last Son of Krypton and Superman Doomsday. Jake Gyllenhaal also reprised the role in films such as World's Finest, appearing opposite Hugh Jackman as Batman, and Justice League.