When Superman Returns Ruined Brandon Routh’s Career

Zehra Kabak

After a hiatus of 20 years from Christopher Reeve’s Superman in 1987’s ‘Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,’ Brandon Routh took on the role in the film ‘Superman Returns.’ But Warner Bros. decided against moving forward with a sequel in the early 2000s due to the film’s box office results.

As the movie grossed $390 million worldwide with a reported production budget of between $200 million and $220 million, Routh explained the reason for the cancellation in a chat with Geek House Show in the past years by saying:

“The intention was to do a sequel, always to do, with a big tentpole movie like that. They want to make more as long as they feel like they’ve recouped the money that they invested into the film. At the end of the day, the studio, Warner Brothers, decided it was too much of a gamble for them to do a sequel.”

He also pointed out some changes in the creative team as another factor for the decision:

“The creative entities, the writers, and the directors were on to other things. Certain people at the studio who were excited about Superman had left to go on to other projects at other studios. So, it was both the passion and the interest in Superman dissipated, and the movie, I guess for them, didn’t bring back enough monetary success for them to pull the trigger on it.”

After ‘Superman Returns,’ while many of his co-stars moved on to other roles, Routh faced difficulties securing roles in other major films as a newer name in the industry.

Paramount Pictures shelved the actor’s next project, ‘Without Remorse,’ around that time. In addition, his scenes in another film, ‘The Informers,’ were cut from the final release in 2008.

With these, the cancellation of ‘Superman Returns 2’ affected Routh to the point of getting addicted to video games, as he told Michael Rosenbaum’s ‘Inside of You:’

“The end of Superman Returns was a long drawn out process of me in denial for much of it, and thankfully, I guess, I didn’t lean on drugs or alcohol, partying. I played ‘World of Warcraft’ endlessly … it wasn’t helping me. It was a coping mechanism, but it wasn’t teaching me things until I finally came, you know, had several experiences where I had to come to terms with that…”

Still, the actor continued his career by taking on small roles in different films and TV shows. By 2010, he landed a role in NBC’s ‘Chuck,’ and reconnected with the DC universe, portraying Ray Palmer in the Arrowverse series, including ‘Arrow,’ ‘The Flash,’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow.’

Although he never got to play Superman in a sequel after the original film, Routh reprised the role in the Arrowverse crossover ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ in 2019. You can take a look at the event’s official featurette below.

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