With the opening of Superman Returns this week across the nation, the blue tighted, red-caped Superman is back to seek Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

While thoroughly enjoyable in its own right, Superman Returns is a tribute to the past. Director Bryan Singer and co-writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris pay honor and loyally to the same Superman story that has been around for the past 68 years. At the same time new viewers can marvel at the strange visitor from another planet.

First let us step back in time for a brief history review. Superman was first going to be a newspaper comic strip. He was created in 1933 by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuste. It failed at the start, but with a few changes it caught the interest of DC Comics. In 1938 Superman appeared on the comic book cover of Action Comics No. 1.

Sent to Earth as a baby, the future Superman was raised by a Kansas farm couple. Because of Earth’s yellow sun, as the young now named Clark Kent grew he discovered he had the super powers of flying, strength, sight, hearing, etc. Later as a man he becomes a protector of his new home.

A radio series begin in 1940 and Superman animated theatrical shorts could be seen in movie houses. The first live action movie (except when a flying Superman was animated) came in serial form in 1948. Two all-live action features followed before Superman aired in 1952 on television. A Broadway play and various cartoon style TV shows followed before the block buster Superman: The Movie came out in 1978.

The quintessential Superman, actor Christopher Reeve first appeared as the flying hero. He went on to play the part in three more outings, the final time in 1987.

Now back to the present.

For Superman to return, he must have been away. The new movie starts with his return following a five-year mysterious dissappearance. To his surprise and disappointment, he finds the world has moved on without him.

The biggest setback is girlfriend Lois Lane, star reporter for The Daily Planet newspaper and the love of Superman’s life. She has even won a Pulitzer Prize for her feature “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” There are other key issues. Lois is now engaged and has a young son.

Newcomer Brandon Routh takes over the role of Superman-Clark Kent in surprising fashion. He has the looks and at age 26, the moves to fill the role. He looks, for the lack of a better word, super in the flying scenes. This is especially true early in the picture as Superman saves Lois and others from an airplane disaster. This is the first time Earth knows he is back.

As the mild manner Clark, Routh comes across as a real nerd.

Matching Routh’s Superman is a dark haired Kate Bosworth as Lois. Devoted to son and fiance, she still cannot errase her first love for Superman. Saved by him numerous times in the past, Lois gets to turn the tables on Superman this time around.

Then we have Lex Luthor. Kevin Spacey is perfect as Superman’s super genius arch foe. Even with a touch of humor, he is insanely evil as the bald-headed fiend.

In honoring the earlier Superman movies several scenes stand out in Superman Returns.

Do not arrive late if you want to see the most famous actress to perform as Lois Lane. Noel Neill appears at the start as an old lady being cheated by Luthor as she dies. Then later Jack Larson plays a bartender serving Clark and Jimmy Olson in a club. Larson was Jimmy in the TV series with Neill.

It is good to see again the famous large globe on top of The Daily Planet building. It later takes a beating due to Luthor’s tactics, only to be saved by you know who.

Editor Perry White says “Great Cesar’s Ghost” only once, but it comes at the perfect time. Frank Langella, as White, turns in a low key, yet strong performance.

The first comic book cover is remembered as Superman stops a runaway car and lifts it above his head in a busy traffic scene. The radio and television shows are brought to mind as Perry, Lois, and Jimmy, looking at a news photo, say the famous “...it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s...”

The sound track is the same as the four Reeve features. It is a perfect fit and is a great blend with the flying scenes. One can almost feel the wind blowing in their face. The special effects take the viewer on a space travel tour.

For model train builders this movie will probably be painful at one point. The evil Luthor completely destroys an awesome basement train layout.

Released by Warner Bros. Picture, Inc., Superman Returns has a PG-13 rating due to some intense action violence. One scene involves a speeding bullet. Another is the beating of Superman when he loses his powers due to Kryptonite, the only substance that can physically hurt him.

Superman Returns is currently showing on two screens at Claremore Cinema 8.

Even with a running time of two hours, 34 minutes, this viewer was not ready for the movie to end.

Since two more Superman movies (one may include another DC hero, Batman), are in the near future, hopefully fans will not have long to wait before once again they can yell...

“Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”