The movie starts with text saying that five years ago, Superman learned from astronomers that parts of his home planet Krypton may have survived the blast that occurred when the red sun Krypton orbited went Supernova. We then hear Jor-El (Marlon Brando) telling his son Kal-El that though he may be considered strange or an outcast, he will be able to do great things. We then see the sun go supernova as Kal-El's crystal ship just escapes and begins it's two and one-half year journey towards Earth.
Twenty-eight years later, we see a woman named Gertrude Vanderworth slowly dying. Before she does, she tells her young husband how sorry she felt for him when he was in prison, since he had to work so hard for everything, and leaves everything to him, Lex Luthor. She dies in the middle of signing the will and Lex (Kevin Spacey) "helps" her finish signing. He throws the ring in a glass and leaves the room, outside of which the rest of Gertrude's family is waiting. He takes off the wig he's wearing, hands it to a little girl, and says, "You can keep that. The rest belongs to me." He storms past the family and collects his henchgirl Kitty (Parker Posey), who was posing as a maid, and they head for a ship parked out back.
Meanwhile, at the Kent farm, we see Martha Kent (Eva Marie Saint) saying goodbye to her boyfriend Ben Hubbard. She goes inside and starts doing dishes just as something starts rumbling like an earthquake. As a climax, Martha sees something crash in the field outside. She goes to check it out and finds the wrecked crystal ship. Before she can get close to it, Superman stumbles out and falls onto her, and she utters a surprised "Clark!" From here we go to Lex's new ship and see him explaining to Kitty that he wants to bring advanced technology to everyone, just as one of his henchmen, Grant (Vincent Stone), tells him that they have reached their destination as another one, Riley (Ian Roberts) films it all. They, along with Luthor's other henchmen, Brutus (David Fabrizio) and Stanford (Kal Penn) get out at the North Pole and slowly make their way to Superman's fortress of solitude. Once inside, Lex activates the crystals and when asked by Jor-El what he wishes to know, replies, "Tell me everything, father....starting with the crystals."
Back in Smallville, we see Clark (Brandon Routh) finally wake up. He looks around and sees that except for the dog, he is the only one there. He walks around the farm and after throwing a ball too far for the dog to fetch remembers being young and just discovering his powers. Later, we see him watching the news and seeing everything that's gone wrong with the world since he left when Martha arrives home. He tells her that when he got to Krypton, it was a graveyard, proving that he is alone. Martha smiles and tells her adopted son that he isn't alone, and we next see a much cleaner Clark arriving back at the Daily Planet. He gets greeted by an overenthusiastic Jimmy Olsen (Sam Huntington) and after thanking Perry White (Frank Langella) for giving him is job back, looks for Lois, who is actually covering the launch of a new space shuttle/plane hybrid -- the plane goes up, then the shuttle detaches just before booster ignition. After Clark stows one of his suitcases (guess what's in that one) in the closet, we see Lois (Kate Bosworth) asking the woman in charge of the flight some questions on the TV. Clark finds her desk and sees two things on it -- a photo of Lois with a nice-looking kid that's about four or five and a really good-looking man, and an acceptance of the Pulitzer Prize for her article "Why the world doesn't need Superman." (ouch) Jimmy comes up and explains that the people are Lois's kid Jason and her fiance Richard, and after Clark breaks the frame suggests going to a bar, where in the midst of getting drunk, Jimmy blurts out that he thinks Lois is still in love with "you-know-who".
Meanwhile, we see Lex in the basement of the Vanderworth estate where Stanford is putting a part of the father crystal they took from the fortress of solitude in a small lake in the middle of a huge train set as big as an apartment. The piece gets put in, but nothing happens. Disappointed, Lex tells Riley to stop filming just as the water begins to churn and bubble, right before a blackout starts happening, spreading across all of Metropolis and further. In Florida, the people aboard the shuttle experience just a momentary blackout, and we see Lois look a little worried, despite the assurances from the press agent. Mission Control tells the shuttle they're going to scrub the launch to be safe, but nothing is responding on the shuttle -- the boosters won't turn off, and the coupling holding the jet is still engaged and can't be shut off. They attempt a manual override, but nothing works. This gets out to the news networks, and Clark (still in the bar) sees it. He takes off and after finding an alley, changes. Back on the plane, things are in chaos, as the boosters have now ignited and are careening the plane every which way as the rocket struggles to stay in atmosphere. Just then, two jet fighters alongside it report an unidentified bogey on their scopes and in comes Superman! He flies between the shuttle and the jet and pushes until the two are separated. The rocket takes off, and the plane gets to experience a few seconds of zero-g -- which is fortunate for Lois, who hadn't buckled in and was trying to help the press agent into a seat -- before crashing back into the gravity well. Superman sees this and takes off at high speed. He tries to take control by steering with the wings, but they break off. He flies right through them and works his way around to the nose cone, pushing with all his might. He gets the plane slowed down enough, and is able to stop it in the middle of a baseball stadium. Everyone gazes in wonder at what they just saw and erupts in cheers when they realize that Superman is back. Superman tears the jet door off, causing the slide to go down, and asks if everyone is okay as Lois stares mutely. He nods at her and asks, "Are you okay?" She manages a tiny nod, and then Superman echoes his and Lois's first meeting by saying, "Well, I hope this experience hasn't put any of you off flying. Statistically speaking, it is still the safest way to travel. He then takes off as everyone rushes to get a glimpse of him....except for Lois, who promptly faints and goes down the slide for a little bit. Back in the basement, we see Lex and company surrounded by steam. They look in wonder as they observe that a crystal island has formed in the middle of "town", utterly decimating its look.
Back at the Planet, we see Perry giving orders to every single department to cover Superman's return ("Travel! Where did he go? Did he take a vacation? Fashion! Is that a new suit? Health! Has he lost weight?") before dismissing them. He then tells Lois that despite her insistence on covering the blackout, she is being assigned to Superman, since that's the real story and she has a history with him, even though the blackout hit the entire East Coast and seemed to radiate out from a specific point. As Clark is listening in on this from thirty feet away, he sees the man from Lois's picture come up and say hi to her and hug her as a kid -- Lois's kid -- comes up and says hi to Clark. Clark says hi and is then introduced to Richard (James Marsden), a pilot and head of the Planet's international section, and her asthmatic son Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu) by Lois, who seems genuinely glad to see him. Lois and Richard talk about Perry while Clark looks on, and then Lois introduces them and Richard tells Clark that Jimmy never shuts up about him. Lois makes sure that Jason has taken all forty thousand of his medications and then tells Clark that he might be fragile, but he's gonna grow up to be big and strong like his dad. Meanwhile, we see Lex getting things ready to steal a bunch of meteorites that may have some kryptonite lodged inside them. Later, we see Lois leaving the planet when she asks Clark how hard it is to say goodbye to someone you felt like you had a real strong bond with, but then withdraws the question and heads for home. Clark hears her tell the cabbie her address and next thing you know, Superman is flying for that location. He finds it, a nice colonial with a seaplane docked out back, and hears Richard asking Lois if she ever really loved Superman, since that first article of hers was titled "I spent the night with Superman." She says no, and Superman takes off for space, hearing the voice of Jor-El say, "Even though you have been raised by humans, you are not one of them." In space, Superman watches the planet, hearing everything on it. He then makes a decision and rockets forward.
At a bank, we see a bunch of thieves holding off some cops on the roof. Two security guards bust the door down and try to take the operator out, but their bullets bounce off the kevlar. The guy opens up, but suddenly Superman is blocking all the bullets. The chamber runs dry and the guy takes out his Desert Eagle and unleashes a round directly onto Superman's left eyeball....and watches in horror as it bounces off while Superman just looks at him and smiles. Meanwhile, we see Lex and the boys heading into a museum that's closing in ten minutes, though they say they only need five. They kick Bryan Singer and a friend of his out and once they're gone start setting up. Meanwhile, we see a car careening out of control since the brake lines have been cut, and notice that Kitty is at the helm. Just before she can crash into a restaurant, Superman shows up and sets the car down. She fakes some heart palpitations, and while he takes her to the hospital, Lex and company steal a bunch of rocks that landed in Adis Ababa in 1978.
The next day, as some guy tells Clark that Perry want to see him, Perry is chewing out Jimmy for not having a decent shot of Superman. Jimmy shows them a picture he grabbed but Lois says it's just a bird. Perry corrects her by saying it's a plane, and then Jimmy insists that it's -- but he's interrupted by Clark, who promptly gets assigned to the blackout. This still doesn't please Lois, who claims that she's done Superman -- and then amends that to COVERED Superman when Jimmy and Clark snicker, and that doesn't sound any better in my opinion -- and wants the blackout, but Perry is final. Richard pops up and after asking Lois if she'd be able to pick up Jason tomorrow from school proposes that they both work on the blackout, get that done, and then worry about Superman. She says okay, and that night, we see Jimmy, Lois, Clark, Richard, and Jason all in the office working on articles. Richard asks about Superman's stats, and Lois says, "6'4", 225 pounds, blue eyes, black hair, faster than a speeding bullet, vulnerable only to kryptonite." Richard then starts comparing this to Clark, but immediately dismisses it. Meanwhile, we see Kitty storm towards Lex and slap him for REALLY cutting the brake lines, but he ignores her and goes to take care of something, leaving her alone with the dog and the paper. Back at the planet, Jimmy and Lois's boys head out to get something to eat as Lois heads up for a little air. She bumps into Clark on the way and her purse and his glasses fall to the floor. While she picks up her stuff, he almost doesn't put the glasses back on, but he does so in time to notice a carton of cigarettes disappearing into her purse. She heads up to the roof and when she gets there tries to light up, but is stopped by Superman. He says he thought he might try for an interview now, and after helping Lois find her tape recorder does just that. She asks where he went, and he tells her that he went to Krypton. She notes that a lot of people were missing him, and he says, "Not everyone....I saw the article Lois." Lois shuts off the recorder and asks how he could just leave like that, and tells him that nobody needs a savior, especially her. He asks if he can show her something, and after promising she won't be gone lone, goes with him. He takes her up to a height where they can see the whole world while still breathing atmosphere and asks what she can hear. She says nothing, and he says, "I hear everything. You wrote that people don't need a savior, Lois, but every day I hear people crying out for one," and you can tell just how much he wishes she had been right. They go for a little flight past her house and he takes her back to the Planet rooftop. She goes inside and finds Clark, Jimmy, Richard, and Jason chowing down on Chinese. Richard asks where she was and when she doesn't answer he goes, "Tell the truth now....were you smoking?" She smiles and says no.
The next morning, we see Lois handing in a story on Superman to Perry just before saying that she might not deserve the Pulitzer, since according to the paper she works for, the world DOES need Superman. Perry gets her calmed down and she goes to work on the blackout, eventually finding that it started from the Vandenburg estate before remembering that she had to pick up Jason. While she picks up Jason, we see Superman heading for the Fortress of Solitude and finding the crystals all stolen. Meanwhile, Lois and Jason are arriving at the Vandenburg estate when they hear opera music coming from a yacht in back. They go on board and snoop around ("Mommy, are we trespassing?" "Yes....no...shhh.") and eventually finda huge closet. Jason notices a wig collection to one side and Lois realizes whose yacht they're on just as they pull out. Lois tries to make for the deck but they are blocked by none other than Lex himself. Meanwhile, Richard and Perry are trying to track down Jason and Lois, and Clark suggests trying her computer. After breaking her password (Superman), Richard and Clark get into the system. Meanwhile, Lex explains his plan to grow a new continent out of Kryptonian crystals to Lois and then notices Jason. He asks who Jason's father is, and when Lois says Richard, Lex says, "Are you sure?" They get interrupted by Stafford saying they've arrived at the coordinates -- 40 North and 73 West -- and Lex leaves the Lanes alone with Brutus. Lois suggests that Jason go play the piano and Jason starts playing "Heart and Soul" and is promptly joined by Brutus, who stayed behind to watch them. Lois takes advantage of this and faxes a help message with their coordinates to the Planet. Meanwhile, Lex, Kitty, and the boys slip one of the crystals inside a kryptonite cylinder, load it into a rocket, and fire it into the ocean, where it immediately starts growing into a kryptonite island that causes another blackout and an earthquake in Metropolis. The blackout also affects the boat, causing Lois's fax to stop midway. Clark ditches Richard and changes into Superman and starts saving the city from the earthquake and its consequences. As Jimmy tries taking pictures of everything, including the evac of the Daily Planet, the globe on top breaks loose and starts falling towards him. He ducks but the globe is caught in time by Superman. Jimmy finally gets his perfect shot just as Superman sets the globe down and takes off for the boat, determined to save Lois.
Meanwhile, on the boat, Lois's fax starts going back through as Jason and Brutus resume their playing. Just as the fax clicks back, it dies again, and Lois sees Brutus holding the plug just before he throws her across the room. She backs away as Jason watches. Brutus picks up a big fossil rock and is about to pound her head in when the piano shoots across the room, crushing him! Lois looks, and SHE SEES JASON SITTING AT THE PIANO BENCH WITH HIS ARMS OUT!!!!! Stanford and Grant come in just then and see what happened and after throwing Lois and Jason in a closet and locking it, they tell Lex, who shrugs it off and heads into the waiting helicopter. Lois screams to be let out and asks Jason to open the door, but he just shrugs and says that he can't. As Lex hovers overhead and watches his island form, Lois and Jason sit when they suddenly hear a pounding at the door. It opens, and they see Richard standing there! Lois asks how he got there and he says simply, "I flew." He tries to take them out when suddenly part of the island grows up through the boat, making the door slam shut and knock Lois out. The boat keeps rising on the rock mountain and eventually breaks off and hits the water and starts sinking. It goes underwater as Jason and Richard look on. Just before they drown though, Superman finally shows up and saves them. He gets them to Richard's plane and helps them take off, and then heads for the island.
Once on the island, Superman looks around and hears Lex asking him if it looks familiar. The two confront each other and Lex notes that the island is missing something...just before punching Superman square in the jaw and sending him sprawling. Superman looks around confused as Lex continues the beating and informs him of the kryptonite embedded in the ground. Lex lets Riley, Grant, and Stanford get some beating in, and then he takes out a secret kryptonite knife he made and stabs it right into Superman's stomach. Superman screams, and Lex bends over and says, "Now fly." Superman stands up and falls off a cliff and into the ocean. Meanwhile, Lois wakes up and asks what happened. Richard tells her and convinces him to turn the plane around. They look around and see Superman floating in the water. Richard lands and they bring him aboard the plane. They try to get out of there but thanks to the still growing island clipping a wing, they can't get any lift. The plane gets carried down to a cliff and it goes over the edge, but that ends up providing the lift needed to get the plane in the air. While Richard tries to get as far away as possible, Lois grabs some pliers from a tool chest and digs the kryptonite out. She tosses it overboard and Superman immediately starts feeling better. He gets up, makes sure everyone else is okay, and opens the door. Lois tells him not to go, but he turns to her and says solemnly, "Good-bye, Lois."
Back on the island, we see the boys playing poker while Lex and Kitty look on. Suddenly everything starts shaking and everyone runs for it. Riley, Grant, and Stanford get crushed by a falling pillar and Kitty, Lex, and the remaining crystals make it into the copter. Kitty sneaks open the door and dumps the crystals out, despite Lex's screaming, and the two take off before he has a chance to recover them. As they fly away, we see Superman lifting the island up (he used his heat-vision to melt the island away from the sea floor before it got a good hold) as it crumbles apart with kryptonite poking further and further out. He ultimately gets the island lifted into space and pushes it off where it breaks up entirely. Unfortunately, this is it for him, and he goes unconscious, crashing back into the atmosphere and landing in Metropolis's Centennial Park. We then see Superman being rushed into a hospital where the doctors attempt to tend to him, but since he's invulnerable and the needles break as soon as they try to put them in, all the doctors can do is hope and pray. The next day, at the Daily Planet, we see Perry reviewing two potential cover pages, one reading, "Superman Dies!" and the other "Superman Lives!" Richard comments on the morbidity of it, but Perry merely states that it's best to be prepared. Richard wanders over to Lois and Jason and tells Lois that they don't have to be there and ultimately convinces her to leave. When Perry asks where she's going, she says simply, "The hospital." When they arrive, Richard waits in traffic while Lois and Jason head inside. The doctor shows them to where Superman is sleeping, in a regular old hospital room. Lois looks at him as Jason examines the suit and goes, "Can you hear me? They say people can hear you, even when they're unconscious. Can you hear me?" She pauses, and then moves closer, continuing, "There's something...something I have to tell you." She bends over and whispers something in his ear, and then kisses him on the forehead. She grabs Jason and moves to leave when Jason dashes back to the bedside and kisses Superman's forehead too. The two leave the hospital and find Richard, ignoring the mass of reporters shouting questions like, "Miss Lane, what did he look like?", "Did he say anything?", and "Do you still love him?"
A few days later, we see Lex on a deserted island in the middle of the Atlantic tossing a coconut into the sea. Kitty warns him not to do that, since they only have six, and he shouts, "Six? SIX? I would trade three hundred THOUSAND coconuts and every OUNCE of your blood for a single QUART of GASOLINE!!!" She counters by asking him what else they'll be able to eat, and he responds by looking hungrily at the dog. Later that day, we see a nurse at Metropolis General Hospital making her rounds when she peeks in on Superman's room. She sets off the alarm, and armed cops enter, only to find...nothing. Meanwhile, we see Lois working on her new article, "Why the world needs Superman," only she doesn't have anything written for it, when she decides to take a break. Meanwhile, we see Superman watching Jason sleep soundly, and he tells Jason that he will be different, and that he might be an outcast and thought of as strange or a freak, but he will make Superman's strength his own, and he will do great things, for the son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son. He leaves just as Jason wakes up and sees the open window. Jason bounces to the window and yells bye to Superman. Lois (who had snuck outside for a cigarette, but changed her mind about lighting up) looks up and sees Superman floating in mid-air above the dock. She utters, "Will....WE....see you around?" He looks at her and smiles, and says, "I'm always around, Lois," and as Lois looks after him with a big smile on her face, Superman flies off, breaking the cloud cover and bathing in the sunlight for a moment before chasing it westward across the horizon, looking for the next person who needs saving.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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Superman returns after 5 years of absence because he was away looking for remains of planet Krypton. Louis is engaged with Richard and has a kid called Jason. Meanwhile Luther find Superman's fortress and steals his crystals. He fuses one with Kryptonite and throws it into the sea creating a big land mass which will push out the sea and drown America. Superman shows up there but is beaten up badly and thrown into the sea cause he is powerless on Kryptonite landmass. Louis saves him from drowning. Superman then rips the whole landmass and throws it out in space. Oh yeah, and Jason's dad is Superman.
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