WARNING: This is fanwank.
Okay, a number of things disappointed me about SUPERMAN RETURNS. But, reading the script, I put my finger on one:
Superman doesn't get to throw down on Lex.
Okay, most of the film -- Lex is being manuipulative and nasty, while Superman is all down about how alone he feels after spending five years away.
Lex even takes the Jor-El crystals -- Superman's one link to his father and Krypton -- uses them to make a big perversion of what Krypton was.
Let us also take a moment to note that most critics and audience members were wondering why Lex's plan was...making an ugly island. He makes reference to having alien technology he'll control, and there's the "tell me EVERYTHING" scene. But, to paraphrase Charlie Brown, we got a rock.
And finally -- Lex really gets to throw down on Superman. He gets to beat him up, PRISON-SHANKS him, leaves him to die....oh yeah, and I forget if this made it into the movie, but he clearly reveals it was HIM who made it look like Krypton was still there, thus being responsible for all of Superman's memory in the first place!
But does Superman get to confront Lex directly?
Nope, he throws the island into space. And that's more of a direct response to the island's threat than vengance on Luthor. Lex doesn't even get that much of a punishment, just an exile on a tiny sandbar we know he'll escape.
So how to improve this?
Using the Krypton crystal technology, Lex grows himself a suit of armor, like in the comics. Now he can fly! Now he can beat up on Superman! And it really gives Superman a serious PHYSICAL threat...and a great audience moment when he takes all his strength and SHATTERS Lex's armor, reducing the smarmy schemer to a whimpering puddle.
In the final film, Superman doesn't get to actually beat Lex personally -- he stops his scheme, sets him back for a while. But Kevin Spacey is such a stone-cold nasty psycho that he just WHIPS Superman in the "Now, fly" scene. There needs to be a bit where Superman gets to show him who's boss...and regain his dignity.
Oh, and here's the kicker...
...THEY ALREADY MADE THE ACTION FIGURE!
Even the TOYMAKERS knew this was a good idea! The merchandising was already there!
So, in conclusion, I think SUPERMAN RETURNS would have been infinitely better if there had been a Krypto-Armor fight with Lex.
And less hommages to the 1970s film.
And someone older as Lois.
And no kid.
And a better explanation for why Superman left Earth.
And no stupid sidekicks for Lex.
But mostly Krypto-Armor.
Anyone else with me?