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As Superman Returns' release date of June 30 quickly approaches, look for media coverage to increase from a meager trickle of mostly gossipy items on the subject of Brandon Routh's goodies to a full-on torrent of Warner Bros.-sanctioned, P.R.-friendly coverage. USA Today took its flying leap into Supermania today with a "first look" gallery of the bulge in action, accompanied by a story which ledes with the passing of the (giant, flaming) torch:

Midway through the filming of Superman Returns, star Brandon Routh received an envelope in the mail. It contained two pendants and a letter. The pendants, each emblazoned with a red S, said simply, "Go Forward."

The note from Dana Reeve, the widow of Superman Christopher Reeve, said much the same thing.

"She said she thought I'd be a good Superman," says Routh, 26, best known for a guest role on Gilmore Girls. "She wished me luck. I can't tell you what that was like to get her blessing. I was nervous, because I had never heard from the family, and it's frightening trying to fill Christopher Reeve's shoes."

It's a touching story, though some might question the convenient opportunism of using a "Dana Reeve gave us her pendant-engraved Superman Seal of Approval blessing" anecdote only one week after her tragic death. The unspoken Hollywood rule allows for at least a two week grieving period before using the memory of the departed to help push your summer blockbuster.