Superman II

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Superman II
Superman II.jpg
North American teaser poster
Directed byRichard Lester
Richard Donner
(uncredited)
Produced byPierre Spengler
Screenplay byMario Puzo
David Newman
Leslie Newman
Tom Mankiewicz
(creative consultant)
Story byMario Puzo
Based onCharacters 
by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
StarringGene Hackman
Christopher Reeve
Ned Beatty
Jackie Cooper
Sarah Douglas
Margot Kidder
Jack O'Halloran
Valerie Perrine
Susannah York
Terence Stamp
Music byKen Thorne
John Williams
(themes)
CinematographyRobert Paynter
(Lester footage)
Geoffrey Unsworth
(Donner footage)
Edited byJohn Victor-Smith
(Lester footage)
Stuart Baird
(Donner footage)
Production
company
Dovemead Ltd.
Film Export A.G.
International Film Production
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release dates
  • December 4, 1980 (1980-12-04) (Australia)[1]
  • April 9, 1981 (1981-04-09) (United Kingdom)[2]
Running time127 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom[3]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$54 million
Box office$108,185,706[4]
 
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Superman II
Superman II.jpg
North American teaser poster
Directed byRichard Lester
Richard Donner
(uncredited)
Produced byPierre Spengler
Screenplay byMario Puzo
David Newman
Leslie Newman
Tom Mankiewicz
(creative consultant)
Story byMario Puzo
Based onCharacters 
by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
StarringGene Hackman
Christopher Reeve
Ned Beatty
Jackie Cooper
Sarah Douglas
Margot Kidder
Jack O'Halloran
Valerie Perrine
Susannah York
Terence Stamp
Music byKen Thorne
John Williams
(themes)
CinematographyRobert Paynter
(Lester footage)
Geoffrey Unsworth
(Donner footage)
Edited byJohn Victor-Smith
(Lester footage)
Stuart Baird
(Donner footage)
Production
company
Dovemead Ltd.
Film Export A.G.
International Film Production
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release dates
  • December 4, 1980 (1980-12-04) (Australia)[1]
  • April 9, 1981 (1981-04-09) (United Kingdom)[2]
Running time127 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom[3]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$54 million
Box office$108,185,706[4]

Superman II is a 1980[5][6][7] British-American superhero film directed by Richard Lester. It is a sequel to the 1978 film Superman and stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Ned Beatty, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran. The film was released in Australia and mainland Europe on December 4, 1980,[1] and in other countries throughout 1981. Selected premiere engagements of Superman II were presented in Megasound, a high-impact surround sound system similar to Sensurround.

Superman II is well known for its controversial production. The original director Richard Donner had completed, by his estimation, roughly 75% of the movie in 1977 before being taken off the project. Many of the scenes were shot by second director Richard Lester, who had been an uncredited producer on the first film. However, in order to receive full director's credit, Lester had to shoot up to 51% of the film, which included refilming several sequences originally filmed by Donner. According to statements made by Donner, roughly 25% of the theatrical cut of Superman II contains footage he shot, including all of Gene Hackman's scenes. In 2006, a re-cut of the film was released titled Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, restoring as much of Donner's original conception as possible including deleted footage of Marlon Brando as Jor-El.

The film received positive reviews from film critics who praised the visual effects and story and was a box office success. Three years after the film's release, a second sequel, Superman III, was released with Lester returning as director.

Plot[edit]

Prior to the destruction of Krypton, the criminals General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran) are sentenced to banishment into the Phantom Zone for insurrection and murder, amongst other crimes.

Years later, the Phantom Zone is shattered near Earth by the shockwave from the harmless detonation of a hydrogen bomb, which had been launched into space by Superman (Christopher Reeve) after foiling a terrorist plot to blow up Paris. The three Kryptonian criminals are freed from the zone, finding themselves with super-powers granted by the yellow light of Earth's sun. After attacking human astronauts on the Moon and the small town of East Houston, Idaho (which they mistake as being capital city of "Planet Houston" due to NASA's transmissions), the three travel to the White House and force the President of the United States (E.G. Marshall) to kneel before him on behalf of the entire planet during an international television broadcast. When the President pleads for Superman to save the Earth, Zod demands that Superman come and "kneel before Zod!".

Meanwhile, the Daily Planet sends Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) to Niagara Falls. Lois becomes suspicious that Clark is Superman, and tries to lure him into revealing his identity, by throwing herself into the falls. But Clark manages to save her with subtle use of his powers. That night, Clark accidentally falls into the room's fireplace, when trying to recover Lois' fallen hairbrush. When Lois discovers that his hand is unburned, Clark is forced to admit he is Superman. He takes her to his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic, and shows her the traces of his past stored in the energy crystals of the fortress, one of which is the green crystal that created the fortress and opened Superman's contact with his parents. Superman declares his love for Lois and his wish to spend his life with her. He decides to transform himself into a human, by exposing himself to red Kryptonian sunlight in a crystal chamber. Giving up his powers to become romantically closer to Lois, despite the pleas of the artificial intelligence of his mother, Lara. After spending the night together, the two leave the fortress and return to populated areas by automobile. Arriving at a diner, Clark gets beaten up by a truck driver named Rocky (Pepper Martin). It is there that Clark and Lois learn of Zod's conquest of the world. Realizing that humanity cannot fight Zod themselves, Clark decides to return to the fortress to try to reverse the transformation.

Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) escapes from prison with Eve Teschmacher's help, leaving Otis behind. Luthor and Teschmacher find and infiltrates the fortress before Superman and Lois arrive. Luthor learns of Superman's connection to Jor-El and General Zod. He tells Zod about Superman being son of, Jor-El, their jailer, and offers to lead him to the man of steel in exchange for control of Australia. The three Kryptonians form an alliance with Luthor and go to the offices of the Daily Planet. Superman arrives, after having found the green crystal and reversing the transformation process, and battles the three Kryptonians in Metropolis. Zod realizes Superman cares for the innocent humans, and takes advantage of this weakness by threatening bystanders. To protect the civilians and the city, Superman realizes the only way to stop Zod and crew is to lure them to the fortress. Superman flies off while Zod, Ursa, and Non pursue, carrying Lois and Luthor. Upon arrival, Zod declares Luthor has outlived his usefulness and plans to kill both him and Superman. Superman tries to get Luthor to lure the three into the crystal chamber to depower them, but Luthor, eager to get back in Zod's favor, reveals the chamber's secret to the villains. Zod forces Superman to seemingly again undergo the process, only to realize too late that Superman, fully expecting Luthor's treachery, had already altered the process to expose everyone outside the chamber to the red light, removing the Kryptonian criminals' powers while leaving his own intact. After easily defeating the trio, Superman flies Lois to her home.

At the Daily Planet the following day, Clark finds Lois upset about knowing his secret. He then kisses her, using his abilities to wipe her mind of her knowledge of the past few days. Later, Clark has a rematch with the truck driver who beat him up earlier and defeats him easily. Superman then restores the damage done by Zod, replacing the flag on top of the White House and promising the president to never let him down again.

Cast[edit]

Gene Hackman, Valerie Perrine, Ned Beatty, and E.G. Marshall are the only actors who did not participate in the film's reshoots under the direction of Richard Lester. Where additional shots were needed for continuity, Lester used body doubles in place of the original actors. Marlon Brando's scenes were excised entirely, due to the high fee the actor had demanded for the use of his footage in the film.

According to the 2006 documentary You Will Believe: The Cinematic Saga of Superman, Sarah Douglas was the only cast member to do extensive around-the-world press tours in support of the movie and was one of the few actors who held a neutral point of view in the Donner-Lester controversy.

Richard Donner briefly appears in a "walking cameo" in the film. In the sequence where the de-powered Clark and Lois are seen approaching the truck-stop diner by car, Donner appears walking "camera left" past the driver's side. He is wearing a light tan jacket and appears to be smoking a pipe. In his commentary for Superman II, Ilya Salkind states that the inclusion of his cameo in that scene is proof that the Salkinds held no animosity towards Donner, because if there were, then surely they would have cut it out. Conversely, Donner has used his inclusion in the scene to debunk praise heaped on Lester around the release of the film where Lester took credit for the intense nature of the "bully" scene in the diner, pointing out that he (Donner) filmed the scene and not Lester.

Production[edit]

Production on Superman II was commenced simultaneously with Superman under the direction of Richard Donner in April 1977. However, due to off-screen problems with Donner between producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind, and Pierre Spengler over the huge shooting schedule and final cut privileges, filming on Superman II was put on a hiatus in October 1977 in order for Donner to concentrate on finishing the first film instead. To ease tension between Donner and Spengler, the Salkinds hired U.K. director Richard Lester, who had previously directed another double-project for the Salkinds; The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974), as an uncredited line producer on Superman.

On March 15, 1979, shortly after the release of Superman, the Salkinds decided to replace Donner with Lester as director for Superman II. The decision was controversial amongst the cast and crew. Creative consultant Tom Mankiewicz, editor Stuart Baird, and actor Gene Hackman declined on returning for the sequel in support of Donner. Hackman, who had already completed many of his scenes under Donner, had had his role cut down and re-filmed with a body double. Actor Marlon Brando, who finished all his scenes for both Superman films early into production, successfully sued the Salkinds for $50 million over grossed profits gained from the first film. In response, the Salkinds cut Brando from Superman II, replacing his scenes with actress Susannah York.

Production on Superman II officially recommenced with Lester as director on June 1, 1979, but without set designer John Barry who died that morning of meningitis after he suddenly collapsed on the nearby set of The Empire Strikes Back. Principal photography resumed at Pinewood Studios in August 1979 with a revised screenplay written by David and Leslie Newman. The new script featured several newly conceived scenes including the Eiffel Tower opening sequence and Clark rescuing Lois at Niagara Falls. However, under strict guidelines from Directors Guild of America, Lester needed to re-shoot several scenes Donner had already completed in order to receive full directorial credit. Location shooting took place in Canada, Paris, Norway and St Lucia, while Metropolis (which was shot in New York for the first movie) was filmed entirely on the back lot at Pinewood. Superman II finally finished filming in March 1980.

Despite all the difficulties of the production, and with only a few noticeable shifts in tone between the two directors' scenes (Lester's approach is lighter and more slapstick, as opposed to the verisimilitude Donner fought to bring to the film), it was noted by critics to be a remarkable and coherent film, highlighted by the movie's battle sequence between Superman and the three Phantom Zone prisoners on the streets of Metropolis. Scenes filmed by Donner include all the Gene Hackman footage, the Moon sequences, the White House shots, Clark and the bully, and a lot of the footage of Zod, Ursa and Non arriving at the Daily Planet. Since the Lester footage was shot two years later, both Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve look different between the Lester and Donner footage. Reeve appears less bulked up in Donner's sequences (filmed in 1977), as he was still gaining muscle for the part. Kidder also has dramatic changes throughout; in the montage of Lester-Donner material, shot inside the Daily Planet and the Fortress of Solitude near the movie's conclusion, her hairstyle, hair color, and even make-up are all inconsistent. Indeed, Kidder's physical appearance in the Lester footage is noticeably different; during the scenes shot for Donner she appears slender, whereas in the Lester footage she looks frail and gaunt.

Later releases[edit]

In the years since the film's release, the controversy continues to be fueled. In 1983, Alexander Salkind's production company pieced together an Expanded International Cut of the film for television using approximately 24 minutes of footage not shown in the theatrical release, some of which was original Richard Donner footage shot before Richard Lester became director. The "new" footage expanded on the film's many subplots, including a further explanation of the villains' task on Earth, Superman and Lois' romance and an alternate ending involving Lex Luthor, the three Kryptonian villains (who are implied to be killed off in the original, but are shown being arrested in the extended version) and the final fate of the Fortress of Solitude. This 146-minute expanded version was released throughout Europe and Australia in the 1980s and was last seen in Australia on the Ten Network. This version includes a montage of Japanese tourists taking photos at the beginning of the Niagara Falls scene (the initial expanded US ABC and Canadian CBC telecasts, though edited differently, were derived from the European-Australian TV edit). Australians will notice scenes they originally viewed at cinemas in the deleted scenes menu on DVDs and notice some of the one liners they originally heard placed back in the Richard Donner cut.

All four Superman films received special or deluxe edition releases in 2006, coinciding with the release of Superman Returns. It was confirmed that Ilya Salkind had released Donner's footage for a separate Superman II disc and that Donner was involved in the project. According to an interview conducted by website supermanhomepage.com, Ilya confirmed that Time Warner now owns all of the footage shot for 1978's Superman, 1980's Superman II, 1983's Superman III, 1984's Supergirl and 1987's Superman IV: The Quest for Peace including distribution rights. Special edition restorationist Michael Thau worked on the project alongside Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz, who supervised the Superman II reconstruction. Despite some initial confusion, Thau confirmed that all the footage shot by Donner in 1977 was recovered and transferred from England. The new edition was released on November 28, 2006 and called Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. Following the original Superman II script, the Donner cut features less than 20% footage filmed by replacement director Richard Lester and restores several cut scenes, including all the Marlon Brando footage and Lois jumping out of the Daily Planet to try and get Superman to reveal his identity to her. It also restructures the beginning of the movie so that the outer space detonation of the Hackensack-bound nuclear missile from Superman: The Movie is responsible for releasing Zod and his companions from the Phantom Zone (and not the blast from the Eiffel Tower H-bomb). The originally intended ending for Superman II, which was used instead for the climax of Superman: The Movie (where Superman reverses time) was also restored for the Donner cut, and incorporates footage Donner had shot in 1977 for this ending of Superman II.

Score[edit]

Main article: Superman music

As John Williams chose not to return to score the film due to obligations with Lucasfilm's The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, instead Ken Thorne was commissioned to write the music upon Williams' recommendation. However, the score contains frequent excerpts from Williams' previous score to the first film. Thorne wrote minimal original material and adapted source music (such as Average White Band's "Pick Up the Pieces", which appears both in the bar in Idaho as well as during Clark's second encounter with Rocky. The soundtrack was released on Warner Bros. Records, with one edition featuring laser-etched "S" designs repeated five times on each side.[8]

Release and reception[edit]

Unlike its predecessor, Superman II did not open simultaneously around the world and had staggered release dates in an attempt to maximize its box office returns. Originally opening in Australia on December 4, 1980, followed by selected European countries, it would be a further six months before it premiered in America, on June 1, 1981 at the National Theater, Broadway.

The film received much praise from critics. It holds an 88% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the summary saying, "The humor occasionally stumbles into slapstick territory, and the special effects are dated, but Superman II meets, if not exceeds, the standard set by its predecessor.",[9] on Metacritic, the film has a score of 87 (out of 100); indicating universal acclaim.[10] Roger Ebert, who gave the original film very high acclaim[11] also praised Superman II, giving it four out of four stars, claiming that "Superman II begins in midstream, and never looks back..."[12] Even Reeve claimed that Superman II is "the best of the series".[13]

Superman II was a box office success scoring the highest-grossing opening weekend up to that time and became the third highest grossing film of 1981. It grossed $108,185,706 in the US, reaching blockbuster status.[14] The film also received recognition from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.[citation needed] It won Best Science Fiction Film. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder were nominated Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively. Ken Thorne also received a nomination for Best Music.

British cinema magazine Total Film named Terence Stamp's version of General Zod No.32 on their 'Top 50 Greatest Villains of All Time' list (beating out the No.38 place of Lex Luthor) in 2007.[15] Pop culture website IGN placed General Zod at No.30 on their list of the 'Top 50 Comic Book Villains' while commenting "Stamp is Zod" (emphasis in original).[16]

Anti-smoking campaigners opposed the film as the largest sponsor of Superman II was the cigarette brand Marlboro, who paid $43,000 (approx £20,000), for the brand to be shown 22 times in the film. Lois Lane was shown as a chain smoker in the film, although she never smoked in the comic book version.[17] A prop included a truck sign written with the Marlboro logo, although actual vehicles for tobacco distribution are unmarked, for security reasons.[18] This led to a congressional investigation.[19][20]

Broadcast television versions[edit]

American Broadcasting Company[edit]

In 1984, when Superman II premiered on television, 24 minutes were re-inserted into the film (17 minutes on ABC). Much of the extra footage was directed by Richard Donner. In the ABC-TV version, a U.S. "polar patrol" is shown picking up the three Kryptonians and Lex Luthor at the end of the film. Without this ending, it appears that Superman has let the Kryptonians die, though Superman has a strict code against killing and their deaths aren't necessary once they are depowered. On the other hand, the theatrical version's ending implies that Luthor is left stranded at the Fortress of Solitude, leaving the viewer to wonder how he got to prison in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — that question was answered in the extended versions where Superman reverses the rotation of the Earth where one of the things he does involves preventing Lex Luthor from escaping from prison. The ending of the extended cuts also has Superman, with Lois standing beside him, destroying the Fortress of Solitude.

More specifically:

Much of the added footage was later restored for the 2006 Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.

Also, there were various edits due to content issues:

Canadian version[edit]

During the 1980s, CFCF12 cable 11 screened an edition of Superman II that was differently edited to that to the one shown on in the United States on ABC. This particular version has only been screened once in Canada. The first Canadian broadcast of Superman II had an additional few seconds of dialogue as Luthor and Miss Tessmacher were stopped on a snow bank admiring the Fortress of Solitude. In the first U.S. broadcast (the same evening), the scene begins abruptly as Luthor starts the snow mobile immediately after the dialogue sequence.

Scenes seen in the Canadian version but not in the ABC version include:

All the footage mentioned that had been added for various network telecasts were incorporated into an even longer cut of the film that aired in some countries in Europe (the other U.S./Canadian cuts were derived from this version). Prepared by the Salkinds' production company, it is this 146-minute version that some Superman fans remastered from the best-possible materials into a professionally made "Restored International Cut" DVD for availability on one of the many Superman fan sites. However, such plans backfired when Warner Bros. threatened legal action against the bootleg release. The RIC, like the longer version of Superman, may still be found on Internet forums, torrent sites, and in science fiction conventions.

In other media[edit]

Comics[edit]

Superman's publisher DC Comics published a commemorative magazine of Superman II in 1981. Published as DC Special Series #25, it was produced in "Treasury format" and included photos and background photos, actor profiles, panel-to-scene comparisons, and pin-ups.[21][22]

Near the end of the film, Clark uses a "super-kiss" to make Lois forget he is Superman. While this was a real power Superman had in the comics (originally displayed in Action Comics #306),[23] it was rarely used, and eventually eliminated after the 1985–1986 reboot of the character following the limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In the film, after attacking the White House, Lex Luthor enters the Oval Office to make a deal with the Kryptonians. By the end of the scene, he is sitting behind the President's desk. In the comics (in the year 2000), Lex Luthor ran for President of the United States and won.[24]

In 2006, the Superman comics themselves adapted elements from the Superman movies, specifically the ice-like look of Krypton, and Jor-El banishing the criminals to the Phantom Zone. Ursa and Non made their first appearances in the comic book continuity. (This was facilitated in the "Last Son" story arc, co-written by Richard Donner.)[25]

Television[edit]

In the television series Smallville, much of the imagery and concepts of the first two Salkind/Donner Superman films, has been revived as a conscious homage to the film series by the show's creators. These include the ice-crystal Fortress of Solitude, the spinning square in space to represent the Phantom Zone, and the continued presence of the deceased Jor-El as a disembodied counselor and teacher to young Clark/Kal-El. Terence Stamp, who played General Zod in the first two films, provided the voice of Jor-El for the series. Christopher Reeve made two appearances on the show as Dr. Virgil Swann, a disabled scientist who had acquired knowledge of Krypton to pass on to Clark, before Reeve's death in 2004.[26][27] A section of John Williams' Superman theme was included when Reeve made his first appearance, and was later used in the series finale.[28] Margot Kidder, Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), and Helen Slater (Supergirl) have also made appearances on the show. Annette O'Toole (Lana Lang in Superman III) played Martha Kent.

Additionally, in the animated series Young Justice, in the episode "Satisfaction" of its second season, Lex Luthor appears briefly talking to one of his assistants on the phone, who is called Otis, as a reference to the character in the films.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Langford, David (2005). The Sex Column and Other Misprints. Wildside Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-930997-78-3. 
  2. ^ "Entertainments (cinema listings)". The Guardian. April 9, 1981. 
  3. ^ http://explore.bfi.org.uk/4ce2b6bf3e269
  4. ^ "Superman II, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Release – Superman II". British Film Institute. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Superman II (1980)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved July 10, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c "Superman II (1980) – Cast, Credits and Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ Superman II: Original Soundtrack, Ken Thorne/John Williams, Warner Brothers Records HS 3505, 1980/1981
  9. ^ "Superman II Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Best reviewed films on Metacritic". 
  11. ^ "Superman :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Superman II :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  13. ^ Andersen 2008, p. 34.
  14. ^ "Superman II (1981)". Box Office Mojo. January 1, 1982. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  15. ^ "The Top 50 Greatest Heroes & Villains Of All Time – ‘Total Film’ Compiled List". Snarkerati.com. November 24, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  16. ^ "General Zod is number 30 – IGN". IGN. Retrieved December 19, 2010. 
  17. ^ Vernellia R. Randall (August 31, 1999). "Lesson 04 Targeting of Children, Women and Minorities". Academic.udayton.edu. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  18. ^ Superman II[dead link]
  19. ^ "sfm10_variety" (PDF). Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Re: Superman II - The Movie". Tobaccodocuments.org. October 18, 1979. Retrieved March 11, 2011. 
  21. ^ Eury, Michael (December 2012). "The Amazing World of Superman Tabloids". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (61): 11–16. 
  22. ^ DC Special Series #25 at the Grand Comics Database
  23. ^ Plastino, Al, art. "The Great Superman Impersonation!", Action Comics #306 (Nov. 1963)
  24. ^ Lex 2000 #1 (DC Comics, Jan. 2001).
  25. ^ Action Comics #844–847, 851; Action Comics Annual #11 (DC Comics, 2006).
  26. ^ Miles Millar, Alfred Gough (writers), James Marshall (director). (Feb 25, 2003). "Rosetta". Smallville. Season 2. The WB.
  27. ^ Jeph Loeb(writers), Greg Beeman (director). (April 14, 2004). "Legacy". Smallville. Season 3. CW.
  28. ^ Turi Meyer, Al Septien (writers) part 1. Kelly Sunders, Brian Peterson (writers) part 2. Kevin G Fair (director) part 1, Greg Berman (director) part 2 (May 13, 2011). "Finale". Smallville. Season 10. The WB.
Cited works

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