Superman II-Kneel Before Zod
By James O’Donnell
The road to Justice League continues with one of the great DC Comics movies of all time: Superman II. Christopher Reeve (aka the superist-Superman) reprises his role as the Man of Steel alongside Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Terrence Stamp as General Zod in the type of movie Zach Snyder really wanted to make back in 2013.
Superman II sees the last son of Krypton sacrifice his powers so he and Lois Lane can finally consummate their relationship (take that Jason Lee in Mallrats) just as he meets his greatest threat ever, an alliance between his arch nemesis Lex Luthor and a cabal of Kryptonian war criminals. Superman regains his powers just in time to save the day and invent a whole bunch of awesome new powers like his weird cellophane “S” and his patented “amnesia kiss.”
The first two Superman films have always had a special place in my black Batman-like heart mostly because to date, they’ve done the greatest job at capturing the true spirit of the character. Reeves truly embodied the character in a way that few actors could, which is not to downplay the talent of any of the other actors that have suited up in his red booties (in fact I think Henry Cavill has done a fine job). But watching the late-great Reeve on screen as he deflects bullets and saves Lois is like seeing an Alex Ross panel come to life. There was so much that is right with this movie and its predecessor that it’s hard to believe there really hasn’t been a truly great live-action Superman since (thanks a lot, Cannon).
This movie had one of the strangest journeys from conception to screen, with most of the story having been filmed in 1977 along with the first film, helmed by Richard Donner. Due to budget constraints and issues with the studio, Donner was given the ax in favor of Richard Lester (I’m guessing the studio had a thing for directors named Richard) who was forced to re-film most of the movie due to weird Hollywood director rules to decide who gets a directing credit. Years later, Donner finally got his due when Bryan Singer acquired the rights from Marlon Brando’s estate and worked with the original director to re-cut the film into its originally intended glory.
If you’re looking to re-live the Justice League’s greatest hits this weekend, do yourself a favor and watch this classic, and also Donner’s Superman (1978) and if you’re really into the last son of Krypton maybe, just maybe Superman III: Superman v. Richard Pryor. But never Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. We still haven’t forgiven you for that one, Cannon.