With the upcoming release of Superman Returns I decided to take a stab at the iconic figure everyone loves. Let it be known now that I've read only one Superman comic in my life, I've only seen the first two seasons of Smallville recently, and I never did get into Lois & Clark, but I did grow up watching the George Reeves television series as well as the Christopher Reeve films. I'm also a fan of the Fleischer cartoons and the new Justice League series is entertaining. This may seem limiting to some people like Jeff and Ryon, but to most I may seem like a geek.
Superman II is a hotly debated film amongst fans of the Man of Steel. A lot of them passionately place this as the best Superman film ever noting that the villains stole the show. Others find numerous flaws in the film that detract from the mythos too much.
I fall into both categories for some reason. While I do enjoy the villains in Superman II, namely Zod played brilliantly by Terence Stamp, I find many plot devices and characters that really keep me from calling it a good film overall.
Superman II has it's high points and when they appear they're golden. The arrival of the General Zod and his two minions was an excellent addition from the mostly comic Lex Luthor. Played with stoicism and an almost creepy flare the three Kryptonians ruled the landscape with their evil powers and the audience really felt a sense of dread for the Man of Tomorrow. Most of the casting was excellent and the pacing, special effects, and the fight scene in Metropolis is top notch.
The one low point of the movie is the casting of Lois Lane and the almost unbelievable love story she has with Superman. In the first two Superman films almost all the casting was done right, from Christopher Reeve to Glenn Ford; however they couldn't have picked a worse Lois Lane than Margot Kidder. Not only is she unattractive, which is not a big deal in my book, they made her character annoying. No longer was Lois portrayed as a tough intelligent reporter with an impeccable case of bad timing. Lois Lane was written to be reduced to a chain smoking, mildly dumb damsel. It doesn't help that she has a terrible screeching voice.
The chemistry between Clark and Lois didn't work for me at all. I never believed that Superman would give up his powers to bed Margot Kidder. Every time I watch the movie I don't buy it, cause I just don't see what he can possibly see in her. It's even worse when you think about Lana Lang's all too short appearance in the first Superman film, who seemed much more Clark Kent's type.
The final fight scene in the Fortress of Solitude was just plain strange, especially when it follows one of the best action sequences ever on film. Superman could not only hologram himself, but he could throw ridiculous plastic sheilds from out of nowhere. Why the writers put this in I don't know.
Given all of the films problems it's certainly better than Superman III, Superman IV, and Supergirl. Granted those films are so bad it's a really low bar, but Christopher Reeve will always be Superman to me. This film will always have a special place in my heart as giving the child in me the belief that man can truly fly.
Superman II trailer:
"Christopher Reeve brings Superman's heroism and good nature to the fore as he battles with his desire to have a normal relationship with Lois, and with the potential consequences of giving up his abilities. But substantial credit should also go to Terence Stamp's casually menacing General Zod, who transcends his terrible costume and make-up to appear a convincing threat." - Tom Coates