Forget Catwoman. Forget the Black Cat. Forget all of the scheming anti-heroines who commit crimes and then make out with the superhero, whether they have a feline-based persona or not.
Because we have a champion, right here. As a temporarily-reformed supercrime vixen, Eve Teschmacher — known to her friends as MISS TESCHMACHER!! — has got to be one of the all-time greats. She reforms for a grand total of one hundred and twenty-five seconds, and during that period, she commits sexual assault. And she still doesn’t get any jail time! This woman is unbelievably good at her job.
I mean, there’s no room for ambiguity about Eve’s role in the impending missile massacre. Girl climbed a bridge. Or, at least, a stunt guy wearing a blonde wig and red evening gown climbed the bridge on her behalf, but there’s long-established legal precedent that characters are liable for any actions performed by their stuntmen, in whole or in part.
No, she didn’t come up with this cockamamie plan herself, but she was in the room during the brainstorming session, and the missiles couldn’t have been reprogrammed without her. Up until the Kryptonite-in-the-pool scene, there isn’t a single moment when we see her hesitate to offer Lex whatever assistance he needs. She called him “sick” when he killed that detective, but she didn’t feel regret or horror; it was just something to chat about.
The costume design really does all the heavy lifting, as far as the illusion of remorse is concerned. She spends most of the movie in lunatic Bond girl gear: a sparkly black dress that shows off her cleavage, a red evening gown that shows off her legs, a skimpy lime green bikini. She dresses a little more like a human being in the “meteorites!” scene, but even then she’s got a lot of cleavage showing.
And now, when Superman’s on his way, all of a sudden she’s got a sensible hairstyle, and a lily-white ensemble that doesn’t even reveal her entire neck. This is the couture equivalent of a rock-solid alibi.
So I have to say, I am not a hundred percent convinced by this “mother in Hackensack” routine. I grew up half an hour away from Hackensack, and when I was growing up, I never saw anything even remotely like Eve Teschmacher. If I had, I probably would have come out as gay, like, a shit ton earlier.
Now, I don’t have any hard evidence to the contrary; it’s possible that there really is a woman in Bergen County that’s responsible for all this mess. I’m just saying that there’s a lot going on in this sequence. Eve is definitely fishing for something, and Superman is eager to bite.
I mean, Superman is saying, “You can’t just stand there, and let innocent people — millions of innocent people die!” and he has basically nothing to hang that opinion on. This is the first time they’ve ever spoken. How does he know what Eve can stand there and let?
Now, as it happens, I have a little production story about this moment of sentimental aquaculture, from the Making of book:
“And then came the scene in which Miss Teschmacher, before rescuing the hapless Man of Steel, steals a kiss. Despite several rehearsals, it looked more like an X-rated loop than a quick peck in a family film. (Dick kept screaming at Perrine: “I want a short, simple, high-school kiss!“) And after each take, Chris had to jump out of the water, have a new battery pack attached — when Miss Teschmacher ripped the chain off him, it pulled out the connecting wires — and be recombed and made up for the next shot.
“In the end, the shot looked marvelous. And certainly no one could have questioned Val’s effort and enthusiasm.”
And I can see why Donner wanted this to look like an innocent kiss — because “innocent” is the word that she needs Superman to use, whenever he thinks about her.
Look, I don’t want to have such a cynical interpretation of this scene. It’s possible that Eve’s abrupt change of heart really is based on some nascent spark of moral courage, and appreciation for Superman’s soaking-wet hotness.
All I’m saying is, she looks down at the swimming pool, and there’s the guy that the movie that she’s in is named after, and she makes the appropriate calculation. There’s less than twenty minutes left in the movie — characters can tell time, just like everyone else — and she figures there’s not a lot of hope that this is going to be the finale.
So: modest dress + mother in Hackensack + high-school kiss = extenuating circumstances. You wouldn’t believe how much a girl like this can extenuate, when she really needs to.
Now, if you’re watching the theatrical cut of this movie like a normal person, this pool party is the last time you see Eve, but the bloated Extended TV Cut has a final scene where Superman returns to the lair, and finds Lex and Otis in the process of dropping the traitorous Eve into a pit of ravenous beasts. That means that she’s a victim rather than a villain, and she gets rescued, rather than apprehended and taken to prison, where she belongs.
Naturally, as soon as Superman’s flown away with Lex and Otis, Eve immediately starts sourcing hot air balloons, in preparation for the jailbreak that she organizes in Superman II. This is why you shouldn’t make out with microreformed supercrime vixens and then let them go; the recidivism rate is off the charts.
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There’s a little detail that I noticed in the pool scene. It says in the excerpt from the Making of book that when Eve takes the chain off from around Superman’s neck, she has to pull out the wires that connect the glowing Kryptonite prop with the battery pack that makes it glow. Then Chris has to go and get then reconnected, so that they can do another take. That might explain why, in the actual take that they used, the stone isn’t glowing green, even before Eve takes off the chain.
Also, somebody needs to explain to me why Eve doesn’t have amnesia now.
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— Danny Horn