Lois Lane is dead.
Now, you and I know that this is a comic book movie, and in superhero comics and other soap opera narratives, almost nobody dies permanently. Superman died in 1992, Spider-Man died in 2013, Wolverine died in 2014, and here in 2022, DC has just announced that in an upcoming issue of Justice League, they’re going to kill off all of their popular superheroes, and Zatanna. They always come back.
But Superman was the first comic book movie, and they hadn’t established any ground rules yet. The film has been ping-ponging from one genre to another, including psychedelic space opera, screwball comedy and James Bond villainy, and over the last ten minutes, it’s taken a strong swerve into disaster movie.
And if you watch 1970s disaster movies — The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, The Towering Inferno — then you know that there’s always one personable character who gets sacrificed, in service of the drama.
And Lois Lane is dead.
At least, if she’s not, then they’re doing a damn good imitation, because getting crushed in a car is rough. It’s not a graceful swan dive off a cliff, where there’s some possibility of tragic romance. This is you and your shitty rental car falling backwards into the ground, and getting pummeled by aftershocks until your lungs are filled with pebbles and broken glass. This is you realizing that you’re dying, and trying to fight your way back up to the surface, and you keep on trying with absolutely no chance of success, because you are now fully aware that these are your last moments and they suck.
This is you being murdered by the world, for no reason. You’re not sacrificing yourself so that others could live. You’re not being punished for making a bad choice. This is not even about you. But here you are, helplessly drowning on dry land, in pain and in darkness.
So, yeah, a little respect, please, for the death of Lois Lane. If anybody thinks that this is a cheap stunt because of the way that it gets resolved, then they’re not focusing on the important thing, which is these two people that we’ve fallen in love with, suffering.
Which is to say: yes, the ending works. It’s fine if you want to pretend that there’s some rational adult inside of you that looks logically at the end of movies and says things like, “Well, if he could travel backwards in time to fix all of his mistakes, then nothing bad would ever happen and he would always win,” and you think that’s some kind of critique.
He’s Superman. Nothing bad ever happens, and he does always win. That’s why you’re watching a movie about Superman.
So what they’re doing is giving us a situation that is so sad and dirty and awful and unacceptable to us as members of the audience that we will accept pretty much any goofy thing that they need to do, in order to undo this. At least — sorry — also, it needs to look cool.
As we’ve seen, the purpose of blockbuster movies is to pack as many people as possible into a movie theater, preferably on a hot day in the summertime, and produce a shared emotionally cathartic experience. Spending an hour making us fall in love with Lois Lane, and then pointlessly, painfully murdering her in front of our eyes, is guaranteed to stir us up. Hot blood, in other words, cries for vengeance, and that’s when you are lifted by the hair and go crazy.
And Superman says: fuck it, this is not the end of this story. I will personally punch reality in the face, if I have to. This will not stand.
This isn’t how they originally planned to end the movie. The idea was that Superman and Superman II would be a two-part story, with a cliffhanger at the end of the first movie.
In the shooting script, Lois falling into a crack in the earth was no big deal, just a minor moment of temporary peril. Superman saw her in time, picked the car up out of the crack, got her out, dropped her on top of a mountain, and then went off to fix other stuff. The big emotional thing that we were supposed to care about was that the missile that he pushed out into space hit the swirly Phantom Zone mirror, and then Zod and Non and Ursa emerged and yelled “Free! Free!”, and then: to be continued in Superman II.
Flying around the world and turning time backwards was the big finish for the end of Superman II; that’s how Superman would make Lois forget that she found out he was Clark Kent. But while they were shooting, they decided, screw it, let’s actually give the first movie a real ending that makes people feel something.
Now, there are people who contend that Superman flying around the world really fast wouldn’t make the Earth spin in the opposite direction — and if it did, then that wouldn’t turn time backwards. It would just, I don’t know, knock everything over and annoy people, or something.
Those people are obviously wrong. It would absolutely turn time backwards. I mean, how else could you explain why Lois Lane is still alive?
So, yeah. This is how we solve problems now. Like, let’s say you’ve spent the last five months writing about Superman: The Movie, and looking back on it, you probably could have cut about 25% of these posts and it would have been tighter and more interesting, and possibly more successful, and by now a whole bunch of people have given up reading your stuff, and you’re probably never going to get them back, and thinking about that makes you feel like you’re on a movie set inside a car crusher with stagehands dropping dirt on your face while you try to battle your way to the surface.
Do you give up? Do you move on? Fuck, no. I’ll tell you what you do. You fly around the world backwards, you turn back time, and you do it again. I can’t believe I never thought of this before.
The final Superman: The Movie post!
1.100: One Hundred and Thirty-Four Million Dollars
— Danny Horn