Monthly Archives: February 2022

Superman II 2.26: The Preposterous Invasion

Three lunatics have come from beyond the stars to exert their will on the indigenous population, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re still getting the hang of it.

They come from Krypton, this trio of voracious demons, a planet where everybody stands around under a giant ice bubble wearing spectacular gowns and arguing about the pronouncements of the Science Council. I imagine that the first thing the conquerors are looking for is the nearest depository of glowing crystals, to snap them all in half and then stand around looking smug.

Earth has come as something of a surprise to the vanquishers; the first thing that General Zod noticed on planetfall was the curious existence of bodies of water, just lying around on the ground being wet. So that’s going to be a problem, vanquishing-wise. If you plan to rule the Earth and you’re unfamiliar with the concept of water, there is a fairly steep onboarding process ahead of you.

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Superman II 2.25: Before The Flood

I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time, it turns out. I had a feeling I might be. I’ve spent the last six months writing an endless series of little articles about the Superman movies, and none of them have started like this:

I remember taking a car ride with producer Ilya Salkind to Pinewood Studios when Superman: The Movie was just in its final stages of post production.

That’s how Mike Munn started his article in Starburst about The Making of Superman II, and the thing that I love about it is how casual he is about dropping an unspecified “car ride” into the conversation.

There’s no need to get into whose car it was, or why he was in it with Ilya. It just happens to be a thing that he remembers, that’s all. Sometimes people remember things. It’s no big.

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Superman II 2.24: Kneel Before Clark

Intrepid reporter Lois Lane finally has that big scoop she’s been looking for, all these years: the true identity of Superman, high-flying space angel and secret king of the sky. I’d like to say that she uncovered it through smarts, determination and a keen insight into the human condition, but the fact is, it just kind of fell on top of her while she was thinking about hair care products.

But never mind that indignity; this is one of the great discoveries in human history. There’s nothing that even the most scattershot of directors could do, to take this moment away from her.

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Superman II 2.23: The One Where Lois Finds Out

It’s the most significant moment in Lois Lane’s significant moment-heavy life, so it’s a shame that it begins with her talking about what a fool she is.

“Boy, I sure must have looked like an idiot,” she mutters. Her hairstyle doesn’t look that bad. Oh, she means the river thing. “Jumping in the river, waiting for Mister Wonderful… who obviously had better things to do.” I remember the days when Lois Lane was the coolest person in the world.

“Where’s my comb?” she asks. “Where’s my comb?” she repeats, with her head on a swivel. “God, not only have I lost my mind, I’ve lost my comb.” Then Clark trips over a pink polyester bearskin rug and falls face first into the furnace, and that’s how Lois didn’t figure out that Clark was Superman.

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Superman II 2.22: What Really Matters

Well, obviously nobody expected The Empire Strikes Back to make as much money as Star Wars. Nothing had ever made as much money as Star Wars except for Star Wars, and everyone in 1980 knew that sequels always made less money than the original film.

In 1972, The Godfather was the highest-grossing movie of all time with a $134 million domestic gross — but Part II, released in 1974, only made $47 million.

Then in 1975, Jaws became the highest-grossing movie of all time, taking in $260 million at the box office — and followed it in 1978 with Jaws 2, which made $78 million.

The Exorcist II made half of the first film’s gross; ditto for Smokey and the Bandit II, and even more so for Damien: The Omen II. The Airport sequels dropped $20 million with every release. Herbie Goes Bananas was the fourth film in the Love Bug series, and I think they actually ended up owing the audience money.

The Superman films followed the same pattern: the first movie in 1978 made $134 million, Superman II in 1981 made $108 million, and in 1983, Superman III made an embarrassing $60 million, which didn’t even crack the top 10.

But that same year, the Star Wars series did something surprising: the third film actually made more money than the second one did. Star Wars got $307 million in 1977, The Empire Strikes Back made $203 million in 1980, and then in 1983, Return of the Jedi made $253 million. So obviously George Lucas did something right with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, because his series made more money as it went along.

Still, money isn’t everything. Oh, wait, of course it fucking is.

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Superman II 2.21: First Contact

“Hmm, a primitive sort of lifeform,” Ursa muses, as she assesses the rattlesnake. Ursa’s just arrived on the planet, and she doesn’t know that you’re not supposed to pick up unfamiliar lifeforms. That snake probably had other things on its schedule for today.

Annoyed by the interruption, the snake strikes, burying its fangs in Ursa’s supposedly impenetrable skin. Wincing, she throws the reptile to the ground, and then sets it aflame with her magical heat vision.

“Did you see that?” she calls to her friends. “Did you see what I did? I have powers beyond reason here!”

Yeah, it’s called white privilege. A lot of us have it, unfortunately.

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Superman II 2.19: Die Hard

I grant you that life was simpler back then. In 1981, we didn’t have smartphones or streaming television, and the only computer I’d ever been in the same room with was a Commodore PET that could only run programs recorded on a cassette tape.

But even in simpler times, did we really need to be told in the instructions for a board game that you were supposed to “open up the gameboard and place it on a flat surface”?

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Superman II 2.18: Mother’s Day

Well, it’s not hard to understand why the Salkinds decided to cut Marlon Brando out of the second Superman film; he was currently suing them over money that they owed him for the first one. In fact, during the first movie’s opening weekend, he tried to serve them with a restraining order to get them to stop showing it, which if anyone had taken it seriously would have been one of those Great Moments in Chutzpah that would ring down through the ages.

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Superman II 2.17: The Curriculum

Kryptonian Memory Bank:
Education Crystal # Three-Zero-Eight
Earth Culture (Section B)
Student Evaluation Form: Kal-El

Message begins:

As per Science Council guidelines, Kryptonian Memory Bank instructors are required to administer the following student evaluation form at the completion of this Education Crystal.

As a reminder, you will be evaluating the course that begins:

“Kryptonian Memory Bank, Education Crystal number Three-Zero-Eight. Earth Culture (Section B). Trees, by Joyce Kilmer of the planet Earth. I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…”

Your evaluation will be sent to the Kryptonian Board of Education Crystals and will help us to improve the Education Crystal remote learning experience. Thank you for your participation.

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