Superman II 2.29: Home, and Other Dangerous Places

You know, they say most accidents happen in the home, and that’s even more true for Superman, because his house is a slippery Arendelle ice castle with huge holes in the floor that act as an unwanted houseguest disposal feature. It’s a nice place to visit, but you have to watch your step or else you’ll tumble into an eternal abyss. Also, there’s no place to sit down.

So it’s kind of a shame that the Fortress of Solitude in the movies doesn’t have any of the amenities of the comic book Fortress, like an interplanetary zoo or a business center. Superman has revealed himself to the woman that he loves, and now he’s brought her to his awesome secret Arctic hideaway, and she doesn’t really know what to interact with.

The only thing that you can touch in this enormous lobby area is the big crystal contraption up on the platform, and if you mess with that, you’re likely to summon a bald guy who reads poetry at you. On the other hand, depending on the random unlabeled crystal you choose, you might learn something about life on other planets, or scientific concepts beyond our current imaginings.

But the only person who would be interested in that would be a reporter, and Lois Lane isn’t a reporter. At least, not anymore.

The scene goes like this:

Superman:  You see, when my father died — my Earth father, I mean — I found this crystal.

Lois:  Huh?

Superman:  Uh… this is kind of hard to explain, but you see, it, um… it called to me.

Lois:  Oh.

Superman:  Yeah. And it brought me here. It helped me to build this place. Well… actually, it built it, really.

Lois:  (n/a)

Superman:  But, um… that’s when I found out who I really was, and what I had to do.

Lois:  (n/a)

Now, call me judgmental if you want, but I don’t think Lois comes off very well during that little exchange of ideas. I know that telepathic alien crystal architecture is outside her usual beat, but you’d think that a top-notch reporter like Lois Lane would take her notebook out of her purse and write some of this intel down, maybe ask a question or two.

I mean, even on their first date, when she was absolutely starry-eyed and flirting like her life depended on it, she got excited when he told her a new piece of information. To be fair, that was officially supposed to be an interview, and currently she’s off-duty, but I don’t see even a flicker of resemblance between these two Loises.

Lois in the first movie could process information, and come up with follow-up questions. She was always peeking around corners, and looking for a story. Now she’s got the biggest exclusive in human history, and Superman is feeding her utterly preposterous straight lines, and she has literally nothing to say.

Now, these scenes were the first to be shot when shooting resumed on Superman II with Richard Lester as the director, and I have heard people say that Margot Kidder is giving a bad performance here because she was upset about Dick Donner and Tom Mankiewicz being taken off the project.

But honestly, Kidder is not the problem here; it’s the new script by David and Leslie Newman. They’ve given Superman all of this as a monologue, and Lois doesn’t get any lines. So Lester keeps cutting to her for reaction shots, and she’s not allowed to do anything but nod.

Then when they finally give her something to say, it’s this:

Superman:  So what do you think? Do you like it?

Lois:  Like it? It’s incredible! I mean, not that it couldn’t use a woman’s touch, you know? Especially around dinner time.

which doesn’t mean anything.

Then it gets worse.

Superman:  Dinner! Oh… I’m sorry. You see, I don’t usually do too much about… Listen. Tonight, the sky’s the limit! Anything you want!

And then he immediately turns and flies away, without asking what she wants.

Now, this one is definitely on Lester. The script says “Anything you want, Lois,” and there’s a close-up on Lois, smiling. Then the scene cuts to Superman arriving on a tropical island to gather flowers.

That cut allows some time compression, where Lois gets to say something before he flies off. But the way it’s staged, he says the line and then leaps away with a whoosh sound effect, leaving her to sit down on an icy step and wait for him to come back.

So it’s just bad filmmaking, really; there’s no excuse for it. Bad character development, under-written script, an actress left to fend for herself with no material. And now she’s just sitting there in the cold, and she can’t even explore the Fortress and find the room with the tiny bottle city in it, because there aren’t any safety railings and the insurance would go through the roof. Still, it’s better than East Houston.

Tomorrow:
2.30: The King of Chickens


Footnotes:

The shot of Superman picking tropical flowers by a waterfall was filmed on location in Saint Lucia, in the West Indies. The production sent Reeve and a small unit to film the brief sequence, which I think is very effective. The opening shot shows the Jalousie Plantation, and the waterfall is called Diamond Falls, near the town of Soufriere. Tourists now know it as the Superman Waterfall, and you can visit it, if you make reservations in advance.

Tomorrow:
2.30: The King of Chickens

Chapters
Movie list

— Danny Horn

19 thoughts on “Superman II 2.29: Home, and Other Dangerous Places

  1. “Still, it’s better than East Houston.”

    I think I’d much rather be in East Houston. The PZ Villains are there making things interesting and moving the plot along. Nothing interesting happening in the Fortress until the boom-chicka-wawa scene.

    Imagine if feisty, tricky Lois of the Paris scene had gone exploring in the Fortress and found a machine that gave her super-powers, or the head of an ant, or something. Or setting up Chekhov’s gun with something she could use later in the climax with the villains to help Superman.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Not much to add. I’m no intrepid reporter with moxie, but I could think to say, “Show that to me,” or “How does that work?” Hard to believe Lois couldn’t say that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I ever noticed before, but why is Lois dressed like that and not wearing a parka? If memory serves, Luthor and his moll didn’t take off their parkas when they snuck in earlier, and really, why would his Fortress of Solitude need central heating? 🤔

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have never thought of the fortress as actually being made of ice. From the first time I saw the first Superman movie, I always assumed it was made of large white crystals, just like the structures on Krypton. The green crystal somehow converted the water to crystal as it constructed the fortress (why not? If a man can fly, water can be turned into a crystal). For that reason, I’ve never thought that it should be cold in the fortress. It clearly has some kind of energy flowing through it. There are lights (we don’t see them, but it definitely isn’t dark) and that crystal console and all the holograms and projections have to come from somewhere. So I would assume whatever generates the power and light also generates some amount of heat when necessary. Since Krypton is all about crystal technology, I guess there’s some kind of crystal that can generate and/or store energy to power the fortress tech.

      Lex & Mrs. Teschmacher didn’t take off their parkas because…they just didn’t. If you aren’t planning to stay long, why bother to take off your coat?

      Again, I have clearly thought too much about these things.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Overthinking at its finest! Looks like you put more effort into making sense of it, than the original comic writers and artists did when they came up with this stuff! And more care than the writers of this movie. Love it!

        Thanks again Danny for assembling this ragtag fleet of comics and film geeks, fleeing from the Salkind/Spengler tyranny of bad money, bad scripts, careless production and direction, on our lonely quest to a shining planet, known as… Houston.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Well, technically water is a crystal every time you freeze it, but definitely more going on in this structure.

        Like

  4. “Also, there’s no place to sit down.”
    But there’s a bed. Total bachelor pad.
    When I saw this I wondered if it was improvised. I’m really surprised to find it was written that way.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Lois isn’t a reporter anymore, no. A reporter delivers information to other people. Here, information is being delivered to her, information so overwhelming that she can’t think of any questions to ask, or anything to say other than an awkward attempt to be witty while asking to stay. That’s why I like her scenes in this part of the movie- she makes me see it from her point of view, and I’m sure I would act just the way she does given this incomprehensible situation.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Crikey, this movie is awful. This entire segment is so…this is the best they could come up with? I believe Margot Kidder’s fed up, Lois’ arc in this movie is of the ‘look awestruck, wring hands’ variety.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. this genuinely made me sad to read. i was the most saddened by john karlen’s passing, but it strikes me that so few of these folks are left, and they brought me so many hours (years!) of joy. it’s strange to see the actors who you thought were the bee’s knees all going away. the loss of gene hackman is going to be lousy, too.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s