As students of the cinema will readily appreciate, the difference, auteur-wise, between the Donner-directed Superman movies and the Lester-directed Superman movies is that Richard Donner gave a shit and Richard Lester clearly did not.
That’s why the flying scenes in Superman III are so disappointing. In the original movie, Donner was willing to spend untold months and millions perfecting the technology, while Lester figured you could just put a shot of Christopher Reeve holding his arms out on top of a picture of the landscape, problem solved.
But if you really want to see the full extent of Lester’s that’ll-do pragmatism, just look at the pathetic little patch of weeds that he chose as the location of the film’s picnic scene.
Continue reading Superman III 4.23: Sure, the Picnic →
Now, I have to admit that this one has a pretty good excuse, compared to other Save My Baby Ladies in her weight class.
Your typical Save My Baby Lady has left her infant unattended in a flammable apartment building playing with a pile of oily rags while she goes out to the pachinko parlor, and she comes home just in time to realize that she’s going to need a superhero, tout suite. “Save my baby!” she cries, and all of a sudden it’s everybody else’s problem, as seen in Backdraft, Spider-Man and Hero at Large.
In this instance, the Save My Baby Lady has made the simple mistake of going out shopping with her baby, while three sky tyrants beat the hell out of a guy in aerial warfare directly overhead. One of them just got knocked into the Empire State Building, and the radio antenna snapped clean off, now plunging in the direction of down towards this formerly carefree consumer.
Everybody else has the good sense to scuttle for shelter, but Save My Baby Ladies have a strict stand-your-ground policy. “Oh, my god!” she screams. “My baby!” And then she tries to cover it with her body, which is sweet but not a lot of help.
I mean, I don’t want to blame the victim, although to be honest, they are trending super blameable right now.
Continue reading Superman II 2.42: Save My Baby!! →
The thing is, everybody thought that Superman would fail: it would look silly, the flying wouldn’t work, it would collapse under the weight of its own budget. Most importantly, everyone thought it would be too square for the seventies: a man in a cape fighting unironically for truth, justice and the American way, in an America that had lost its taste for unsullied superheroics.
So when Superman turned out to be an enormous hit, it knocked us back a step, forcing us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: are we as cool as we think we are? Do we believe that truth, justice and the American way is a workable ethic in this fallen world, and that an individual with power and talent would ever choose to commit himself to the general good?
Those are difficult questions to answer, and in our time of need, we turned to the nicest TV star that we could think of, who wasn’t currently on public broadcasting.
Continue reading Superman II 2.12: The Nice Guy →
Well, you know what they say: there are two sides to every story, and vice versa. The other day, I told you about the narrative pressures in the early days that encouraged the writers of the Superman comic books and radio show to change the characterization of Lois Lane, gradually making her more friendly towards Clark so that the two of them could get involved in a wider variety of stories.
But that change in Superman’s universe caused an equal and opposite reaction — creating a flip side, parallel version of Lois from the upside down, who gradually turned darker and meaner, until she became Superman’s first recurring supervillain. It’s time to break the silence about the year of evil Lois clones.
Continue reading Superman 1.40: Everyone Looks Like Lois →