Tag Archives: trickster

Superman II 2.50: Ice Cops

One of these days, I’m going to write about a movie that isn’t actually two different movies. Specifically, that’ll be a little over a week from now, when I wrap up Superman II at post 2.55, and move on to a simple little boy-meets-girl thriller called Swamp Thing.

But in order to land this movie, I need to talk about two endings — Richard Lester’s theatrical cut, and the Donner Cut — which take different routes to get to the same frankly unsatisfying story point. And today, as we bid farewell to the giant Arendelle ice castle, I’ve actually got three different versions to discuss. I guess some people have a problem with letting things go.

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Superman 1.86: Another Day, Another Door

So this is why we don’t call Superman the World’s Greatest Detective; for a guy with super-speed, he’s a bit slow on the uptake. Lex Luthor has been sneaking around in the underbelly of this movie for almost an hour, stealing meteorites and messing with missiles, and Superman literally doesn’t even know who Luthor is until he gets hit with the villain’s supersonic Grindr profile.

I mean, I know it’s his plan, but Lex has to be a little put-out that he’s sitting there — 1.3 miles away, 48 years old, looking for Chat, Dates, Gloating and Comeuppance — and the only way to get his dream guy’s attention is to tell every dog in town how lonely he is.

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Superman 1.82: The Trickster

We’re currently four minutes into act 3 of Superman: The Movie — all of the mushy love stuff from act 2 is behind us, and from here on, it’s all about the hero confronting and defeating the villain.

The missile convoy sequence is the first time we see Lex Luthor getting up out of his lair and actually doing villain stuff, and it gives us the chance to see him in a new light. So far, we’ve seen Lex Luthor as a ranting mad scientist, a Bond villain and a purple-suited cartoon superfiend, but in this sequence, he assumes his true role, as a mythopoetic trickster figure.

Trickster figures appear in the mythology of many cultures around the world, including ours. The trickster is the wascally wabbit who exists to disobey the rules of whatever situation you put him in, the double-dealing renegade who uses cunning and creativity and funny voices to rewire the world.

We know the trickster by many names — Loki, Anansi, Reynard the Fox, Groucho Marx, Alexander Salkind. They’re thieves and mischief-makers, who move the world forward through deceit and upset and surprise. That’s why Lex got so excited when he learned about Superman; finally, he has a god to steal fire from.

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Superman 1.44: The Man Behind the Curtain

He’s had henchmen. He’s had cronies. He’s had dupes and hostages and occasional team-ups, and according to the comics, there’s a whole planet out there populated by knuckleheads who think he’s a hero. But he’s never had a sidekick before; it’s just not a thing that Lex Luthor does.

He doesn’t really have a sense of humor either, or a collection of wigs, or any kind of compelling backstory or motivation.

So this, right here? This is not a Lex Luthor that we’ve seen before. This is something new.

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Superman 1.2: It Was Ilya’s Idea

“Hello, I’m Ilya Salkind,” the man says, “executive producer of Superman: The Movie, which actually I guess everybody by now knows was called Superman on the screen.” We are one sentence into this DVD commentary and already I have no idea what he’s talking about.

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