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  1. #1
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    Default Superman I vs. Superman II

    I ask this question as I was pondering it myself. Since there's been a lot of hype around Superman recently with Dawn of Justice being released, I decided to download the old movies to see how they stand-up to the modern day movies. I always had fond memories of Superman when I was a child as I loved the comics & I remember loving the films, although I was too young to really remember the ins and outs of them all. Logic told me that the first two are probably going to be better as usually the more they milk it, the worse things get. I purposely didn't look at any reviews so I could go in with an open mind. I must say, I wasn't far wrong. Although there were some ok bits in the last two movies, they weren't a patch on the first two movies. It was from the first two movies that I recalled the most vivid memories. The villains in the second movie were awesome and I enjoyed the story of Superman renouncing his powers whilst they wreak havoc on mankind but then returning to sort them all out at the end. That's probably why the second one edges it for me but it was the first movie that got me so hooked in the first place. Christopher Reeve was perfect for this role, can remember the day he had his accident like it was yesterday and the day he died, such a shame. The new movies just haven't been hitting the same heights. I need to pick myself up a Superman comic now to see what memories that conjures up.

  2. #2
    Mighty Member Adekis's Avatar
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    I have a lot of problems with the first two movies. Christopher Reeve's performance is 100% perfect, but I actually think it gets better in Superman III, when he starts portraying Clark as a a fuller person instead of just a disguise. I don't think Superman's relationship with Lois Lane has a lot of depth or realism to it compared to his relationship with Lana in Superman III, and Lois herself measures up poorly to her predecessors: Kidder's Lane lacks both the no-nonsense badass attitude of Phyllis Coates and the charm of Noelle Neil. Superman III also has an action scene for a Jimmy Olsen who is otherwise fairly one-note gee-whiz in the first two films. Jackie Cooper is a very memorable Perry White, but his dialogue consists of so many cliches and one-liners and his screen time is so little that he never really gets to flesh out the role. Hackman's Luthor is a comical joke, to say nothing about how irritating Otis and Miss Tessmacher can be.

    I do think that the time-travel climax of the first movie is a cop-out, not because Superman shouldn't be able to time travel but because he cannot change events from his own past! There were hard-and-fast rules for this at the time in the books, to prevent Superman from doing just the sort of deus ex machine he did in the film, and contrasted with the beautiful Krypton from the comics at the time, the one in the films was monotone and boring. Superman II gets even worse. Superman, Non, Ursa and Zod start pulling powers out of nowhere, powers with no basis in the comics at all, but what's worse is that his reasons for giving up his powers are inadequately explained ("Son, you must give up your powers to sleep with Lois." "Why?" "Reasons.") and the mind-wipe kiss at the end of the movie is a terrible breach of Lois's rights and privacy, and the second worst thing I've ever seen Superman do besides that episode of Adventures of Superman where he leaves crooks at the top of a mountain to die.

    None of which is to say that Superman I and Superman II aren't enjoyable, they certainly can be. I just think that their reputation is more based on their undeniable charm than on actual, you know, good writing and acting. You should absolutely pick up Superman comics from both now and the 1970s when the movies came out- there's some phenomenal stuff to get your hands on, and for my money, a lot of it is better than those films.

    But that's just my opinion though.

  3. #3
    Phantom Zone Escapee manofsteel1979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adekis View Post
    I have a lot of problems with the first two movies. Christopher Reeve's performance is 100% perfect, but I actually think it gets better in Superman III, when he starts portraying Clark as a a fuller person instead of just a disguise. I don't think Superman's relationship with Lois Lane has a lot of depth or realism to it compared to his relationship with Lana in Superman III, and Lois herself measures up poorly to her predecessors: Kidder's Lane lacks both the no-nonsense badass attitude of Phyllis Coates and the charm of Noelle Neil. Superman III also has an action scene for a Jimmy Olsen who is otherwise fairly one-note gee-whiz in the first two films. Jackie Cooper is a very memorable Perry White, but his dialogue consists of so many cliches and one-liners and his screen time is so little that he never really gets to flesh out the role. Hackman's Luthor is a comical joke, to say nothing about how irritating Otis and Miss Tessmacher can be.

    I do think that the time-travel climax of the first movie is a cop-out, not because Superman shouldn't be able to time travel but because he cannot change events from his own past! There were hard-and-fast rules for this at the time in the books, to prevent Superman from doing just the sort of deus ex machine he did in the film, and contrasted with the beautiful Krypton from the comics at the time, the one in the films was monotone and boring. Superman II gets even worse. Superman, Non, Ursa and Zod start pulling powers out of nowhere, powers with no basis in the comics at all, but what's worse is that his reasons for giving up his powers are inadequately explained ("Son, you must give up your powers to sleep with Lois." "Why?" "Reasons.") and the mind-wipe kiss at the end of the movie is a terrible breach of Lois's rights and privacy, and the second worst thing I've ever seen Superman do besides that episode of Adventures of Superman where he leaves crooks at the top of a mountain to die.

    None of which is to say that Superman I and Superman II aren't enjoyable, they certainly can be. I just think that their reputation is more based on their undeniable charm than on actual, you know, good writing and acting. You should absolutely pick up Superman comics from both now and the 1970s when the movies came out- there's some phenomenal stuff to get your hands on, and for my money, a lot of it is better than those films.

    But that's just my opinion though.
    My opinion matches yours.

    Chris Reeve's performance is the best thing about those movies.

  4. #4
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Welcome, read! Thanks for stopping by to chat.

    People who remember the two films from their proper era have an unshakable nostalgia. That is not to put any sort of negative implication to the opinion, but to say that as one outsider, I can't begin to muster up the reverence and appreciation older people have for those films.

    The first movie had wonky pacing, a general dullness polished with sap (John Williams is a master, but that stuff was pretty blatant), and a weak over arching plot. But this is nit picking, because the casting was pretty excellent and the key moments were all there. Some pretty good dialogue, too, aside from that brief but cringeworthy scene with the pimp. I'm okay with it being essentially the only superhero movie of its time, it's a very noble effort. I tend to forgive and even defend the last part, because I think that's a once ever movie sort of thing that you can't pull off otherwise.

    II was clearly worse to me.The cast was still good, but they had even less to work with... aside from Stamp making Disco Zod into an icon. Way better known than the comic version(s) to this day. I also liked that cellophane shield, that was hilarious. Reeve couldn't make the bar stuff, the power loss, the final battle, or the super kiss work. Hackman Luthor was Hackman Luthor. I'm not sure why people didn't like him in these movies, I mean Kevin Spacey could act circles around this main cast and yet he couldn't make this work either. Not that it was really much of a failure, as the "Polyesteryear" Luthor provided a nice bridge for Byrne some years later.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Thor2014's Avatar
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    Superman II, great villains and the battle through the city is one of the best fight scenes ever imo. Superman The Movie has its moments, but is mostly setup and world establishing.

    Time traveling was a cop-out but I fell for the emotion Reeve displayed over (temporarily) dead Lois. I was more ticked off by the memory erasing kiss cop-out at the end of SupesII, although that was fully expected. There was no way in a Pre-Crisis wprld that Lois would be allowed to keep her knowledge of Superman's identity.

    Also, was Donner really going to have Superman turn back time at the end of both II and I? That seemed a bit redundant.

    Its also interesting to note that the original screenplay for Superman III (and to be continued in IV) involved time travel, as well as Braniac, Mxy and a version of Supergirl.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Tuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor2014 View Post
    Also, was Donner really going to have Superman turn back time at the end of both II and I? That seemed a bit redundant..
    It was supposed to be the end of the second movie only. I don't recall how it ended up the end of the first one, but Donner was planning to come up with something else when he finished II . . . he just never got the chance. Being still stuck with the problem of Lois's knowledge of Superman's dual identity, and not having the original ending available to fix that, I guess Lester did what he could. Most anything would have been nonsensical.

    He used that ending again in the Donner Cut because it was what he had available. The Donner Cut is worth watching for fans, but it works mostly as a rough idea of what he might have done if had gotten the chance to finish the second movie. It's disjointed and jarring on its own.
    Last edited by Tuck; 04-19-2016 at 03:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Not a Newbie Member JBatmanFan05's Avatar
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    Both films are great. Even Lester doesn't ruin Superman II, though it certainly feels like he tries at times.

    Both films are a great way to experience pre-COIE Bronze & Silver Age Superman. The time travel thing was fantastic and so Silvery, and so emotional.

    Much as Hackman's Lex is entertaining some, he's one of the films' weaknesses (since something has to be). His Lex...not even really true to Bronze or Silver Lex. His role in the films is saved only by his acting chops and charm, not his or Donner's ideas on Lex.
    Last edited by JBatmanFan05; 04-20-2016 at 10:33 AM.
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  8. #8
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    It was supposed to be the end of the second movie only. I don't recall how it ended up the end of the first one.


    What I recall from the DVD extras is that when Donner realized it was going to be two movies, he knew that the ending for the second movie was a big finish and he would need that to impress the audience at the end of the first movie, so that's why he used that ending for the first, figuring he'd come up with something else just as impressive by the time the second movie would be finished.
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  9. #9
    Incredible Member kingaliencracker's Avatar
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    I much prefer Superman II to the original film and the Donner Cut. I enjoy the Donner Cut for what it was - a nod to fans - but as a standalone movie and with the test footage, it doesn't work as well as the completed version.

    The first movie was great but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't horribly dated. While the sequel has dated elements also, it's saved by the fight scene and the Lois/Clark dynamic.

  10. #10
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    I remember the first time I watched the first movie, there was a contemporary top 40 song playing on Lois' car radio right before she bites the big one--that shocked me out of whatever zone I was in at the time--because I wasn't viewing the movie as something happening in the present world of my experience. I was thinking of it as being in its own place in time--something informed by various cultural associations but not in the now.

    So whenever I hear someone say the movie is dated, I'm tempted to ask when was it not? The dated feeling of the movie is kind of what Donner and Unsworth were going for, I thought.
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  11. #11
    Fantastic Member Jon-El's Avatar
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    In a way, Reeve's performance is dated. His acting is great but that's an interpretation of Superman that would never play today. I love the movies though. The first one is still my favorite super hero film.

  12. #12
    Not a Newbie Member JBatmanFan05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    I remember the first time I watched the first movie, there was a contemporary top 40 song playing on Lois' car radio right before she bites the big one--that shocked me out of whatever zone I was in at the time--because I wasn't viewing the movie as something happening in the present world of my experience. I was thinking of it as being in its own place in time--something informed by various cultural associations but not in the now.

    So whenever I hear someone say the movie is dated, I'm tempted to ask when was it not? The dated feeling of the movie is kind of what Donner and Unsworth were going for, I thought.
    Amen. I hate the "it's dated" thing, and I will laugh when Dawn and MOS are derided as dated someday.
    Thank you AMericA for votinG for chAnge.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member dancj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBatmanFan05 View Post
    Much as Hackman's Lex is entertaining some, he's one of the films' weaknesses (since something has to be). His Lex...not even really true to Bronze or Silver Lex. His role in the films is saved only by his acting chops and charm, not his or Donner's ideas on Lex.
    I agree.

    It's annoying because Gene Hackman really is perfect casting for Lex Luthor - they just chose to use a much lesser character with the same name instead.

  14. #14
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    When I saw SUPERMAN (1978), the first time, I sat through it twice (because movie theatres let you do that in those days). And sure, the first viewing I was dealing with a lot of that dissonance between the Superman I had in my head and the one the movie gave. But the second time through, I let go of that and just watched the movie for what it was.

    We all have our fantasy about how we would make our own Superman movie, but I wouldn't change a thing in Donner's movie. It is what it is.
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  15. #15
    Fantastic Member Jon-El's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    When I saw SUPERMAN (1978), the first time, I sat through it twice (because movie theatres let you do that in those days). And sure, the first viewing I was dealing with a lot of that dissonance between the Superman I had in my head and the one the movie gave. But the second time through, I let go of that and just watched the movie for what it was.

    We all have our fantasy about how we would make our own Superman movie, but I wouldn't change a thing in Donner's movie. It is what it is.
    That's pretty much my feeling as well. I don't worry about how much the films hold up for current or future audiences. They were absolute highlights of my childhood. I can't describe the feeling I had as that giant "S" flashed across the screen! The film didn't mesh with what I read in the comics but I didn't care. I left the movie exhilarated! Just a joyous experience for me. I hope fans of the character have the same experience with the current & future films.

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