WHAT IS IT?
Superman II (1980) is the direct sequel to Superman: The Movie (1978) and stars Christopher Reeve in the title role. The film features many of the characters and themes from the original movie, including the deadly threat of the exiled Kryptonian criminals led by General Zod.
Superman II was mostly filmed alongside Superman: The Movie, however some backstage disagreements saw original director Richard Donner fired from the project and replaced with former Hard Day's Night director Richard Lester. The completed film contains footage from both directors, although Donner is not credited for his input into the movie.
WIth Lester on board, new scenes were filmed, including the opening scene at the Eiffel Tower, however a number of actors did not take part in any reshoots. All of Gene Hackman's scenes in Superman II were shot by Richard Donner as Hackman refused to return after the director was fired, whilst Marlon Brando's scenes were completely removed from the film altogether.
Superman II was released to positive reviews, with many considering it to be the best Superman film out of the four Christopher Reeve-starring movies.
In 2006 an alternative version of Superman II was released direct-to-DVD called Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut. This version of the film incorporated around 80% of Donner's original material, including the original ending.
WHAT WAS GOOD?
First and foremost, up until the release of Man of Steel (2013), Superman II was the most action-packed Superman film. Featuring a spectacular standoff between Superman and the Kryptonian's in the heart of Metropolis, Superman II offered up huge spectacle and bold superheroics.
Largely thanks to Donner's input, Superman II also contained just about the correct balance of humour, with only a few dips into slapstick when Lester got involved. The opening Eiffel Tower sequence, whilst not originally intended for the movie, provided a good first act for the film and the final act removed the threat of Zod with a fairly satisfactory conclusion.
Reeve once again proved that he was the right guy to wear the tights and Hackman was perfect as a scheming Lex Luthor. Throw in the classic line, 'Kneel before Zod', and you have a great blockbusting Superman movie.
WHAT WAS BAD?
To be fair to Superman II the 'bad stuff' is minor and doesn't really stop any enjoyment. Director Richard Lester's slightly sillier moments are (as mentioned above) largely balanced out by Richard Donner's work, however the Kryptonian criminals aren't always shown to be as menacing as they could be.
Another downside of the backstage production problems meant that all of Marlon Brando's scenes as Superman's dad Jor-El were exorcised from the movie. To fill in the gaps, Susannah York reprised her role as Superman's mother, but this created a few plot holes in the final cut.
And then there was the 'super kiss'.
Throughout the course of the movie, Lois Lane works out Superman's secret identity, so during the conclusion of Superman II the star reporter is given a sort of amnesia, brought about by locking lips with the Man of Steel. It was a daft idea and should not have happened.
WHY PUSH THE BUTTON?
Are you crazy?!? You can't push the button on Superman II; it's a great movie! Grab some popcorn, sprawl out on the sofa and remind yourself how much fun Superman can be!