Classic Film Review: Superman II (1980)

Marvel vs. DC:

Superman II, 1980

Directed by: Richard Lester

Starring: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Jack O’Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Susannah York, Terence Stamp


The sequel to Superman sees Superman/Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve, Superman) finally reveal himself to Lois Lane (Margot Kidder, Superman) while battling three Kryptonians, General Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O’Halloran), and once again coming up against Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman, Superman) who escaped from prison to side with the three Kryptonian criminals.

While I didn’t enjoy this film as much as Superman, it was still a very fun film with a very fun final battle with the odds stacked firmly against Superman, as not only does he have to battle three Kryptonians of equal strength, but the genius of Lex Luthor and the fact he needs to save the watching population. It made it all the more exciting to see a Superman film where he’s not battling Kryptonite. I get it’s a major part of his life, and the only real way to kill him, but when a vast amount of Superman films simply just have the villain (be it Lex Luthor or Batman in the DCEU) throw Kryptonite at him it gets kind of old, so it was an exciting change of pace. There are a few issues I had with its plot and logic, though, that made me enjoy it less.

Firstly, this film has quite possibly the worst civilian population I’ve ever seen on film. Seriously, they just watch as four aliens are battling each other, and yet they don’t run away. One fight goes on top of a car and the car’s owner just looks out of her window and smiles. It’s quite poor in the sense that the filmmakers decided to pay very little attention to the detail surrounding the fight. And the main issue I had was with Lois Lane’s story arc. Initially we’re presented with her and Clark’s friendship, and the fact she doesn’t see him as anything more, then she discovers his identity as Superman and immediately proclaims her love. Superman then uses a machine to take away his powers, rendering himself a human, and he adopts the personality of Clark Kent, the side of him that Lois didn’t love at the beginning of the film. Superman losing his powers didn’t really effect the plot all too much (except for one moment later on) so it seemed strange he’d be willing to lose all his power to be with her when she wanted Superman.

But that doesn’t really effect the plot too much, nor the overall enjoyment of the film. The acting remains as solid as ever and the plot progresses at a nice pace, with the break-away from the phantom zone by the three Kryptonians, to them landing on earth in a small town before taking over that, then the army, then the White House. It all feels natural, albeit slightly rushed, and each scene feels fully fleshed out. The film could have done without Superman taking away his powers as it does slow that part down a little bit, and the fact it’s an irreversible process that he reverses moments later means it can be just as good without.

And considering the time it was made most of the visuals and sounds still look impressive, except for the flying. The flying, for the most part, looks ridiculous, so it’s surprising to see them fly so much, but the soundtrack is beautiful and the visuals are impressive, even now we’re nearly 30 years later.

A very fun sequel, continuing on with Christopher Reeve’s time donning the red cape, and seeing him battle an even greater set of adversaries while also tackling Clark Kent’s issues really fill this film up, and it successfully manages to blend them all in to an entertaining film. There are a couple of issues, but they could be more personal with Lois Lane’s strange romantic story arc and the uselessness that is Superman deleting his powers.

Plot: * * *                  Acting: * * *              Writing: * * *                        Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * *

3 thoughts on “Classic Film Review: Superman II (1980)

  1. That’s so hilarious as per the civilian population being like “whatevs” . . . I didn’t pick up on that when I watched it again a few years ago.

    There’s a charm to these movies.


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