In superhero films, there’s nothing like an origin story, of course, and the 1978 film develops that very well, right from the start — well, after bombastic, self-important credits that go on forever. From his being saved from the destruction of his home planet through Clark Kent’s youth on the farm through the early stages of establishing him in Metropolis as a reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper and developing his romance with Lois Lane. And Gene Hackman is inspired casting as villain Lex Luthor.
So it’s all the more dispiriting when Luthor’s cohorts come on the scene, a bimbo blonde (Valerie Perrine) and especially a bumbling gofer (Ned Beatty). Did Luthor really need that idiot henchman? Would a criminal genius really rely on someone so dumb? And they are so cartoony, it’s as if they wandered in from another soundstage where they were filming a B-level, poorly written comedy.
Of course, we can also complain that Lois, as played by Margot Kidder, is more ditsy and flighty than strong and intelligent, that the “Can You Read My Mind?” flying sequence is as hokey as those old serials, and that the whole spinning-the-Earth-backward thing is mind-bogglingly silly.
But so much of it is so good that I can still sit through all the goofiness and enjoy all the greatness.
Likewise, “Superman II” contains some very odd choices by the filmmakers but also has much to enjoy. (And the less said about the third and fourth movies in the Reeve franchise, the better.)
“Man of Steel” appears to be, at least in part, a remake of “Superman” and “Superman II” in the same way that “Star Trek Into Darkness” is a remake of an old “Star Trek” movie.
So is “Man of Steel” a remake or a reboot? Is it, like the “Star Trek” films, the same but different?
And will it supplant “Superman” as the best Superman movie yet?
Friday we find out.
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