Superman II

Year: 1980
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Richard Lester
Producer: Ilya Salkind
Writer: Mario Puyzo/David Newman/Leslie Newman
Cast: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Terence Stamp, Sara Douglas, Jackie Cooper, Ned Beatty, Valerie Perrine, Jack O'Halloran, Marc McClure

The battle Richard Donner fought with the Salkinds over creative control came to a head after the first film. Any film geek will tell you he filmed most of the footage that appears in Superman II, his producers firing him and using it along with gaps filled by their new director Richard Lester.

While not as spectacular or novel as the original, it's still a good story well told, and gave no indication of the depths the franchise would sink to in ensuing efforts.

The three criminals sentenced and imprisoned in the giant interstellar sheet of glass on Krypton at the beginning of the first film have found their way to Earth after being accidentally released from their purgatory by a nuclear blast.

Finding a fertile planet of weaklings to lord over ('Men. To Kill' says villainess Ursa when asked what she wants), the trio decide to stay, and when Lex Luthor (Hackman) escapes from prison he throws his lot in with them to do away with his arch enemy.

For Superman (Reeve), the timing's terrible. He's just decided to tell Lois (Kidder) who he really is so he can declare his love and marry her. Not only he immediately get beaten up by a redneck in a greasy diner, he then learns he has to rid the Earth of the worst of Krypton's worst.

The action and thrills are good, and while not as distinctive as his origin story, it's worth seeing thanks to Donner's invisible input.

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