Superman II (Theatrical Cut and Richard Donner Cut)


superman ii theatrical poster  superman ii donner cut poster

Year of Release: 1980 (Theatrical Cut), 2006 (Richard Donner Cut)

Genre: Comic Book

Related to/Remake of: Man of Steel, Superman: The Movie, Superman III (sequel), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (sequel), Superman Returns

Directed By: Richard Lester (Theatrical Cut), Richard Donner (Richard Donner Cut)

Music By: John Williams and Ken Thorne

Starring: Christopher Reeve (as Clark Kent/Superman), Margot Kidder (as Lois Lane), Gene Hackman (as Lex Luthor), Terence Stamp (as General Zod), Sarah Douglas (as Ursa), Jack O’Halloran (as Non), Valerie Perrine (as Eve Teschmacher), Jackie Cooper (as Perry White), Marc McClure (as Jimmy Olsen), and Marlon Brando (as Jor-El) (Richard Donner Cut only)

Basic Plot: After the events of Superman: The Motion Picture, Zod and his companions are freed from imprisonment in the Phantom Zone, and head to Earth, initially to rule over its inhabitants, but when Lex Luthor informs them of the existence of the son of the man they hold responsible for their incarceration, they decide to take out their revenge on Superman himself.  During this time, Lois Lane begins to have suspicions regarding Superman’s alternate identity, forcing Superman to make a difficult choice.

Rating (Out of 4): 3 (for both versions)

Pros: For the first time, we see the Man of Steel pitted against adversaries with the same strength and abilities that he has.  Terence Stamp is fantastic as Zod, Christopher Reeve once again nails the role of mild-mannered Kent/heroic Superman, and Gene Hackman steals every scene he’s in as the charming-yet-despicable Lex Luthor.

Cons: Some pretty corny dialogue at times, and leans heavily towards the melodramatic a bit too much.

Extra Comment: Unlike most “director’s cuts” which add a few extra scenes to flesh out characters, plotlines, etc., Richard Donner’s version of the film is quite different in key scenes than the version shown in theaters.  From Lois testing to see if she knows who Superman really is, to the film’s ending, it’s worth watching both to see the way each director shapes their vision of the movie.