Rich Superman, Poor Superman

Rich Superman: Superman (1978) became Warner Bros. biggest selling film of all time (since surpassed) and spawned four sequels. Well, not unexpectedly, the reboot Man of Steel did record-setting business over the Father’s Day holiday ($125 million for the weekend – biggest June opening) and Man of Steel II has already been greenlit.

Man of Steel

I was a very small part of that. Jenny and I caught it at Biltmore Grande’s super deluxe RPX theater on Sunday. I used a FREE ticket from my Cinnamon Toast Crunch for hers and upgraded a FREE Regal Crown ticket to RPX ($5.50 even though the actual difference in ticket price is $4, go figure) for mine. The machine spat out a FREE popcorn (woohoo!) and Jenny and I both used their $3 off a soda mobile coupon of the week. Woot! $11 for two large sodas, a small popcorn, and two RPX tickets – score! Plus the tickets also spat out a FREE advance showing of The Heat on Tuesday evening for RCC members.

RPX

Speaking of RPX, the picture and sound quality are undeniably awesome. However, one of the major benefits is not listed on their advertisement. Because the base price for an RPX ticket is an additional $4, the theater is sparsely populated while the regular ones are full. Still I couldn’t imagine buying multiple $12 – $15.50 tickets without the various offers I take advantage of.

Poor Superman: Well, that would be Man of Steel in a nutshell but first, what happened after Superman?

Superman II (1980) was really just a continuation of Superman (especially as much of it was filmed at the same time) and was quite good. Many consider it better than Superman and there are two versions on home video – one by Richard Donner and one by Richard Lester.

Superman III (1983) was pretty bad – No Zod, no Luthor, no Brainiac, our villain is just a businessman. Worse, Superman essentially shares top-billing with a computer hacker played by Richard Pryor. Worse again, Lois receives less than five minutes of screen time. The only thing likely to make you forget how bad Superman 3 is…

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987): Yay for bringing back Hackman as Luthor and Kidder as Lois Lane but this movie is just awful. The special effects are horrendous, the story (co-written by Christopher Reeve) is just as ridiculous as Superman III (though more heartfelt), and only Christopher Reeve seems to want to be in this.

Superman Returns (2006): Almost two decades since the last sequel, they got the brilliant idea to have Bryan Singer helm this. Strangely, this was disastrous on two fronts. First, because Singer was helming this, directorship of X-Men: The Last Stand fell to Brett Ratner. Second, Singer, a marvelous director and clearly skilled at handling comic book movies, decided to slavishly ape the first two Superman movies. Themes that worked in the first two Superman movies had become trite and cornball in the new century.

Kevin Spacey was a good choice to replace Hackman as Luthor though he wasn’t able to do much with the role. Luthor again is an egomaniacal real estate tycoon (as in Superman) – making the plot feel stale. Adding to the staleness is the return of Marlon Brando as Jor-El in some previously unused footage. A salient plot point revealed late in the film is obvious to everyone from the beginning, except, apparently, Superman.

Superman Returns was not a disaster – it just wasn’t good. It wisely ignores the events of Superman III and IV and you can ignore it.

Man of Steel: Tomorrow