Sunday Best: Superman Movies
Superman is not only an American icon, but he has a long history with film in various franchises. Of course, some movies were more successful than others.
I have added two animated movies to the list. I only included them because Superman was the only bill (unlike a Justice League movie). I also chose not to include the atrocious Supergirl (made by one of my favorite directors Jenotte Szcwarc) because even though he is mentioned, Superman never shows up.
So here are the best Superman movies from worst to greatest
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
-Someone once said that the iron clad rule of sequels is that only the last one loses money. I don't see how that couldn't be true for this mistake of a film. Everything about it is stale and wrong. I am embarresed by the fact that I saw this twice in the theater as a child. And I read the novelization ofthe movie.
-By now there is almost universal acknowledgment that making Richard Pryor the top bill of a Superman movie was a horrible mistake. I mean, just look at that poster... I mean... ugh! I mean next thing you know they'll make a Judge Dredd movie with a horribly out-of-place comedic sidekic- oh wait, nevermind.
Director Richard Lester finished filming Superman II after Richard Donner was fired. That accounts for the theatrical version of that film being so uneven. But Superman III is Lester's baby. Full of idiocy and pratfalls, it also carries with it luddite predjudice towards computers. But it does have that really awesome (though nonsensical) scene where Superman fights himself.
-This is not a bad film. It is also not a very good film. It feels like a wasted opportunity. I actually like the fact that Bryan Singer tied everything to the Richard Donner universe. But there were too many problems from the outset to make this movie fly.
-Based on the acclaimed Grant Morrison story, I actually like this movie better than the original comic. Morrison can be esoteric at best, but this movie makes the plot and events feel straightforward and emotionally present. In it, Superman finds out that he is dying and is trying to set the world right before he dies. Action-packed, yet touching
Superman vs. The Elite
-Another based on a comic, this one answers the question of why Superman is important in modern society. Here, the Last Son of Krypton takes on edgier heroes who are not afraid to Jack Bauer their way through the bad guys to get the job done. But when Superman stands on principle, the view him as weak and archaic. How can an old fashioned man like that be relevant today? This movie answers that question.
Man of Steel
-Zack Snyder made a Superman movie with a level of spectacular action that the subject deserves. Exciting and epic in every way.
Superman II (The Donner Cut)
Richard Donner's original vision for Superman II removes most of Lester's silliness and presents us with a more emotionally conflicted Superman who has to choose between his happiness and his duty. And Terrance Stamp rocks!
Superman the Movie
-This movie is an American classic in every sense. It is slow, especially in the beginning. But that slowness feels like the breaking of a new dawn, as Richard Donner opened up a new world with Christopher Reeve inspiring us to believe that a man could fly. The utter sincerity that this movie presents is the real magic. To this day, it fills me with wonder and inspiration.