Movie Review: Superman 2 (1980)

Superman 2 (1980)

Director: Richard Lester

Writer: Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel (Character created by) Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman (screenplay)

Actors: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Terrence Stamp

Available on Netflix

Superman 2 is in every way I can think of, the best superhero movie that has ever been made.  I hold this to be true despite the frankly paleolithic special effects, the lack of emotional depth, and the hokeyness of the screenplay, because it is fun.  This movie is so fun that when Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and his dim-witted henchman Otis (Ned Beatty) escape from their cell using impossibly sophisticated holographic technology, they are lifted from the prison yard in a hot air balloon.  This is plainly ridiculous and fitfully hilarious, yet what is most exemplary about this scene and the movie as a whole is the way that despite the sometimes farcical nature of the events depicted, they are never boring.

This favorite childhood comic book of a movie opens on the trial of the three Kryptonians who will become this movie’s central villains: Non (Jack O’Hallaran), Ursua (Sarah Douglas), and one of the most iconic super villains in movie history, General Zod (Terrence Stamp).  They are banished to float through space forever, imprisoned in a constantly spinning pane of glass.  There is never any explanation of what this prison is exactly, nor why the shockwave created by a French terrorist’s bomb that Superman hurled into space (a long stupid story) frees them from it, but it is this freedom of narrative that is Superman 2’s greatest asset.

In an era where superhero movies seem to get darker every year, Superman 2 is a joy to behold, as are all performances of the movie’s somewhat ham-fisted screenplay.  Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor is completely goofy, wearing brightly-colored oversized suits as he talks about his disdain for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Hackman’s Luthor more than twice refers to himself as “the greatest criminal mastermind the world has ever known.”  While I don’t believe that a great criminal mastermind would go around telling everybody about it, the comic relief  Hackman delivers is the perfect counterpoint to the romance of Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder).

As the movie begins, Clark pines after Lois from afar, even when the two are sent in disguise as newlyweds to investigate tourism scams at Niagara Falls.  Kidder and Reeve do a splendid job of convincing the audience that their attraction is mutual, and when Clark finally admits that he is Superman, Ms. Lane’s eyes swoon with an unbridled desire.  Seeing Superman and Lois Lane lay next to each other in their marital bed (presumably) having consummated their feelings, the fifteen-year-old boy in everyone jumps for joy.  Joy is the word that first leaps to mind considering Superman 2, as it imbues every frame with childlike laughter.

Unknown-11.jpeg

Movie Review: Superman 2 (1980)

Poem: Struggle

Make me an offer I can’t refuse and I’ll take it

up the ass, whatever you want, kaleidoscope possibilities

fracturing inscrutably, like abstract pointillism

which is just dots, searching for each one’s other

exit route, in the blood of blades or the bottle of pills

that would be fun in moderation, goofy like a loony

tune playing a ukelele, drinking whiskey from the bottle

until down to the flag, until I am empty of everything

but consciousness pervades, telling me that I’m dead

already inside, missing the harm of joy

burn like lye in the vein, but just a side step

out the window, resting in a coffin finally.

 

Slapping in the face, me with an ice cold shivering

hand of a god, scraping the air with frost

collecting in a vat, the lies of the world

they told me in school, though they still lie

still breathing, flowing life in and out

of stories that are touching, not enough can be

true, but their inspiration informs of the coming

in a blizzard of genius, we know we can never relent

the pursuit of joy, whether or not ever it comes

treasure chest inbound, on the other side

look into the mirror, be proud of yourself.

Poem: Struggle

Poem: The Future

A recording, unfamiliar, pleading

pathetic parasite, phone booth floor-dwelling

cur, do sixteen pushups and hit the rowing

machine like you used to, it won’t make any

difference in the run, because you fell

in love, and now you know such joy

as you could not have imagined, unless

you were in the middle of a fit or something,

in a paranoid fantasy you may have dreamt up

a story like this, where all you could need

is nearness, getting to know yourself is hard.

 

Because I’ve never experienced a feeling

like this before, and to have it all the time zapping me

to my reaching out, and to feel a yipe

singe, ya know, so I get over it but goddamn

it feels like a hell bite, like oh shit what did

I do?  To let this crazy bitch, with more baggage

than a freight train, into my brain bleeding

ecstasy, making me drunk on it, and I forget

that I sound like a retard, it’s disgusting.

 

It’s not terrible, I know, and I understand

that you know what I’m saying, but goodamn it

I know what it sounds like, it sounds like

a grocer thinking “oh boy, now I gotta deal with this

shit I don’t need,” but that’s not even accurate,

it can’t be expressed in words because

it is so subtle I can’t really be sure I’ve ever seen it,

the genuine reaction to my glorious voice,

but I am sure, because I feel it the same way you do

staring into space, when you’re shadow is

a lamppost, I can go nowhere but straight

forward, into your arms a thankful grin.

 

Knowing yourself is worth nothing, for your love

is not you, holding reins with orders

barking, your champion is the spirit of dawn

and dusk, pulling you on chains to the dawning

adventure burning into the sky with a singeing

tail, chattering wordlessly with your old friend

in the darkness, passing out on Theta house lawn

where they don’t talk to you anymore, opening

the door to a knife cut horizon, carving you

a path, downward through time and space.

Poem: The Future