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5 Things You May Not Know About 'Superman II'

by Oliver Lyttelton
April 19, 2012 1:58 PM
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3. 25 years on, Donner would finally get the chance to have his version seen.
Donner would go on to direct megahits like "Lethal Weapon" and "The Goonies," and did his best to distance himself from the 'Superman' series, even as some of his footage resurfaced in a longer cut for international television. But in 2001, six tons of footage resurfaced in a vault in England and Donner was invited back to recut the film, although he told in an interview at the time that, "Quite honestly, I was done with it. I was finished." Fans campaigned for a new version however, and after issues with Brando's estate were resolved when Warner Bros. struck a deal to use his image in "Superman Returns," work on a new cut began in 2005, albeit without the involvement of Donner. He was eventually persuaded to participate the following year, and brought in original co-writer Tom Mankiewicz to aid him, and he recut the film from scratch from the original negative. "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut" was released on DVD that November to good reviews: it's overwhelmingly made up of footage shot by Donner back in the day, with almost half the film material that had rarely, if ever, been seen before.

4. The film was embroiled in a congressional investigation over Marlboro's product placement.
Product placement is a fact of life in most major movies at this point, but "Superman II" was responsible for one of the more controversial examples. Philip Morris paid $43,000 for a number of placements of Marlboro cigarettes in the film, including a giant billboard, and making Lois Lane a chain-smoker (something that she'd never been in fifty years of the comics). Unsurprisingly, even for the early 1980s, this was controversial, and it triggered a congressional investigation. By 1998, the tobacco companies were forced to sign an agreement pledging not to advertise to minors.

5. The film was presented in some theaters in Warner Bros.' short-lived sound system Megasound.
Just as the proliferation of Internet streaming has led movie theaters to invest in things like IMAX, 3D and the D-box to give audiences experiences they couldn't get at home, the coming of VHS similarly saw studios try and find new innovations to keep audiences coming to the multiplex. Warner Bros.' contribution was Megasound, which like Sensurrond (which had been around since the mid 1970s), utilized early versions of Dolby 5.1, placed speakers around the auditorium, and would send explosions and what not at a high volume, shaking the audience. First used on Ken Russell's "Altered States," the system was also used for "Outland" and "Wolfen" after "Superman II," but the gimmick died a swift death afterward.

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  • Lynn | May 22, 2012 11:20 PMReply

    This was boring! Nothing about the actors, if they got along?

  • alphabet | April 23, 2012 8:54 PMReply

    Enjoyed this read.
    Recently watched Donner's cut of Superman2 and thought it pretty lame.

    There's a scene towards the end (in both versions i think) where Superman goes to pick on a dude who bullied Clark earlier in the film (when Supes/Clark had no powers). Superman would never do this - is so completely out of character as to be insulting. Superman is not about revenge, would never have the confidence issues that lead to picking-on a hapless human - let alone while dressed he's as Clark.

    So yeah despite some love for it Superman 2 is kinda crap.

  • Stevo the Magnificent | May 21, 2012 9:28 PM

    C'mon man, "pretty lame... kinda crap ", REALLY? If Richard Donner had returned in late 1978/early 1979 to finish off the second film, it would have been darker, more mythic, and epic in tone than Lester's (admittedly decent) version, and much for the better, in my opinion. That scene you refer to does indeed seem contrary to Superman's nature, he doesn't seek revenge, so you're probably right about that, but if the abusive punter who beats up Clark in the diner was seen to be also bullying the other customers, then Clark returning to the diner to deal with him later would make sense in that he's protecting the populace from a particularly nasty person, but I see your point, although it's not a major flaw or plot hole as far as I'm concerned...

  • Will Kane | April 19, 2012 8:26 PMReply

    Enjoyed the article, but though based in the UK Richard Lester is American.

  • Michael Coate | April 19, 2012 6:03 PMReply

    Never mind. I didn't realize you were referring to the film's UK release.

  • Michael Coate | April 19, 2012 4:37 PMReply

    "It hit theaters 31 years ago today"...

    Um, SUPERMAN II opened (in the U.S.) on *June* 19th, not April 19th.

  • gman | April 19, 2012 3:53 PMReply

    lyttleton you are the best writer on the essentials, write more of those please! :D

  • sp | April 19, 2012 2:13 PMReply

    Playlist, I am loving these "5 Things You May Not Know " Series. Keep it up ! They are very informative.

  • Wash | April 19, 2012 2:57 PM

    Ditto. I claim I know everything... and I only knew 1 of these 5. Well done.

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