Sunday, December 2, 2012

Superman II: Kal-El is Horny

In my ongoing efforts to visit the sins of the father on my children, I recently watched "Superman II" with them. While "Superman I" holds up quite well, the second one really doesn't.

For one thing, the effects in "Superman I" were actually quite good. Chris Reeve really does look like he's flying -- it looks effortless and quite natural, with little evidence of green screens or wires or anything else. The effects just weren't as believable in the sequel. But beyond that, the dialogue in the second one is pretty miserable. While Lois once sounded like an ambitious cynic, she now sounds like a naive, lovelorn putz; it's hard to imagine why she's so highly valued as a reporter. Clark/Superman is laden with some pretty cruddy dialogue, as well. Either Terence Stamp and Gene Hackman had better writers, or they just had the acting skills to pull off some pretty silly lines and recognize them for the camp they were.

But one of the things that struck me as particularly weak was Superman's big decision: giving up his super powers for a chance to hook up with Lois. After they confess their love for each other, Superman goes off and has a conversation with a holographic image of his mother, asking her how he can consummate his love with Lois. (Someone's got issues.) She tells him that to be with a mortal, he has to become one, and that this move is irreversible. And he's all, "Where do I sign up?" I mean, I guess this is hardly the first guy to make an important and rash decision just for a chance to get laid, and there's no reason Kryptonian men should be any different from Earth men in this regard, but you'd think he'd have given this just a tad more thought. His powers and responsibilities are pretty important to who he is. I mean, he couldn't have saved Lois' life in the first movie (multiple times!) if not for those super powers. On a more practical level, how the hell do they get out of the North Pole if neither of them can fly? And what the hell are they going to eat?

But he ignores all this, enters the molecule chamber, and has his super powers stripped. He then emerges as a regular human, wearing a clean white shirt and lacking the hair gel. He and Lois hug, and then, literally five seconds later...
Boom. How convenient that he has a king-sized bed in his fortress of solitude. Those crystals are amazing, and surprisingly comfortable. This is a pretty impressive quid pro quo. Clark actually motions toward the bed while still hugging Lois, with the look of a guy who just bought an expensive meal or got a vasectomy and is hankering for some gratitude booty.

Clark also becomes hardly the first guy to pay an extraordinary price for sex and quickly regret it, as the very first human being he meets after they return to society beats the crap out of him. Then the TV shows the president surrendering to General Zod and exhorting Superman to save the world. So the honeymoon ends rather abruptly. And then, most disappointingly, Clark finds that he can still get his superpowers back by building a new fortress. Huh? So could any human do that? And how did he get back there anyway? (Note: this would be even harder today, given the receding polar ice.)

So it ends up being a kind of cheap "Last Temptation of Christ" story, with Superman being offered a chance for worldly pleasures in exchange for his job as savior. Only, unlike Christ, he actually gets the worldly pleasures (for a few minutes, anyway), and then gets to give them up and take his old job back. He gives up his chance for Lois only after he already slept with her. Typical guy.

59 comments:

L'il Steve said...

Spot-on. Mostly I just love that you went to the trouble to write all that.

Seth Masket said...

Thanks. Some things just have to be written.

Josh Putnam said...

Ugh. Don't get me started on this one. I, too, tried to watch this flick with my kids over the summer and to my dismay found I was watching a completely different movie than I had remembered from my youth. My issues then, and yours now, Seth, I think, are attributable to the same thing. There are two different cuts of Superman II and a hell of a lot of behind the scenes controversy to go along with it. You really aren't that far off about Hackman and Stamp having different writers.

Seth Masket said...

Whoa, Josh! Good details!

Seth Masket said...

Meanwhile, I noticed John Ratzenberger appeared in both films -- as an Air Force missile control officer in the first and a NASA flight control engineer in the second. So are we to believe that after twin 500 megaton nuclear weapons go awry during testing and head toward civilian population centers -- easily the worst peacetime screwup in U.S. military history -- the ensuing shakeup was so thorough that the people involved were placed in charge of NASA's moon program?

Actually, that sounds about right.

Anonymous said...

i was most disappointed with the outfit kalel was wearing when he came out of the chamber. in the first movie, his parents wrap him in a blue, red and yellow satin blanket. obviously foreshadowing the outfit that he'd ROCK when he leaves the fortress of solitude at age 30. so where's this theme when he emerges in his 'i'm gonna pork lois lane' suit?
how bout a zoot suit? blue jacket and pants, red pin stripes and shirt, and yellow tie/hat/shoes?

Seth Masket said...

Or maybe just the Underoos version of his previous outfit.

Anonymous said...

Just a factual correction - anyone who just had a vasectomy will not be looking for gratitude booty, not for a few days at least.

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