So I have come to this conclusion: Since Superman is pretty much unbeatable (Kryptonite only weakens him, otherwise nothing seems capable of harming the guy), the feature films surrounding Superman have to either present him with a comparable foe (as in Superman II and Superman IV), or make the film less about his fights, and more about his love affair with Lois Lane, and how his Super-ness (with a secret identity thrown in) gets in the way of having a real relationship.
The problem with this approach is that Lois Lane (as played by Margot Kidder, and, later, Kate Bosworth) is not a terribly interesting character. She’s presented as a star reporter, and willing to go great distances to get a story, and Margot Kidder really tries to make Lois seem sassy and independent, but Lois only comes across as a horribly unlucky and not terrifically smart character. Last week in The Series Project here on CraveOnline, I talked about the first two Superman movies, and included a rundown on both versions of Superman II. This week, we’ll look into Superman III and beyond, and, in these movies, we’ll see a rotating bevvy of potential mates for Superman who are much more interesting and dynamic than Lois Lane. Seriously, I don’t see what Clark Kent has for the woman. She’s brash, a bit mean, not a very good reporter (despite what we’re told in dialogue), and only seems to have fallen in love with Superman because, well, he’s pretty much a better mate than any other man on the planet, meaning her standards are pretty damn high.
The tone of these next few movies is all over the place. Many fans of the series consider 1983 to the present to be the “suck” period for Superman movies. And while there are a lot of hugely enjoyable bonkers moments along the way (hang on tight for both a killer robot and Faye Dunaway), I can see the argument. The first two Superman movies are pretty awesome, and I still stand by my statement that the 1978 original is still a kind of golden standard for all superhero movies. The sequels are all hacky, weird affairs that either tie in to topical elements, present oddball fantasy conceits or, in the case of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, amount to a highlight reel more than an actual film.
Strap in, kids. Get the grapefruits and the lube. We’re in for rough waters. The cycle of weirdness begins with…
Superman III (dir. Richard Lester, 1983)
Richard Lester also directed the theatrical release of Superman II, and also did Help! and A Hard Day’s Night. He’s better known for comedies, though, and in Superman III, it shows. Right up front, you may recognize that something is wrong. The credits sequences for the first two Superman movies featured John Williams’ bombastic grand music, and had us flying through space. This film opens on Earth, in Metropolis, with a long bizarre sequence of comedy set pieces that plays like a living Rube Goldberg device; a blind man accidentally grabs a road painting machine, a roller skater flies out of control, a penguin toy walks around on fire. These events interconnect to an event where someone almost drowns inside their own car. I understand that Lex Luthor was more comedic than threatening (a conceit that already angered some of the hardcore Superman fans), and that comedy was always a kind of subtle extra element to the superhero shenanigans, but the broad comedy elements are the centerpiece of Superman III.
Another thing you may have noticed: The film stars Richard Pryor. Pryor is a revolutionary comedian, and has been behind some awesomely funny movies, but in this film, he mugs and sputters and completely abandons all of his comedic acumen to present unsuspecting audiences with a completely obnoxious character. Did I mention that he’s the film’s central bad guy? That’s right. In case Gene Hackman’s comedy stylings didn’t bother the Superman fans enough, now we have a wisecracking computer expert at the antagonist reigns.
What’s more, the film’s plot is all over the map. Essentially two things are going on: Clark Kent (still the perfect Christopher Reeve) has returned to Smallville, KS for his high school reunion, and reignites the romantic flames for his would-be teen paramour Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole, although previously played by Diane Sherry in Superman). Clark’s mom is dead (she died in between movies) and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) is hardly in the film, as she’s on vacation in Bermuda. Kidder only appears at the film’s beginning and at the end in an epilogue. Thank goodness. Now the much more dynamic single mom Lana can get the attention she deserves. While in Smallville, he saves a chemical plant from burning down which would have released a cloud of super acid into the atmosphere. Remember that detail, as it’ll come into play in the film’s climax.
Oh, and an aside, while I’m on that chemical plant: Superman puts out the fires by flying to a nearby lake, freezing the top few inches with his breath, and lifting the enormous frozen disc over the flames. I understand Superman is strong, and could lift something that heavy, but wouldn’t a big disc of ice a mile across break under its own weight? Actually, that’s a conceit that comes into play in all of the Superman films (with the exception of Superman Returns): Superman carries things by parts that couldn’t support that thing’s weight. Ice discs, helicopters, buildings. Keep an eye out for the Statue of Liberty in a bit.
Anyway, the other thing going on, i.e. the actual plot of the film, revolves around the unemployable weirdo Gus Gorman (Pryor) who talks too much to the people around him, and even chatters when he’s alone. I imagine Pryor ad-libbed most of his dialogue, but none of his gibbering is funny. Gorman, as far as I know, is not a character from the Superman comics. Gorman, on a whim, applies for a job as a computer programmer in a high tech office. Computerization was still something of a novelty in 1983, and computers were still kind of inscrutable and vaguely menacing machines in action movies. Take a look at, say 1985’s A View to a Kill for a bigger illustration. Gorman, when he sits at a computer, finds he intuitively knows how to make it work, and, indeed, is soon using computers to hack into bank databases and steal money. He just sort of knows how programming works. Now, the most advanced level of computer programming I have personally done was a brief fantasy game I wrote in BASIC back in the 7th grade, and even I know that you can’t “intuit” a computer. That is the central conceit of the film: that anyone can accidentally be a computer expert. Gorman, when his skill comes to light, is hired by his evil boss Mr. Webster (Robert Vaughn) to hack a weather satellite and ruin coffee crops, making Webster’s own coffee more valuable. Hey guy: small potatoes.
Clark is meanwhile bonding with Lana, and having a rather sweet reunion. He does do some heroics, but mostly, he’s just trying to suss out his feelings for Ms. Lang, a single mom who is being pursued by Flash Thompson, or whoever that guy was. I like Lana a lot. She’s pretty and sweet and seems a good match for the aw-shucks hayseed that is Clark. She’d make a much better mate for Clark than Lois ever would. I’m sure the various iterations of Lois made her more interesting over the years (Teri Hatcher from the 1993 TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, for instance, was much more catty and exciting; and hotter), but in these movies, to reiterate, she’s just not that interesting.
Anyway, Robert Vaughn and Richard Pryor, along with Vaughn’s Hitleriffic sister Vera (Annie Ross), and his dumb-as-cheese ditzy blonde girlfriend Lorelei (the squeaky-voiced Pamela Stephenson from Not the 9 O’Clock News) hatch a new plot: Since Superman ended up saving the coffee crops they were trying to ruin with their hacked weather-controlling satellite (and the saving of the crops is frustratingly told in anecdote by Gorman, and not actually filmed), they decide to use the same satellite to scan for some rogue Kryptonite in space, reproduce some in a lab, and use it to kill Superman so they can get back to controlling the weather. Clear as mud. Gorman does find the makeup of Kryptonite in such a way, but finds that a percentage of the ore is unknown to humans. On a whim, Gorman fills in the missing pieces with “tar,” a substance he saw on his cigarette package. Remember kids: smoking can kill anyone. Even Superman.
In a truly bizarre scene, Gorman dresses up as General Patton, and presents his cigarette-laced Kryptonite to Superman at a local Smallville ceremony. The new Kryptonite doesn’t kill Superman, but it does immediately make him forgetful. He neglects some people in crisis so he can flirt with Lana. So it’s making him kind of rude. Also horny. Also a jerk. Also evil. Yup, the cigarette Kryptonite makes him evil. He stops saving people and starts getting drunk. His outfit gets dirty. He bones Lorelei. And just when you thought a Superman movie with an evil Superman and Richard Pryor couldn’t get any more bonkers, there’s an extended scene in a junkyard wherein Superman splits into “good” and “evil” halves, and fights himself to the death. We have seen the enemy, and he is us. The fight is cool, even if the conceit is a little dumb.
The climax is [insert noise of frustration]. Gorman, having sketched it out on a cocktail napkin, has designed the ultimate computer, which is essentially a Borg ship capable of repairing itself and adapting to attack. Vaughn builds the thing, and Superman goes to have a showdown with it. It uses lasers and weakening beams to get Superman. Gorman, however, being kind of a goofball and not so much a villain, decides to help Superman at a crucial moment, and gives Supes the upper hand. But not before the computer assimilates Vera into its programming, and turns her into an android. Read that sentence a few times for the full impact to sink in. Superman ends up using the boiling acid from before to melt the machine. Gorman is absolved, Clark gives Lana a big ol’ diamond ring (which he made by crushing a lump of coal in his fist), implying that they will wed. Sadly, this is the last we’ll hear of Lana.
Also Lorelei is a dumb blonde, but who’s secretly smart. She reads Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Does this pay off in some way? Nope.
Superman III is an extended WTF moment. It’s just bizonkers. It’s easily the oddest of the Superman films, and I include Supergirl in that statement. It’s also the one that goes for the most comedy, and is, ironically enough, the least funny. You’ll watch in confusion as the story gets more and more baffling. Remember just two films ago when Superman was epic and wholesome and awesome? What happened? What? How? What the f****************ck???
Breathe deep. Calm. Seek peace. Better now. Surely the next film can’t be all that baffling…
Supergirl (dir. Jeannot Swarc, 1984)
Let’s keep this weird a-rollin’.
Oo. I think that’s my new motto.
Hoo boy. Supergirl. Y’know what? I kinda dig Supergirl. It’s got a flavor all its own, and while it doesn’t have the bold superhero fun of the 1978 Superman, it does possess a strong streak of fun girl-power posturing that is never undercut by the film’s overwhelming campiness. Supergirl is weird and goofy, but never ever boring. What’s more, I think Faye Dunaway, as a be-wigged would-be witch, is perhaps the best (or at least the most wickedly sinister) supervillain in any of the Superman films. Supergirl does contain a common character with the Superman films (that would be Jimmy Olsen, played by Mark McClure, giving him the record of having appeared in the most Superman films), making it undeniable canon.
But we have to bend over backward to get Supergirl to Earth. Let’s see here…
So the conceit is this: An enclave of Kryptonian citizens escaped the blast that destroyed their home planet, and are hiding out in a shrunken-down microscopic pod, which is powered by a superbattery called the Tesseract. I mean the Cosmic Cube. I mean “The Omegahedron.” An eccentric Kryptonian named Zaltar (Peter O’Toole, seriously) has stolen the Omegahedron, and uses it, along with a magic wand, to make trees. This film looks a lot like an episode of "She-Ra: Princess of Power" brought to life. The oddball fantasy look and ideas all feel refreshingly bizarre. Not Richard Pryor bizarre, but the result of a mad creative mind, which is much better.
Anyway, our heroine is Kara (Helen Slater, crush to many), who accidentally loses the Omegahedron, and travels out of her microscopic prison, to Earth where it landed. I’m not sure if the Kryptonian city is on Earth, or in another dimension or what. The Omegahedron lands in front of a practicing witch named Selena (Faye Dunaway, seriously) who instantly recognizes its power, and takes it back to her funhouse headquarters, where she learns to cast spells, float party guests, piss off Peter Cook (seriously) and impress her perhaps-lesbian lover, played by Brenda Vaccaro. Kara, meanwhile, arrives on Earth in her Supergirl regalia (it just sort of appears on her body), and she learns that she can fly and stuff. A glowing bracelet will guide her to the Omegahedron.
This film is not so much about superhero mayhem or male-centered concerns of domination, and more concerned with female interests. The themes of the film are more about female camaraderie, machisma, and being accepted in the eyes of your peers, than they are about fighting and committing acts of violence. The women do discuss men (and, indeed, three women seem to fight over the same empty-headed hunk), but they also discuss their feelings and problems they’re having with their friends. Selena wants power, but to prove herself. She’s not a very complex character, and Faye Dunaway overacts the living hell out of her part, but Selena is more interesting and original than the Lex Luthors and Robert Vaughns we’ve had in the past. I bet she could kick General Zod’s ass with her hair alone.
Kara, a.k.a. Supergirl, gives herself the secret identity of Linda Lee, and enrolls at a nearby boarding school, where she begins to fall in love with the schoolgirl life. She plays on the hockey team, showers with the gals, and has a healthy and friendly relationship with Lucy Lane (spunky Maureen Teefy), Lois’s little sister. Lois Lane. Lucy Lane. Linda Lee. Lex Luthor. Lenny Luthor. Lolly lolly lolly. In addition to the expected x-ray vision, super strength, invincibility, and flying powers, Kara/Linda can also magically change her outfits and hair color. When she’s Linda, she’s brunette. Supergirl is blonde. I suppose that’s a slightly better disguise than Superman’s glasses.
Anyway, Selena gets more and more powerful, and the Omegahedron begins growing bigger and bigger. Eventually Selena is able to bend iron bars with her mind, cast love spells on a dumb hunk (Hart Bochner), and erect a giant mountain in the middle of town, where she’ll be the supreme ruler. This is all fun, as Dunaway chews through all the bizarre scenery she’s presented with. The climax is long, long, long, and takes us into the Phantom Zone at one point (the place where General Zod was being held prisoner) where she’ll get advice from Peter O’Toole.
What else is in this bonkers movie? Oh lots. Mia Farrow plays Kara’s mom. Kara falls in love with the hunky guy, kinda, but still remains independent. Lucy Lane dates Jimmy Olsen. A woman spins upside-down in the air for no good reason. Peter Cook is a vengeful math teacher. Kara fends off a rapist played by Matt Frewer. There’s a dragon. There’s a lot of product placement from A&W Root Beer. Lotsa fun stuff.
The film was originally released in a 124-minute version, but the awesome DVD release included a 138-minute version. There was even a 150-minute version at one point, so this film bends over backward to make itself seem mythic and epic. It’s got multidimensional travel, superpowers, black magic, sex, pseudo-Sapphic relationships, girl power antics, and a dragon. It’s not really mythic (in the interconnected comic book sense) but it certainly is epic. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it good, per se, it has that appealing surreal fantasy element that I felt at home with; I watched "He-Man" and "She-Ra" cartoons as a kid, so that bugnuts mish-mash of fantasy, magic, science, and superheroes came naturally. The film was a huge box office flop, and plans for a Supergirl 2 never emerged. Given the way so many superheroes are getting the reboot these days, I’d love to see another Supergirl film. Producers of Supergirl 2, you have already sold one ticket. And that’ll probably be the only one you sell.
Back to the boy’s game, and further down the suckhole.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (dir. Sidney J. Furie, 1987)
The slightest of the Superman films, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace runs a mere 88 minutes, and was produced by the notorious B-movie producers Golan/Globus, the masterminds behind The Cannon Group. If you don’t know about Cannon, you should, as they are responsible for such classics as American Ninja, Delta Force, and The Apple,which is probably one of the best films ever made. Superman IV, then, has a really low budget and some B-movie conceits that could only be possible in a film this cheap.
But the tone is, like Superman III, another odd mashup of disparate elements. On the one hand, you have a goofy plot about using Superman’s DNA to make a superpowered clone named Nuclear Man. But on the other hand, you have a very serious, topical, and earnest ripped-from-the-headlines story about nuclear disarmament, all conceived by Christopher Reeve himself. There’s also a third hand where Clark is presented with another mate superior to Lois. This film isn’t as baffling as Superman III. It’s just kinda bad.
So, yeah, Reeve himself, latching onto the fact that Superman is the ultimate pacifist, decided to co-write a story about how Superman violates his Star Trek Prime Directive and interfere with human history by gathering all the Earth’s nuclear weapons and disposing of them. This makes perfect sense to me. While Superman has been notorious for remaining apolitical, he would probably dispose of our dangerous weapons. Especially during the Reagan era when nuclear apocalypse was on everyone’s mind a lot. The part that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense is the Nuclear Man plot.
So Lex Luthor, still played by Gene Hackman, is back again. This time he’s being aided by his nephew Lenny (Jon Cryer), who looks like an escape from a Split Enz video, and who calls Superman “Superdude.” Topical! Hip! Lex Luthor is still the goofy egotistical blowhard he was in the previous movies, although now he has more floozies. One of his floozies is, in one scene, dressed like Marie Antoinette. I don’t know why. Maybe that’s Luthor’s “thing.” Luthor’s plan is to bilk some local crime bosses out of their money to build a little pod intended to be attached to a nuclear missile. The pod will contain a swatch of spandex, some of Luthor’s brain cells, and some of Superman’s hair cells. When it’s eventually thrown into the sun, the nuclear power will mix those three things and create Nuclear Man (body by Mark Pillow, voice by Gene Hackman) who emerges from the sun as a fully formed adult with a costume (!) and an allegiance to Luthor. I suppose I’ve heard dumber supervillian origins. But not many.
Nuclear Man has a bouffant blonde hairdo, a really gay looking outfit, and silver claws. He can shoot animated fireballs from his fists, can fly, and needs to be in direct sunlight to stay conscious. The silver claws, when they scratch Superman, make him really sick. Luckily, Superman has a spare Kryptonian crystal back in Smallville that can cure him. Oh yeah, and the Fortress of Solitude is back. We are, after all, going with the old cut of Superman II at this point, where he didn’t destroy the Fortress.
Say, how come we never saw much of Superman living in Smallville? Like the part of the story where he learns about his powers, and has to deal with being a super teenager? Oh wait. I guess that’s what that show “Smallville” was for. Or maybe even “Superboy.”
Meanwhile, Clark Kent is still angsty about his romance with Lois. He does reveal (again) that he’s Superman, and takes Lois on a flight, where she’s so happy. But, just as quickly, he gives her another Kiss of Forgetfulness like in Superman II, and she immediately forgets. Is it me, or is that a really cruel thing to do, always neutralizing Lois? Clark is also concerned about the recent buy-out of the Daily Planet by a Hearst-like tycoon who wants the paper to be more sensationalistic. Um… I was under the impression that The Planet was already kind of a Post-like rag, but whatever. The daughter of the new boss, Lacy, is a hot vixen played by Mariel Hemingway, and who falls in love with Clark Kent. Lucy loves Clark, Clark digs Lois, Lois digs Superman. This all leads to a truly insufferable scene where Superman has to quick-change between Superman and Clark Kent in order to keep both women satisfied. I hate that crap. What is this, Hannah Montana? Mrs. Doubtfire? Any given episode of “Growing Pains?” Also, Lois (still Margot Kidder, by the way) is just as abrasive and annoying as before. Whereas Lacy is pretty, gentle, rich, principled, together, and attracted to Clark. Dump Lois, dude. Go for Lacy. She’s just better.
Nuclear Man is an okay villain, I guess. I suppose it’s better to have Superman facing off against another superpowered bad guy like he did in Superman II than against a “funny” computer expert like in Superman III. But he’s just not scary. Indeed, he’s kind of goofy looking. The hair that Luthor used to clone Superman, by the way, is shown lifting a 1000-lb. weight. But Luthor cuts it with a bolt cutter. I’m not usually the type to hammer on little plot infractions, but this detail stood out to me.
Superman IV is mercifully brief, and really cheap. The special effects aren’t very good, and the filmmakers re-used the same footage of Superman flying toward the camera about a dozen times throughout the film. In last week’s article, I stated that the Superman franchise is a classic example of The Law of Diminishing Returns. Each film became increasingly cheap, the stories became increasingly far-fetched, and the quality uniformly decreased. The films made less and less money. This is such an archetypal example or Hollywood burnout, I don’t feel the point needs any further elucidation.
The series would remain dormant for 19 years…
Superman Returns (dir. Bryan Singer, 2006)
So in 1995, Christopher Reeve was thrown off of a horse, and became paralyzed from the neck down. Many people cited this accident as in keeping with a curse that floats over the heads of all the actors who play Superman. George Reeves, for instance, who played Superman in the ‘50s TV series, famously committed suicide. I want to say right here that Christopher Reeve was perhaps the best possible actor to have played Superman. He was sweet and decent and deprecating as Clark Kent, but was still convincing as a conflicted superbeing with godlike powers. In 2004, he ultimately succumbed to his injuries and died. He will be missed.
The years since Superman IV: The Quest for Peace saw a bizarro bevvy of Superman film projects to keep the franchise alive. I’m sure you know about a couple. Kevin Smith has famously told stories about what the production company wanted from a new Superman film. I heard rumors about a Tim Burton-directed Superman film with Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel. The ultimate finished film was to be completed in 2006 by Bryan Singer, a huge, huge, huge fan of the 1978 Superman film, and previously the director of two X-Men films. Sounds good. Let’s take a look.
Hmm… Superman Returns seems to take place in a universe where Superman III and IV never happened. This is pretty much a direct sequel to Superman II. Bryan Singer, who co-wrote the film, goes back to the source on this one. John Williams’ score is back. Similar titles are back. And, oddly, Christopher Reeve is back. Well, in spirit anyway. Singer’s choice for Superman was to essentially recreate exactly what we saw before with a new actor. His choice, a fellow named Brandon Routh, looks and sounds uncannily similar to Reeve, and was given blue contact lenses to make him look more like Reeve. I’m not sure if this is an honorable homage or a creepy Vertigo-like recreation. Routh is just fine in the role, and really does capture a lot of what made Reeve’s performance so special, but it’s… just odd.
The entire film of Superman Returns feels less like a real Superman movie, and more like a Superman tribute reel. The film is 154 minutes long, but has the trimmest plot of any of the films. So little of the film is devoted to story, it shows readily. Most of the film is devoted to borderline fetishistic scenes of Superman doing Superman stuff that’s totally unrelated to the bad guy’s evil scheme or to the love story. He lifts cars. He saves crashing planes. He deflects bullets off his chest. Since we’ve entered the age of CGI, most of the effects have that sort of CGI photorealism that lends kind-of-real-looking gravity to the proceedings, but perhaps dulls their charm and impact. And while I did like the scenes of Superman doing Superman stuff, it all felt like padding to me.
The story is this: Superman has spent the last few years flying through space, hoping to find Krypton. When he returns, he finds that Lois Lane (now Kate Bosworth) has married James Marsden, and has a son. Clark takes his old job back, while Superman re-establishes himself with the people. When he’s not staring longingly at Lois (still not much of a prize, to be honest), he’s flying by her house at night, and spying on her with his x-ray vision and super-hearing. This is way creepy to me. There’s a scene late in the film where Superman sneaks into Lois’ son’s room and stands over his sleeping body. This is something a serial killer does, Superman. You might want to check yourself. Superman is way too broody in this film. Way too broody.
Lex Luthor is back, this time played by Kevin Spacey, who has a wonderful time. Luthor’s evil plan is to break into the Fortress of Solitude (which he did in Superman II), steal Superman’s crystals, and use them to grown an entire Continent of Solitude in the Atlantic. He will own the whole continent (there’s that obsession with beachfront property again), and kill most of North America to do it. Just for good measure, the new continent will be infused with Kryptonite, just to scare off any rogue Supermen who might come by. I will ignore for the moment the fact that a continent made of crystal wouldn’t be good for farming or living. Luthor does begin to grow his land mass, but it doesn’t happen until 100 minutes into the film. The plot is so slow moving, and the treatment of the Superman material so carefully supplicant, that Singer seems to have forgotten to make a good plot. By the time the plot gets moving in this film, Superman IV had been over for 15 minutes.
A detail: Superman’s cape is no longer made of cloth, but seems to be a heavier tarpaulin.
Parker Posey is in the film as Luthor’s floozy (although she’s not Ms. Teschmacher). Frank Langella takes on the Jackie Cooper role. Jimmy Olsen is now Sam Huntington, who would go on to star in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night with Brandon Routh.
It is shown that Lois’ son is actually Superman’s kid (!), as she got pregnant over the course of Superman II. In both cuts of Superman II, though, Lois memories of having sex with Clark were erased. That means, when she learns that her kid is half-Kryptonian, she would assume she was raped, perhaps. Damn that Kiss of Forgetfulness.
This is not a movie. This is a fetish reel. It’s not so much an homage to Superman as a statue of him. A grand, life-like monument to all the awesomeness that came before. And while it looks great, and has some really cool moments and performances, it doesn’t really feel like the next grand chapter in the franchise. I was tempted to leave it off of this Series Project for that reason. But if I’m including Supergirl, you get this one too. I will do my critical due diligence.
Like so many series, the first two are great, and the rest diminish. I so have a weakness for Supergirl, not so much Superman Returns. Like I said, since Superman is unbeatable, finding an equal foe will be impossible, so too much of the movies have to keep us distracted with love stories and job angst. This is fine, I suppose, in a Tarzan and Jane sort of way, but I’m sure there are more interesting Superman stories in the world that don’t involve Nuclear Man.
For fun, I kept a tally of all the superpowers that Kryptonians have. When collected like this, they seem kind of random:
Complete invulnerability (Kryptonite notwithstanding)
The ability to turn time backward by spinning around the planet really fast
Instant clothing change
Telekenesis, controlled with both your eyes and your hands
The ability to rip off your chest emblem, and use it as a cellophane cage
Kisses of Forgetfulness
The ability to breathe in space
The ability to breathe underwater
Transfer of powers to others by touching them (which is, I think, what happens when Superman and Lois Lane fly while holding hands)
A friend posited that the reason no one recognized Clark Kent as Superman is because Superman actually has a subtle psychic superpower, very much akin to what The Shadow does, where he clouds the minds of the people around him. This sounds good to me. Superman can psychically cloud men’s minds.
Superman is cool. I like him. He’s not angsty or broody (well, not until 2006, anyway). He’s a pure-hearted being with the power to help people, and the wherewithal to do so. He’s a kind Boy Scout who wants what’s best for the world and for humanity. He’s a true humanitarian. He’s gentle and a pacifist. A friend recently asked if I’d rather be Batman or Superman. Batman, for one, has a cool car, loads of cash, a cool costume, and access to supermodels. The only problem is he’s tortured and dour. Superman poses as an awkward dork who is secretly a godlike alien, who has no other interests than to help people. Fewer babes and less money, but cooler powers. I think I would be Superman. I would rather be a nice guy.
Come back next week for the next installment of The Series Project!