Main Features No 18
A Seventies Superman puts Superfun into Superhero.
Superman’s origin story and his adventures when he grows up to be the superhero we know and love.
Superman Trailer (1978), c/o TheTrailerGal, www.youtube.com and photographs © Warner Brothers/Columbia
With no sign of Paul Rudd’s Antman (2015) in the discount shelf of our local DVD rental shop, I debated on which superhero would have the superhonour of having the first film review. Thanks to darlin’ husband introducing me to the King of the Bromance movies, Judd Apatow, I’d noticed Rudd as something other than the extra in the TV series Friends (1994 -2014) and rom-com label I’d previously known him from. I then avidly watched Rudd as Brian Fantana in Anchorman (2014), who recommends Black Panther aftershave to Ron Burgundy as “It’s illegal in nine countries… Yep, it’s made with bits of real panther, so you know it’s good”. And no it doesn’t exist, despite what your angelic looking, wide-eyed then future husband might say… I also watched Rudd’s role in This is 40 (2012), the film where Apatow asked his off-set wife Leslie Mann to fondle Megan Fox’s chest, in the name of film. But then wouldn’t you girls? Just to shout “They aren’t real!” – even if they were – to wind up your Fox obsessed partner. OK, Megan could slap you for doing it, unless you convinced her he was a creepy stalker type. Rudd as well as having the lead role of Antman was a co-writer in the film. This screenplay brought back the fun and the comedy back into this genre which was there but often lost in so many a recent superhero movie.
For these reasons, I had thought of watching Guardians of the Galaxy (2012) again, but as Starlord isn’t technically a superhero, darlin’ husband and I watched Superman (1978). In the dual roles of Superman and Clark Kent, Christopher Reeve proved you can also put the fun into funny as a superhero. Superman was the only superhero I remember watching from my childhood and that was before I knew it had a Larry “J.R. Ewing” Hagman cameo in it. As Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor, the legendary Gene Hackman plays with his tongue firmly in his cheek. Always been a fan of Christopher Reeve since seeing him in Somewhere in Time (1980) in which his character went back in time to the girl of his dreams…
Superman starts with the trial of Zod for conspiring to overthrow the council in Krypton by the
Godfather Jor El who is played Marlon Brando. Zod is sentenced by the council as my darlin’ husband put it “being turned into an 1980s concept album cover” in a hula hoop alongside Roger Taylor and Brian May . Brando is worth every dollar of his part of the profits and 3.5 million dollar paycheck. The only other actor to my mind to have pulled this role off – in my mind anyway – would have been the wonderful Welsh actor, Richard Burton. Or maybe David Prowse’s experience of being dubbed by James Earl Jones for Darth Vader put Burton off the idea of even expressing interest in the project.. But more about Prowse later… Jor El and his wife then send their superbaby to earth in an escape pod as Krypton collapses to dust.
By the time the superbaby gets to earth he is a wee boy and he is taken in by the childless Jonathan and his wife Martha Kent. He is brought up by the couple in Smallville and his superpowers are discouraged by the couple. As he turns into
1980s crooner, Shakin Stevens a young man he is gently reprimanded by his foster-father of this after kicking a ball into orbit. At this point in the film, Darlin’ husband tries to convince me that this led to the damage to a satellite which I might have believed before he added that it led to the unrelated sequel of the film Gravity (2015). After his father dies, Clark finds a shard of kryptonite. Young Clark then leaves for his “Fortress of Solitude”. The location for this is as that other actor with British gravitas, Sean Bean would describe as “up North”. Then Clark has what seems like a non-prescribed drug trip seeing his real dad, who tells him more on his true identity and then refreshes his knowledge of his powers. He also tells him not to go back in time. After his words of wisdom from Joe El, Clark is donning his familiar superhero outfit and flies to Metropolis. During this time turns to into Christopher Reeve, as 12 years pass before he gets there.. Ironically he has the same voice as Christopher Reeve dubbed over the younger Clark Kent actor’s lines. But the muscles girls are all his as Reeve worked out with Darth Vader David Prowse to get the chiseled muscly actor that was synonymous with the role we know and love.
His alter ego in Metropolis, is Clark Kent, a shy, bumbling gent with spectacles who starts a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet. He meets his confident, sassy, co-worker Lois Lane – older Zooey Deschanel lookalike Margot Kidder – and his co workers. After a freak helicopter accident with a helicopter he saves Lois as Superman and she falls for him. Christopher Reeve is perfect in both roles as the bumbling, nervous Clark and the more butch and commanding Superman. As Superman he has the confidence to meet her for a date and in a kind of role reversal for both of them, she’s nervous, he’s masterful.
We meet the bad guy Lex Luthor, where Hackman hams up his role – no pun intended – with relish – still no pun intended – albeit when he is talking of his grandiose ideas to his long-suffering girlfriend Eve (Valerie Perrine) or putting down his incompetent, sidekick Otis. Hackman is fantastic and will always be my favourite Lex Luthor, as Nicolson is my one and only for the Joker, so
Zuckerberg Eisenberg has some big boots to fit in Batman vs Superman (2016). His master plan involves stealing two air missiles and…the rest is extremely watchable. But he does break his father’s rules by going back in time, which is why it’s really hard for me to watch Reeve in Somewhere in Time. The love of my life ruined the ending for me as he suggested Reeve did a Superman at one point in the movie and this will make sense only if you have seen this particular romantic movie – the ultimate weeper. Darlin’ husband does parody endings. If I told you that Nanette Newman opens a receipt to the glue factory in the closing moments of International Velvet (1978) you can understand why my younger sister and I will not let him watch Frozen (2013) with her daughter, my niece.
Anyway, I will end, by referring again to the cameo I mentioned earlier, the one with the late great, Larry Hagman. Hagman starred in Superman in the same year he took on the role he is more famous for as J.R. Ewing in tvs Dallas (1978- 91). His Superman role is one of his comedic roles and he shines like the star he is in his five minutes on-screen. In Hagman’s autobiography co-written by Todd Gold – Hello Darlin, Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life (2011) – the authors talk about this role. Hagman describes how his scene, where he tends to Eve after an apparent accident, involved Valerie Perrine looking “nonetheless provocative” and how he “jumped on her”. He boasts of completing the scene in just one take. Talking Dallas, there is also another wee bit of irony regarding two of Pamela Barnes Ewing’s love interests. IMDB mentions how John Beck – aka Pam Ewing’s Bobby replacement, Mark Graison – was considered for the role of Superman. Later on Reeve said he no longer wanted to act in his Superman roles, none other than Patrick Duffy, Pam Ewing’s true love Bobby Ewing was considered for the role…
I recommend this particular Superman film, if you are tired or fed up of superheroes in psychoanalysis. Current directors appear to ask them to lie on the couch questioning their existence, their upbringing and their reason for being. Or they are too busy saving the world to have a laugh, but have little time to hang out with their girlfriends. In the last Avengers movie Age of Ultron (2015) Iron Man and Thor became a wee bit evasive when the girlfriend topic was brought up by Captain America so maybe
Natalie Jane and Pepper Potts dumped them because they’d lost their sense of humour. Admittedly a tad unfair to Iron man, if this is so as he’d been well and truly nagged to ditch his Iron man suits by Paltrow Pepper. Meanwhile the bad guys have had all the good comedy lines, so now Antman has found the humour in Superheroes once more, maybe the rest of them can try to find it instead of bothering with hunting the Arkenstone. Perhaps the actor co writing the script is the answer. As for Antman, can we pair him off with Tom Hiddlestone’s Loki, instead of the dreary Yellowjacket. Loki is one of the more amusing bad guys, now that sparring duo would be worth watching…
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 😦 😦 :-(/10
Handsqueeze Rating:: 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: Yes, Lego