CANNON MONTH 2: Superman 3 (1982)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Superman 3 was not produced by Cannon, but they did release it in Germany on the Cannon Screen Entertainment label.

I always wonder, what was the exact moment where people went from thinking The Great Train Robbery was some kind of black magic and the train was going to kill everyone in the theater to watching a movie and saying, “That was boring.”

For ten-year-old Sam, it may have been this movie.

Just four years earlier, I laid on my stomach in the back of my parent’s station wagon and pretended I was flying the whole way home from Superman.

So what happened?

This movie sucks is what happened.

Sure, it’s written again by husband and wife team David and Leslie Newman and Richard Lester, who took over from a movie nearly already shot by Richard Donner in Superman II, directed. But I have no idea why this movie is about what it’s about. I was a hardcore Superman reader as a kid and I kept thinking, “Will Brainiac be in this? The Parasite? The Atomic Skull? Would Dudley Moore play Mister Mxyzptlk?”

How about Richard Pryor?

Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder were said to have been angry with the way the Salkinds treated Donner, with Hackman retaliating by refusing to reprise the role of Lex Luthor. This is a rumor and Hackman has denied it, but he definitely refused to return for the Lester shot scenes in the second film. And when Kidder gave interviews about how the Salkinds treated Donner, she was written out of this movie for the most part — the cover story was that the Lois and Clark relationship had been “played out” in the first two film — and was replaced with Lana Lang (Annette O’Toole).

The other big bad is the rich Ross “Bubba” Webster (Robert Vaughn). He keeps trying to take over the world’s supply of needed elements, like coffee and oil. Superman keeps getting the best of him and he finds that August “Gus” Gorman (Pryor) is good with stealing money through complicated computer systems — Office Space was inspired by his big plan — and uses him to destroy Superman.


Superman ends up getting seduced by Lorelei Ambrosia (Pamela Stephenson) who somehow gets him to destroy an oil tanker and then Ross’ sister Vera Webster (Annie Ross) ends up being a cyborg and oh yeah, Superman ends up splitting into two halves after a nervous breakdown with one side being a dark Superman and a good Clark Kent. They fight in a junkyard and Superman comes back, only for a supercomputer to learn how to make kryptonite and man, I hate this movie.

I absolutely hate this movie.

You know when Marvel fans complain about so much comedy and She-Hulk twerking and the Snyder cut? Let them have this movie. Ten-year-old Sam was beyond mad, the kind of mad that doesn’t go away. Ever. In my lifetime. I mean, a rumor that Tony Danza was going to take over shows that this movie could have been even worse.

This is a movie where evil Superman rights the Leaning Tower of Pisa and blows out the Olympic flame.

Oh no, Superman. How will we recover?

Then again, Brad Wilson, the rival of Superman for the affections of Lana, is Gavin O’Herlihy and just three years later, Charles Bronson would shoot him with a rocket launcher.

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