Superman II sees the return of Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve), Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and screenwriter Mario Puzo. Hang on – Mario Puzo?!
In this 1980 sequel, Kryptonian kriminal General Zod (Terence Stamp) takes over the Earth, and the US President quickly relinquishes control of the whole planet. Quite why that’s within the president’s authority is unclear, but this is a Superman film; logic flies out the window as quickly as Kal-El himself.
With the Earth under Zod’s control, Superman is mankind’s only hope – but he’s disappeared into his Fortress of Solitude and sacrificed his superpowers for a human relationship with Lois Lane. This is arguably selfish and irresponsible behaviour from the guardian of humanity, but fortunately he soon regains his powers without much explanation and confronts Zod.
The climax is essentially the same as Man of Steel: Superman and Zod throw each other into buildings and cause a tonne of damage. The difference is that this is set in a decidedly comic book universe, which makes it harmless fun rather than boring destruction.
Ramping up the spectacle and the humour, the film feels more like a Roger Moore-era Bond movie; apparently a couple of 007 writers contributed to the screenplay, uncredited.
Despite notoriously troubled production, which saw original director Richard Donner replaced by Richard Lester after filming was already 75% completed, this is a highly entertaining sequel. The action, music and performances all stand out, even if the plot feels a little looser than its predecessor – and Superman’s red pants.
For all its silliness, Superman II remains a fun piece of es-cape-ist entertainment.