A few months back, I was working my way through my box set of the Christopher Reeves Superman films, when the inevitable happened. I had to watch Superman III. I hadn’t seen the film all the way through since it originally ran in theaters in 1983. Loving the first two films, Superman III came as an incredible disappointment to the 14-year old me, as it did to nearly everyone else who saw the film. Watching it years later, the film’s storyline of Superman fighting evil corporate magnate Robert Vaughn and bumbling computer genius Richard Pryor was just as bad, if not worse, than I remembered it to have been.
However, it turns out that Superman III could have been worse.
Much, much worse.
The folks over at Superman Cinema, the premier site for the original Reeves Superman films, have posted the original eight page story proposal for the third film written by series producer Ilya Salkind, and it is not good.
The movie still opens with getting Lois Lane out of the way – This was going to happen no matter what as Margot Kidder had been rather vocal about director Richard Donner’s removal from Superman II mid-way through its production – with Clark’s old hometown crush Lana Lang showing up as the Daily Planet‘s new hotshot reporter. Any budding romance between them is cut short though, by the arrival of Supergirl on Earth. Unlike the comics, this version of Supergirl isn’t Superman’s cousin, so they quickly fall for each other.
There is no intentional comedy in the outline, but the story is laughably bad. The amount of liberties taken in the synopsis would have comics fans marching on Warner Brothers with torches and pitchforks. While it is nice to see that Salkind was interested in using villains other than Lex Luthor from the comics – the superintelligent android Brainiac, who is hunting Supergirl and Mr. Mxyzptlk, a magical imp from the fifth dimension who has the power to make MS Word’s spell check feature suffer a nervous breakdown – their use seems to be inconcistant and their actions are determined by what crazy action sequence Salkind wanted next. The finale of the proposal features a powerless Superman and Brainiac in a jousting match!
Don’t take my word for it, head over to Superman Cinema and see for yourself.