Time: 125 Minutes
Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman
Richard Pryor as Gus Gorman
Jackie Cooper as Perry White
Marc McClure as Jimmy Olsen
Annette O’Toole as Lana Lang
Annie Ross as Vera Webster
Pamela Stephenson as Lorelei Ambrosia
Robert Vaughan as Ross Webster
Margot Kidder as Lois Lane
Director: Richard Lester
Wealthy businessman Ross Webster (Robert Vaughan) discovers the talents of Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor), a computer genius. Ross decides to abuse his talents, in a way to help Webster with his plans for economic control. When Superman (Christopher Reeves) interferes, something had to be done about him. When synthetic Kryptonite fails to kill Superman, it turns him in an evil incarnation of his former self. The Kryptonite pits man against himself, setting up the Clark vs. Superman battle.
The Superman franchise had a trend that the Batman movies would later follow, the first two were great, while the next two were quite flawed. With the departure of Richard Donner who directed the first (and some of the second), Superman 3 ended up being one of the worst Superman movies of all time. It’s unfortunate really, because this movie had some ideas that could’ve potentially worked well (with the exception of Richard Pryor).
Superman 3 did have ideas that could’ve worked, unfortunately a lot of the time the movie doesn’t follow Superman. Superman 3 mostly follows Gus Gorman whose story isn’t interesting, there are times where he feels like the main character, not Superman. This movie also took a turn for the worse when they tried to do comedy. The opening credits scene is filled with slapstick comedy and really sets the mood for the rest of the movie. This movie actually has an interesting idea, evil superman. The idea is fascinating but he doesn’t really do much of evil, he just sits at a bar and drinks. Also his change is very abrupt, maybe if his turning to evil Superman was more gradual and brought out some of Clark’s innermost thoughts, this would’ve worked. When Clark and Superman split into two people and start fighting, it was one of the better scenes of the movie but it didn’t make sense. There are some strange ideas like Clark somehow able to transform himself into Superman in a matter of seconds, the walk and don’t walk traffic signs start fighting after the city is hacked and near the end of the movie Robert Vaughn shoots missiles at Superman in the style of an NES video game. The movie overall is quite boring and felt too long. There are also no threats to keep the suspense and the last fight is very underwhelming.
Despite everything, Christopher Reeve is still great as Superman and in spite of the lacklust build up, it was interesting to see him as Evil Superman. The worst part of the movie however is Richard Pryor, he is in this movie too much. He is just there for comic relief but he isn’t funny, despite him being an excellent stand-up comedian; many of the worst scenes in the movie involve him. The villain (as played by Robert Vaughan), is really a poor man’s Lex Luthor and is very weak. Although there’s not much for her to do, I do think that Annette O’Toole did an okay job in the scenes she was in.
Although not as bad as Superman 4, the effects isn’t really as good as the previous two movies, that’s the case with the flying effects. There is a moment where Superman freezes a lake and flies it up into the air and the effects looks bad. I did however enjoy the fight scene between Clark and Superman.
There was a lot of potential for Superman 3, it had a lot of great ideas for it to result in a great movie. However this ended up as one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a while. Although there are worse superhero movies, Superman 3 is a terrible movie which would later be followed by one of the worst movies ever, Superman 4: The Quest for Peace.