Superman III (1983) — Amazing childhood nightmare fuel

“Well I hope you don’t expect me to save you, ’cause I don’t do that anymore.”

Justin’s rating: Still better than Superman 64 and the Atari 2600 Superman!

Justin’s review: History — and the internet — has not been kind to Superman III. While the first movie put serious superhero movies on the map and the second is a bonafide classic, the third movie gets lumped in with the abysmal fourth entry as the “not good Superman movies.” People point to its slapstick comedy streak, its overuse of Richard Pryor, and its somewhat messy story structure.

Fine. Listen to the internet if you wish, but I’m here to say that despite these points of attack, Superman III is so much more of an enjoyable movie than about six other Superman movies I could name. I used to watch this back-to-back with Superman II in my childhood and loved both equally.

What critics overlook in their eagerness to trash-talk Superman III is just how much awesomeness is packed into this film. Superman has to fight a chemical disaster during his high school reunion, Lana Lang shows up for the first time as a potential love interest (and I liked her a whole lot better than Margot Kidder, I might add), there’s a ton of computer hacking that involves ordering satellites to make tornadoes, there are people skiing on top of a skyscraper, and at one point, a villain tries to kill Superman by throwing missiles at him through an Atari video game interface.

That’s not all! A big portion of the movie involves Superman turning evil due to kryptonite exposure. As his suit and mood gets darker, he wrecks up a lot of places, he hits on girls, and he finally fights himself in an epic junkyard showdown to see if his good or evil nature will endure. Reportedly, this movie was originally called Superman vs. Superman before a legal threat caused the name change.

And if that all is not enough to get your attention, the finale of Superman III involves a supercomputer that sucks in one of the bad guys and converts her into a cyborg against her will to fight on its behalf:

Which was simultaneously AWESOME and gave me NIGHTMARES for weeks after the first time I saw it. I loved the cyborg Vera and her showdown with Superman — I just wish she had gotten Borgified earlier in the movie so that she would’ve gotten more screentime than literally the last five minutes.

Superman III is that movie in the series where a new director is handed the reins and freedom to try something a bit different and crazy. It was pure comic book craziness from start to end, without any boring Marlon Brando speeches or Gene Hackman posturing to ruin the fun. Take that, internet.

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