'Superman 2'June 19, 1981
Synopsis: Responding to a bomb situation at the Eiffel Tower, Superman disposes of the bomb by throwing it into space. Unbeknownst to Superman, the explosion causes three Kryptonian criminals to be set free from the Phantom Zone. Traveling to Earth, General Zod and his followers, Ursa and Non, see the planet as easily conquerable, but have the added bonus of confronting Superman, the son of the man who imprisoned them in the Phantom Zone. While the three criminals make their way to Metropolis, Clark has to deal with his desires to be with Lois conflicting with his responsibilities as Superman.
Legacy: 'Superman II' was a financial and critical success, being a top 3 grossing film of 1981 and winning several science fiction awards. Intended to be shot simultaniously with the original film, director Richard Donner was fired from the project before completing the second film. Backlash among the cast for the firing of Donner resulted in Gene Hackman refusing to film new scenes, necessitating a sound-alike being used for voice overs, Marlon Brando's scenes being entirely cut from the film, and Margot Kidder being reduced to a glorified cameo in the third film. New director Richard Lester came in and had to reshoot much of the film in order to receive proper credit as director, changing the tone of the film to a more comedic one. Lester's changes included the much maligned scenes were Clark falls into a fireplace, thus revealing his identity to Lois, and Superman's use of holograms and a giant plastic Superman symbol during the final fight with Zod. In 2006, Richard Donner was given access to his original footage to construct his version of the film, known as "The Richard Donner Cut", which many consider to be the superior version. This version uses Donner's original plans for several scenes including Zod's release, linking it back to the ending of the original film, restores Marlon Brando's role in the film, and lessens the humor fans had complained about. Richard Lester returned for 'Superman III', which was viewed as a failure in eyes of fans and critics, focusing more on humor and Richard Pryor rather than Superman.