“General Zod does not take orders. He gives them.”
Everyone seems to have a favourite superhero movie. My own is another personal choice from my childhood – and it is one to which I believe every modern big budget iteration owes a debt. Would the Avengers’ battle for New York really have taken place had Superman and General Zod not first fought over the city of Metropolis 30 years earlier? I don’t think so.
Christopher Reeve reprised his role from 1978’s Superman as the iconic title character, and would go on to do so twice more in the less favourable Superman III (1983) and laughably terrible Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). Joining him again was Gene Hackman as Lex Luther, who would also return to the series later; the two make IV worth watching out of curiosity if nothing else. And of course, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, whose chemistry with Reeve makes Superman II’s love story subplot bearable even for those with little patience for sentimentality. These are signature performances we’re talking about, though in truth none of them stole the show here quite as much as Terence Stamp, who played General Zod in a mercurial role.
The film is not universally popular due to some questionable directing decisions by Richard Lester, who took over from the first movie’s director Richard Donner after the latter had already shot 75% of this film’s scenes. Lester reshot much of it and added moments of slapstick comedy to certain sequences, including the famous inner city battle between Superman and the film’s super-villains, which serves as a source of irritation for some.
I completely understand that, and think the film would indeed have been better off without that element, but ultimately this doesn’t really detract from what is an exhilarating overall experience for me. That moment when Superman finally confronts General Zod and his goons at the Daily Planet still gives me goosebumps even now.