Fanboys and critics routinely refer to Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever
or even Batman & Robin
as the downward turning point of that series and amongst the worst sequels of all time. Well folks, Superman III
is the just as bad if not much worse than those aforementioned titles. Sure, Forever
had Jim Carrey, arguably the world’s hottest comedian at the moment, but he wasn’t playing Jim Carrey. In Superman III
we are treated to the (missing) comedic talents of Richard Pryor, who has no business in a superhero film, especially when he is playing…Richard Pryor. It’s one of the greatest miscalculations ever for a large franchise. Superman III
represents a ‘Jump the Shark’ moment in the series.
Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) is a computer genius who is fired from a corporation for stealing. Its one of the first cinematic displays of a ‘cyber-crime’ and this gets the attention of CEO, Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn). He recruits Gorman in an effort to control the world’s climate in order to destroy Colombia’s coffee crop. It doesn’t quite add up to the excitement of Lex Luthor’s real estate scheme, or battling a trio of evil villans from Krypton. Pryor’s bumbling computer programmer, doesn’t seem intelligent enough to be capable of manufacturing a synthetic kryptonite, but he does just that. The effect causes Superman to act like an evil, or I should say, more rude version of himself.
So for a fifteen increment during the second act, Superman’s uncontrolled anger and rage prevail. Until Clark Kent shows up to battle the evil incarnation, in a junk yard. That’s the high point in this lackluster outing that sorely needs the zip of its predecessors to keep it afloat. The love story between Clark and Lois is forgotten as Margot Kidder is sent packing in the first scene, to be replaced by Annette O’ Toole as Lana Lang. There are missed opportunities aplenty in Superman III, including a botched job of handling Clark’s high-school reunion in Smallville. This whole endeavor effectively staled the franchise, forcing Warner Bros. to ditch the Man of Steel, and creating a four-year window until the ext installment; Super-embarrassing.
Director: Richard Lester
Stars: Christopher Reeve, Annette O’ Toole, Richard Pryor