The Slow, Donnerward Spiral pt. 2 (or, Stories of a Hollywood Retcon)

Hello again, my minions, and welcome to a new edition of Tact is for the Weak, the column that still believes Rumsfeld was behind 9/11.

As many of you know, director Richard Donner (of “The Goonies” fame) was the helmsman for the widely-loved Superman, starring Christopher Reeve. However, what many people don’t know is that Donner was also originally slated to direct the sequel. However, due to creative differences and other such flim-flam, Donner ultimately left the project half-finished, to be completed by another director. While Donner’s original Superman has since become widely recognized as a standard in the growing genre of superhero movies, the sequel (and later films in the series) has been regarded with somewhat less acclaim.

Just how did people feel about the sequel? A while back, I encapsulated my thoughts on the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. For those of you that missed them, here’s what I said about Superman II:

“Superman II

“The Good: Finally, some supervillains! Sure, Lex Luthor’s a smart guy, but the best way to showcase super powers has always been beating up on other, more able-bodied foes! In the second movie, Superman faces the three Phantom Zone criminals, each of them his physical equal. A famous comics story in its own right (in which the Man of Steel makes the heart-wrenching decision to execute the criminals), the movie sells it a little short (not really delving into the moral dilemmas of killing foes, but simply pushing all the criminals over a cliff… in the Fortress of Solitude. Lame…), but it’s a still a great movie that stays true to Superman’s roots. Plus, there are some great lines: “Australia!” “North, Miss Teschmacher, north!” and my personal favorite: “Kneel before Zod!”

“The Bad: Superman’s powers must have reached puberty after Kal-El became a man (see The Ugly below)! In addition to the standard fare (flying, super speed, super strength, super hearing, invulnerability, X-Ray, heat, and telescopic vision), Superman now apparently has finger-pointing telekinesis, self-duplication powers, and some sort of sticky S-shield in his belt that, when thrown, expands and traps its target.

“The Ugly: Who knows how to say “bump uglies” in Kryptonese? When Superman realizes that his dangly parts stand at attention around gal pal Lois Lane, he asks his dead mother (wait… What?) for love advice, and ends up getting rid of his powers in order to be with the woman he loves. Then, he proceeds to court and romance Lois… for about twelve minues, until they hop into bed in the Fortress of Solitude and swap some inter-species fluids.

“I’m sorry, and maybe this is an indication of my age, but… Margot kidder? Really? I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t give up the ability to fly for Carmen Electra, let alone Margot “Clark! Claaaark!” Kidder. Plus, in Superman IV, Superman uses his super-kissing powers (useful!) to make Lois forget his identity and their relationship…or, mind-wiping, if you will. Again, a little suspension of disbelief is in order. Would Superman really bed a chick, and then erase her memory of the incident? If so, that’s the first I’ve heard of it (or is it?).”

Well, it seems that all these questions are not mine alone; as most of you may already know, late November holds not only the release of Superman Returns on DVD, but also Superman II: The Donner Cut. In this eagerly anticipated release, the original footage from director Richard Donner’s work on Superman II has been restored and integrated with footage used in the final film to recreate Donner’s vision for Superman II.

Recently, comics writer Geoff Johns (who is now collaborating with his one-time film mentor Donner in the writing of DC Comics’ Action Comics) posted the following snippets on his website to promote the release of the upcoming DVD:

There are some absolutely wonderful scenes with Chris Reeve and Margot Kidder, especially the one floating around on-line with Lois leaping out of the Daily Planet, but the ones that make it, that really make me wish Donner had totally finished shooting what he set out to shoot, where the scenes with Brando and Reeve.

With Brando removed, and several key Reeve and Kidder scenes gone, the entire heart of this movie was taken out. The question of how he regained his powers after he gave them up, what it meant to him and his future connection with Krypton is breathtaking.

Despite the some of the unavoidable rough edits, such as using the screen test of a scene that was never shot showing how **** smart Lois Lane is when trying to find out if Clark Kent is Superman, and an ending that will leave some scrambling to listen to the commentary on why it was chosen, it’s a fantastic achievement and one I think everyone’s going to enjoy.”

Well, from all the hype this has generated, it looks as if we have a sneaky smash hit coming our way. Still, it will only be after watching the film itself will we safely pass judgment of the worthiness of Donner’s second vision. In the meantime, we’ll have to content ourselves (for at least one more month) with finger-pointing super-telekinesis, super-stretchy S-shields, and super-kisses from tall, blue-eyed aliens.

Well, it’s been a busy week (what with the special Election Day Edition coming out this past Tuesday), and as such, the features section is a bit truncated. For example, I happen to know first-hand that Dagoth the D&D Master was unable to write in his war journal this week; it seems that he left it in the voting booth the day before his weekly comic book run, and has yet to recover it. However, rest assured that he is alive and well, and, along with the other chosen features, will grace the pages of Tact is for the Weak from now on.

That’s right, folks; it’s time to announce the final line-up of the Tact is for the Weak features section! Excluding today’s temporary features absence, the order will be as follows:

  • The War Journal of Dagoth the D&D Master (he shall return!!!)
  • Snapshot Reviews (note: there will usually be only one review, and for now, that will generally be of DC Comics’ 52, due to the series’ accessible schedule and importance.)
  • Ten Years Later (because the people demanded it!)
  • The Tactless Book of the Week Award (of course).

So, you’ll have to forgive me; one week and two columns is a lot for any mere mortal to bear on top of his regular daily tasks (well, so long as they’re “quality writing,” and not just doodles that I scrawled out on a dinner napkin). Still, it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t have at least one feature. So, it’s time to (you guessed it!) hand out this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award!!!

This week’s inductee to the Tactless Wall of Shame is… DC Comics’ Green Lantern #14. The title is easily one of DC’s best, in terms of both quality and sales. Still, the title has yet to find it’s “groove” when it comes to publication (most titles settle on monthly, but I guess we all need to experiment a little at some point in our lives… *sigh*…). Recently, DC Comics’ January solicitations came out, and much to fans’ dismay, despite the fact that January is a five-Wednesday month, there is no Green Lantern slated to come out. Fans continue to be skeptical regarding this month’s schedule; after #14 came out this week, #15 is scheduled to come out two weeks from now. Given that the title has somehow managed to become a bi-monthly book, many do not expect DC’s projected release dates to hold firm.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Be sure to check back in next week for more Tactless adventures. Then, it’s off to a very special Thanksgiving edition, where Tactmaster Brian lists all the things we should be thankful for…and the things we would be thankful to forget. Until next time, intrepid readers; huzzah!

P.S.: For all you wrestling fans out there: WWE’s wrestling star Batista will be guest-starring as an escaped super-villain from the Phantom Zone on next week’s all-new Smallville! Check it out next Thursday at 8:00!

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