Its time for another great threepeat of similarly themed crappy movies and in honor of Cap Vs Iron Man we are going to delve into some of the less talked about but maybe even worse superhero movies that have graced the silver screen and then tripped upon entrance. You'll thrill at Superman IV's ineptness! You'll gasp at the offensiveness of Supergirl! You'll wonder at the banana business that is Punisher: War Zone! Join us for this excellent showcase of flops in the worlds of DC and Marvel.
This week we prepare to enter the world of the 4 Christopher Reeves' Superman experience with the fourth and final of them. Superman faces off against Nuclear Man and the world's problem with too many damn nukes! We start the episode with Arch-Maker.com, the only speed dating experience for hero's and villain's trying to find the perfect nemesis match.
Static Electricity Sponge Person - 4/10 stars
In the commentary to Superman 4, writer Mark Rosenthal will repeatedly attribute any problems with the film to Golan and Globus, those penny pinching devils.The trouble with Superman 4, however, most likely starts at the beginning of the four film series. Producer Ilya Salkind begin trying to acquire the rights to make a Superman film from DC in 1973.After a negotiation period of approximately one year, Ilya, his father Alexander and their partner Pierre Spengler purchase the rights from a hesitant DC Comics.The Production team, around this same time would see the returns from their largest pictures to date, The Three & Four Musketeers movies took 10 million and 8 million dollars respectively. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, the team decides to make superman 1 & 2 simultaneously.Thought the budget would reach 55 million dollars on the project, it would seem the Salkinds had little Idea of how much it would cost or how long it would take.They felt they needed a name in the game thus hiring Mario Puzo to write the script. He would deliver a sprawling 550 page script. Acclaimed writer/director Robert Benton would be enlisted to rewrite the script but would leave shortly thereafter for his own film; The Late Show. David Newman was to help Benton, but now he and his wife would assume full responsibility of reworking Puzo's Script. They would succeed in reducing the script to 400 pages while adding a time sensitive, pop culture rich, camp heavy tone which featured Kojak as a cameo. Marlon Brando was another choice the Salkind's and Spengler clung to, though in early meetings he insisted on the part of Jor-El being played by a green suitcase or bagel that would just have his voice. Brando would also unintentionally unseat Director Guy Hamilton, of 007 fame, due to his being unable to film in the original shooting location of Italy as he was wanted in that country for sexual obscenity. When England replaced Italy, Hamilton had to drop out as he was then in tax exile. The original directorial search involved rather extravagant names, the who's who of directors. The secondary directorial search was less extensive, and eventually settled on Richard Donner. It should be mentioned that at one point Spielberg was being suggested but the Salkinds wanted to see how his fish picture turned out first. Donner would bring in Tom Menkiewicz to give him a script that he could actually shoot. Menkiewicz would be the lone writer on the screenplay used for filming. This process was rushed and not done in keeping with Guild bylaws so Puzo, Benton and the Newmans would receive screenwriting credit. Donner would give Menkeiwicz a credit for creative consultant. Though Donner would reportedly never be given a budget or schedule, he was told he was in violation of both daily from the onset of the project. Although most accounts attribute Donner as the only thing that got the production moving, filming would drag and there were various production hold ups. Around the nineteen month mark the Salkinds would realize that if the first one failed they would be holding the bag on the sequel. They would the halt production in order to release the first Superman. It would be in theaters 2 months later. Superman would make 300 million dollars worldwide.
Director Richard Lester had been hired during the original production to serve as a liaison between Spengler and Donner, as the two had become at odds. Lester, who had never been paid by the Salkinds to direct the two Musketeers films had won a series of lawsuits against the Salkinds over his contract but would never be paid as when they would loose the lawsuit, they would move to a different country thus re-starting the cycle. They were able to get him on board by promising to pay him for the two Musketeer movies, provided he help them out with their Donner/Spengler scenario. After release and success of the first film Donner would be replaced by Lester though roughly 75% of the filming was already complete. Donner would be fired in a Dear John letter. Under Guild rules, which they followed this time, more than half of the filming would have to be overseen by Lester in order for him to be the credited director. The returns from Superman would allow the Salkinds to claim the original 55 million as the budget of the first Superman alone, albeit in actuality that was supposed to have been the budget for the both. This is where things enter into conjecture as which part was the chicken and which was the egg. It becomes curious as to whether the Salkinds dumped Donner in order to use the additional footage for other purposes, or fire him out of spite and then come up with a contingency plan for compensating for Guild rules. I would assume the former as I doubt they cared about Lester receiving directorial credit, though I assume they not only paid him but paid him handsomely as he would return for the third. Regardless of motive, the result was the Newmans adding their panache to the Menkiewicz Script, a great deal of the crew and Hackman leaving the production, and the creation of the special TV cut. The Salkinds would take the additional footage and slap together an extended cut which was over 3 hours but then give any TV affiliate the ability to edit the first Superman however they deemed fit. The supercut length was of additional benefit as TV affiliates paid by the minute. Clearing and re shooting with script changes opened the series up to it's first glairing inconsistencies. The production would require an additional 54 million dollars and would gross $190m vs the $300m of the first film.
For the first two in the series, Pierre Spengler would be the managing producer. In the third Ilya Salkind would share in the hands on work. Lester would be back on to direct the first script written exclusively by David and Leslie Newman. The result would be an unmitigated disaster. Though the film would make 80 million against the 39 million dollar budget, those left willing to work for the Salkinds and Spengler were generating decidedly less spectacular results. The cast has to be replaced with the exception of Reeves, who was only paid $250k for the first two movies and is probably only around to see his first legitimate paycheck in the series. Ilya Salkind's original treatment was to involve Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Supergirl. The two awesome bad guys would be replaced by Robert Vaughn and Richard Pryor, who just play themselves mostly. Supergirl would get a spin off movie. The story of Supergirl is possibly a tale for another episode but ultimately it would be the final nail in the Salkind's super coffin. These two films would set the table for Superman 4: The Quest for Peace.
As mentioned at the beginning, screenwriter Mark Rosenthal will blame the Golan Globus production team for all of the problems associated with the production. Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner would team for, The legend of Billie Jean, Superman 4, Star Trek 4, The Beverly Hillbillies, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, Mercury rising, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and either the unused or early versions of I, Robot. I think Golan and Globus only produced one of those movies, however, all of them stink. They would also write Jewel of the Nile which I liked and Mona Lisa Smile, which some people who are not me liked. The Cannon Group got the budget down to about 17 million from 34 million, though this would be a shock to those expecting the 34 million, Superman 3 should have cost about 20 so I will side with G&G. Out of spite for the Salkinds, Hackman and Margot Kidder reprise their roles. John Cryer is added to the cast, because what Superman needs is comedy. Mariel Hemmingway is added for the sexy. Sydney J. Fury, a veteran of some 30 plus pictures was enlisted to direct and Rosenthal, thinks he did fine. The final insult was some 45 minutes of footage being cut from the original version. If left Rosenthal States that the film would make more sense. Well that footage is on the extras in the version I have so we’ll decide for ourselves.