Superman II (1981)



Critic Consensus: The humor occasionally stumbles into slapstick territory, and the special effects are dated, but Superman II meets, if not exceeds, the standard set by its predecessor.

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Movie Info

Between giving up his super powers, confronting criminals from outer space, and having problems with his girlfriend, it's a bad time to be the Man of Steel in this sequel to the 1978 blockbuster. When terrorists threaten to destroy Paris with a thermonuclear device as they hold reporter Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) hostage, Superman (Christopher Reeve) comes to the rescue and flings the weapon into space. However, its blast outside the earth's orbit awakens Zod (Terence Stamp), Ursa (Sarah Douglas), and Non (Jack O'Halloran), three villains from Superman's home planet of Krypton who were exiled to outer space for their crimes. Zod and his partners arrive on Earth and use their powers in a bid to take over the U.S., and then the world. However, when Lois realizes that mild mannered Clark Kent and Superman are actually the same person, he brings her to his Fortress of Solitude, where his decision to marry Lois costs him his remarkable strength. Without his super powers, how can Superman vanquish Zod and save the world? Gene Hackman, Ned Beatty, Susannah York, and Jackie Cooper return from the first film, which was shot at the same time as parts of the sequel.
PG (for sequences of action violence, come language and brief mild sensuality)
Action & Adventure , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Bros. Pictures

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Christopher Reeve
as Clark Kent/Superman
Gene Hackman
as Lex Luthor
Margot Kidder
as Lois Lane
Ned Beatty
as Otis
Jackie Cooper
as Perry White
Valerie Perrine
as Eve Teschmacher
Clifton James
as Sheriff
E.G. Marshall
as The President
Marc McClure
as Jimmy Olsen
Terence Stamp
as Gen. Zod
Roger Kemp
as Spokesman
Roger Brierley
as Terrorist
Anthony Milner
as Terrorist
Richard Griffiths
as Terrorist
Alain DeHay
as Gendarme
Marc Boyle
as CRS Man
Alan Stuart
as Cab Driver
John Ratzenberger
as Controller
Shane Rimmer
as Controller
Jim Dowdell
as Boris
Antony Sher
as Bellboy
Hadley Kay
as Jason
John Hollis
as Krypton Elder
Gordon Rollings
as Fisherman
Peter Whitman
as Deputy
Hal Galili
as Man at Bar
Don Fellows
as General
Michael J. Shannon
as President's Aide
Tony Sibbald
as Presidential Impostor
Beth Porter
as Football Fan (uncredited)
Tommy Duggan
as Diner Owner
Pamela Mandell
as Waitress
Eugene Lipinski
as News Vendor
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News & Interviews for Superman II

Critic Reviews for Superman II

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (7)

Let's face it, times change, and Superman and friend have sweetly embraced the spirit of the '80s as well as each other.

Full Review… | April 12, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

As good a matinee movie as could be imagined.

Full Review… | April 17, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A solid, classy, cannily constructed piece of entertainment which gets down to action almost immediately.

Full Review… | April 17, 2007
Top Critic

The combination of Richard Donner's superb original casting and visual attack with Lester's wit and his ear for sound proves a pretty formidable alliance.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Superman II begins in midstream, and never looks back...

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Superman II is a marvelous toy.

August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Superman II


It may not set an new standards in this series, especially because it's almost impossible to live up to the amazement that the original film brought to the table, but "Superman 2" exceeds in many more ways than one, embracing it's cheese and creating awesome action scenes, even if the extras become a bit distracting and the effects laughable. The effects are definitely dated, but the story is stronger than ever. As seen at the beginning of the first film, Zod and his sidekicks have been locked up in the phantom zone, only awaiting their accidental release in this film, making them the main focus as Kal-El/Superman faces real-life issues. I loved everything about this film, but it is just hard to praise it as much as the first, because I wanted to see just a little more of everything. Still, it's a fantastic superhero film that I can watch over and over again!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

**** "Superman 2" is one off those sequels that does a lot of the same as the first one, but changes it up enough to actually be better. Here, everyone is back, only the villain is General Zod(Terrance Stamp) along with his 2 sidekicks, who have escaped their exile, and come to Earth to rule. Once here, they meet with Lex Luther(Gene Hackman) and learn that Jor-El's son, Superman(Christopher Reeve) is living on Earth. It then becomes their mission to destroy Superman and make him kneel, while ruling the world. There is a lot more action in this one that the first(and the 3 and 4th), and although the ending is one big rehash, it's very entertaining and keeps at a good pace. The version I watched is the Richard Donner cut released from 2006. I don't remember much from the original theatrical version, so I'd have to rewatch it sometime before I can say what's different, but this version works fine. Reeve was an awesome Superman, and just as awesome as he was, Stamp was amazing as Zod. For a guy dressed like a dominatrix, he was a perfect villain. The film runs a little long, and obviously looks dated, but it holds up better than the other 2 sequels by far. Actually, I would say this is the best of the Reeve's Superman movies. If your gonna revisit any of them before the new one, this is the one to check out. If anything, to compare the Zod performances.

Everett Johnson
Everett Johnson

Super Reviewer


Replacing Donner halfway through production, Richard Lester's (A Hard Day's Night) campy slapstick tone severely clashes with the serious tone of the Donner-filmed scenes. General Zod makes for an entertaining foe but too much of the story is taken up by the time-killer sub-plot involving Lois discovering Clark's secret identity. The narrative puts the Last Son of Krypton through the dilemma of losing his powers but due to its inexplicable anti-climactic resolution and the infamous memory-wipe kiss; any dramatic potential or intriguing story opportunities are wasted. Thankfully the special effects and still fantastic-as-ever cast elevate this flick. With the exception of the moon sequence, the special effects are very creative and delightful to watch. Seeing the powerful trio of Kryptonian criminals effortlessly destroy buildings (White House and Daily Planet sequence) is extremely fun to watch and perfectly conveys that Zod is very much Superman's equal in strength. The Metropolis wind-tunnel sequence has some impressive special effects work also but the forced sight gags and jokes undercut the dramatic tension. Terence Stamp's turn as the rogue General Zod is very memorable due to his cold-calculating nature and subtle arrogance. Stamp shouting "Kneel before Zod!" is a very memorable line. It is a shame that the story is so ridden with jarring tonal inconsistencies, lame slapstick, cheap gags, and wasted opportunities. 'Superman II' shows signs that the franchise was already descending into the realms of self-parody that will only get worse in the ensuing two sequels.

Christopher Heim
Christopher Heim

Super Reviewer

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