Superman 3, Superman 3….Where do I even start with this movie. Probably the trailer. Because “This time, is going to be the best time of all!” (Actual tag line)
*Note: Many of the videos in the article are embed disabled so please follow the links to watch them on YouTube.
This is an instance of a movie trailer completely lying about the substance of a movie! The final movie is almost nothing like the end result. But this movie is pretty hilarious in how strange it is.
*Note: Movie tends to be pretty loose with time. It’s still not clear if events happen over a few days or months. Most likely around a week.
We start the movie with Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) waiting in the unemployment line to collect his 36th week of unemployment where he is summarily turned down. But as he leaves he’s given a matchbook with a monopoly style ad on it to “Make Big Bucks by becoming a Computer Programmer!” Remember at this point, he hasn’t even been able to hold down a job and has never touched a computer.
It then moves into opening credits where utter chaos happens because a construction worker was distracted by a bimbo of the series (who really isn’t). Telephone booths get tipped over with people inside, toy penguin catch fire, a blind man walks into the street who knocks another guy into a hole. Then a bank g ets robbed and knocks a car off the road into a fire extinguisher. Of course the car fills up with water but Superman never even attempted to stop the bank robbers but does save the man trapped in the car. All through this the director decided that he wanted to blur half of the screen.
After all this chaos, it cuts to Gus taking a computer class and doing work that impresses even the teacher, but he has no idea how he did it. Finally we get to a scene at the Daily Planet, which has almost the only scene with Lois Lane even in it. Mr. White has to pick numbers for a contest that the paper is running, while Clark is trying to convince him that writing a story on his own High School reunion is a good idea. (I have no idea why that would be a good story) and Lois goes off for a story/vacation in Bermuda.
Gus somehow got a job computer programming and is disappointed in his first paycheck (which might be either his first day or first week. Either way it’s odd) and already he’s figured out how embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company he’s working for. He does it by stealing half pennies that don’t get on their paychecks.
Meanwhile on the bus to Smallville, Clark and Jimmy stop at a fire at a chemical plant. Quickly Clark changes into Superman, and saves the plant works. The best part of this scene is that the fire department is both expecting him and surprised at what Superman can do at the same time. As almost an after thought to this scene is where Superman is trying to save a scientist from the building and he says that he’s not going because he has to watch over ACID. He explains that at normal temperatures its just normal green looking acid (yes acid by itself is dangerous folks.) but if it heats up it turns volatile red, and will turn into an acid cloud. So what does Superman do? He flies to a lake five miles away and freezes the top layer to only DROP it on the chemical fire (which conveniently turns into rain). My only thought I was thinking as this happened is if he froze fish along with the top later, does it rain fish?
Finally Clark gets to his class reunion, where everybody is dressed in odd clothing choices (I realize this is the 80s but Clark is the only one in a white tux). Clark sees his old high school crush Lana Lang. But this is no Lana Lang from Smallville. This Lana Lang is a complete scatter brain, who you never know exactly what she is talking about. The only comfort I get is that this is not the actress’ fault. She later played Martha Kent in Smallville and did a fine job.
From the reunion clean up, we cut to Ross Webster, the owner of the company that Gus has been working for. He’s being told about the embezzlement, but doesn’t seem that concerned saying “he’s the future.” Then the blonde bimbo from the beginning of the movie finally returns as she enters Ross’ office. She is introduced as his psychic nutritionist, but this title changes throughout the course of the entire movie. We are also introduced to Ross’ sister, who hovers over Ross’ and definitely not attractive ever.
My favorite part of Superman 3 is Clark is helping a Lana’s son bowl and then pretends to sneeze sending the ball flying, crushing the pins and out the other side of the lane. They are surprised but not freaked out in the least.They are just celebrating Ricky’s amazing spare!
Here is a the scene (Though someone added music to the clip.)
Gus get’s called into Ross’ office and they aren’t mad at him at all! They want to use him so that they can control the price of coffee. Yes Coffee. They want Gus to hack into a government weather MONITORING satellite and change its programming to CAUSE weather. There is a short scene introducing the winners of the contest that Mr. White was drawing for earlier, as they are getting sent to Columbia which is where Ross wants to control the weather. Gus (with his new found hacker skills and understanding of networking that he was somehow born with) explains that he needs to use a small out of the way computer not hooked up into anything important so that no one would be able to trace it back. So Gus gets sent to Smallville.
Clark, Lana, and Ricky go out to have a picnic next to a wheat field. Ricky goes off after his dog, and nearly instantly hits his head on a rock and become unconscious just as a row of wheat thrashers is going. Superman gives the man driving the wheat thresher a look, like it was his fault and saves Ricky.
Gus buys a cheap suit, and puts on a phoney Caucasian voice to sweet talk his way inside to Ross’ many companies. Brad (who has majorly been hitting on Lana the entire time but is a sleazeball) happens to be the nighttime security guard. Gus gets Brad so drunk he passes out. Getting to the main computer, Gus finds the company computer. For some reason this computer has the type of security an atomic missile would have, with two keys that must be turned at the same time!
Finally after some difficulties, Gus gets to work hacking. This next scene is also one of the other great ones in the movie, while also not making sense. Gus got into the business at night but some of the scene takes place during the day. Gus, not paying attention starts to make things go crazy. First off an ATM gives off too much money. Then he messes with Bloomingdales receipts, and cross walks and traffic lights (best part is when the walk/don’t walk guys start to fight. WTF?) before finally getting into the weather satellite. He changes the weather to giant storm (which somehow causes an earthquake at a local chapel?) and ruins the vacation of the prize winners from the Daily Planet seen earlier.
After the crops are destroyed, we cut to Ross looking like he’s skiing the Alps, but we see as it zooms out that he is actually just on the snow covered top of his skyscraper. They decide that instead of coffee, they are going to control all the oil. Gus rushes comes in and explains how Superman not only saved Columbia, but he also saved the entire coffee crop. The group decides that they need to get kill Superman using Kryptonite (saying they found out Superman’s weakness from an interview. Way to let everyone know Superman.) and we see the first glimpse of the blonde bimbo actually being smarter than everyone else.
During his tirade, Gus for some reason, puts on some ski’s and skis down the hill and breaks through the wood barrier that protects everyone from falling and falls down the skyscraper. He lands on a incline on the side of the building before landing on his feet in the middle of traffic. Gus sets the same weather satellite to scan where the planet Krypton used to be and it finds everything but 2% unknown sample. So what does Gus do? He puts in cigarette tar as the unknown ingredient.
Superman shows up to be given the key to the city of Smallville and Gus comes in dressed as a US General in the style of Patton. He goes on a rant on plastics (for no reason at all) but he uses it as a way to give Superman the fake Kryptonite (which looks exactly like real Kryptonite) and Superman doesn’t even notice. It didn’t kill Superman instantly and he has to explain to Ross what happened. Ross replies with one of the best lines, “He didn’t die. I asked you to kill Superman, and you’re telling me you couldn’t even do that one simple thing.” Now I don’t know about everyone else, but if Superman was around and you even read about him in an article, I would think you would know that killing Superman was one of the hardest things you can do.
Little did they know that Superman was affected by that fake Kryptonite. He was becomes a jerky, possible rapist. Superman is informed that there was an accident on a bridge in town, but he ignores it and takes the opportunity to hit on Lana Lang, in the creepiest way possible. He was probably about to do something he shouldn’t have until Lana reminds him of the bridge and he heads off. But unfortunately he’s too late.
This is only the beginning of the things that Superman starts to do. Most things aren’t as dangerous as the bridge incident, but more him just being a jerk. Also getting laid. Below is a long clip that covers most of his jerkiness, while I’ll also include some great clip from within the montage.
Some of my favorite scenes is that he straightens the Leaning Tower of Pisa and blowing out the Olympic torch. The green Kryptonite that Gus makes has the same effect that usually Red Kryptonite would have on him. If you were going to become evil, you could really do worse than those things. Especially because no one seems to notice that Superman is even at the Olympics.
In the middle of these scenes we have another brief glimpse of the Blonde Bimbo being smarter than everyone else, as well as the plan for how Ross and his sister are going to control the oil. They basically are going to send all the oil tankers in the world to a place in the Atlantic through their computer systems. Gus starts to rebel until he can get Ross to make a giant self repairing computer for him. The blueprints of this supermachine are all on different scraps of paper. Ross acquiesces and builds it. (Making the contractors build the things with the same scraps of paper…) One of the tankers has some sense and doesn’t follow the computers orders. So to stop it, they have the Blonde (not so) Bimbo seduce Superman into making the tanker have an oil spill. He then comes back and completely gets laid.
Instantly the nation is gripped in a national gas shortage and gas prices surge and people start to brake into fights. Gus starts to feel bad about his decision to help Ross, while Lana decides she has had enough of Smallville and goes to Metropolis (vacation or moving? No one really knows.) Meanwhile, Superman decides to get drunk (Didn’t even think that he could) and then wrecks the bottles and melts the mirror.
Then comes one of the strangest parts of the entire movie which I’m not sure if really happened or was just in Superman’s/Clark Kent’s mind. But Evil Superman starts to fight still good Clark Kent (with Superpowers) and fight each other to the death in a junk yard. The scene is rather ridiculous which you can see below.
After the Clark Kent version kills the Evil Superman version, Superman tries to fix things going to oil spill at the tanker. He goes to where he had sex with the Blonde Bimbo where they gave him a message to draw him to where the new computer is. They are near the Grand Canyon the group (minus Gus) balloons down to cave where the computer is at, leaving Gus to ride a mule down. (why it’s where it is, I have no idea.) Ross’ sister says that they don’t need Gus and that she knows enough to put a Ph.D. to shame. (which if that is the case why did they need Gus) And once again Blonde Bimbo shows that she is smarter than everyone in the entire movie (though still a slut.)
Superman flies in as they try to shoot missiles at him. For some reason, it displays the whole thing as a video game including a running score. (Again rockets isn’t going to do much to Superman) But Blonde Bimbo secretly roots for Superman as Gus finally gets to the computer cave right before Superman arrives. The Blonde Bimbo tries to say hello to Superman, but he replies with, “I don’t know you, that guys gone,” trying to sidestep the fact that he slept with her just the night before. Superman accuses all four of the group of being evil, which Gus takes offense to and tries to deny it. The computer sends out a magic plastic bubble that has no air (still shouldn’t work on Superman) that he escapes from.
FINALLY the computer has a real Kryptonite ray that disable Superman. (It should have been the first thing anyone should have tried.) Gus finally has a change of heart once Ross says he will be the man who killed Superman. Gus goes and disables the entire computer by taking out one screw. Gus fights with Ross and quickly swallows the screw.
The machine turns itself back on and starts to go out of control as it gets a mind of its own. Slowly the power of the entire country starts to go out as it sucks directly out of the power lines. Gus tries to take an ax to the machine but the computer starts to defend itself. Freed from the Krytonite ray, Superman exits the cave, leaving the others behind. The others quickly try to leave and get away from the out of control computer, but Ross’ sister gets sucked in and in a matter of moment gets turned into a cyborg! (and really for no reason)
Superman comes back (like just a couple of minutes after he left) and has something hidden behind his back. It turns out to be that strange acid from the beginning (which the computer somehow doesn’t register as a threat) and starts to heat up and explode. It proceeds to destroy the entire computer.
Superman then only really saves Gus, and do an awkward handshake as Gus says “Thank you, brother.” In a matter of minutes, things are instantly better. Gas is back to normal, and Superman flies Gus away (because apparently he’s not evil but all the others are). Superman drops Gus down at a coal mine, makes a giant diamond (already perfectly cut) and tries to get Gus a job at the coal factory. After Superman leaves Gus doesn’t accept the job, and leaves the coal mine.
Superman (as Clark) goes and finally visits Lana in her hotel. He says that he feels bad that Lana had to pawn her diamond ring so he gave her a giant diamond ring. Then out of nowhere, Brad from Smallville shows up at the hotel room and beats himself up. Lois finally comes back from the Caribbean, apparently having found out a major scandal. Lois invites Clark to Superman, and they introduce Lana as Mr. White’s new secretary. (And immediately set up a rivalry between the two.) To finish off the entire movie, Superman goes and puts back the Leaning Tower of Pisa back to its normal lean just as the Italian souvenir man gets straight towers in stock.
And that’s it! The whole mess of Superman III is finished. Now go and watch the mess for yourself.
For added fun, watch this ridiculous deleted scene with Superman saving a baby.
I was inspired to watch this movie again after listening to The How Did This Get Made? podcast found here.