To celebrate the release of Man of Steel this month, the Flickering Myth writing team are looking back over Superman’s previous screen adventures; next up is Victoria Welton with a review of 1984’s Superman spin-off – Supergirl…
Opting to review Supergirl to celebrate the Superman Month for Flickering Myth, I hoped watching it this time around meant that my previous opinion was because I was just being a typical moody teenager who didn’t like anything. How wrong I was!
I remember when I first watched this back in 1985. We hired the video from our favourite haunt. I had high hopes for the fact that it was tied into the Salkind series. Excited because of how much I enjoyed Superman: The Movie and Superman II. Disappointment then, and disappointment now I’m afraid.
From the moment Peter O’Toole appears and interacts with Kara Zor-El aka Linda Lee (Clark Kent’s cousin) aka Supergirl – are you still with me?! – you sit with anticipation waiting for the real action to take hold and the story to grip you.
Klumsy Kara mistakenly makes a hole in the isolated Kryton survivors home, Argo City, and as a result loses the Omegahedron orb – the power source of the city. So, in a bid to get it back, she nicks Zaltar’s (O’Toole) space ship and tootles off to earth to get it back again. The orb plops into the tea of the wicked Selena (Dunaway) so guess what she decides to do? Take over the earth! That’s it!
You’d think bringing in the likes of Faye Dunaway, Peter O’Toole and Peter Cook they’d be on to a winner with great actors. Add in the fact that it was a spin-off from Salkind’s Superman series with connections such as Marc McLure reprising his role as Jimmy Olsen, letting the viewer see the Phantom Zone – previously represented in Superman II as a spinning piece of glass holding General Zod and his sidekicks – plus the introduction of Lois Lane’s sister, Lucy, played by Maureen Teefy. Instead, these actors all seem a little out of place and awkward in their roles. It’s no real wonder that both Dunaway and O’Toole are awarded the Golden Raspberry Award for their performances.
Helen Slater in the title role makes for a rather annoying and weak Supergirl to my mind. She is a little clumsy – like Clark Kent – and mild-mannered – like Clark Kent – but unlike Christopher Reeves’ performance which has a distinguishable difference when he transforms to Superman, Slater just seems to be a wet blanket of a superhero. Even when it comes to saving Lucy Lane and potential love interest, Ethan, from the clutches of a digger, it all seems a bit naff.
Christopher Reeve was supposed to have made a cameo appearance but bowed out early on (can’t say I blame him!). His absence in the film is explained by way of a news report fairly early on stating he has gone on to a peace-keeping mission to a distant galaxy. Nice get out!
OK, in this day and age we have high hopes for a film with the amount of special effects that we now come to expect. But along with that, there is the importance of a storyline. Supergirl delivers a mish mash of stories, never really clear of what the evil Selena (Faye Dunaway) actually is…turns out she is a Sorceress which, other than kryptonite, can kill Superman/girl. And why does she live in an old funfair ghost house anyway?!
Nothing is explained. Nobody really knows what Nigel (Cook) is doing there – he also turns up in the school where Linda aka Kara aka Supergirl decides to hang out in a bid to disguise who she is. Here is where she also Lucy Lane, sister of Lois, who is going out with Jimmy who is the same Jimmy who works for The Daily Planet. See what I mean? Nobody seems to explain just what the Omegahedron orb does or is capable of, although Selena seems to think she can take over the world with it. Once Selena has captured all Supergirl’s friends and put them in a cage in the castle she has decided to dump in the middle of a small town – one wonders why she didn’t do this in the middle of a powerful city instead of Hicksville – she then sends Supergirl to the Phantom Zone. She manages to get away from this with the help of Zaltar, who has been banished there because of the loss of the orb. Zaltar dies, Supergirl makes it back just in time to save the day!
I really do hope that with the resurrection of Superman they also give Supergirl a good overhaul, an updated film and a decent personality.
Victoria Welton is an Actor, Writer and Driving Instructor. She also blogs as Verily, Victoria Vocalises and is a finalist in both the Brilliance in Blogging and MAD Blog awards.