Mike O said:
What did you think about the different cuts?
The Donner cut was better — up until the end. I would’ve given it 6/10 if it wasn’t for that stupid ending.
What basically happened was, from what I understand, that they were going to use the “spin the Earth” ending for II. Once they realized it’d work better for the first film, they moved it, figuring that they’d figure something out when they got to II, but once Donner got canned, that’s all they had to fall back on.
wait, so could a very kind superman fan explain to stupid old me the different cuts available for the movies and all that?
As short as possible version: The producers, the Salkinds, hired director Richard Donner because he was the flavor of the month, having come off of a hit horror film called The Omen. Donner had artistic aspirations, whereas the Salkinds were in it purely for the money. Donner brought in his own screenwriter to completely rewrite their (according to him, completely unworkable) script. Superman and Superman II were shot back-to-back as a mega production; Donner finished about 70% of the second film before locking it to finish production on the first film. It wound up being the most expensive movie ever made up to that time. It was a big box office and critical hit, but the Salkinds didn’t want to deal with Donner again, so they unceremoniously fired him, and brought in director Richard Lester to work on the sequels. Lester reshot a bunch of Donner’s scenes as well as new scenes for II to qualify for a director’s credit, so there’s tons of extra footage. Years later, they did the best they could to reconstruct Donner’s cut. There’s also an extended cut of the first film, supervised by Donner, and a TV version with a lot of extra scenes. And presumably fan edits and deleted scenes.
There’s a lot more to this-what is who’s footage, who shot what, etc.-that’s seeped into film fan lore, but this is the basic gist of it.
They also scrapped all of Marlon Brando’s footage for II over salary disputes. Superman’s Mom suddenly being the Kryptonian hologram giving advice from beyond the grave made no sense.
The Brando footage was used in the Donner Cut reconstruction, and parts of it were also used for Bryan Singer’s quasi-sequel Superman Returns.