What the Hell Were They Thinking?!

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace just got bitch-slapped with estrogen. Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway, Helen Slater, Peter Cook and Academy Award nominee Peter O’Toole star in Supergirl.

supergirlCast of Characters:
Selena – Faye Dunaway
Kara Zor-El / Linda Lee / Supergirl – Helen Slater
Ethan – Hart Bochner
Nigel – Peter Cook
Alura In-Ze – Mia Farrow
Jimmy Olsen – Marc McClure
Bianca – Brenda Vaccaro
Zor-El – Simon Ward
Lucy Lane – Maureen Teefy
Zaltar – Peter O’Toole

Director – Jeannot Szwarc
Screenplay – David Odell
Based on characters created by Otto Binder & Al Plastino
Producer – Timothy Burrill
Rated PG

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Far out in a pocket of trans-dimensional space, there lives an isolated Kryptonian community named Argo City.

Expect Ben Affleck to arrive at any moment now to save the day.

It is there within that community – a community, by the way, that is protected from the cold, unforgiving vacuum of space by way of a giant flimsy tarp – that a young and curious Kara Zor-El (Helen Slater) – cousin to Kal-El, aka Clark Kent, aka Superman – has been shown by her mentor Zaltar (Peter O’Toole) the supremely powerful Omegahedron, a small, spherical device that contains all the power sources vital to Argo City’s survival.

If it’s that crucial an element, why then is Zaltar just tossing it around like a baseball with Kara? That’s a good question, but it’s not like he stole it or anything; he only borrowed it, which will make it just a tad easier for him to swallow when Argo City is inevitably destroyed thanks to his misdeed.

So Zaltar decides to let Kara play with this orange wand that lights up and spins and – oh my God! It’s a dildo! A DILDO!! They snuck a dildo into a PG-rated family film! No, Kara! Don’t sit on the floor and spread your legs out while you play with it! That makes it worse!

The film actually gets creepier, believe me.

Anyway, as Kara’s playing around with Zaltar’s “magic wand”, he, for some odd reason, gives Kara the Ermahgerd thing, despite her never having any proper training in how to use it, and as you’d expect, she winds up losing it out into space. This has to be a very big deal, ’cause as her parents, Zor-El (Simon Ward) and Alura In-Ze (Mia Farrow) remind Zaltar…

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

Readers, I want you all to read what her parents said very carefully. Read every single word, and think about what they said ’cause later on we’re gonna come back and revisit this.

Okay, so where were we? Oh, yeah. So Kara managed to fuck up thanks to Zaltar’s first fuck up, and now Argo City is about to go the way of planet Krypton. What happens now? Will they survive? Well, worry not, ’cause without any explanation, Kara hops into this spherical shaped ship and rides off to planet Earth ’cause, of course, that’s where the Omega thingamajig landed. It’ll be up to sweet, innocent, doesn’t have a fucking clue what she’s doing Kara to save her community… unlike the rest of her own kind who were all incinerated into ash by way of a massive planetary explosion.

Oh, and by the way, she just magically transforms into Supergirl and then has to fight this witch Selena (Faye Dunaway) ’cause they both are wet for this one random shirtless dude, Ethan (Hart Bochner), and as they say in Highlander, “There can be only one!”

Meanwhile…

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

Take your time, Kara.

How in the hell does this crap-sterpiece come about? Well, I’ll tell you how. See, in 1978, Warner Bros. and father/son producing team Alexander and Ilya Salkind assured us beyond any shadow of a doubt that we would believe a man could fly, and lo and behold, they were right. Thank you, Christopher Reeve and director Richard Donner for that. Then, in 1980, they gave us Superman II, and given all the infighting between Richard Donner and the studio that led to his departure and replacement with Richard Lester, we should’ve gotten a disastrous turd, but instead lucked out with a worthy sequel. That’s when the folks at WB started to get a little cocky, thinking they were immune to failure no matter how chaotic the production. But as it says in Proverbs, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”, and that destruction and fall would manifest itself in the form of Superman III – a film that figured it’d be a good idea to follow up two great performances from Gene Hackman and Terence Stamp as two of DC’s most iconic villains with a charismatic-less Robert Vaughn and Richard Pryor as a computer nerd.

To quote fellow DC alum Alfred Pennyworth: “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

And pick themselves up, the Salkinds did… only to then stumble again twice as hard with Supergirl. You can’t fault them for wanting to go in a different direction. For one, Christopher Reeve, who originally intended to make a cameo appearance before backing out, was by now pretty jaded of playing the character three times already (who knew it’d be The Quest for Peace that’d be the “offer he couldn’t refuse” to don the cape again), and branching out into Supergirl would expand upon the mythos established in the first two Superman films.

Yes, looks like the Salkinds were creating shared cinematic universes long before Marvel made it cool. So much for being original, Kevin Feige.

Okay, let’s at least get the positives out of the way. Helen Slater looks stunning in the Supergirl outfit.

….

Annnnd that’s all she wrote for the positives. Now onto what really sucks about this film, and boy does it suck. I mean, this movie sucks the big one soooo long and hard it makes Superman IV look competent, and any film that can somehow make Superman fighting a feathered haired Winger roadie on steroids look good is pretty shitty.

The film goes completely off the rails somewhere around, I wanna say after the opening credits, and that’s mainly ’cause director Jeannot Szwarc and writer David Odell are going by the “fuck it” formula to tell their story. Supergirl has some of the most nonsensical, piss-poor, slap-hazardly established plot points you’ll ever see in film; in fact, in most cases, there isn’t even an establishing point. Things just happen. For example…

1) Kara flies off in this little ship to save the day. Did anyone appoint her to take on this rescue mission? Did anyone even set up a rescue mission? Did anyone throw out any possible concerns about sending a girl who hasn’t the slightest clue in what to do to Earth to save their planet? Nope, she just hops onboard that ship and rockets away.

2) Kara magically turns into Supergirl while approaching Earth. How did that happen? How did she go from bursting out from her ship while entering Earth to lunging out of a lake? Where did the suit come from? Was it the red, yellow and blue ribbon placed at the bottom of the ship? Did it also come with a needle and thread kit capable enough to make a flawlessly designed suit? Who the hell knows or cares? But kudos to the film for giving us the shortest origin story in the history of movies at about five seconds.

3) Kara seems a bit baffled at the powers she suddenly possesses, despite knowing…

  • As Superman’s cousin, she’s biologically linked to him.
  • She’s well aware that Superman has been living on Earth.
  • As a Kryptonian herself, she’s got to have some idea of what living on planet Earth would do to her body, given its differences in atmospheric pressure, radiation from the sun, etc. At least I’d assume so since she’s capable of rattling off impossible to calculate math problems in her head at the snap of a finger.
  • For the record, just so you all know, I come from a family of musicians. My dad’s a musician. His brothers are musicians. Five of my cousins are musicians. I myself am a musician. I can’t recall a time where I ever picked up my drum sticks, bass, guitar or sat at my keyboard and suddenly thought, “Hey… where the hell did this come from?”

4) Switching away from Kara, Selena, upon discovering the Omegahedron, is able to master a powerful, otherworldly device with very little, if any at all, practice. Keep in mind, she’s trying to be a witch (which means viewers are treated to two God awful origin stories for the price of one). She’s not already a witch. She’s a rookie, a witch wannabe, one that lives in a rundown haunted house ride in an abandoned carnival (she had already been living there too, so it’s not like it becomes her own “Fortress of Solitude”) ’cause I – uh… you know, fuck it, I don’t know.

Oh, by the way, while all this is going on…

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

That there brings us to the film’s second most egregious sin in how it completely abandons what was the film’s main conflict in the potential destruction of Argo City. Why bother with that? Kara just discovered she can make flowers bloom with her heat vision, even though if science has taught us anything it’s that she surprisingly somehow didn’t start a forest fire.

Add another villain with the witch she already has to confront: Smokey the Bear

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

Following all the fun she gets to have flying around surrounded by special effects so horrible they might as well have been half-assed drawings drummed up on Microsoft Paint, Kara thwarts two random truckers’ attempts to rape her (no joke, this really takes place in a family film). That’s just the way truckers are (not my words, theirs as they fondle her sweet ass… in a film aimed at families), which is just another way of saying David Odell got cut-off on the highway by a semi and really wanted to stick it to that son of a bitch in his script. But this is still a milestone moment for Kara ’cause her turning one of her potential molester’s knife into a boiling hot piece of metal means she’s finally nailed down the proper way to use her heat vision.

Still, what doesn’t make any sense at all is how these idiots see her suit and immediately recognize her connection to the INHUMANLY POWERFUL SUPERMAN, yet even the fact that she can move faster than a speeding bullet and crush rocks into powder with her bare hands doesn’t stop these guys from trying to score some Kryptonian poontang.

Those must be some blue balls.

Hold on. Just a brief checkup…

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

Just saying.

After ridding herself of those two future To Catch a Predator stars, Kara then decides to go to school ’cause I guess knowledge is the one power she hasn’t stumbled upon, and as Schoolhouse Rock! taught us, “Knowledge is power!” It’s there that Kara meets Lois Lane’s sister Lucy (Maureen Heefy, who for being thirty-one when this film was made looks like she’s eight) and a poster of Superman that she seems to lust over for a moment… but that’s none of my business.

After all, love is love… even if it means your kids are gonna be born with spots, a third eye or an arm growing out of their forehead.

Meanwhile…

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

Seriously, I’m doing my best Argo City, but that girl’s stubbornness in not getting the message appears to know no bounds.

Now, we get into the meat of the plot, and it only took what felt like six hours for them to get to the point. Selena attempts to win the affections of some random guy (Hart Bochner, who when he isn’t being torn between two superpowered lovers, is the coke-sniffing “white knight” trying to score a deal with Hans Gruber… and failing at both). Sure, he really has no point being here, but I stopped caring about rhyme or reason in this film long before he showed up. How does she do it? Well, she roofies some Schlitz beer and knocks him out cold. I know exactly what you’re thinking. After years of men cornering the market for drugging girls’ drinks in the hopes of slinking inside their panties, women finally have earned their opportunity to do the same.

#equalitywins

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

Anyway, Selena’s spell backfires ’cause as I brought up a little bit ago, she’s an amateur, and is forced to watch Kara save him from a killer bulldozer (don’t ask), which means he wakes up and it’s love at first sight for him. This naturally upsets Selena ’cause winning the heart of a man is the only feasible way she can achieve world domination, and now this lycra-wearing little bitch just ruined everything for her. This. Means. War.

Do you realize what just happened? This is monumental, dare I say earth-shattering even. I just sat through a two-hour movie about a juiced-up cat fight over a guy, but I should expect nothing else from a movie whose central villains are a homeless witch… and a tractor.

Zor-El: “Without it this city can’t survive more than a few days!”

Alura In-Ze: “Our lights will grow dim, and the very air we breathe so thin!”

Sorry, guys, I give up… I’m sure you have too.

Long story short, Supergirl ends up saving the day, but not before the film suffers from a tragically bad sense of time. For example, and I’m not sure if this bad writing or editing (I’m gonna assume both), Selena out of nowhere conjures up the power to banish Supergirl into the Phantom Zone (where she meets O’Toole, whose severe depression is probably less the character and more his harsh realization that he is, in fact, in a piece of shit film), and then creates this giant mountain castle, of which the entire townsfolk sorta just start at it for a moment, then go about their day. So it cuts over to Kara and Zaltar in the Phantom Zone, and then this may be a case like Interstellar where one day in another dimension equals twenty years on Earth, but once they cut back to Earth, Selena’s suddenly this established evil ruler being hounded by protesters and picket lines all over the place.

What happened in between then? Who knows? But as I said, Supergirl nevertheless saves the day and then flies off. Cue the closing credits. You might be wondering what exactly happened with Argo City? That’s a good question that I don’t even think the filmmakers behind this turd know the answer to. I love ambiguous endings that are able to strike up debate amongst moviegoers – The French Connection, The Thing, The Wrestler, Inception, No Country for Old Men, Drive and Nocturnal Animals, just to name a few. But this film isn’t No Country for Old Men. Hell, it isn’t even Grumpy Old Men. It’s one thing to be ambiguous; it’s entirely different to go so far as to not even hint at what might be going on with the conflict you established in the first place.

I’m just gonna assume everyone died long, unbearably miserable deaths.

Well, look on the bright side, Kara. Selena’s haunted house just became available.

In total fairness, I honestly don’t blame Helen Slater much here (originally, both Brooke Shields and Demi Moore were sought after for the part before Slater). Acting legends like Faye Dunaway and the late, great Peter O’Toole are a different story. God himself probably couldn’t even drum up an excuse as to why they’d embarrass themselves so badly in this film (seeing O’Toole creepily offer Supergirl a “squirt” over and over again is easily a career low-point for eight-time Oscar-nominated star). This was Slater’s first big project, however, so you can understand why she’d jump at the chance to play a superhero tied to one of, if not the most iconic superhero of all-time. Slater has all the bright-eyed charm in the world, and to her credit she would survive this mess and go on to do fine work in the underrated Ruthless Creatures, opposite Danny DeVito and Bette Midler, and City Slickers, but this film does her no favors. It does no one any favors. Not even Superman himself could save this film.

Speaking of which, how do they explain the Man of Steel’s absence? He’s on a peace-keeping mission several hundred billion light years away. Bull shit, he probably wanted as far away from this disaster as he could possibly be.

If anything, this film did introduce me to the term “storm dragon”. What’s a storm dragon? I haven’t the slightest idea, but that’s what Selena’s sidekick Bianca (Brenda Vaccaro, a talented character actress wasted as a poor-man’s Otis) initially mistakes Supergirl for, and it makes as much sense as them calling a girl they’re seeing fly and kick the ever-loving shit out of someone a “wimp”.

Technically amateurish and laughably inept, Supergirl is a swing and a miss so hard for the comic book film genre it corkscrews itself through the ground and out the other side. Any sort of logic, coherence or structure needed in putting together a competent story, much less a riveting one, is completely abandoned in favor of two divas playing tug of war over a guy neither of them even know. Supergirl not only paved the way for shitty superheroine flicks like Catwoman and Elektra, to this day it remains the gold standard.

And people wonder why it took so long for Wonder Woman to get green-light.

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