Superman Movie Minute – Supergirl Audio Commentary

SUPERMAN MOVIE MINUTE  - Supergirl Audio Commentary

Chris and Rob are back with special guest Dr. Anj to provide a feature length commentary track for 1984's SUPERGIRL!

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Opening theme and closing theme by John Williams.

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10 responses to “Superman Movie Minute – Supergirl Audio Commentary

  1. What a fun commentary to a film that I have a lot of affection for. A handful of thoughts based on your conversation.

    – A few years back a friend of mine suggested that the Argo City people looked like hippies and from then on my head canon is that Argo was the free love/spiritual outcasts of Krypton that bucked the trend of the rest of the planet. They look nothing like the rest of that planet. And yes, better shielding, people. I don’t care that Al-Var is going to read his latest book of poetry. Safety first!

    – According to Al Gough, one of the creators of Smallville, at one point in the early 2000s the John Williams music for Superman was cheap to license, which is how they got it. I don’t know when that changed but I suspect that it was around the time of Superman Returns.

    – Love Maureen Teefy in general but really liked her in this film. But then I’m the guy that likes Grease 2, so there’s that.

    – More head canon…Zaltar set all of this up because he was dying and wanted someone to fulfill his dream of leaving the city. That’s why he put the bracelet on her and that’s why he was volunteering to go to the Phantom Zone. No evidence of this, to be sure, but it at least explains his behavior.

    Thanks for doing this. It was a lot of fun. I loved how exasperated Rob would get from time to time. Take care.

  2. Hurray, the triumphant return of Superman: Movie Minute! I listened to the episode, though I haven’t had a chance to watch it in synch with the movie (and I’m not sure entirely what edition of the movie I have on DVD, so I may have to do some hunting). This being said, I’ve watched the movie often enough and recently enough that I knew the scenes as they were being described.

    This movie is “troubled” in my books, and I think a sequel would have gone a long way to redeem it and move the franchise forward. I would love to see some Earth variant where DC killed off Supergirl in crisis only for a sequel to land in theatres a few years later and confuse the entire matter.

    A few thoughts in general on the film.

    1) Selena, as a character, was a disaster. I am still divided on whether I like Gene Hackman’s Luthor or not, but Selena is… who? She was not even a good “squint and it’s…” for an established DC villain, so this added a feeling of inauthenticity to the film overall.
    2) The Selena / Nigel plot arc was, as a kid, utterly lost on me and remains among the more boring and dull moments of the film. Put Luthor on screen harassing his subordinates and I got the humour, this interchange was just a bit dull and lifeless. As an adult I can see what they were going for, but I don’t think it was the right approach.
    3) Helen did a wonderful job bringing the character to life. The eternally sweet and just Kara shines on screen, and her physicality is focused on this virtue instead of her sexuality. I think this remains one of the best parts of the film.
    4) I don’t care if Peter O’Toole is reading the darn phone book on screen, I’ll watch him do it.
    5) The link between Lucy and Lois Lane is so improbable that it worked for me as a kid. But this also leads to the issue that it should have been Lois showing up on screen instead of Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy Olsen is the Rick Jones of the Superman cinematic Donnerverse: a character we’re told should be likeable and relatable, and comes off as dull and unhelpful in most cases. No criticism intended to Marc on his portrayal of Superman’s buddy, I just recall thinking even in comics Jimmy was kind of a pinhead.
    6) The Phantom Zone was genuinely terrifying. We don’t see Superman throwing anyone inconvenient or villainous into the Zone in the movies, but I had seen him do it at least once in a comic, and I felt pity for anyone who ended up there.
    7) I think the Kara in mud sequence was very much trying to insert the heroic journey into film. Or hitting up someone’s kink. Or both.
    8) Supergirl’s central struggle here comes off too close to the epic battle between Kara and Selena to win the affections of Ethan, handsome gardener oaf. It robs her of so much agency. In Superman, the Man of Steel is saving lives, stopping crime, and going on to rescue the western seaboard. In Supergirl, she’s fighting to recover the Macguffin and hey boyfriend she just met. This felt like a bit of low key sexism here: Supergirl wasn’t up to a proper challenge, because she was “a girl”.
    9) The Shadow Demon rocks.

    I didn’t know about the Braniac original plan, which would have REALLY worked and given the story a lot more meat to chew. Still planning to put this one and watch it along with the film, so more enjoyment approaches! I’ll likely leave some follow up comments when I do.

  3. Well done on another excellent commentary everyone! I haven’t seen this movie in a very long time but only have good memories of this movie. In fact, I think I may have seen this in the theatre with my parents. Kids, come for the comic book Supergirl! Adults, stay for Faye Dunaway and Peter O’Toole!

    Like Ian said about Peter O’Toole, I don’t care if Dr.Anj was reading the phone book of Krypton, I would listen to it.

    Since Superman IV was mentioned during this commentary, I know the feelings of the general network about the movie, but I really enjoyed seeing in the theatre as a kid *ducks out of the way of rotten tomatoes*. I think I was young enough to be excited to finally see a super powered villain (I mean, Lex Luthor was just a mean person, no powers) on screen and was dumb enough to think that the message of “Nuclear weapons bad” was a clever subtext to my superhero movie. I’m not saying this was a good movie, I guess what I’m saying is I was a dumb kid.

    This commentary was enjoyable to listen to, just for the fun you guys were having, despite some of the slower moments. Well done! Keep up the great work!

  4. You basically made me watch Supergirl entirely for the first time, and I didn’t think it went on too long even though it certainly has a problem with any sense of urgency. I was charmed by it, flaws and all. The International cut is pretty good, but I hate how the frame was cropped (the Lucy-Jimmy power couple really suffers because one is so tall and the other so short, they both get their faces cut off). I’ve read the Director’s Cut fixes the framing, but is like 30 minutes longer. Now THAT may be too long.

  5. Great to get an installment of this podcast again! I saw all four Christopher Reeve movies in the theater during their original releases, but I had never seen this entire movie until the day your commentary came out. Better 39 years late than never, I guess! (I actually watched the Argo City part about a year ago after you guys mentioned that you’d be covering this movie at some point, but then I gave up for a year during the scene of Faye Dunaway having a picnic!). Overall I thought it was a relatively charming movie, compared to what I was expecting from what I’ve heard over the years. I definitely agree Helen Slater is the best part of the movie. She was a great Supergirl — it’s too bad she didn’t get a better movie, any sequels, or any scenes with Christopher Reeve (other than his poster, that is).

    By coincidence I’ve recently been binging Smallville for the first time and just recently saw the Phantom Zone scenes Chris mentioned that are based on how this movie first depicted it. That was a cool part of the movie and one small way that it has had a legacy.

  6. Usually I have to choose between watching a movie or listening to a podcast. Leave it to geniuses Rob and Chris to let me do both at once! And you guys plus Anj were fantastic commentatorers. Thanks!

  7. We watched this last night (Kira had never seen it and I had never seen this version) and we had a fun time with it. Now that the homework is done I can listen to the podcast. The funniest bit was about 15 minutes apart:

    Chris: “Why did they spend the money and build this town? Why couldn’t then have just found a town to film in?”

    Anj: “Boy, they’re really tearing this town apart, aren’t they?”

    Asked an answered gentlemen. 😀

  8. I finally listened to this episode at work today, and it was entertaining. But what I really want to do is make a pre-emptive comment about Superman IV. As a boy watching it on TV, Mariel Hemingway made me realize I like tall women, and am a leg man. Thank you, and good night.

  9. Yay! So happy I checked back and found you did this. So fun listening to you all having so much fun. Listened to commentary first to see if I would attempt to watch this again after over 30yrs later. Still on the fence.

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