Well, I knew it had to come to this. I’ve looked at all the modern live-action Superman movies, but there are two “spin-offs” that got to be mentioned. While the new Supergirl show is going well for the most part, there are other live-action things that might have missed the mark. I know they missed the mark with critics and most fans. Did they do that with me as well? You shall see when I talk about the 1984 Supergirl movie and 1997’s Steel. Yes, you read that right. They made a Steel movie and it starred “The Diesel” himself, Shaquille O’Neal.
Supergirl was made to cash in on the popularity of the Superman movies at the time. It was supposed to be released in 1983, the same year Superman 3 was released. For whatever reason (probably the poor reception of Superman 3), it got released in 1984 instead. It came out and was pretty much panned from the beginning. Helen Slater did get nominated for a Saturn Award, so it has that at least. I ended up seeing it on TV when I was younger but I don’t think I ever rented it.
As for Steel, it was released in 1997 which was pretty much a bad year for comic book movies in general. It too got panned when it was released. For those who don’t know, John Henry Irons was a supporting character in the Superman books at the time. He was one of the Superman clones who appeared during the Death and Return of Superman storyline from the 90’s. He even had his own series at the time the movie was released. I ended up seeing the movie on VHS and I even read (and still own) the junior novelization of the movie.
Supergirl is about the adventure of Kara Zor-El. She, her family, and other Kryptonians live in Argo City located in Innerspace. When the Omegahedron (a power source that powers the city) is lost, Kara leaves Argo City to find it. She and the Omegahedron end up on Earth, the home of Superman, her cousin. The device ends up falling into the hands of a witch named Selena and she tries to use the power for her own evil deeds. While trying to find the device, Supergirl (who somehow gets a costume based on Superman’s???) tries to fit in as Linda Lee at a woman’s college. There, she meets characters related to other Superman characters and a nice man who reminded me of John Travolta at a little.
I now feel compelled to get some Popeye's tonight...
So, what did I think of this thing? Well, you can probably throw me into the “dislike” pile for this one. While it had a couple of things going for it, this was pretty much a mess from the beginning. The thing that really kills it is the story itself. Even if you didn’t know about Kara’s comic backstory, this rarely made any sense to me especially the stuff in Argo City. I heard this got a few rewrites and it definitely shows. There are also a lot of unexplainable stuff in the movie. One could say, “It’s a kids’ movie,” but that’s no excuse. The first two Superman movies were pretty light and did their best to explain a lot of stuff.
Not only is the story pretty much crap, but the acting isn’t good at times. Peter O’Toole is in the movie and he gives off a pretty weird performance. I wonder what was in that “Squirt” bottle he had. The villain was pretty lame too and her motives changed from here to there. First, she wants to rule Midvale. Then, she wants a man slave? It was just so over-the-top in weird. The dialogue is also pretty bad at times.
She has the power... of camp!
Is there anything I do like? Actually there are some things that are fine. Helen Slater does try to do her best here and I thought the suit itself looked cool. The stuff involving the women’s college and Lucy Lane was okay. Some of the cheesiness was funny. The effects did look good at times. The music composed by Jerry Goldsmith was actually pretty good and memorable. The only thing that annoyed me about the theme was that weird “Woosh” sound. I thought that sounded like a dying elephant or something. Overall, it’s definitely not a good movie but it does have a couple of merits to it. I can see why Christopher Reeve (who was supposed to cameo in it) didn’t want to be involved.
The movie starts off with John Henry Irons leaving the Army after a weapons accident caused his friend, Susan Sparks, to go paralyzed. While John is in Los Angeles, he comes across a bank robbery and the robbers were using Army tech he helped create. In order to get the weapons off the streets, he gets with his Uncle Joe and Susan to help him fight crime in the city. They help him create a suit of armor and some cool tech of their own. Eventually, he finds out that Burke, another soldier from the project, is supplying these weapons to criminals, so Steel takes the fight to him. Also if you wondering where Superman is, Shaq’s tattoo is all you get.
Not a bad duo.
While Steel won’t win any awards, I kind of liked it. It’s far from a good movie, but it is enjoyable at points. While Shaq would have been my last pick for playing Irons, he was okay. The character that actually stood out to me here was Susan. She definitely reminded me or Oracle from the comics. The story itself was at least coherent and the movie did have a couple of legitimate funny moments. Also, it’s always cool to see Richard Roundtree in something especially if it’s about a black superhero. John’s grandmother was also fine and funny.
While I enjoyed it, it does have a lot of pitfalls. Most of the acting and some of the dialogue was not good. It definitely had some corny moments that didn’t work. All of the references to Shaq’s basketball skills weren’t that great. Judd Nelson’s performance as the villain was over-the-top here and not in a good way either. I also thought John’s little brother was pretty annoying. While it does suck that it is lacking the other Man of Steel, I will admit that it’s actually fine this time around.
You might want to turn down that performance of yours with that hammer.
The action pieces weren’t that good. This thing had a pretty low budget and felt like it was made for TV. I wouldn’t be shocked about that since Kenneth Johnson, one of the guys behind the Incredible Hulk TV show, was the director. I’m definitely not down with the armor. The body itself looked okay, but that mask sucked. You’d think John would have wanted something that actually looked safe. At least the hammer looked cool. Overall, it’s far from the best of DC’s movies, but it has some enjoyable moments. It’s weird that it has a 2.8 rating on IMDb though. It ain’t that bad, folks!
At the end of the day, these are two lackluster movies. I can’t really recommend them unless you’re curious and want to kill some time. I do think Steel fares a little better than Supergirl. I will say that they both could have been much better if more quality work as put into them. Well, I’m outta here. I have two posts left and they’re about Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and don’t rent movies off of iTunes. Amazon’s actually better.